Garden Update

Because we have yet to have a freeze, the garden is flourishing. Around the time I am supposed to be starting seeds for Spring crops, I am getting ready to get a winter tomato bounty.

We are expecting cold temps in the next week or so but so far no threat of frost. Crossing fingers!!!!

Another area in the garden flourishing is the mint area. The mint was planted in a wooden container a couple years ago and has since been neglected. Although mint is best contained (since it can take over a garden with its minty-ness) you can see from the photo below that the container fell apart and the mint is free to spread. It looks so pretty and I love the taste of mint so I don’t want to mess with it – for now.

The key lime is not as fortunate. We will most likely lose this one in the year. Luckily it gave us one last crop of limes before its demise. The citrus greening is too much work for me to try to fight. After the key lime we will still have the Persian Lime and Grapefruit trees. I fear that these won’t last past a couple of years unless some easy treatment exists for the greening.

Butternut Squash

Squashes have always proved difficult for me to grow. I have tried growing them from seed many times and many times I produce nothing. 
The first challenge I face is that the leaves die off and rot away before anything can even be produced. Usually some bug attacks them or the Florida humidity molds them to death.
If I get past that stage, it will start flowering but no fruit fully develops. This is due to the lack of successful pollinators for the squash (bugs and bees) and the fact that they require both the male and female flower to bloom at the same time to produce the final product. 
This year the plants grew. Squashes leaves traveled in all directions. Finally I had enough blooms to attempt to hand pollinate the squash fruits. The end result was two butternut squashes (the nicest and tastiest one is above. To pollinate, you find both the male and female flowers. The female flowers have a green undeveloped fruit attached and the flower has an opening of sort. The male flowers have no fruit attached and a stamen (long yellow stick). I break off the male flower and clear room around the stamen. I then rub the stamen all around the female squash stigma. If things go well, a tasty squash will grow. This method seems to work for me 70% of the time.
The bugs and heat are once again attacking the squash in my garden. I will be pulling the plants out soon. When it works, they taste fantastic. However I don’t have the real estate available in my garden to sacrifice to only produce 2 squashes for the season. I think this will be my last year growing them. They crowded out all the tomatoes so I have no tomato crop this summer.

I did enjoy my roasted butternut squash accompanied by sauteed spinach and quinoa.

Late Fall Update

It has been a while since my last update. The fall and early winter is always the busiest time of year. Gardening tasks have been a small part of my life lately and football and parties have taken over. This has been the best harvest season that I have ever had as a backyard gardener though. I still have lots of garden failures but many more successes this season. Here is an update on what has been going on.

We have had and still have a great crop of Juliet and Cherry Tomatoes. I have not been keeping tally on our harvest but lets just say that we have been non-stop eating tomatoes and I cannot see the end in site at this time.

From Garden

From Garden

From Garden

The tomatoes are taking up most of one of my square foot gardens and a large part of the second one. In spite of this, I was able to harvest a couple of other vegetables. We got one very nice eggplant that we ended up giving to my mother in law at Thanksgiving (we haven’t got an update on how it tasted). We also harvested a couple of small green peppers. I have always struggled with green peppers. There is something nutrient wise that they are lacking and I have not done research to figure out what that is. Figuring out how to grow better green peppers may be my springtime project.

We also have collards and kale ready to harvest. Here is a picture of one of our collard plants.

From Garden

Squashes are not really growing well either this season. It seems like we have better luck when my husband randomly drops squash seeds throughout the yard than when I actually attempt to plant them in a garden. To their defense, I have not been hand pollinating them. I guess sometimes you cannot rely on nature to do it. We do have one acorn squash that looks promising, but that is one my husband randomly planted.

From Garden

Baby it’s cold outside
Last winter we had unseasonable cold temperatures and it looks like this winter may be following suit. We have already had at least one night of freezing temperatures and there are more to come next week. Typically we don’t see freezing temperatures in central Florida until at least January or February. I have and plan to continue to cover my square foot gardens for as long as I can but I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. Some of the vegetables won’t mind the cold temperatures but the tomatoes will definitely die off if I don’t protect them.

From Garden

Future Plans
I am getting ready to start seeds again for some cold weather crops. I might be too late for some of them but I am going to try anyway. With my Juliet and Cherry Tomato success, I might try to grow some Roma tomatoes as well…..we’ll see……