Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring or summer in the Central Florida garden?

The title to this post presents real dilemma. I am sitting in the shade where it is still at least 83° trying to cool off after a morning of picking vegetables and tending my gardens. And on that level at least, it's clearly an early summertime here in Central Florida. We've had abundant rainfall over the last couple of weeks, at least 4 inches. It's seems the rainy season has started early this year after a cold winter. Our spring, in other words, has been cut short on both ends. But the evenings are still dry and cool and the spring flowers are sure bloomy. In the vegetable garden, I'm still harvesting spring and winter vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. This morning I harvested my first small handful of the potatoes. I didn't dig up the plants, I just fumbled around them until I found a good size potatoes. My mother tells me that this is called "scrambling" or "scrabbling" where she grew up in western Kentucky

I tried brussels sprouts for the first time in the winter garden this year. I can't say that I met with a lot of success. They took forever to grow to any good size, and the yield was disappointing, if tasty. I made a simple dish last night of boiled cauliflower and brussels sprouts dressed with a garlicy, mustardy  butter sauce. Tasty.  But, not worth the real estate in the garden when it comes to the brussels sprouts. 

A quick roundup of what's going on in the vegetable garden. The carrots  continue to do well, I still have two long rows of them that need to be pulled sometime before May. I am harvesting the last of the broccoli and cauliflower this week. I planted out the seedlings  in my garden at the end of February and am getting my final harvest in mid April. My squash plants are producing abundantly. The cucumbers are just now starting to set a lot of fruit. Tomatoes are growing vigorously and have a good number of green fruits on them. I might manage a small harvest by the beginning of May, and they'll produce until the beginning of July. (Longer for the small-fruited varieties.) Pepper plants are getting larger although still not flowering. First beans of the season should be ready at the end of this week. Chard and salad greens are still going strong but they will begin to decline by the end of the month. Finally, peaches and plums are rapidly gaining size and starting to color. They might be ready by the beginning of the second week of May.


Anonymous said...

Yes I've been noticing (lamenting) the same thing. Any time there's a week when temps the 90's and it rains several inches, I'm inclined to say that summer has arrived. I'm considering starting okra and sweet potatoes sooner rather than later and definitely feeling antsy to order seeds for anything else I might grow this summer. Also, wishing my spring stuff were growing faster - I don't know that much of any of it will have time to yield much before it's just too hot and wet.

usi aluminiu said...

Lovely vegetables from your garden. It is very good to eat vegetables how much you can from your garden because you are sure how you have grown them.

Unknown said...

Our broccoli has gone to seed and I was wondering if it was worth it to try and grow from seed? If so, what would I need to do? This was my first year doing broccolli (6 plants from transplants) and they were so easy and tasty I would like to do more next fall/winter.
Thanks =)

Michael said...

hmmm... i've never saved broc seeds, but i've had bok choi and other brassicas self-seed in my garden. typically the wisdom is thus: if it's an open-pollinated variety, and it's the only variety you planted, then, yes, collect and save the seed. (wait until the seeds are visibly drying on the stalks, then cut them, tie them together at the stem, hang them somewhere dry and out of harm's way (i use my shed). let them dry completely (until they are hard and black) then store them in glass (preferably).

if they're hybrid, i wouldn't bother. too much variabilty in offspring.

if you BOUGHT them as seedlings, you probably bought open-pollinated. if you don't know for sure, don't save the seed. you can buy broc seed at lowes for $1. (personally i love my blue wind, a hybrid that's very fast.)