Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Time at Florida's Disney World-Living with the Land

What a beautiful time of year and especially nice weather in Florida. We took advantage of it when we visited Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL last week. I had gardeners in mind when we took the boat tour through the Living with the Land attraction in Epcot, one of the worlds at Disney. Disney also includes the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.

Living with the Land is an amazing inside look at experimental farming in deserts and aquaculture. Talk about intensive gardening, small space gardening, and thinking out of the box. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin plants not grown in the ground, but supported in the air. Plants in PVC piping swirled into growing stations that can stack many levels. We saw vanilla and stevia plants and many unusual varieties. The greenhouses grow crops native to many cultures and the produce is used in the Epcot restaurants.

The World Showcase at Epcot has many nations offering delicious native dishes. You can take advantage of those places, but if you are on a budget, go to the cafeteria-style restaurant in the same building as Living with the Land for a delicious meal. Especially a great place to treat the kids and adults to a sit-down, air-conditioned time for eating and relaxing.

I took a lot of photos inside the growing chambers, but it is a bit difficult to do so while riding along in a boat. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos and that some day, you too will get the opportunity to take the tour.

Inside the greenhouse



Enormous lemons bigger than grapefruit

Sweet potatoes
Varieties of lettuce


Unusual growing method, eh?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Irrigating Your Garden

Greetings from Florida. We found our garden in good shape when we arrived this fall. My DH couldn't wait to get the plants he started in Michigan into the ground. They were packed in the back of the truck at least four water either. They seem to be okay, no worse for the travel. Of course the sun and warm weather perks up everyone...even plants!

The first thing after planting the lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, he rigged up his irrigation system through out the garden.You can see from the pictures he uses pvc pipe and spaghetti style tubes. Each plant has a tube to water it. With one flick of the faucet, the garden gets watered. No more hanging onto a hose. It's fast and easy.

As you can see, this is a raised garden. I like the look of it with the deep green metal sides. We have two 6' x 10' planters with ten inch sides and a walkway between them.

Garden Tip: Our neighbor across the street decided to irrigate his garden like this too. He found window spline from the aluminum retail store makes a great tube to use.

To read more about this garden, click on the raised garden label in the list at the right.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Harvest Festival Fun

On a beautiful October evening, our small town celebrated fall with the Harvest Festival. Just look at these glowing trees in the Veteran's Park.

What's a festival without a parade. Since we are a large agricultural area, farm equipment and farming was spotlighted in the parade...even the festival farm family rode a float.

The farmer's market set up in the park was a popular spot along with kettle korn and apple cider and donut vendors. Gorgeous mums and delicious veggies on display for sale.

Grand Rapids has the Artprize, but we have Hay Bale art. Every one of these creations were made with hay bales. So much fun to tour the over 40 entries for the art contest. Very talented hay bale artists!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

End-of-Season Gardening Tips

The garden has been put to bed for the winter.
End-of-season gardening, a sad time for gardeners. The plants have been pulled. Perhaps some carrots and beets are still in the ground able to stay safe until the big freeze occurs. Be sure to pull them when the weatherman calls for freezing temperatures so the vegetables do not freeze, then rot in the ground. Allow them to dry after pulling in order to store them for the winter stews and soups.

Because we leave for Florida in the fall, my DH cleans out everything. He roto-tilled the garden in order to break up the soil and planted winter rye. The rye comes up, then in the spring, he turns it under to give more nutrients to the soil.

In the photo you can see the strawberry bed which will winter over. These are June bearing strawberries. The snow cover will keep them warm in the winter. I know that sounds impossible, but snow is a good insulator for the plants.

For more end-of-season garden tips, read another article previously posted here.

Now is the time to finish up your garden journal. Make notes while you have next year's plan swirling in your head. Before you know it, you'll be planting seed and digging in your garden next spring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vegetables in Our September Garden This Fall

Fall gardens can still produce good eatin' for your family. Just because the weather is cooler, does not mean you have to give up on gardening until spring. Today I share a picture tour of our fall garden. (The last post tells you what we pulled out of the garden. This one tells you what is still growing and producing for us.)

Please note, since the last post, we have no more sweet corn or zucchini. 

The strawberry plants are in the garden. Click on the previous post for information and photos of our new strawberry bed.

Now join me as we check out what delicious veggies we DO have!!

We have been very pleased with the Kentucky Wonder pole beans. Yes, they grew very tall and my DH had to add more concrete re-enforcement wire to make an eight foot support for them.

Pole beans are long, thin, and tender. Not what I imagined. A happy surprise for me.

Cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli are all good growers in cool weather.  

