For many of you, gardening season has just begun but for me, it’s a constant turnover. Our cool weather plants have long gone, replaced by summertime sweeties like okra and peppers, peanuts and pumpkins. Yep, if you want a pumpkin for your doorstep come Halloween, you’d better start planting it now. These babies take a while–especially if you like them big!
And we do. The bigger the better. These beauties were from a few seasons back, but it’s always a good idea to remind yourself of the goal. Helps to keep you motivated through the long hot summer. Peppers enjoy the heat as well and are thriving in varying stages. Green…
Hot chili… More
Just had to share how wonderful my tomatoes are doing. After battling hornworms and stink bugs and a host of crickets (diatomaceous earth works wonders for creepy crawlies), my tomatoes are beating the odds. Remember, I’m totally organic and out in a wide open field of sunshine which makes my tomatoes more vulnerable to stress. Too much heat, too many bugs, the occasional thunderstorm that wreaks havoc with pelting wind… You get the drift. It’s tough out there!
But they are doing well. Not terribly beautiful, but producing some serious beauties. I’ve chosen Better Bush (shown above), Beefmaster (shown directly below), followed by Celebrity.
A few brown spots, plucked leaves (hornworm damage) and various spots, but all seem to be thriving. I try and harvest mine when they begin to turn red. I do so in an effort to beat the beetles and worms who love crawling in and devouring my tomatoes as they mature. Simply pick and place in a sunny window. Voilá — red tomatoes within days! More
As my pumpkins grow, I want them to be comfortable. Cozy. I want them to stretch out without encumbrance. The easy solution is to keep adjacent rows clear and “open” with my handy-dandy black paper. This prevents the vines from running into other plants. Easy enough, but I’m afraid it might overheat my sweet baby pumpkins. As an alternative, I’ve planted my pumpkins in the end rows next to the grass borders, giving them plenty of room to spread. Grass is nice and comfy, right?
But my grass is filled with weeds, weeds that grow tall and fast. From experience, I’ve learned the two (pumpkin vines and weeds) are incompatible because as your vines grow and the grass grows, your pumpkin leaves get overwhelmed by the mess growing up from below. You can’t mow under them. You can’t clip the weeds free. Last year at the school garden, the kids and I placed lattice beneath them which seemed to help, but I don’t have enough of the stuff for my home garden. Remember, we’re talking 100 ft. X 4o ft. That’s a lot of lattice! More
Ever catch yourself saying this as you stand and gaze upon your garden?
I have. Am, I should say. My garden is going through some “growing pains” at the moment. Most horribly, our frost “bite” right before Christmas. Weather man modified his forecast AFTER I was able to prepare. (Aaagh!) Watching the news one evening, I found myself gaping at the television screen. Hard frost? Freeze, north of us? Oh no…
Yep. I have three forty-foot rows that look just like this one. We salvaged what tomatoes we could, pulled the plants and still have these to clean up. Tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow. Same fate befell my wax peppers, forcing us to clean, cut and can Christmas eve and Christmas day. (Like I had time for that?!?!) More
This week the kids continued bug duty, as their pumpkins are being devoured by the day. It’s a sad sight when the kids clamor to inspect their pumpkins only to find the leaves eaten half off their plant.
Sad. Very sad. So they continued with their dispatch duty and in the process, found this little guy. More
It’s a very exciting day when you visit your garden and discover your seeds have sprouted. (Germinated–for you scientific types out there.) Last week Lower Elementary worked hard to plant their red beans and this week?
Simply marvelous. Gorgeous, really. Bean sprouts are one of my favorite sprouts in the garden and you can easily see why. More
And I do mean fiddling, because as a first-timer using this method, I frankly have no idea what I’m doing. But I’m desperate. The squash bugs were BAD this year. They ate my squash, my zucchini–they’re even after my watermelon as we speak! They’re beasts, pure and simple. Hungry beasts. And with our pumpkin seeds freshly planted, I don’t want to take the chance of losing a single one to squash bugs. (The kids would never forgive me!) As to these barren looking beds of mine you’ll have to trust me. There are seeds under there.
But how does one work these floating row covers to prevent squash bugs, exactly? I’ve seen pictures. I know they’re supposed to allow light and water in while keeping bugs out. Hopefully they’re allowing a nice breeze to whistle through, else we run into a fungus problem. Then of course there are the afternoon thunderstorms to consider. When the wind picks up around these parts of Florida, it usually picks up my row covers right along with it! Anchor pins are not what they’re cracked up to be. My rock weights don’t always work, either. Mother Nature is a tough old broad.
So setting my metal half-moons in the dirt, I then cover them with an ultra sheer fabric cover. That is what a floating row cover is, right? (Anyone feel free to jump in here.) This should be simple…
After anchoring the ends with pins and rocks, I can only hope it will withstand the winds of summer. Will this row cover be here when I return this afternoon? Weather gal did forecast rain for today…
But gazing upon my handiwork, I think really? Or will I come home to find the white fabric clear across the street in the neighbor’s yard?
That’s the question–or problem, depending on how you like to look at these things. 🙂 How about challenge. Let’s say we forget all this “problem” talk and move on to the challenge. The thrill of the game, the test of wills, the exciting match between myself and Mother Nature. So long as she doesn’t hurl a hurricane my way, I at least stand a chance, don’t you think?
We’ll see. Stay tuned!
Kids went back to school this week and will be back in the school garden next week. Yahoo! Anyone else as excited as I am?
It’s a great day to be in the garden I tell you, and this year, we’re involving the kindergarteners a lot more than we did previous. They’ve proved themselves. They’re weed warriors, happy harvesters… Why, they’re downright garden extraordinaires! And what kindergartener doesn’t like to color?
None I know. So I’ve whipped up a few coloring pages for the kids, complete with fill-in the blank veggie names. Next I’ll put together some word finds and connect the dots pages and then come the quizzes. (I’m sorry but these kids are SMART.) There’s no reason we can’t throw a few quizzes into the mix for fun, is there? I mean, quizzes are fun.
Ask my elementary kids–they’ll tell you. F-U-N spells fun. Yessiree Bob I can see we’re going to have a GREAT year in the garden. And what will we plant to begin? Well, after the weeding and amending of soil, we’re going to plant pumpkins. Three “hip-hip-hoorays” and a twirl and a jump–these kids are going to grow their own pumpkins!
And then they’ll carving them, bake them, and save their seeds. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Sure does. So how about you join us? You’ll find everything you need right here. Then stay tuned! School garden resumes next week. 🙂 In the meantime, for those of you who want a head start on the coloring deal, check the Kid Buzz section of my blog.