Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heat and Lettuce

It is hot here in Florida...high 80' and nighttime temps in the 70's. Very unusual for this time of year. What is it going to do to our lovely lettuce plants? Will the heat make them bitter? Aaarghhh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Canned Pumpkin Scarce This Year

I hear the growing buzz and notice the empty shelves usually occupied by canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is scarce this year due to crop failures especially in the 5000 acres of special pumpkins grown for Libby canning near Morton, IL.

So if you grew pumpkins this year, don't carve all of them into jack-0-lanterns for Halloween! Although those field grown pumpkins are not the tastiest for pumpkin pie, I bet we could add enough eggs, cinnamon, spices, and topping to make it acceptable. The article I read suggests growing small Sugar pumpkin, the squatty Cinderella pumpkin and the buff-colored Long Island Cheese to make a tasty pie. Cut the pumpkin into chunks, bake it on a cookie sheet, scoop the flesh from the rind and puree.

More information about the great pumpkin shortage can be found here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Florida Garden

We are here in FL arriving in the midst of 93 temperatures...very unusual for Oct. Of course, this did not deter my DH from attacking our small plot we call a garden. The weeds were waist high and the ground is so dry, it was torture trying to dig it all out. He is afraid all the weed seeds will take hold and we will face a war on weeds all season.

He thought he was going to be able to pick up some horse manure for the garden, but sadly the lady on Kitten Trail never emailed us back to give us her address or phone number. He really wants to amend the soil.

He brought his lettuce plants, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage plants that he grew while at home in MI. Alas, we were on the road too long and the plants are not in great shape for planting, but he is setting them out this afternoon. It finally cooled down today and is pleasant.

He is also planting the onion sets and radishes today. Again we are going through that honeymoon phase of hope that all gardeners have when first beginning the garden. We always envision fabulous crops, perfect weather, and no pests. We'll see how it goes this winter. I hope you will click in once in awhile to find out the news.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winter Time Gardening

Perhaps to us Northerners winter gardening is an oxymoron. Our gardens lie sleeping under the blanket of winter snow. However, those who live in the Southern regions can grow beautiful crops in the winter, rather than during the hot summer time.

My husband's dream has always been to garden 12 months out of the year. He is now able to do that since we are snowbirds who fly away to Florida for the winter.

Gardening in the South is different than our Michigan gardens, so we have had to re-think gardening. We are learning. This year will be the third southern garden he has planted.

So those of you who thought you wouldn't be reading about gardening in this blog in the winter are wrong. You can read about our Florida garden. Come along with us for the hopes and dreams, ups and downs of gardening starting all over again this next week.

If you are a southern gardener, we would love to get some gardening tips from you.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Alas, the time has come to acknowledge that summer can't last forever. We must prepare our gardens for next spring. I know that you gardeners are already planning for next spring, aren't you? And you know that next year's garden will be even better if you change some of the things you did this year. My DH has decided he is going to run his rows the opposite direction next year and where he is going to plant the crops in the spring.

It is time to quit fertilizing so that all the plant's strength will go into the making of the vegetable. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet corn and summer squash, should be harvested before the nights drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (FYI we already had a good frost on Oct. 1) We have no tomatoes this year due to the late blight. We dug the potatoes a little early too when we saw the blight on the vines.

Dig carrots and let them dry to reduce mildew or rot from forming before putting them in storage for the winter. Pull up the plants and place them in a pile to burn them. Burning gets rid of bugs and disease.

Better soil--Better production

Roto-till the clay-based soil now allowing the winter weather to further break up the soil before spring. This finer soil helps seed germination in the spring. It is also time to add amendments to the soil and work them in with the roto-tiller. We are fortunate to live in a city that collects yard waste and then piles it and turns it to make compost for the city residents. We had several loads brought in this fall and my DH spread it on the garden. Our soil is clay, but by roto-tilling in the compost, it helps to make it a clay loam soil which will produce better plants. If you have nice rich soil you may not need to break it up in the fall.

This is a good time to take soil samples to your extension office. Contact them for the best way to take samples from your garden and for the charge for the testing. The report will include a list of nutrients to add next spring before planting. The test will also determine the pH factor of the soil and recommend steps for making it more alkaline or acidic.

Taking time now to clean up your garden will make a great difference for next spring by ridding your garden of pests and disease and amending the soil so you will have better production next year.