 Garden Tip:  Sprinkle one teaspoon of ammonium sulphate (21-0-0) around the base of these plants after they have been growing in the garden for four-five weeks in order to promote growth. (The numbers indicate the amount of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium in the material.)

Broccoli is tasty again in the cool weather and no worry about finding the green worms on the plants with cold temperatures.

We are already digging up the sweet potatoes, but leaving some to grow larger. 

Tomatoes are flourishing on the vines. We have fantastic crops of these versatile red fruits.

We also have cauliflower, peppers, beets, carrots, sugar snap peas, and onions in the garden. 

I hope you are enjoying some good eatin' from your garden this fall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vegetable Garden September Update

Clearing out the garden...end of season
Middle of September and the vegetable gardening season is near its end. Here is an update on what we have removed from our garden. You can see from the photo, there are large empty spaces now.

We have pulled out:
27 pole bean plants, the first planting
8 foot row of jade green beans
8 foot row of yellow wax pencil pod beans
8 foot row of purple beans
My DH reports we harvested approximately 50 pounds of beans from these rows. We are currently harvesting the next planting of pole beans.
We saved five large pumpkins for our grandkids. The punkins, not the kids, each weighed about 25 lbs.

Pumpkins and butternut squash harvested and area now planted in new strawberry bed (see previous post on 9/15/11)

One lonesome zucchini left

Pulled muskmelon and watermelon plants
Last planting of corn

Removed four plantings of sweet corn. There were four eight foot rows in each planting. We planted Northern Extra Sweet..each planting got sweeter! We ended up with short ears of corn due to the dry weather. Still tasted good.

Dug all potatoes--Red Pontiac, Yukon, German Butterball, and Fingerlings (which grew the best and our first year to try them)

13 Avalon butternut squash

Next posting I'll tell what is left in our September garden!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Transplanting Strawberry Plants--New Strawberry Bed

This year's strawberry bed

Thinking spring already. My DH is planning for a new strawberry bed next year. He has already transplanted the runners of strawberry plants into the new bed on the west side of the garden. This section of the garden stays wet in the spring and it is a struggle to till, so it is a good place to keep strawberries. The east bed produced very well this June, but time for a change. This area is tillable and will allow my hubby to plant an early spring crop in the soil.

My DH suggests starting a new bed every three to four years. There are 225 plants of the June bearing All Stars variety in this new location. We like the June bearing fruit better than the ever bearing varieties. June is a high production crop and tastier, or so we think.

Healthy plants which are connected to the mother plant and ready for transplanting. We call them runners.
This photo shows the small plants that are called runners from the large mother plants. My DH digs them up carefully to re-plant in the new bed.

Garden Tip: When transplanting, do not bury the heart of the plant and be sure the roots are healthy.
The new strawberry bed

We have a straw path down the center of the bed so it is easy to reach all the plants for picking the fruit. The old bed spread runners into the moist straw allowing a great place for the runners to thrive.

Stay tuned for the results next June. Lip smacking, juicy strawberries. Mmmmm.....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fall is Here in Michigan..Time for Pumpkins and Squash

Our pumpkin vines got the powdery mildew early this year and began dying off sooner than usual. My DH picked the pumpkins although not completely orange. But as you can see from the photo, the pumpkins are getting orange.

Notice the two outer pumpkins lying on their sides. They do not have bottoms. Our kindergarten grandson brought it home from school last spring, so we planted it in the garden. These football shaped "pumpkins" are the result. We do not know the variety, but it certainly does not make good jack-o-lantern "punkins"!

If you look closely at the pumpkin on the left, you will see how my DH carved our granddaughter's name in it early in the season. As the pumpkin grows, the name stretches larger. It turned out very well this year.

Here is a close-up of Aubrey's pumpkin

Last year we had way too many pumpkins, so my DH removed some to allow the fruit to get the nutrients and grow bigger. Well, we just barely had five for our five grandkids. Guess he won't get so culling happy next year. Whew!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

County Fair Time

Did anyone enter their veggies into your county fair this year? We didn't, but we still went to see the animals and the veggies. Outstanding entries this year. So many unusual projects and amazing photos seemed to appear this year.

The fair is a wonderful place for kids to showcase their talents and to learn about showmanship. The lessons learned here will be with them for a lifetime.

One of the monster trucks at the fair.

Artists painted doors and they were auctioned off for charity.

I love this chicken.. Really striking colors. Doesn't show up too well here.
This girl was so proud of her chicken and allowed us to pet it. I'd never heard of petting a chicken!!

Horse barn

Of course I HAD to add this photo of the veggies. Lookin' good.