Monday, September 28, 2009

Very quickly...

Some random notes...
  1. It's fall. We have a beautiful week on tap.
  2. I will never again plant cukes in the fall. The stinkbugs did them in, quickly. I came out one morning to find no fewer than fifty on one plant. And the summer squash. Those, too, done in by the stinkers. I could spray them with Sevin, but I prefer not to spray my cukes.
  3. I finally found a source for pine fines... about thirty minutes away, but right off of I4, so often enough I could stop by for a carload. $3 per forty-pound bag. Bolling Forest Products.
  4. Cowpeas and yardlong beans are declining. That means I'll have room for some peas and potatoes in October.
  5. Did a minor feed today.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Valley View Vineyards

Valley View Vineyards. A really lovely area--"The Alps of Florida"! Located in the hills and valleys that make up the spine of Florida. Valley View has grapes, peaches, persimmons, chestnuts, figs, and pears. All you-pick. I picked a bag of pears, chestnuts and figs today for the whopping cost of $3. The chestnut trees were the real reason I headed down there, since I've never picked chestnuts before. I'm glad I brought my welders gloves! A few miles away, right next to the Yalaha Bakery, we found a you-pick blueberry and blackberry farm. That means that next May we'll be able to pick peaches, blueberries and blackberries all in the same area. Road trip!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Fruits order...

I bought from Just Fruits and Exotics...
  • EARLIGRANDE (peach) New for 2009! Yellow fleshed, small to medium clingstone peach that ripens before all the rest. You'll be enjoying these tasty beauties two weeks before any other variety. Ripens mid April. Self-pollinating. 200 chill hours. Zone 9.
  • GULF BEAUTY (plum) Still another University of Florida patented release (USPP 11224). Richly sweet, small, red fruit. Heavy producer with excellent flavor. Needs a Gulf series pollinator. 250 chill hours. Ripens early May. Zones 8B-9.

    GULF BLAZE (plum) Patented University of Florida release (USPP 10880). Medium-sized, deep ruby-red fruit with yellow-red center. Excellent flavor. Needs a Gulf series pollinator. 250 chill hours. Ripens early to mid-May. Zones 8B-9.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brassicas in the garden...

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Crowder stew...

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My order from Swallowtail... Winter is the only time I sow annuals and perennials (which I usually grow as annuals). My friend Bill has put on some great displays of direct-sowed flower beds in spring. He's also scattered alyssum on paths and let it grow up amongst the grass and weeds... it was stunning.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another episode of Alison asks...

Your Japanese cuke... has that been going all summer?
nope, i got it from a friend as a seedling about a month ago. but... it's very vigorous and has climbed a 6 foot string and is getting ready to run over the top of the trellis.
My organic plant protection book says that pickleworms can be fought by trellising because they only feed at ground level.
BULL! you could grow it in a locked safe and the (*%$(*^&%$ PICKLEWORM would find it... Hah. hah.
Since you grow everything up, you'd know! I found a Japanese Long cucumber, but it said nothing about pickleworm resistance.
so, i saw the first signs of the (*&DF(*& pickleworm on the plant... that means that the cukes are likely getting eaten up inside... but 1) it took them a LONG TIME to find them and 2) the cukes are fast growing. so, i plan on using newspaper and paper bags to deal with the worm.
Right now I've done 3 plantings of a pickling cucumber and everything has gotten completely eaten. There appear to be eggs all over it, black eggs laid in clumps.
are you sure they're not aphids? aphids are REALLY bad now. they look like eggs... only they're tiny little bugs. check again. the other active bug right now is the stinkbug. their eggs are pretty iridescent globs.
No fruit to eat, but the foliage is all but gone. Would those be pickleworms?
I couldn't find a description of their eggs anywhere.
I've had luffa in all summer and they have shown no interest in that. They've also stayed away from my watermelons which were planted at the same time as the first round of cukes. I'm baffled. About to rip them out and give up on fall cukes... what do you think?
rip 'em out. here's the info for the cukes that have done so well for me now: Japanese Cucumber Hybrid Tasty Queen.
Your yardlong beans... when did you get them in the ground?
hmmm.. maybe a month ago? not long ago.
We've had great success with red-seeded asparagus beans, but I've never tried a second planting in late spring/early summer.
if you got the space and seeds, why not try? they make good green compost material in any case, and don't need any inputs... just sun and rainwater.
They just pooped out with the corn. I'm wondering if the same variety will keep us in beans all summer if I just planted a second round. We got pretty tired of okra this summer. :->
i don't understand the combination "tired of" and "okra."
What do you do to cure your sweet potatoes? The research I've done suggests rather putsy temperature keeping that would frankly be impossible. I'm wondering if keeping them in a basket on the porch where there's no direct sun but still heat and humidity would be enough.
i keep mine all fall/winter long on the gazebo, on my wooden slat table. they can be kept for months with good airflow. i wouldn't keep them in a basket--that might reduce the airflow & risk rotting.
We're also not planning on harvesting all of them until December- would you suggest picking them earlier so we still have a fair amount of heat for the curing process?
keep them in the ground as long as you can... i harvested mine only b/c i needed the space. you can pick 'em and eat 'em right away... but if you want to keep them for a period, you do need to "cure" them... which means, essentially, dry them out a bit, which sweetens them and heals the skin blemishes from harvest, lowering their disposition to rot. curing them supposedly increases the sugar content, too, by reducing the amount of water in their cells. but, really, i eat them whenever. the keys are to NOT RINSE THEM, keep them dry, out of the sun. leave the sand clinging. when you're ready to eat, then wash them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

