Thursday, June 28, 2012

Debby is DONE!

Well, almost anyway. There is still al little standing water here and there. A few road closures due to flooding. (still) Rivers are still high. But, for the most part she's off with the wind and annoying someone somewhere else. Fishermen that is.

Thank goodness. Now, if I could just send a few inches of this out to Colorado.... Poor souls.

As for us - It will be a long weekend of clean up. We will need to remove the sod and planter from around the rental house, seal it, paint it, make sure that fixes the leaking problem, fix the drywall and the damaged boards inside the wall, replace the carpet and pad, and I'm quite positive I've left something out here.

There is no rain in our forecast for at least a week now. I think I'm OK with that. The rivers near us are all still over capacity. The homes near them are all flooded. We can wait. Besides, I have WAY too much to do to be dodging raindrops right now.

R.I.P. Pig, the turtle. (Yes, that really was her name) Our only real casualty of the storm. While her death can be contributed to the storm it wasn't a direct relation to the storm. Hoping to get Pig II in place before the kids notice. LOL.

The house I was sitting had a minor roof leak that seems OK now, and the chickens are fine although rattled from all the days of high winds. This weekend the girls will have a grand time with them again and hopefully I'll be able to introduce y'all to them. The owner is still a little baffled that we can wrangle them and she can't so she thinks I'm some sort of chicken whisperer. hehehe... I told her I'd be glad to whisper to her chickens any day - when they move into my yard. :-D

Wishful thinking.

Off to get back to normal. Swim lessons today and a Storm (arena football) game apropos...I swear I wouldn't go but my company is hosting the field so as HR and all I should be there for PR...yeha that's it. It has nothing to do with wanting to take my teenaged kid there and show him how cool we are that we are willing to take him to these things. (He does know that I wouldn't step foot there otherwise!)

'Till next time.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Debby so far, and it's only Monday

On Thursday it started raining... and it hasn't stopped yet. It's Monday and 'they' are saying that it isn't going to stop raining until Wednesday or Thursday.

Yippee. Wahoo.... I'm jumping for joy. Can't you tell? No? Hmmm... maybe this is why...
This 9" of water was collected in 24 hours from Sunday morning until this morning. 9 inches.... and that was only one day. My yard is washing away and that is not the worst of it. My plants can be replanted.

My house however can not be replanted. Thankfully and I hate saying it that way (But it's true) it's not the home that we live in currently. It's the house that we rent out...but it still stinks. We just spent our savings buying a car so now any repairs we need to make (and we NEED to make) will have to be on the credit cards. The house is flooding up through the wall and floor joint, and at the window as well. Life is wonderful. *Please note the slight sarcasm choking me here*


The carpets and drywall will need replaced and of course whatever repair needs to be made... *sigh* Mother Nature sure is fickle. We can't even begin to find someone to come out to find the problem or a solution until it stops raining.

When will that be?

HAHAHAHAH!!!! Your guess is as good as mine. Wednesday perhaps...Thursday. Our river flood watch doesn't expire until Thursday... THURSDAY! and they left the Tropical Storm Watch indefinitely due to the forecast being so uncertain.

I sure hope we don't end up with another 9" every 24 hours. I can handle dreary and somewhat rainy, but this much rain is not what I want. I need a little relief so my poor renters don't cry for a ...a.... mutiny. Considering all the rain I feel like I need a sea themed post here.

Besides apparently we need oars to get to work these days.

Stay dry y'all! I sure hope I can get a little drier.

'Till next time!


Harvest Monday 6.25.12

Monday. Dreary Wet. Rainy. Monday.

Here is the main harvest for this week. Pathetic - but it's a harvest!
A small eggplant, a large jalapeno, a bunch of broccoli side shoots and a single deformed cucumber. At least I had something to harvest. Considering how bleak my garden looks right now... I'll take it!

Update on Debby later. We are VERY wet.

Linking into Daphne's Dandelions on this very wet Monday. Make sure yous top by and check out what others are harvesting all over the world! (I bet they aren't so wet!)

'Till next time!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oh, now THAT is different.

It may not have been a new plant to try but it sure is different.

Something I certainly have never seen before anyway.

