Sunday, May 11, 2014

The pickleworm is arrived... And an update on the Central Florida Garden in May

It was a great cucumber season. But I noticed a couple worms today... If you search this site, you'll see the various ways I've tried to defeat the worm, but, really, after such a great season, this time I'm going to call it quits... So I picked the ones on the vine, soaked them in a bucket until the worm popped out (only a couple had been attacked), and will give them to friends... (Only so many cucumbers can one man eat!) 

By the way, you can greatly extend the freshness of a cucumber by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap (I use Saran) and tucking it into the refrigerator. Those "English cucumber" guys are on to something...

I'm also amending my "best crops for Florida" list to include Fortex pole beans. Wow. The sheer fecundity and ease of culture. Very tender (too tender, if anything), and completely stringless, even when they're quite long and bean-y. They are very early and vigorous, though it seems they go out of production as quickly as they come into production: The first sowing produced beans for about a month before declining (considerably less than, say, Kentucky wonder). But I sowed a second crop, and it's come into high production as the first crop declines. I don't know how heat- and drought-tolerant these beans are--likely not as tolerant as the Rattlesnake Beans. But the vines are deep green and pest/disease free now, after ten days of 88+ degrees and after some torrential rains, so, they're clearly tough beans!

I planted some Rattlesnakes last week, and they're already up, so I foresee several months of continuous bean production. This is my Fortex row. The vines are growing up seven-foot "walls" made of electrical conduit and concrete rebar wire sheets, and when they reached the top of the rebar, I wedged some branches into the wire and the beans continued merrily up to about twelve feet, still producing beans on their way up. I wonder: Do beans stop producing when they reach the top, or do they stop producing after X-days of production, because that's their phenotype, they just shut off?  

Finally, my tomatoes are a couple weeks behind (at least) after a cool and cloudy April, but they are full of fruit, and the first full-sized harvest is maybe a week away. I've been harvesting tomatoes from plants that I bought from Lowes earlier this spring--mostly Celebrity. Not my favorite variety, but very early and easy to find as seedlings. As always, I'd recommend Tomande, Juliet, and SunGold as my "go-to" varieties here in Florida.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Plum Season Has Begun

Again, the first fruit I would recommend in Central Florida is the plum. The Gulf Series isn't large (I think there are four kinds), but they are so fast to mature, so prolific, and so tasty. I got mine from Just Fruits, but I noticed trees at the local nursery... Grafting is always an issue, though, so I tend to stay true to Just Fruits.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Plums, cucumbers and some Juliet tomatoes

I've been harvesting cucumbers for a couple weeks now, and plums for about a week. The generic pickling cucumbers in the picture are pretty good and prolific, but I planted them in a bit too much sun for Florida. The Tasty Jade I'm growing in a bit more shade in the back patch are much better, more prolific. Those cucumbers are amazing: Long, sweet, basically seedless. The skin is spineless, but I think still needs to be peeled, as it's quite bitter. Anyway, the plums are excellent Florida plums--the flesh is a tiny bit mealy, but very sweet. The skin is tart. So, perfect for pies, but a little suboptimal for eating out of hand. (Don't get me wrong! Far better than any supermarket plum, but you're never going to get the same quality of flesh in Florida for peaches and plums that you get up North! These are early-May plums!)

I only grow the Gulf series plums--I have five trees, and they are prolific and ripen over the course of at least five weeks. Anyone looking for dooryard fruit couldn't do better... They hit "maturity" after two, maybe three years. Much earlier than even my Earligrande peach... And, as anyone who grows fruit can attest, the earlier, the better in Florida.