sweet potato harvest

I needed the space, so I harvested my batatas a little earlier than maybe I should have. There were some real lunkers in the mix, but plenty of medium sized ones and some smaller ones, too. The kids had fun, even in the rain.

OK, if you look at my fingertips you can see the tail of a Copper Skink that ran into my sandals as I was trying to dig the potatoes... I did a little dance and managed to extract it without harming it. I love these little skinks, finding them under leaves and in the mulch all the time.
My kinda failed malanga experiment. I transplanted the malanga on June 15. At the time they were little corms about the size of the smallest ones above. This is my "harvest" from two plants (out of half a dozen). So, in three months, one plant yielded one four-inch "potato" and a bunch of smaller ones. My guess is that they need at a minimum nine months in the ground to produce a malanga tuber large enough to be worth it... That's a long time to take up real estate in my tiny veg garden. Anyway, the whole experiment confirms my idea that I need a farily large, sunny spot where I can plant perennial vegetables like malanga, cassava, chaya, okinawan spinach... and things like papaya and hot peppers--low maintenance, not overly thirsty, sun-loving plants. I have a perfect spot, but right now it's part of one of my butterfly gardens in the front yard. So, I think I'll spend a couple weekends during the cool season clearing out that bed (it's heavily mulched with fabric), moving the plants (I have a perfect spot for a new butterfly garden), running PVC and enriching the bed. I'll probably grow some bananas and limas in that bed, too...

My sweet potato harvest--not bad for a ten-foot long row. There are several varieties there, including white japanese.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A September bouquet...

Let's see... The color of September is... PURPLE.
Flowering artemesia, Duranta erecta, Achimenes, Alternanthera, yarrow, and some cool purple salvia...
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Have I defeated the pickleworm?

Special Japanese cuke... seems to be invisible to pickleworm radar... Pretty exciting, eh? I'll post the results and seeds if my luck holds out. Right now, though, the pickleworm is all over my seminole pumpkins, but not a single egg on this secret japanese cuke...
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Drat... bananas!

My super-rare, super-cool Ele Ele Banana has decided to finally set fruit... a bummer, since there's probably not enough energy left in the season to bring the nanas to maturity. Sigh. Two years I've waited for it to set fruit. Ah, well, I have a number of pups that will likely mature next year. Bananas can be vexing.

"They" describe the Ele Ele as a mix between a dessert and cooking banana. Perhaps that means that I can pick it unripe and use it for fritters, etc. But, really, who can eat fifty pounds of fritters? (OK, that was a stupid question.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

An update in slides...

Goings on in the garden... Click for a larger slideshow.

The winged sort...

It's the best time of the year for butterflies & hummers. I counted 12 species in my garden this weekend. The most popular plants for me: chaya, milkweed, and (the bestest), hamelia patens.

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