Have you seen this before?
photo property of UF

It is shiny and teeny tiny. I thought it was a little ring of eggs and went to squish it with my finger... and it FLEW OFF!

I guess this little guy (Gal?) is known as a gold bug and is actually pretty rare. At least around here. Well, I certainly had never encountered a beauty like this. Turns out that the shimmery gold tone can change almost instantly to look just like a lady beetle if s/he is frightened. Mimicking a ladybug is a good thing I suppose. A gardener wouldn't want to lose pest defense, and other bugs avoid them after all.

I couldn't find much other information about the bug though. That is to say besides it's main diet. It likes morning glory vines. I do remember mentioning yesterday that the morning glory and the sweet potato were closely related. Can you guess where I found this bug?

Yup. The underside of a sweet potato leaf. Turns out it is a scarab. It's name is the Golden Tortoise Beetle. Big name for a beetle that when full grown is smaller than a ladybug. I know it certainly caught my eye and I'll be ont he look out for more now. They aren't supposed to be a nuisance due to not being in great numbers. I hope that holds true because it would be hard to kill something that pretty. I do hope to see another and if I do I believe I'll try to capture it. I could spare a few leaves for my children to observe him/her for a few days. I think this is one science lesson that needs taught hands on!

Sure hope it flies back. But, I don't hope it has a mate...

'Till next time!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer doldrums and where IS the information?

Every year about this time I start searching. Scouring the internet looking for information on *something.* You know that something I'm talking about. Something wonderful. Different. New. Something that I haven't tried before. That magical thing that is going to like to grow in our swampy conditions.

Every year I fail to find this mythical and magical plant. I find the same thing time after time. "You can only plant...."
WHAT? Or "You shouldn't plant, allow the soil to rest..." WHO SAYS? Grrr... These websites all list one or two things that grow here in our rather sticky conditions and nothing else. Either the typical or atypical things and then nothing else.
The other thing I see is that the sites are geared to either veggie growers or flower gardeners and I guess I can understand that. But a lot of the cool weather veggie gardeners get info on combining crops. I just don't understand why there isn't any info out there for us folk down here. I'd like to know what to plant companion wise with some of these stranger things. Heck, for that matter I'd like to know where to get them or what in the world they taste like, what texture they have. Anything!? But it seems that in order to glean this information around here you have to attend a seminar for $20 or go to a nursery in South Florida where they actually DO grow these things. But, they are only open to the public for those exhibitions a couple times a year and honestly I don't know that they'll let you walk around and just go tasting their plants and all.

Each time I think I have a great little (edible and exotic) nursery under the radar it either closes or changes hands. Sometimes they just can't make ends meet and they stop carrying the things I'm interested in the most - usually just before the summer when their business gets slower and I'm looking for the things like this. *sigh*

SO - are we Central and South  Florida gardeners really stuck to just:
Sweet Potato
Black-eyed Peas

That answer is a resounding HECK NO!
First off let's just look at the family of those plants. Okra belongs in the hibiscus family and that lends us to Roselle.

Roselle - pic from google search
Roselle is a wonderful plant - the part used the most is  fleshy calyx of the a true hibiscus flower. It's used to make jams, jellies, drinks - all sorts of stuff (even PIES!) and grows just dandy in all of our heat, humidity and any other of Florida's conditions that we can throw at it. Well, except freeze. It can handle a little frost but not a hard freeze. Good news though. Inside each of those lovely sweet and sour juicy little tidbits are a couple seeds. They will easily reseed for next year. Good to keep in mind if you don't want it coming up again and spreading around. Personally I like a little hedge.  Of course the plant can also be used for other things, but our modern day society doesn't use it normally.

Sweet Potato belongs in the same family as the morning glory. You wouldn't think that this is a flower that does well here, but it does. We even have our own versions of it. Beach morning glory actually lines some of our coastal dunes and Swamp cabbage is something that I grew up hearing about along with water spinach. All nicknames for the water morning glory. It's vine float along the (more passive) waterways here. Rarely seen now though.

