Monday, August 08, 2011

I get questions...

A reader writes...
Hey Michael, my wife and I love your blog, I'm in Deland as well and I'm just now starting my new garden. I've got it tilled and I plan to get a truckload of that compost mix from Volusia Shed to amend it. Do you plant in it immediately or do you let it rest? So far I've got several small type tomatoes(my kid loves them), brandywines, some peppers, and some broccoli seeds started. Probably direct sew some pickling cukes and carrots as well. I'm also very interested to see how your onion experiment goes. I tried shallots this last spring but they didn't bulb out well, might try them again from seed this winter.

I've planted seeds in compost almost immediately and never had a problem... That's unexpected, but then again, it's gardening, which is always full of unexpecteds. I imagine that a lot depends on the age and other qualities of the compost, and generally speaking, if it's possible, wait a few days before planting in newly-spread topsoil. Can't hurt, right? I recommend NOT TILLING IN THE TOPSOIL! All you'll do is bring nematodes up from the sand into your amendment. Spread it a few inches deep, and plant directly in it. Again, this isn't particularly intuitive--you'd think there'd be drainage problems, or that the soil would be too rich. But that's not been my experience. Our "soil" is so well drained and so poor... I suppose it's worth trying some cukes, but you'll likely have pickleworm and foliar problems--the days are too short in fall and we the wet and humid conditions are very difficult on all the cucurbits. Best to wait until March 1 (or even earlier!) to transplant healthy seedlings. 

I've never known anyone with any success when it comes to shallots in FLA. In many respects, though, onions are the ideal household crop: In ten feet of sunny and rich row, I must have harvested 35 red onions this spring. Considering the price of red onions at the grocer's, I can't think of any crop that beats onions on economics! And here's the interesting thing: I picked the onions when I got back from my long six-week trip, so sometime at the end of June. The tops had completely dried and disappeared, but the onions themselves were in perfect conditions. I am STILL eating those onions! They're as good as the day I picked them. Heck, onions from the store go bad after a few days! I have no idea why these onions have such excellent keeping qualities, but I suspect it's because they were so thoroughly cured in the field. Anyway, those were from sets I got late in spring from Lowes. Sets are great, since you get bulbs in a matter of a few weeks, but they are unavailable until March. But I suspect I can get a couple successions of plantings using seeds. Onions are completely indifferent to the mild freezes we get... 

I try to answer all the questions I get... But sometimes I'm on the road or too busy. Sorry if you've written recently and I have missed your email. 


4 comments:

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Ron Neyer said...

Just stumbled across your blog. I think I am going to be a regular. I haven't put in a garden but have been thinking strongly about it. Also been researching bees. You seem to be hitting everything. My main reason for not starting sooner is that I'm on a fixed income and haven't figured out to cover the initial investment. I' thinking containers for now.

templeterracegarden said...

Ron I have a crazy tight budget for gardening as well and thought I'd offer a couple of things that have helped me keep things cheap - I'm doing as much as possible from seeds, I'm using aged horse manure (which most horse farmers will happily give away for free) along w/ our home grown compost instead of purchased compost, and I'm collecting rain water and using bucket irrigation to cut down on water costs (until the rainy season hit, water had been the most expensive thing for me).