Sunday, July 22, 2012


I'm travelling heavily in the coming weeks, so I'm not too optimistic that these seeds will survive the weeks before transplant, but... on the off chance that the bugs don't eat them, the storms don't wash them, the kids don't trample them, and the sun doesn't bake them... I planted White Crown cauliflower, Blue Wind broccoli, Cajun Red onions and Pumba yellow onions today... We'll see.

In any case, it's ideal to have good sized seedlings ready to go into the garden on August 15. Even if these survive the following weeks, I doubt they'll be quite ready for transplant in three weeks. Ah, well, the ideal and all that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's going on in the late-July garden?

A few shots of the garden... Besides the eggplants and peppers, I still have a few healthy tomato plants producing cherry tomatoes... The Nesbitt grapes are ripening, and the persimmons should be ready by the end of August at the latest.

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First grapes!

Nesbitt. Very nice muscadine--thinner skin, pips aren't bad (hardly noticeable). Strong Concord/Fox flavor (a good thing for eating grapes). Matures over the course of several weeks. I picked three today. Looks to be a huge harvest. I'll need to use the bird cloth once they notice...

Really sweet this year, though the fruit seems smaller than in the past. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quick remark on late-season figs...

For the first time, my Alma fig is setting and retaining summer fruit. You'll often see Almas and other southern fig trees described as everbearing. For years, my tree has sporadically set fruit during the summer, only to drop them before they ripened. (And an unripened fig is not a pleasant thing...) Now that I guess it's reached maturity, my tree is pretty regularly holding onto these summer fruit until mature. I ate a couple perfect figs from its branches yesterday morning, and there's another half dozen on the tree. In California, mature trees produce two crops a year. I wonder if my tree will ever produce a second large harvest? I doubt it, given its propensity to develop rust late in the summer and defoliate, but I can hope, right?

Anyway, it's been interesting to cultivate this tree over the past five years, from a tiny cutting in a pot to its present ten-foot height. I need to prune it this winter, as it's growing out of bounds...

Monday, July 09, 2012

Responding to a question...

I try to respond to questions in the comments... Sally from New Orleans asked a question in the comments to an earlier post.

I'm in New Orleans, hot and humid like you are. Do you prefer Johnny's seeds for our areas? I've bought a lot from Burpee and have had reasonable sucess, except for tomatoes. They just like to die. Unless I stop being organic, I have to accept that. I put in various Kales and they'll go almost all year. I put in more flowers this year, half died. It's quite a change from the northeast where I was. I really enjoy your blog, I't helped explain a lot and given me a better idea of how the seasons run. Alien to what I'm used to. Thanks, Sally 
and my quick response...

i like johnnys because they have a large selection of hybrids & reasonable prices. (shipping is steep, though... but probably reflects the true cost.) moreover, i have never been disappointed with the germination and performance of their plants, and never felt that i'd been sold the 'wrong' seed.
that said, i don't tend to buy my tomatoes from them, as tomato growers supply has a much better selection. (i still think they sent me the wrong seeds for sungold this year...)
tomatoes in our climes--just tough to grow. i grow mostly organic (i use chemical fertilizers because i think they are actually more ecologically friendly here in florida). i guess a couple points, based on my experience:
1) hybrids. forget the darn 'heirloom' varieties. NONE OF THEM is as good as an f1. not in terms of flavor, performance, nothing. buy small or medium sized, early or mid-season tomatoes with as many letters after their names as possible. seriously,that's how i tomato shop.
2) better too early than too late. i don't know enough about nola's clime, but here in fla, we have windows. missing the window by a couple of weeks makes a huge difference. tomato seeds are easy and cheap. stagger your seeding schedule so you have some to go in really early, and others in reserve. if you get a freeze, or if the fall-season crop gets blasted by a hurricane--you'll have backups. 

Adding: An interesting and unintended experiment. I had a dozen of "reserve" seedlings at the end of March. Some Mountain Magic and Juliet. Big seedlings, but stressed as they were in small pots. So I transferred them to a somewhat shady corner of the garden with no real expectation that they'd offer much crop. Right now, they are produce heavily and look healthy compared to my almost-dead, nearly-defoliated main crop of tomatoes. I reckon their performance is due a bit to the shade, a bit to being held back. What it tells me, though, is that my main crop of tomatoes is burning out not only because they are suffering from a myriad of diseases and bug issues, but also because they must be reaching the end of their useful lifespan. This discovery lends me to think that there might be a bit more flexibility in planting schedules than I'd long assumed. Maybe a staggered planting scheme is the way to go--the second will surely miss out on the main production time (May and June), but I might be able to eke out a few extra weeks of tomato harvest by planting some seedlings at the end of March. In any case, this strategy would only work with small-fruited tomatoes, which can set fruit during our hot nights. (Larger tomatoes need a few hours of sub-70° temperatures at night to set fruit.)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Johnnys order...

Getting ready for my winter/spring garden... I'll plant these mid-July for transplant into the garden in mid-August... Of course, half the seedlings will die... it's Florida!

Pumba (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Onions > Hard Storage > Yellow – Full Size
Desert Sunrise (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Onions > Hard Storage > Red – Full Size
Alibi (F1)-Mini
Vegetables > Cucumbers > American Pickling
Sweet Mojo (F1)-Mini
Vegetables > Tomatoes > Small-fruited > "Grape"
Vegetables > Beans > Beans, Pole
Chioggia Guardsmark-Packet
Vegetables > Beets > Specialty
Touchstone Gold (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Beets > Golden Beets
Belstar (F1) (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Broccoli > Hybrid
Snow Crown (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Cauliflower > White
Arugula (OG)-Packet
Vegetables > Greens > Arugula/Roquette > Salad
Red Cross Butterhead Lettuce-Packet
Vegetables > Lettuce > Butterhead/Boston > Red
Hakurei (F1)-Packet
Vegetables > Turnips
Vegetables > Greens > Cress
Javelin (F1) (Pelleted)-Packet
Vegetables > Parsnips