Along with sweet potatoes other tuber type crops that you would think are related do well here all summer like yarrow, yams, jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, ginger, taro...taro makes poi. Poi sits next to the lomi lomi... I need a luau! I do make a killer Kalua pulled pork. Did you know I lived in Hawaiii for a while? I so need a vacation. I may live here by the ocean breezes but it's so rare I get to enjoy them, even though it feels like they are a part of my blood. *sigh*

Back to business. Where was I? Oh yes. I am up to peanuts. A legume really and belongs to the same family as beans and peas - fair weather friends in my book. We'll see the rest of them again in fall.

Black-eyed peas however, now those open up a whole other world of goodies. Crowders, long beans, cowpeas, things that can be substituted for my fair weathered friends the grean beans. They can also be shellies or dry beans. Yep this is a category I love.  But for more reasons than just because they grow here. Because the entire plant (OK not really the stem or roots but you get the idea) can be eaten and used. There are so many different types of these beans.

picture courtesy of
 Love black beans for Mexican food? They've got an equivalent for that! Peking black and I'll bet you can't tell the difference. Prefer small white beans like navy beans? Try the white acres, fast lady or zipper cream. The selection seems endless. Pick them young and eat them like green beans, eat the leaves while they are young and tender as well. These are great plants and they tend to thrive in our heat.

Another choice is long beans. They are Asian and the humidity doesn't seem to bother them much. Aphids like them like every other bean so be on the lookout and have your spray bottle of soap and water handy. My little 5' trellis isn't enough to keep them happy. They need more space to keep gowing and growing. There are red beans and green beans but be sure to get them young. They are best before hey reach a foot long. 55 days is all it takes for most vines to produce here because the respond so well. But northerners should know it does take more time where heat and light are less.

Unrelated to any of the 4 types of plants that are usually suggested to plant in our summers? Those atypical that you can find by going to seminars and  hearing about through the grapevine. We crunchy type like talking about self sustainability. I'm along way from that so I don't know if I should say 'we' but I do like to talk about it. I did mention some in the roots and tubers, but there are more. Certainly the alligator pear gets it's name fairly. It's also known as Choyote or Chaya. Malabar Spinach, New Zealand spinach, amaranth, calalloo are all hot weather spinach or greens substitutes.

Calabaza and Seminole pumpkin are the two main winter squash that will grow during our long hot summers. They are both regional favorites. The calabaza is from Central/South America and it is a c. moshata. This means it has a much better resistance to insects like the squash vine borer and to some diseases as well. As such it does well here and since it's from a hot and humid region it already has adapted to our environment. Bonus! The Seminole pumpkin is in the same family and was said to be brought from the Seminole Indians. There are several styles of this pumpkin and both look similar to the calabazas skin.  Word of caution. These vines really and truly LOVE our heat. watch out for anything within 30' because it will be over run with the vines if you are not very careful. You'll be handsomely rewarded with a large supply of sweet orange fleshed winter storage squash, but you will need a lot of space. (Something I don't have much of)

Now - all that said you'd think I'd have a garden so full and lush.... but alas - I do not. Many of the plants that do thrive here are large and unrelenting. I have only a small space to use. I also don't have a good place to buy plants from. I do attend swaps and I have gotten quite a few plants from there. It's always great to try new things that way, but slow. I have almost no vertical space so that is limiting as well. A lot of these things are climbers after all. Other things are only  hard to get because after all who wants to pay $12 (or MORE!) for a packet of a few seeds to find out after planting 2 that you hate something?

The things I do love are staples in my garden though, and I've found new and interesting things to do with those. Remember last years okra fritters?

photo courtesy of ME!
 MMMMmmmm... I do love these. Some people love pickled okra. Never tried that myself. The slime makes me think I might not enjoy it. But to each their own. LOL.

So yes, I plant okra, peanuts, sweet potato and cowpeas in my garden. I happen to like them, Thank you very much. I'm just looking for diversity and information that is easier to get all in one place. I know that a lot of the problem has to do with losing the mainstay crops that I love. The tomatoes are gone for a while and the harvests are in a lull. It creates this need in me to change things. To find something that can take the place of those things and nothing can. Only time. The tomatillos WILL ripen eventually. They will take the place of the tomatoes. But as usual my timing was off. Or maybe the plants timing is. ;-) The cowpeas will be along shortly. The sweet potatoes and the peanuts take longer than green beans do so the summer heat makes us lazy? It makes our plants lazy, too.

