Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Our 2013 Vegetable Garden in South Florida

On my journey to be a better South Florida vegetable gardener, I gave myself (and the garden) a year off.  For me a year to contemplate, analyze and ponder my mistakes.  For the garden, a time-out for being a bully; for pushing me around with it's caterpillar's, it's anthracnose, it's powdery mildew and all it's mysteries.  I went into this project thinking, "vegetable gardening is going to be so easy, a breeze...I can do this urban farming stuff."  But at the end of the season with only a few tomatoes in hand and one hot pepper plant to show for, somehow all I felt was deflated and beat down..."why was nature conspiring against me?"   So for a year I let the garden lie fallow.

During last year's sabbatical I considered quitting, "well this just isn't for me, I have better things to do with my time...I will support our local farmer markets instead."  Only the opposite seemed to be happening, I found myself perusing through my big bag of seeds on the shelf, I was going by our local nursery looking for vegetable plants..."why yes, by Joe, I will not be beat down by some bugs, and viruses, and oh yea did I say caterpillars."  Ok it does seem daunting but I will prevail....won't I?  Heck yes I will, with this new attitude adjustment, I will have the best darn tootin' vegetable garden in South Florida!

So here are a few sidebar notes of my new plan of action this year:
1) Alternate the planting of new seedlings throughout the season.  This way I am introducing new plants about every four weeks so their growth rates and harvest times are stacked.
2) In the past I had a hard time with heirloom tomatoes so I intend to use hybrid disease resistant varieties this year instead.  Anything to make my learning process easier and my tummy happy.  I love tomatoes so much I am bound and determined to grow a great tomato!
3) Going back to companion planting, which really worked great at keeping the insects to a manageable level.  Now this could totally be in my mind but it seems the performance and overall health of the plants were better with their companion herbs.  Stay tuned for my companion planting post.
4) Trying new things rather than going back to repeat my wrongs.  For example, trying a subtropical legume like pigeon peas or an European kohlrabi and there are all kinds of cool Asian greens to try.

First phase, I gave myself a little help with a few store bought transplants- hardier disease resistant hybrid varieties, already 6 weeks old ready to put in the ground.  I bought a 6-pack each of 'Sweet 100' tomatoes and 'Snow Crown' cauliflower.  Since I only needed a few plants, I shared the rest with my best friend (hers are taller than mine so go figure that one out).  This will allow me a head start to get some plants in the ground now while the rest are taking their time sprouting from seed.  This cauliflower is supposed to be an early producer.  So when it's done something else will be ready to take it's place.
The 'sweet 100' tomatoes mature in 65 days and the clustering fruits are about 1 inch
The 'snow crown' cauliflower matures in 50 days and heads can be up to 2 lbs.

The green onions are actually organics from the grocery store that we ended up not 
eating so I put them in the ground though I think that was just luck, lol.

The second phase will be transplanting the second batch of plants in the ground.  I put these babies in soil few weeks ago:
'Paris Market' carrots (which did nothing for me in the past so we'll see),
'Black From Tula' tomato (I know, I know I said no heirlooms...),
'Jubilee' tomato (a yellow variety),
'White stem' bok choy,
'Michihili' Chinese cabbage,
'Oregon Sugar Pod II' snow pea,
'Peach Melba Superior' nasturium,
Summer savory (herb) and
Fennel (herb).
We have been getting monsoon amounts of rain the past 5 days and about half of them have sprouted.  Plus I already moved the Oregon sugar pod II peas (60 day maturity) from their pots in the ground.

Hopefully by November/December phase three is purchasing another set of baby plants from the nursery to go in the ground.  As well as plant another set of seeds.  Would like to do some butter lettuces, spinach, radishes, sweet Chinese mustard greens, broccoli, eggplants and more tomatoes but we shall see shan't we!

Well that's all I have for today friends though I will keep you posted as to the progress!  
Hope you all are doing well and staying dry!
Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,


  1. Your plans for the vegie garden are spot-on. Looking forward to seeing your progress. We are heading into summer here and I'm tempted to rip everything out and leave it empty. My work commitments have meant the poor vegies haven't had the TLC they need. A rest from it, then a fresh start with a good plan, like you are doing, is the answer I think.

    1. Hi Missy, I just read your post and I see you did end up cleaning house, lol! Oh my gosh yes, I couldn't agree more... I never realized how much work it was going to be and how much time it was going to take until I started one. Well, just think how much better your spirit will be and how much richer the soil will be when you are ready to get back into the swing of things. Wishing you a most wonderful start to your summer!

      Best wishes,