Hello! It’s September in southern Florida and it is time to plant the winter garden! I left the garden rest over the summer. This gave me a chance to reflect on how I had been gardening the past seven years and to think about changes that I would like to make. Ultimately, I decided to do a complete redesign of the garden layout. This included removing the raised beds, changing the orientation of the beds so that there is less space dedicated to walkways and having all of the beds interconnected in such a way that visitors can walk through them without a lot of dead-ends. I started planting around Labor Day. The first things to go in were beans- pinto type, black (turtle) and string beans (pole type). Because beans love the warm weather, they popped out of the ground in only a few days and continue to grow rapidly. If you look closely, you will see that I planted the beds differently this year. Instead of growing in soil that has been elevated in a raised bed, I created trenches within the beds to lower the plants below the normal ground level. I then planted in the trenches. All of the trenches within a bed are interconnected, which allows me to water without a sprinkler system. I simply put a hose into the trench and it flows throughout the bed to water all of the plants. Planting this way saves on the costs of raised bed material (wood & hardware that had to be replaced every three to four years) and irrigation materials, and helps rainfall to run towards the plant roots rather than away from them when it rains.
In this picture (right) are the pole beans. These are ready to start blooming and I should have string beans ready to eat in a few weeks! The variety is called Kentucky Wonder and it is a standard green bean that is grown in the south. I have had good luck growing it in the past and I like how these pole beans continue to produce long after bush beans have given up. They are also space savers because most of the growth is up and not out.
Besides the pole beans, I have two kinds of winter squash- butternut and Seminole. These butternut squash are a small to medium size, perfect for one person to eat with a meal. The Seminole squash (left) is suppose to be an heirloom variety that can be cooked in number of ways. I can withstand the hot south Florida climate and resists many of our pests! That is good!! The seeds of both of these are great roasted and salted.
I have also planted cucumbers (right). These are growing up wire trellises and have begun to flower. Soon, hopefully, there were be cucumbers for salads and for canning. Because these are particularly susceptible to powdery mildew and leaf-eating caterpillars, I have to keep a close eye on them and treat the vines promptly to prevent these pests from spreading throughout the garden.
Besides the garden beds, I have also planted in containers. Below, there is a picture of a wheel barrel that has sweet potatoes (yams) growing in it. Both the tuber and leaves are edible and tasty!
Besides the sweet potatoes, I have also planted lettuces and other vegetables on the back wall of my house (right). I have already been harvesting lettuces for meals (after 4 weeks).
The other plants are tomatoes (2 kinds) broccoli, cabbage, collard, kale and Swiss chard. When these are large enough, I will transplant the seedlings into the vegetable garden.
Well, that’s all that’s new in my garden this month. Check back in October to see what else is going on in my home food garden. Until then, take care and don’t fret the weeds of life!