Maybe I'll grab a beach towel and find myself a relaxing spot. I can't do anything to change the time so I may as well enjoy it, right?  This year I am trying soybeans for the first time. The squirrels or birds one thought they were a huge hit. Let's hope there is at least enough of a harvest to enjoy and find out if they are worth growing again. Those $12 seeds I was talking about? Yup - these are some of those. Only enough to plant a small 2' square patch and now full 2/3 are gone. Good news on those though. I did plant them early enough that they already have beans on the plant. Who knew they were so hairy!?  Can't wait to share that with ya!

Meanwhile I'm still sowing some crowders and looking for that elusive new plant. Think I'll try a new tomatillo, too.

I do love tomatillos...
'Till next time!
(Stay cool!)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Harvest Monday 6.18.12

Linking into Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday. Make sure to join the fun over at her place. Stop by to see all the different things being harvested all over the world!
Harvests are much slower now.

This is the main harvest this week:

The onions I harvested? Just over ten pounds worth and when all was said and done I was only able to save my sanity and 25 ounces. Talk about a let down.  19 ounces in garlic. 1 pound of leeks.

This weeks harvest totals - 1lb 2oz concord grapes, 8oz tomatoes, 2oz broccoli, 6oz okra and a few measly greenbeans I'm not counting because I fed them to the hens (next door) I also got 2oz basil and a large fistful of parsley that I started to dry until I realized there was something wrong with it. (looked like pin holes through the leaves...*sigh*) so I'm yanking out the old parsley and starting a new batch. This one was 3 years old so I had to expect it to have something wrong sooner or later.

The garden is (mostly) bare and awaiting turning under. I got all those spots yanked out that needed it and now summer planting can start as soon as I can get the turning, compost topping and sowing done.

'Till next time!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Harvest Monday 6.11.12

This is the last large harvest for the Summer. The rest will be the drabs and dribbles that happen due to the heat. That is until the cowpeas start setting in large numbers. That won't happen until I'm ready to start my fall garden late in the year when everyone else is already turning under and ending their gardens for the year. The cycles are wacky here for sure.

To clear the way for the summer crops a lot of the beds needed cleared the bush beans,  the allium bed (and carrots with them) both had to be cleared:

before....and after.....

It was so steamy out. It even fogged up the camera!

*note the now completely covered trellis~!* 
Green garlic, and red and yellow onions - sorry y'all get the dirty pics - they are still drying on my kitchen table. I had to run out right after ripping all this out. I had a birthday party to go to, and no time to purty up the pictures.


But I did get a great harvest this week. Unfortunately it's all the carrots until winter unless there is a stray hiding somewhere. I still have about 20 onions in a planter, but I don't expect them to do anything. I'm only leaving them because I didn't find time to do anything with them and I sure don't need 'em. If I run into a neighbor or a friend who would use them I'd give them away.  I also pulled the leeks in the above photo. Wrong time of year for them but I'm not arguing. They are a good size and they cleaned up really nice. They just got knocked down when I took out one of the old less productive broccoli plants. I've got 3 that produce for me still and a few that haven't been so I was getting rid of the ones that don't.

Here are the tomatoes that were harvested a little green -boy did they turn! And a single cuke.  A day's picking of the concord grapes and the rest of the carrots.

*WHEW*  What a week. Unfortunately I won't have much to show for a while, and now I have a lot of planting to do. I still need to get rid of the big old zucchini plant and start those tomato seeds for fall. It may be sweltering out now, but that is just the time to get things ready for fall!

Linking in to Daphne's Dandelions. Don't forget to stop by her place and see what people are harvesting all over the world. Thanks Daphne for being our ever present - FANTSTIC hostess!

'Till next time!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Size difference.

Oh my. I just realized how much difference in size my twinks have now.


Just look at those graduation pictures.
(they are the two together on the right)
And here they are just a month ago...

*sniff* Looks like my little Annah B is getting left behind in the height department. I didn't want to have to start buying different sizes (except shoes - Katie has my big feet) but it looks like I'll need to soon.  

Oh I can't believe the difference. I have to go get a tissue now....


Locked out? Fines...and rambling.

