June In The Organic Garden, S. Florida
It is June now and everything in my S. Florida organic garden is changing with our weather. The rainy season has commenced, and that means high temps and high humidity. Rain brings some wind and cooler temperatures and if the sun doesn’t come out again it will stay comfortable outdoors. If the sun comes out it will be a sauna. This is high breeding time for the mosquitos and we are walking prey.
In the garden pole beans are doing real well. The collard greens are still producing leaves and I planted basil in the ground nearby. Green peppers are in high gear production and I am still getting eggplant harvests. The oldest large tomato plants are finished and their remains have been removed from the garden. In the straw mulch that was beneath the tomato plants the pill bugs and sow bugs are as thick as ants in an ant hill. That makes me think the soil is in great condition, and so I may plant the sweet potato slips I am making in that bed, and mulch again. Tomatoes and sweet potatoes are not in the same family. It should work out just fine.
I have black eye peas I put in a month ago. They are giving me lots of peas now. They are covered with aphids, ants, lady bugs and lady bug larva. The plants seem to be oblivious of the ongoing war on their leaf tips. Behind the black eye peas a volunteer cherry tomato plant leaned out of its bed and found my compost leaf fence. It is a huge sprawling plant and the tomatoes it makes are the sweetest berries I ever had. I am enjoying the fruit very much, but I have hard feelings about it feeding off of next season’s compost. I find it interesting to watch what is going on with this huge and healthy tomato plant. When I reach in to harvest I reach past spiders and their webs, I also see many predatory stink bugs and wasps cruising around in there although I don’t see any pests or the damage they might be causing.
Nearby Okra in red and green are coming up out of the ground and a few beds over peanuts are coming up.
In the garden box with the pole beans are bitter gourd plants. They are climbing on the pole beans to reach the fence, and two sweet banana pepper plants are still making peppers. I recently learned that pepper plants are perenials, so I may try leaving them in the ground even when the rest of the bed is fallow and covered over. Late lettuce I put there is actually making palatable lettuce. I wasn’t expecting that to work out. Lettuce is really out of season now. I think it is just shady enough there. A volunteer tomato plant in that bed is sporting some plum tomatoes in green. I can afford to wait and see if those will make it. Nearby a couple of late season tomato plants are also holding large green tomatoes. If the plants begin to fail I will make pickled green tomatoes.
In the next bed over all crops have finished and that bed has been manured and covered over for the fallow season. The fourth bed in that yard, a mound finished out with bush beans after a great potato harvest is covered over with rabbit cage cleanings and manure with straw on top.
I have more beds to cover over I am using the Direct to Garden Compost method for the gardens I am covering over now. I won’t plant crops in them again until the fall comes.
On a fence line my blue Passion Fruit vine I planted last summer has begun to drop its fruit. They are delicious. Pineapples are taking on some size now that the rain has started. They will be ready soon. Pidgeon pea plants are coming up, and my young avocado tree is loaded with new leaves. The mango trees are loaded with fruit and I am getting ready for huge harvests. I hope to dehydrate as much as my machine will handle and freeze the rest. Every day or so my husband and I eat a ripe black berry from our new plants. They are young plants and I am growing them in pots up off of the ground for ease of harvesting.
Blueberries in the ground beneath an old pine tree are still surviving. They have good leaves and make a few berries. They are very new and although I hope they make it I don’t have a lot of faith in their ability to survive here. They will be a year old in my garden later this summer.
Two of my compost bins have compost in the curing stages now. When I get a chance I will combine them and start a new compost in the empty bin. Down at the shed in an opening I created three cow manure compost piles and an on the ground lasagna garden bed that will sit fallow until fall.
I was expecting the winter garden vegetables to be done now, but many that were recently planted are still feeding us including a volunteer mustard green plant we ate from last night.
This is a great time to be planning next season’s gardens, and making lots of compost, but this is also a time when you can eat many tropical fruits and summer vegetables from your organic garden.