Friday, June 24, 2011

New beginnings

Well, I have decided that it is time to begin pulling up the current plantings and begin planning for the next season. Working by the example of what farmers and others are doing, it seems that it is just too hot at this time of year in FL to make much work. And with the lack of rain (until yesterday) and below average soil, I feel it best to start clearing the garden, and work on making the soil much more improved for better production. Now, I haven't pulled up everything mind you—my watermelons and tomatoes seem to be doing pretty good (finally got some tomatoes growing on the heirloom plants I started from seed, and I planted these before the ones from Lowes). But I am systematically pulling unproductive plants out and either throwing them on the fire pile or the compost pile.

As far as watering goes, I still haven't figured that out. I can water my garden for hours—hours—and not see the results I get after one good rain like we had yesterday. I think the obvious answer is that there is more water when it rains, which saturates the ground and keeps it from draining so quickly. But how do I replicate that when there is no rain.

One thing I plan to do is definitely put down either row covers or straw over every row to help hold in moisture. I also plan to get as much organic matter in the ground as well so the water doesn't drain so quickly. Our local zoo offers composted manure for whoever will come get it. I will be checking in to that as well.

I haven't decided whether I will plant anything this fall, or just let the ground rest. I would like to do something, even if only one crop. May try greens again. I had OK luck with those last fall.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First fruit

Well, here it is, my first heirloom cucumber (and my first veggie out of this year's garden). This is a Spacemaster from seed I bought from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Though I am excited, I have to admit that this is going to be a somewhat disappointing season. Out of everything I planted, I will most likely only get a fraction of the produce. With the lack of rain, no bees, and unamended soil, it comes as no surprise. I do water as best as I can to compensate.

In an effort to go as organic as possible, I tried to avoid any chemicals, only using some Black Cow and my own compost to amend the soil. My budget being what it is, I could only get so much BC, and had to spread it quite thinly, and the compost wasn't quite ready. Another mistake I made was not tilling the plot from last season, which made for some hard, compact soil. I also tried to co-plant some vegetables, but did it too close together (and I later read that it isn't really necessary or that beneficial). I will admit that I caved and use some MG garden soil and liquid fertilizer on an irregular basis to help the poor soil. I hope to be able to save a bit more money to get some organic amendments in the future.

After removing my first planting of squash for lack of growth, I really amended that row with compost, leaf mold, bone meal, potting soil, and Black Cow. Everything I planted in this row, except for the corn, is doing really good (duh!).

I am quite surprised at how good the watermelons are doing. I have about 10 - 12 growing, some that are about softball size. I should have some good tomatoes, a few peppers, some squash, and of course purple hull peas (those never fail me!!).

My goal at this point is to get at least one of everything to get seeds for next year.

It may sound like I am complaining, but I am really not, as I have gained so much knowledge during the past months. Hopefully my Fall garden will be much better.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Progress in photos...

Garden plot
My sole remaining basil plant (out of 12)
3 types of peppers (what survived of the 36 plants I started with).