Well, I'm still locked out - and have been for months now of all the social sites. This must be some sort of virus that finally infiltrated the blog. Losing Facebook? I can live with that. I didn't frequent it that much and other than keeping up with a few select people well - it seems more of a time suck anyway.

But I couldn't lose my blog. So I have a safety net. I have 2 identities here. :-D That way I can at the least reset the password on one or the other to get in and post. Posting via email in the interim worked, but then I still couldn't post the comments or update, post links, etc. It just felt strange knowing the blog was all by itself. Lonely on the web. Kind of like leaving a teenager at home by themselves for the first time. The same way I feel when I go on vacation and leave the garden all by itself. LOL.

At any rate - I'm back in. Once I got here I realized I REALLY need to update the harvest tally. So I'll try to work on that today so I can update it by Monday.

There hasn't been a lot of harvesting this week. Things are so water logged that they are rotting. The rest of the onions and garlic seem to be rotting in all the rain. Par for the course - I should have know better than to have them out when the summer rains hit so it's my fault, just not a happy thought to throw that food into the compost pile.It's so water logged the roads look more like rivers. You think I'm joking? This is 3 lanes of road and a sidewalk...

The caution sign actually floated away you can see it up on in the parking lot. I need to bring a paddle to work to make sure that I can get home each evening now.
While the harvest is slowing to a crawl some things are picking up rapidly. Weeds are growing faster than you can blink. That much rain and heat make good mushroom weather, too. That means every other fungus will be attacking soon as well. I'll have to break out some sort of fungicide soon. This is where my organic methods fail me. I've not found anything that works against these conditions yet. :-( It may be a lack of knowledge base, so I'm all ears and willing to try if you have any ideas.

The weeds are where the fine part of the post comes in. My HOA is at it again. They are trying to fine me for weeds in my yard. my front yard. Now my back yard - that is different. I will admit the area we don't use daily back there the grass has gone to seed and the seed heads are a little unsightly...My lawn mower has been out of commission so part of the back has been pretty bad. But, we've been using the weed whacker to keep all the long stuff at bay in the front and the main area in the back. Yet, I got ANOTHER threatening letter in the mail on Monday telling me I'm being fined $100 a day. AGAIN
Here was my yard on that day:
(For reference it had not been cut for over 2 weeks - our mower was out of service)

Flooded? A little patchy maybe - it's native grasses. possibly not perfectly manicured- but weedy or high? NO! The neighbor adjoining was a good 8" taller so this irks me considerably. I'm sorry I know I complain a lot here about this type of thing. But, I'm not about to complain much to my neighbors. The last thing I need is for them to go talking to the wrong person and for it to get worse.
Good news is we are the proud owner of a rather used RIDING lawn mower. Of course it doesn't fit in a lot of places in the back yard, but that is what the weed whacker is for, right?

So between the rain and the season change I need to do a lot of maintenance in the garden. Problem is the worst of the storms are in the evenings, when I could get to the garden - guess it's time to start utilizing the free labor I have when I do get out there. Time to put the kids to work! I'll have to mark of sections of the garden and give them gloves. I'll just let them go at it. If they pull up more than I wanted them to then - so be it. That is what seeds are for. Growing new things after all.  They need to learn about this part. They've been planting and harvesting with me for years. Time for them to learn about culling as well. Time for me to get over my fear of losing a few productive plants and gain trust in them.

Here is what needs pulled. This picture is now 2 weeks old so what is little is not so little any more...

The lattice is barely visible now, and the soy beans are flowering. Sweet tiny little flowers. Not what I was expecting at all. LOL. Should have read up better I suppose. I just hope they do OK through all the rains. The germination was spotty at best and I'm blaming the squirrels for a raid on that one. I shouldn't have planted the peanuts at the same time. I need enough to reseed a fall crop - or spring crop.

That's easily half the garden space that will be freed up. Cowpeas will go in, and a few more Okra. More peanuts as well. I have visions of peanut butter dancing in my head. Some limas and because I can't not do it a couple watermelon vines even though I don't expect much. I might let them compete for space on the trellis but its sagging and I'm not sure what to do with that... ???

