Category Archives: In The Garden

In The Garden: Season Change

There are those who say that the seasons in South Florida don’t change much, and I understand why, but if you are in the garden the change of┬áseason is not so subtle. I was at a Mark Stanley’s Everyone’s Birthday Celebration Pot Luck two weeks ago. The weather was still wicked hot, and it was

Environment: Ducklings Jump For Mother

In this video a hen duck calls her just hatched ducklings to jump out of their nest in a hollow palm tree, and they do. Each one of them jumps 12 to 15 feet to the ground and all of them walked away with her.

In The Garden: Fall & Winter 2012 and 2013

This fall and winter there is a great deal to see and to eat in my South Florida Garden. I have gained a little extra time this year to spend at the homestead garden and I can see how that is paying off. I have been harvesting turmeric and ginger that grew all summer in

In The Garden: More About Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are good for the soil. All summer long their vines and heart shaped leaves keep the soil covered. The mulch below the vines breaks down in cool comfort. The swelling potatoes gently move the soil repairing any compaction issues that existed before them. I find the soil below the potato vines to be black, well aggregated (lumpy) and loaded with worm castings. The weeds that are coming up around my transplants are easy to slip out of the soil where the potatoes were. The new crops are growing as if all of their soil needs are being met, and the soil is holding moisture much longer than the native soil.

In The Garden: Growing Lima Beans

A few years ago I began growing Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus) in the garden when I scored some Violet’s Multicolored lima beans at a seed swap. Lima beans will grow well in the hottest weather we have here in South Florida, and when they begin to yield, they will supply lots of very nice buttery

In The Garden: Revisiting Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato plant has multiple uses in the garden as a root crop, a leaf crop, and a cover crop. All parts can be used to feed livestock as well as people and it is at its best growing in hot dry sandy soil. This is a great permaculture crop for South Florida.

In The Garden: October 2011, Plant Now!

Fall is the beginning of our cold crop planting season in South and Central Florida. Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Basil and Beans that were started in August may be getting ready to fruit, and may ripen fruit before our first frost. If you are starting those plants now you will have to protect them from the

Environment: It’s Raining

I become a believer around rain. We Floridians have been in a long and exceptional drought since winter (ours is not the only state in an exceptional drought). All anyone here talks about is rain. No conversation ends that someone doesn’t speak of needing rain, with agreement all around. It’s raining and I am grateful.

In The Garden: Summer Crops For South Florida

For many years I let my gardens fallow over the summer all the while feeling quite sure that there were crops that we could grow here in South Florida in the summer time, but I couldn’t figure out what they were, and I didn’t know who to ask. In order to save you the same

In The Garden: When It Is Cold, Sheets & Straw To The Rescue

Even with expecting cold weather, choosing our warmest spots for our most tender vegetables, and growing lots of brassicas, onions, and carrots every where else, we need lots of great strategy for protecting our tender and often favorite vegetables. Local farmers are losing millions of dollars in tomatoes in these low temperatures. There isn’t much they can do for a field of tomato plants in 20 degree weather, but we gardeners having far fewer plants to protect, can afford to put lots of effort into just a few plants.

In The Garden: When It Got Cold

The fall of 2009 was very hot and humid. We didn’t have night time temperatures below 70 degrees f. until it was officially winter time. By the time New Years Eve rolled around we had begun to have extremely cold weather and it continued well into February giving us very few warm days in between

In The Garden: Growing Legumes

Many growers have forgotten about legumes as nitrogen fixers, or have forgotten how to use them to help build garden soil. This would be unforgettable information except that it is easier to buy a bag of fertilizer. The bag of fertilizer method is easier for sure, but it is more expensive, hard on soil, and is a potential pollution threat to our water ways. Legumes lock up nitrogen for future use. Plants know how to tease nutrients out of soil, and how to attract and make deals with bacteria, fungi, and protozoa for the nutrients they hold in their bodies. Growing legumes enriches the soil and the microbes in the soil with nitrogen that plants are able to use.

In The Garden: What To Plant In April In South Florida

It is April in the South Florida garden, and the winter vegetables are loosing their shine. It is time to pull out the last of the carrots, and as the broccoli spears get longer and begin flowering it is time to harvest the leaves for the cook pot. The dill is flowering, the cilantro too, and the onions are putting on some serious size. My last crop of lettuce is nearly picking size, and the older crops are all bolting. The peas and tomatoes are ripening fast now, and the eggplant and the peppers are flowering.

In The Garden: Creating Support For Your Vegetable Plants

In the garden it is important to create support for your climbing vegetable plants. Pole beans, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes benefit from good support systems. In the case of tomatoes, and for our region specifically, a tomato support system should be designed to also support coverings like tarps or sheets, in case of a frost

In The Garden: Growing Bitter Melon

In previous posts I have mentioned growing bitter melon in the garden. For many years I have enjoyed eating this unusual asian bitter gourd. While working in Chinese restaurants I had the good fortune to eat food that Chinese chefs do not make for their American clientele. Each day the chef made something traditional for

Late September In The Garden

It is late September in the garden. The new moon has just passed. The last day of summer is past, and it is snowing in Colorado. It is still wicked hot here in South Florida, but fall weather is right around the corner. This is a good time to put seeds and transplants in the

In The Garden: Companion Planting

I have been studying companion planting in the garden. With a single google search you or I can come up with myriad charts for companion planting, so I see no reason to repeat that arrangement of information. Rather I am going to write about how I am grouping the vegetables I am planting this year

In The Garden: Summer 2009

Here’s what’s going on in the garden this summer of 2009. I am growing okra, black eye peas, peanuts, green peppers and sweet potatoes as well as my perennial, asparagus. Long Beans have just quit, and new long beans are in the ground. It is perfect timing for some new seeds, so I put in

Today In The Garden

Today when I got up and went outside it was barely light, and getting darker. As I worked through my morning chores the darkness closed in, the wind blew and thunder shook the sky. It was a strange morning in the garden, they don’t usually start out like that, and in that strangeness, because it

In The Garden: Growing Yard Long Beans

In The Garden: It is nearly planting time and Pole Beans make a great hot weather crop and a great way to start out in the garden this August. There are several types of beans that grow on poles. The Yard Long Bean, Vigna ungulculata is my favorite so far. Yard Long Beans look like