Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Planting

The weather warmed up and the temps are supposed to be in the 50's at night for the next several days, so today, I took the opportunity to plant some stuff out in the garden.  I sowed some pea seeds-Sugar Snap and Lincoln, and transplanted a bunch of lettuce-Iceberg, Romaine and Buttercrisp along with Bright Lights Swiss chard.  I pulled up the  broccoli plants that had stopped producing side shoots and replanted more broccoli and cabbage in their places.  I filled six 4x4 beds with seeds and plants and it felt great!  I also got a small amount of my seed garlic planted in some large planters.  Tomorrow, I need to finish planting all the garlic, shallots, leeks and onions. I'm about six weeks late planting the garlic but I kept it in the fridge so hoping it will still bulb up.  

I think I will also plant the potatoes tomorrow.  Last year I planted in mid February, but thinking if I planted a little early, I might be able to harvest before it gets wet in the spring.  I may have to cover them if we get some late freezes, but a lot of locals plant in January (or earlier), so I'm giving it a try.

While I'm out there, I'll have the kids plant carrots and radishes, too.  Busy planting weekend in the Sanctuary Garden!

No pictures today, it was dark by the time I finished so I'll snap a few in the morning.

Have a good night:)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Florida Freeze

Winter has finally made it to Florida and I couldn't be happier!  It's been so warm here, unlike much of the U.S., I thought we'd have another winter less year.  Last year was so mild, none of my fruit trees or bushes produced except for my Sunraycer nectarine-that tree went from a 1/2" caliper to a two inch caliper in one season and put on almost 10' of growth! It gave me eight deliciously sweet nectarines and is already starting to blossom.  I shouldn't have let it produce since it was in it's first year, but I have a feeling this tree can handle it.

Right now, my kitchen breakfast nook is filled with plants waiting out the cd weather.  The cats love it- it's like their own personal jungle!   Here's the oldest cat, Phoebe, checking out some tomato transplants that are, patiently, waiting for warmer weather so they can go outside.  

These were purchased from HD after the last freeze a few weeks ago.  They were marked down to .50 each.  Guess the store thought they wouldn't make it.  A little TLC and sea kelp fertilizer and they are good to go!

Hope everyone is staying warm!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Progress

I'm checking things off my garden project list!  I've got new hardware on my fence gate that serves the garden (thanks to my hubbie and Little Man), the new beds are all stained to match the old ones, the new beds are all filled with garden soil, tomato and pepper seeds have been started and I cleaned up the apple tree area.  I feel so accomplished...till I look at all the stuff still left to do.  

Speaking of filling the beds with garden soil...

I have, historically, used Mel's mix to fill my beds.  It's wonderful and I have no complaints about its ability to grow great produce.  My complaint is, it is expensive.  Since I started with one bed and added one a season for the last year or two, it wasn't a huge hit to the wallet all at once.  The issue this year is that I added five 4'x8' beds and filling them all with Mel's mix was gonna cost a fortune.  A friend of mine started a garden two years ago and filled all of her beds with garden soil she had delivered.  I called and found I could get "good, black garden soil" for $18 a yard!  The woman on the phone assured me it was perfect for raised garden beds and growing vegetables.  I am not one to change something that's working great already, but for that price, I would be a fool not to try it.  It looks pretty nice; it's loose and rich and looks a lot like my compost.  No sand at all, which is great because all the bargain brand soils and compost I have purchased have contained a lot of sand.  My whole yard is sand so I don't need any more.  Since I had already purchased several bags of vermiculite and peat moss over the winter, I amended the garden soil with these.  I will add worm castings, Azomite and compost to each bed prior to planting to end up with a hybrid Mel's mix/black garden soil.  I'm crossing my fingers that I'll have similar results as I have previous years.  Friends of mine use garden soil exclusively and grow tons of produce so it should work well.  

Here is Little Man playing on the pile of garden soil.  It looks like a small pile in this picture, but I ordered six yards.  It was enough to fill all the beds, top off the existing ones, fill in all the area beneath the apple trees (I'm planting my garlic here this week-it gets a lot of sun and is supposed to be a great companion planting), fill my old fire pit (another garlic planting area) and still have a huge pile left over.

I used it to create a new landscaped area in my front yard.

First, I dug up the sod and covered the area with cardboard.  Then I watered the cardboard thoroughly and added the soil (and photo bombed my own photo with my shadow).

My daughter, the Girly Girl, usually could care less about helping in the yard or garden; my Little Man is the one who loves to help out.  I was surprised when she asked if she could help and then filled a full wheelbarrow full of dirt and spread out several loads after I dumped it.  I suspect it was an attempt to put off cleaning her room, but I will take it.  I love when she wants to hang out with me and I know that the time is coming soon when I won't be cool any more. (Let's face it, I was never cool, I'm a total nerd and kinda proud of it).

I ended up with what I affectionately call "Fish Island".

Its still not planted, but we have freeze watches for the next two days so it will be this weekend before I feel it's safe to add some plants.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but a storm was moving in and I was lucky to get the dirt covered with landscape fabric and my garden tools put away just as the rain started.

Well, that's it for today.  Stay warm!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Garden Goals 2014

I was just reading another garden blog and it had a list of garden goals in the sidebar.  I like that idea, something told keep me in check and accountable.  I am very good at making plans and saying yes to things but I usually get myself in over my head.  It has never stopped me, though!

I have lots of garden goals/projects that I'd like to accomplish this year and I will attempt to list them here.

First the projects:
Finish staining new beds to match existing ones.
Cover walkways with landscape fabric and add gravel
Fix garden gate
Cap off reclaimed water sprinklers and finish installing fresh water irrigation
Remove blood orange tree that hasn't given a single edible orange since planting it several years ago
Work on fruit tree area along fence-remove sod and weeds and make it a proper garden area
Remove dying magnolia in the front yard and replace with a peach tree
Build a moveable trellis/row cover system that is interchangeable and can be moved from bed to bed
Move jasmine vines to west side fence and plant potted muscadine grapes on pergola

Wow, I'm exhausted thinking about all that work!

Now for the goals:

Grow with the intention of eating as much fresh as I can.  Large quantities for putting up can be obtained from the farmers market. Exceptions are potatoes, garlic, onions and cucumbers.
Create a list of recipes and preservation ideas for everything I grow/purchase at market.
Keep an actual garden journal that tracks planting dates, varieties, pests, harvest, etc.
Create a calendar with dates for planting, fertilizing, planting, etc.
Grow a good slicing tomato!
Keep the garden area as neat and orderly as possible.  Put away tools, pots, etc as soon as I'm done.
No shortcuts on projects!  I always end up redoing it at a later date.
Learn as much as I can and enjoy every step along the way.

Anyone else have goals for this gardening season (or year, if you live in the south, like me)?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Seeds Are In!

My mail carrier was good to me today.  She brought three seed orders and some nice sugarcane.  Last week. She brought me lots of onion starts and my seed potatoes so I better get working.

I added another two beds and I am waiting for the weather to cooperate so I can stain them to match the others.  Once that is done, I can have the soil delivered and, then, the gravel for the pathways.  I've been going back and forth on the gravel.  I can't decide between brown and white.  I believe brown will be the lowest maintenance, but I really love the idea of white.  It seems so orderly to me.  I had white stones when there were only two beds and loved it.  I only changed to brown mulch because it was so inexpensive.  I hate having to add more a few times a year, though.  We also are still planning the pool and gravel would be much better once that's in.  

What do you think-brown or white gravel?

I really have to stop worrying about appearance and get peas and carrots planted and tomatoes and peppers started.

Has your mail carrier been good to you, also?

Thanks for reading,