WOW this is a long post - but you can see I have a lot of work ahead of me right now. I'll try to remember to take pictures along the way. I'm not always so great about doing that, but I'll try. It should be one of the larger changes to my garden area. Then again I've not have this large of a garden this time of the year before.

'Till next time!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bloging via email...

I’m locked out of my blog. That stinks. Royally.


I had wanted to go over a few things about Florida tomatoes. I have had a few questions about them and thought this was  a good time to get some answers out there.


Yes, I’ve pulled almost all of my tomato plants from my garden already. It’s rained consistently daily for several weeks now. When our daily rains show up- the diseases do, too. Besides that these plants just were not performing well. Despite being on my normal rotations they were not growing properly. I’ll take that back. My Steak Sandwich hybrids are still growing nicely – still in the garden, but not setting fruit. Only still in the garden because they are not diseased terribly yet. But, they are a hybrid so I’d expect them to last a bit longer. They are a type of Beefsteak so they are delicious and that gains them brownie points, too. ;-) Also still alive but not doing as well are the Sungold’s and Cherokee Purple. They still have fruit and I can’t quite tell if the fruit is still setting… I’m giving them another 10 days to see what’s really going on.


That brings me to some of the biggest questions about why I pull my plants and start over again. Of course disease is the very biggest reason, but also a hugely limiting factor is the heat here. Along with the rains, (Kind of what causes our rains) Our thermometer has topped  90* every day for several weeks as well. Night time temps are no longer dropping below about 78* and therefore - fruit is no longer setting. Once this happens the trend is a spiraling effect. In Fall because the humidity can cause the pollen not to distribute it can make the falling nighttime temperatures moot. But, trying to keep a tomato plant alive through that heat and daily rain? While possible it almost always leads right back to the main reason I pull the plants and restart…disease. By the time the temps cool back down the plants are ravaged. I’d rather use the space for those few months for something that is productive.


Of course living in these swampy conditions means we also live with a very large assortment of bugs. For a (mostly) organic gardener like myself this can be a massive challenge. Keeping to a rigid spraying and plucking schedule when you can hardly get to the garden to harvest is a difficult task, indeed. So choosing the plants that you have in your garden is equally important. Choosing what types of sprays and what types of organic methods you use are obviously just as important. Fungus attacks here faster that lightning bugs can flicker their little light butts on and off – so making sure you’re paying attention to your plants is probably the most important thing you can do!


Most Floridians tend to rely on greenhouse tomatoes because of these problems. To that I say a resounding, BOOOO!!!!


UGH. Is there anything worse that a gassed tomato? I mean I know that we can’t all grow every single tomato from the garden, but I’ll be darned if I don’t at least try. Those I don’t grow myself get purchased from local sources. (At least someone can grow them around here) Farmers markets are a great source for me. I know that not everyone is blessed to live in an area where tomatoes are grown year round. Heck during the winter 85% of Americas tomato consumption comes from Florida. I’m actually ashamed to admit that because they are mostly tasteless compared to what we find in our markets here. (Sorry all you North of the Florida line)


In the pots on my screened in porch I still have 1 determinate and 1 indeterminate plant. I can’t help but try to continue to grow SOME tomatoes through the summer. Besides if all I do is manage to nurse these plants into fall limping along they should set fruit as soon as the temperatures fall again. These two plants are one each of a heat tolerant heirloom and a heat tolerant hybrid.


That’s right folk’s! The University of Florida has a program out there that does nothing but devote years and years to breeding heat tolerant tomatoes. In 2010 the biggest and best headliner was the Solar Fire – Now this year the tomato that takes the cake? The Tasti-Lee. I’m not so sure how tasty this tomato really is, but most of these overbred tomatoes lose a lot of flavor in the process of picking up a lot of disease resistance and heat tolerance. The Solar Fire and it’s little brother the Solar Set supposedly will set tomatoes through temps into the 91* mark and with nighttime temps into the mid 80’s. Not a huge improvement you say? The 5 degree difference gains us up 2 months of time in the garden. With a sun screen there is the possibility that the tomato could tolerate setting at some point each week throughout the majority of the year (disregarding any freezing temps of course)


Some heirlooms are known for setting in higher temps than others – but here this far into the south we have to watch for the disease problems so even though Cherokee Purple is a wonderful (I do grow it in the Fall and occasionally spring) producer in the North it is susceptible to damping off even with larger seedlings. Good to know in our monsoons. It can also be susceptible to Bacterial Spot, Fusarium Wilt and Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl – all bad buggars in our Florida gardens – It does show some resistance to late blight though – that’s nice in an heirloom! Arkansas traveler and Sioux/Super Sioux are also on the short list of heat tolerant indeterminate varieties that do pretty well with a decent disease resistance. I have an affection for beefsteaks and will be trying Monomahk’s Hat this Fall as well.


