Tuesday, November 28, 2006
From Just Fruits & Exotics, I got in the mail today...
- Brightwell (Rabbiteye Blueberry)
(Southern Highbush Blueberry) Gulf Coast
- Sharpblue (Southern Highbush Blueberry)
- Emerald (Rabbiteye Blueberry)
- 10 plugs of
- 1 Egyptian Walking Onion
- Muscadine Grape
- Flordabelle Peach
Everything came well packed. The strawberries were large and healthy, growing in four-inch containers. They went straight into a well-prepared mulch bed with some extra composted manure and my "home mix" organic fertilizer. I've covered them with raised screens, to keep them well shaded while they acclimate. The onions went into a square.
Everything else went back into one-gallon pots until I figure out exactly where I'm putting everything. I'd say the quality of everything was top-notch: Healthy, large and ready to grow.
I also found a moment to transplant eighteen Dukat Dill seeds and eighteen Parsley seeds from their coffee-filter birthing grounds into some small starter cells. It took eight days for the parsley to germinate, a little less for the dill. I really like this method of germinating the seeds and then transplanting them.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I really like the reasonableness of square-foot gardening: Its principles of intensive cultivation, constant rotation, and moderate quantities of vegetables synchronize well with my busy schedule. I've been using some scrap boards I found at the dump as edging, and then dividing the squares with some leftover bricks, giving me a spot to stand for seeding and picking.
It's a great time to grow here in Central Florida. Things do not grow terribly quickly, with the weak winter sun. But weeds are not a problem, and I haven't seen any bug damage to speak of. I only water every other day, if that often; however, the no-till method requires a bit more water than if I'd been able to plant in a very well-prepared, deep and friable soil. But creating such a bed here in FLA is another thing entirely...
Sunday, November 26, 2006
According to my GardenWeb sources, L. multifida thrives here. However, unlike its English cousin, I cannot say that it possesses the most beguiling of scents... The first thing that comes to mind is turpentine. That said, it's grown vigorously in the couple of months it's been in the bed. And it's a very attractive plant, with its grayish leaves and bright-blue inflorescences.
I found the following description from the excellent site of Magnolia Gardens and their very smart Plants for Texas program. We here in Central Florida have many (but not all) the same difficulties that our neighbors to the West have. I'd say what grows well there (judging by Magnolia's site) grows well here...
Lavandula multifida is not your typical Lavender that will melt in our heat and humidity. This species stands up to our wet conditions without the usual problems associated with lavenders. Fern Leaf Lavender has many deep lobed, silver coated, green leaves giving the foliage a lacy appearance and has long straight stems topped off with blue bracts usually found in clusters of 3. Lavandula multifida will grow to a height of about 24 inches and is highly aromatic making it attractive to bees. Great for use in borders, beds, and containers. Lavandula multifida is part of our Plants For Texas® Program, meaning it was Texas Grown, Tested in Texas to perform outstanding for Texas Gardens.
Some seeds started (the binder clips are key!)...
And radishes ready to pick ...
(below) Red Sails Lettuce, some to transplant into the garden, the rest to harvest as cut & come again.
(above) Mustard greens, broccoli, radishes and nasturtiums.
- In my Parks dome, I planted (1) Nigella papillosa; (2) More mixed Rocket Snaps; (3, 4) Candytuft (this only did ok for me last year, but I had a bunch of seeds and it did free-sow a bit, so why not?); (5,6) Sweet Pea 'Fantasia Mix'
- In another seed starter: Shallots 'BONILLA' from Pinetree(which I started with the "coffee filter method"); Winter Density and Red Sails lettuces (from Pinetree); Arugula 'Apollo' (from T&M).
- In a eighteen-inch by six-inch planter, mache, a varietal called BIG SEEDED from Pinetree.
It was the first "hot" weather (around 78 degrees) here for a few weeks, and a brisk wind combined to dry things out a bit in the garden. I came home from a weekend on the beach to find my poor radishes growing in boxes looking rather wilty. Speaking of the radishes, I pulled the first few: Tasty, and just a few days outside the promised thirty-day harvest (Oct. 22-Nov. 26). The bad news is that two of my cukes got too chilly (I assume) and gave up the ghost.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
- Nine KNIGHT peas (56 days)
- Nine CASCADIA peas (48 days)
- Using the coffee-filter method, I planted some cool-season herbs: PARSLEY-PREZZEMOLO GIGANTE D' ITALIA, CHERVIL, DILL-DUKAT STRAIN
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
DRYLAND TECHNIQUES AND MULCHES
The first season. We began our no-till garden in an area of well-grassed lawn. In several years of continuous production, it was never plowed, cultivated, spaded or hoed. The first season it is necessary to do some extra steps if you start with an uncultivated area as we did. It is described in the March 1981 issue of Organic Gardening in an article by Jamie Jobb called "Tossing an Instant Garden." (ECHO will send a copy of this article to overseas development workers who request it.) A layer of newspapers is spread over the area. They should be no less than 3 sheets thick and well overlapped at the edges. Then organic materials of any kind are placed on top. We use either chipped wood that is given to us by the power company when they trim along the power lines, or grass clippings. You could experiment with other materials that may be available to you such as rice hulls, sugar cane bagasse, tall cut grass, leaves, coffee pulp, etc. The method works because weeds are not able to push their way up through newspapers and a layer of mulch, but roots can go down through wet newspaper. Wherever a seed is to be planted a small mound of earth is placed on top of the newspaper (or a narrow row of soil about one inch thick is used if seeds are small and to be planted closely together). The mulch is then pulled back against the earth and a thin layer put on top of it to prevent drying of the soil. The seeds must be watered more frequently than when planted in tilled soil because the thin layer of soil can dry out quickly. When we pulled mature plants at the end of the first season we found that some roots had gone through the paper and others had grown along the top of the paper to the first edge, then underneath for normal growth. Transplants do surprisingly well when simply planted into the sod through a hole cut in the paper.
