Saturday, August 27, 2011

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. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

end of tomatoes

I was still getting a few Juliettes a day, but they were suffering from a myriad of problems, so I went ahead and ripped out all the remaining tomatoes in my beds. Being gone all summer has meant my late-summer garden is lean: Sweet potatoes, lots of yardlong beans, some cowpeas, hot peppers, one sweet pepper, lots of herbs (oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary and Mexican tarragon, basil are all doing fine) and watermelons. The latter have produced some pretty good melons lately. I've given the sweet potatoes and watermelons the run of the place.

Purchased a yard of mixed compost and peat moss from Volusia Shed and moved about half of it into my beds. I spent the rest of the day pulling weeds and doing general landscaping maintenance--lots of work around the house has piled up, and my yard is sorta embarrassing right now!

Seedlings are doing great. I fed them with a half-strength mixture of Miracle-Gro today as their growth had halted. I've also moved them into full sun. 

I saved back a couple cuttings from my Juliettes and I think they've already rooted. I'll put them back in the garden in a few weeks, after the compost cools down. When I do that, I'll plant some carrots and lettuce, and around September 1, I'll transplant the cruciferous seedlings into the garden. 

Oh, so far, so good with the red onion seeds--I'm optimistic that I'll have a row's worth to get into the garden in early September. It's hard to see why I've always waited for sets to show up at the gardening center when growing from seed seems pretty easy.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Seeds planted August 28th

In rows, all Johnnys unless otherwise:
1, 2: Blue Wind broccoli
3, 4: Gonzales cabbage
5: Edible Amaranth (Evergreen)
6: India Spinach beet

1, 2: Bionda chard
3, 4: Snow Crown cauliflower
5,6: Moneta beet

A week later, everything's up, though poor germination for the India Spinach beet.