But, I gotta tell ya – I long ago gave up only growing heirlooms. Production wise it was a lose/lose situation. I can’t NOT grow them. Because I demand a better flavor and the heirlooms give me that for out of hand eating. Bring a salt shaker into the garden and there isn’t much I won’t eat out of hand and tomatoes are one of my absolute favorites.


When it comes to keeping the tomatoes on the table though? I depend on the hybrids for that. Every year I trial some and I’m not going to tell you here which are my favorite and which are not. Why? Because every person’s taste buds are different. That’s why. What I like in a tomato may be completely different than what you like. What I will tell you is what does well around here. What I will also tell you is that as of yet – NOTHING - not one single tomato plant variety is perfect. Sometimes I think I hit the jackpot and the next season I grow them again and it’s a complete failure.


Hybrids that were specifically bred for Florida usually sound Floridian. Look for things like Floridel, Tropic, Flroidade, Florimerica or Suncoast, Sunchaser, Homestead, Gulfstream (WOW what a disease package!)

But, those plants were made to be resistant to diseases and production, not for taste tests. Win some, lose some. There are others too that do well here Lemon boy, Celebrity, Betterboy to name a few.


So- I plant some for production, and some for flavor and usually come out on top. With a good mixture of both. When I make sauces that are going to use a lot of spices, I use the less flavorful of the bunch. When I’m looking at a recipe that is wanting to really bring out the flavor of the tomato and not mask it – I’ll use the better flavored ones. I get the best of both worlds this way. Usually. Sometimes (Like this season) I only get about 10 pounds of tomatoes and I’m disappointed. But, that is the fun of having 2 seasons of tomato growing. I get to try again in a couple months!


Right now I’m thinking about which seeds to start… Time to wet some paper towels and mark the bags. It’s seed starting time!


‘Till next time!



Monday, June 4, 2012

Harvest Monday 6.4.12

June. Really? Wow.

It's hard to believe it's June already. But then again there are only2 tomatoes left in my garden now so that makes sense. The rest are pulled and gone. A couple in pots on the porch are still fighting a good fight. I'm trying to keep them for fall - we'll see if that works. Something went wrong on the spring crop. I pulled in 5 pounds of green tomatoes this week before I yanked the vines. I'm sure I'll have more of the sungolds and such coming in here and there but that is it for the slicers until fall. *sigh* Somethings gotta give. I'm not a good tomato grower. AT. ALL.  This year the tomatoes barely grew, and I didn't get a lot of fruit. Last year... Oh, last year i had a bumper crop despite having what i think was Septoria leaf spot. But so much of the fruit was damaged to the stinking worms. This year not a lot of fruit but no damage at all to cats... Keep on trucking. But I'm getting into the funk part of the year. I don't want to keep going, but I know if I do there will be rewards. I need to get a bunch of marigolds out into the garden, and get the cow peas in the ground. More okra and let the garden start taking care of itself while I start concentrating on the screen porch and getting ready for the fall garden.

This weeks harvest:
broccoli I swear wasn't white- the flash was on. Just a bowlful. Perfect for a side dish.

Carrots 1lb 3oz. Not all of them are pictured here. This in one picking. I've got one more like this coming maybe. Then the rest might be weaklings. I'm not sure if any more after the next batch would be worth showing so this is getting very close to the end of them. *sniff* Same for the broccoli. I'm amazed that I still have it really. I've started eating some of the leaves knowing that the plants won't be around much more

Mmmm...beet cake from the last of the beets....

Tomatillos (very small I'm disappointed in them) sungolds, chilis romas, and a cuke.

AND.... GRAPES> C.O.N.C.O.R.D.....grapes!!!! And they are Delicious!

