Yay, Florida Fall!

It’s finally Fall! I love the Fall. For a lot of people, it means leaves are turning beautiful shades of crimson, orange, and goldenrod, but for us gardeners in Florida, it means a whole new season of gardening. Actually, it’s the kickoff to eight glorious months of garden-friendly weather. Summer is a moot point; I’ve given up. Planting in the Summer only leads to heartache and asking myself “why, why, why did I do this…again?” So I wait. I patiently (haha) wait until October.

When the heat and humidity start to subside, that’s when the good things start happening in my garden. What’s more is that our homemade black gold is ready to be used! And we build a new bed to replace the hot mess that was there before. Thank goodness, too, the old bed was spent. See?

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The Old Overgrown Bed

The new bed is an 8′ x 8′ that replaced the 3′ x 6′ bed we used to have in the same location. This is the best spot for pure, radiant sun in the fall and winter. And it’s right next to the rain barrel and hose.

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The New Bed’s Frame

But this bed takes a lot of dirt! It’s taken many trips to the garden center to make up for what our homemade compost didn’t cover. No matter, it’s the Fall and we’ve got a lot of stuff to grow! I’ve grown some mean broccoli on this side of our house, and we plan to grow enough to freeze. And speaking of broccoli…

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Mean-Looking Broccoli

Seed shopping gives me palpitations and a major case of the “I-want-them-alls.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a mecca. I’m really tickled because they specialize in heirloom, organic, and non-gmo seeds for the southeast region. I only bought a couple things.

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I Behaved Myself

This weekend will be a busy weekend for us. I’ve already got baby heirloom tomatoes started indoors, and they will be planted this weekend, too. I’ve been hardening them off, and they’re nearly ready. And, compost bonus: there’s oodles of mystery cucurbit seedlings doing incredibly well. Butternut squash? Straight Eight cucumbers? Spaghetti Squash, even? Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s all good.

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Mystery Cucurbits

We’ve got sun, temperatures perfect for germination, and good dirt. What more could a Florida girl ask for?

Until next time,

Jenna

 

 

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It’s December and We Finally Grew a Cucumber!

I probably shouldn’t jinx us, but this is too good not to share. Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I think we have a cucumber! So maybe it’s only about three inches long and it’s not ready to be picked, but it’s there nonetheless! And there’s about ten other tiny guys that appear to have been pollinated and on their way to full-on pickle status.

Now I understand what some of you might be thinking. What’s the big deal, right? You see, those of you who live in places that get a winter, you have far less pest issues than we do in sunny Florida. My honey’s family is in Michigan, amd they strike harvest gold nearly every year. Me? Not so much. Sure we can technically garden year-round, but there are soooo many issues to combat. And doing it organically is even harder. So this one cuke? It’s a huge deal. (disgruntled Floridian rant over…for now. ;))

We’ve spent the last eight months trying and failing, trying and failing, crying (well that’s just me), whining, begging and pleading with the melon worms and pickle worms to just leave us alone. And finally, we have a smidge of success. Isn’t he cute?

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This variety is called Homemade Pickles and the seeds come from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange or SESE. I’ve been longing to try them; will I finally get the chance?

The plants stay fairly compact, so they’re great for containers, too.

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Happy gardening, my friends, wherever you are!

-Jenna

Florida Fall Gardening: Growing Organic Heirloom Lettuce in a Container

It’s a sad state of affairs, but I’ve yet to figure out how to grow lettuce in the Florida summer. Now, however, that it’s the fall, I’m giving it a go. As with last winter, I sewed a whole bunch of Southern Exposure’s Wild Garden Lettuce Mix seeds. I like this mix because there’s 60 types of seeds in one packet! You never know what you’ll get, but it’s always interesting and beautiful.

I sewed them in a 15″ pot about two weeks ago. I made sure to use good compost with some loose organic potting mix in a pot that drains really well. Last week, they started coming up. As you can see, I also had some tomato volunteers (that I shortly thereafter removed).

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As of five minutes ago when I took this photo, they look happy and healthy.

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They get about five hours of sun per day, mostly in the mid to late afternoon. Most guides say to grow lettuce between September and March in Florida, but it still feels so warm. I’ll be watching the delicate, tender leaves closely over the next few days as to see if they’re getting too much or not enough sun. The guides also say to be sure it gets at least eight hours of sun per day, but I’ve never had that much exposure, and the plants, no matter head or looseleaf, have always produced vigorously and grown quickly.

We’ll see what happens. I’ll be sure to post an update as to their progress. Until then, I’ll be spending a fortune on store-bought organic lettuce…