Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sweet potato harvest, end of the summer season

A hot day to dig sweet potatoes. My patch was half the size as previous years'--I planted a bunch of peanuts instead. It's hard to beat the sheer biomass of batatas. In addition to twenty-five or thirty pounds of tubers, there's a big pile of leaves and vines cooking in my tumbler. Digging those potatoes, some of which are a foot below the surface, also serves to aerate the soil. I dug in a ton of compost, fertilized, and then planted my winter garden:

  1. Red Ace beets
  2. Super Sugar Snap peas
  3. Javelin F1 parsnips
  4. Sweet Treat carrots
  5. Cherriette radishes
  6. Nantes carrots
  7. Hakurei F1 turnips
  1. Rainbow chard
  2. Brussels sprouts
  3. White sweet onions
  4. Honey Gold potatoes (very small waxy potatoes I got at Publix)
Anyway, I also did general garden cleanup. About eight hours in the garden. With a hell of a head cold. But today was the only break I have before Christmas.

I already had a bunch of broc, lettuce, cauliflower, rocket, and sweet peas growing. Much of what I seeded today won't produce until March or April.

Man, it's DRY out there. I also spent some time adjusting my microsprayer system, so I could reduce the amount of irrigation. Now the system covers half my garden. It's very effective and uses a fraction of the water used by overhead sprinklers.

Wheh. I'm beat.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

An early dry season

An early onset of the dry season. I think it's fair to say that it started last week, after Nicole blew out of the Panhandle and clobbered the Carolinas. In its wake, the weather has been excellent.

Anyone not from Florida will never understand what it's like when the first "backdoor fronts" make it to Florida. Precipitable waters (hanging in the atmosphere) drop from two or more inches to one inch. The dew point falls to the upper 50s. Humidity goes from 60-75% in the middle of the day to the upper 30s. The days are still warm, but the nights are cool. Really perfect weather, and the promise of month after month of even finer weather.
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More quick shots from the October garden

The "Blue Wind" broccoli Snow Crown cauliflower I planted a few weeks ago, transferred into the garden. I've been very pleased with my new seedling mix, which is about half-and-half pine screenings (from pine fines) and perlite. Aged over the summer in a bucket. Lots of aeration, but excellent water retention.

I have way more yardlongs than we can ever eat, so I'm letting most of them mature for beans.

The Central Florida garden in early October

I got this blooming cactus from a friend (thanks, Mary!). It blooms at night, and I've missed most of the flowers this season, but our recent, much-cooler nights, this bloom lasted until mid-morning. Prettier than any orchid bloom I know.

I've done peanuts before, though usually just a few in corners of the garden. This year I planted two short rows in the center of my garden and was very pleased with the results. A handful of green peanuts from the Publix refrigerator case. They grow very densely and choked out every weed. Very pretty, dark solid mass of green leaves with small yellow flowers. No disease or insect issues. Easy to harvest, too! And though I worried about nematodes, I didn't see a single bit of evidence of RKN on these peanuts. So, I end up with a quart or more of peanuts and a bunch of green matter for my compost bins. And a weed-free patch of garden at the end of summer. The yield isn't as much as sweet potatoes, but peanuts are surely prettier and controlled weeds better. Next year I'm going to plant half the summer garden with peanuts and the other half with sweet potatoes. Maybe some cassava and African basil around the outside. Oh and Okinawan spinach. And all my hot peppers... But that's it. Well, and scallions, chaya, and yard-long beans.

Lucullus chard in a barrel ring. Filled with pricey but excellent organic compost from Pierson.