Subsequent seasons. The procedure with newspapers is for the first season only. Before the season is over you will find that the newspaper and the sod have decayed and turned to compost. From then on if you keep a layer of mulch about 6 inches thick over the area, the soil beneath will be ready to plant whenever you wish. Our garden has been in continuous use since the day it was first planted. We use the word "no-till" because it is analogous to the system of farming by the same name in which herbicides are used just before planting, then seeds are planted directly into unplowed sod. However, this method uses no herbicides.
What are the advantages? (1) Gardens can be started in any area without the need to plough or spade. You can plant in areas that would be difficult to plough, such as around dead trees or in rocky soil. Grasses and other weeds are better controlled than if the ground had been cultivated. (2) There is much, much less work involved in controlling weeds. But it is a no-till, not a no-work, garden! It can take a lot of time gathering and placing the mulch periodically around the plants. And some weeds will come up that must be removed. (3) Less water is needed for irrigation. (4) The soil is kept cooler. This can be a disadvantage, however, for colder areas. If soil temperatures are too low, the mulch can be raked back in areas to be planted a few days before planting, so that the sun can strike the soil directly. The soil will be dark after a few months of no-till gardening and should warm up quickly. (5) Soil moisture and temperature are more uniform, an advantage for most plants. (6) Nematodes will likely be kept under control. The soil environment is much less suited to nematode growth than, for example, the hot dry sand found in our area. Furthermore, some fungi found in the decaying organic matter will kill nematodes. We have had some signs of root-knot nematodes in the no-till garden, but they have not been a problem after the first few months of operation. It is almost impossible to garden in the same plot for more than one season here without the heavy use of nematicides with normal gardening techniques. We have not yet had to use any nematicide. (7) The only need for a compost pile is for a small one to put large or diseased plants or weeds. When the mulch decays, it is automatically compost and is already in place! Earthworms will soon help carry organic matter down into the soil. (8) Soil erosion from sloping land should be less of a problem.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
After a little less than a year growing in a smallish pot, my Oxalis triangularis needed to be repotted. I started with around a dozen corms in a nine-inch pot; with a little care and a lot of patience, I pulled no fewer than five dozen pencil-eraser-shaped bulbs from the pot today. Some I shared, some I transplanted to shady corners around my patio, some I gave away to friends.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
|1||258. KNIGHT (56 days)||1.25||1.25|
|1||260. TALL TELEPHONE (Alderman) (68 days)||1.25||1.25|
|1||259. SUPER SUGAR SNAP (62 Days)||1.50||1.50|
|1||263. CASCADIA (48 days)||1.25||1.25|
|1||W228. FAVA BEAN-WINDSOR||1.25||1.25|
|1||W274. PARSLEY-PREZZEMOLO GIGANTE D' ITALIA||0.95||0.95|
|1||52501. DILL-DUKAT STRAIN||0.90||0.90|
|1||W141. BIG SEEDED||0.75||0.75|
Friday, November 10, 2006
1, 2, 3: Pink Paeony Papaver
4, 5, 6: 'Rocket' Snaps
7: 'Sensation Cherry' Geranium
8: Dianthus 'King Salmon'
9: Alyssum 'Pastel Carpet'
10: Celosia 'Fresh Look Yellow'
I'd never grown Geraniums from seed, but got a few packets from Parks during their year-end sale. I think they must be pelleted, and they're not the cheapest seed, but they germinate readily and grow pretty quickly.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Where I found free cuttings of blueberries appropriate for Central Florida:
- Pearl River
- Blue Gem
- Emerald (one not listed on their website but apparently well-adapted to my conditions)
- 10 plugs of Sweet Charlie strawberries
- 1 walking onion
- Muscadine Grape
Great, intelligent customer service. The owner and I chattered for about half an hour about gardening—she clearly knows her fruit!
The total came to just over $100, plus a packing charge and tax.
A bit pricey, but they have the market cornered!