I didn't even know I had them! I assumed that the second vine was green like the first, but I was wrong, and I am OOOOOooooooo so happy to be wrong! They are small but so good!

Linking in for Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandelions. Thanks Daphne for being such a wonderful Hostess!
Don't forget to stop by her place and check out all the posts for Harvest Monday that highlight everyones Harvests from all over the world.

'Till next time!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Along that line...

Always learning.

Apparently you already knew that broccoli could set out additional sets of roots. You are smart folk. I was not so smart. I had simply not learned that lesson on my own yet. Nowhere in my reading had I come across anything like that. I've since scoured the internet searching for information on it and I am yet to find it written anywhere about this phenomenon so I'm feeling pretty good about my discovery. I'm guessing though that you smart cookies that have been doing this for a while found out through trial and error long before I did.

Don't you worry about me. I'll catch up later.

I've got another one for you today. :-) Another simple fact that you probably already knew. But, I'm gonna put it out there in case you didn't - because up until last week I didn't know it. Actually I didn't know it until Tina came over and my son said, 'Hey- MA! What's this?'... and I had to abashedly say - 'Well, Gee son, I don't really know. I'll have to get back to ya on that. But, let's make sure we find out together, OK?'  A few minutes later Tina asked me how in the world my long beans didn't have aphids and what I was doing to keep them off the vines, and my mind was whirling and I was off in the conversation again.

What Troy had called my attention to was a gathering of tiny wasps, of different varieties - but the tiniest ones I've ever seen. They were lined up production line style and busy, busy, busy. I didn't at the time have a few minutes to spare to truly watch and see what they were doing - but I did notice a ladybug nearby and that these wasps were all about what they were doing and couldn't care less if we messed with them, got in there way or were close to them. They just kept doing whatever they were doing.

We were enjoying company so we kept doing what we were doing, too. The next day though I went out to see what the fuss was about. Most of the wasps weren't as happy though - we were, uh- well dealing with the tail end of T.S. Beryl. It was rainy and windy but in between when it cleared up they were there doing their business, but that didn't make for a good time to bring out my camera. By Tuesday evening the social occasion had dropped to less of a frenzy, but they were still visiting.

Here is the proof - and then I'll tell you what I learned with each picture.

This first picture above- I learned that unlike what I've read over and over again about wasps- they are not incredibly territorial. I've even read that you can hang a fake wasp nest in your yard to keep wasps away because they are so territorial. Please take note that they are actually touching each other here and not being aggressive. Also note what is UNDER them.....

Here the red wasp has nearly finished his duty. After their little social get together they went their separate ways. One went to tend one side of the leaf while the other one (that had reinforcements) went in the direct opposite way. The red wasp was alone and as such he (she?) went to the area with less of what they were after - AH HA! The answer to my riddle. The APHIDS! They are eating the aphids off of this citrus tree. Note the wasp on the right - the little crooked ovipositor is visible at her tail. This wasp is definitely a female.
Here you can see that the black and yellow wasps have finished cleaning the lower branch off now. SLURP!

Yet another reason that I don't have a lot of other bugs around the garden, my little pet soldier bugs.... Well I should add a disclaimer here. I have an abundance of leaf footed bugs (whos young look just like this soldier bugs young) and more than my fair share of stink bugs....grrrr... if only I could find a way to get rid of those two I'd be golden. All the other bugs around my garden are in fairly good ratio. *knocking on wood* The wasps, bees, spiders, and other bugs - they have never bothered me. Myself and my children have never been stung or bitten by any of them through the normal course of the day. I did however GRAB a wasp once. He didn't sting me then, but when I let him go he tried to fly off and couldn't do so successfully and managed to sting my backside. LOL. Win some, lose some I suppose. I deserved it. I knocked down the nest in broad daylight and knew it to begin with.

So there is today's lesson. Wasps eat aphids. At least these itty bitty wasps do. Too cool!

You knew this too? How cool for you. I'll still keep posting these little ditty's anyway. Never know when I'll come up with something completely new or unexpected. Maybe I'll break the some new science record some day. Don't count on it.

See you Monday for Harvest Monday. I'm off for a picnic at Silver Springs if the weather will clear up finally.

'Till next time!