Monthly Archives: January 2014

Two in One Day

01ReadyImagine, two posts on the same day! This one, instead of being delayed like most of my others, is actually about today. Mostly.

This was a good morning to stay inside doing housekeeping – it’s cold out there. After lunch it warmed up quite nicely – low 60s. As long as I was working, and in the sun, and wearing a sweatshirt and a hat, it was quite comfortable. Did I mention I was also wearing long-johns? No, I’m not kidding. It doesn’t bother me to work outside under the summer sun when it’s 95° and 100% humidity. Cold is another story.

Just to get caught up to date, last Monday I cut my first head of broccoli. It wasn’t very big, about 6 02Fillounces. Yes, I ate it before I took a picture.

Today I worked on the compost heap, adding lots of kitchen and garden waste that had been building up. I decided to “seed” all three of my compost bins with worms. These aren’t garden worms, but compost worms (a.k.a. red worms). I’ve been neglecting raising them in a plastic bin in the sunroom. I’m curious to see how they take to living in the wild. They probably won’t start breeding with 03Plantthe weather this cold but one never knows. Tomorrow it’s supposed to reach 70.

I went to Home Depot to check out vegetable plants – they looked pretty good. I picked up nine each of Packman broccoli and Bonnie hybrid cabbage (a new variety for me). Each nine-pack cost $3.89. That’s only 43 cents per plant.

Before transplanting them I washed the 6 inch pots with hot soapy 04Back Fillwater. That’s just a precaution in case the previous potting soil had any nasty fungus or microbes. Note: as a general rule it isn’t best to reuse potting soil. Toss it in the compost heap to take care of any nasties that might have taken up residence.

Once the pots had air-dried I laid them out on a card table in the sunroom.

The first step in transplanting is to water the plants enough so their root balls will stay together.

I filled each pot about 05Donehalfway with the soil I prepared last weekend.

After placing the seedlings in the pots, I back-filled with more soil.

The Brassica family does not like loose soil very much. I firmly pressed down the potting soil around the root balls.

Finally I gave each pot 2 cups of dechlorinated water. The potting soil was pretty dry.

I’ll keep the plants inside tonight but tomorrow they go out in the cold, cruel world.

That Didn’t Work Out

Tree FrogI know I said that I was going to post more often – but that hasn’t happened, has it? The pictures I’m sharing today really should’ve been posted on January 18. What can I say? I got distracted doing other things.

The weather has been quite chilly. Though we haven’t had any frost this winter, average temperatures seem below normal. Check out the tree frog I found when I popped the lid off a bucket of worm castings. He’s so cold that he never budged. I’m afraid that the global warming thing is a lot like the Affordable Care Act. The government invented it and then couldn’t get it to work!

IngredientsI need to get some more Brassica planted before the end of the month. I also want to start some seeds for the spring garden. Becky gave me some heirloom seeds from Monticello. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they do.
Unfortunately, I’m all out of potting soil so I needed to mix up some more.

The recipe I used here is six parts each of vermiculite and compost, plus three parts of worm castings. I also tossed in a small handful (1/3 cup?) Of slow release nitrogen fertilizer (20-0-0).
MixingMy measuring cup is an old Folgers plastic coffee canister – it has a volume of about three quarts. The final mix almost filled two five-gallon buckets.

The pictures show how I mix it. I dump the ingredients on a large piece of plastic sheet. For purposes of this web post I put the ingredients in separate piles because it looks more interesting.

To mix all the ingredients together I simply “walk” the sheet back and forth. That is to say, I pick up one end of the sheet of plastic and walk toward the other end. This causes the ingredients to tumble together. Then I put down the first end, pick up the second, and walked back the other way.

It doesn’t take long before everything is thoroughly mixed.

As far as produce goes – I picked one small eggplant (about 5 ounces) and two small green peppers. I think the eggplants and green peppers are about done for the season.

And More Rain

BroccoliYes, it’s still raining – off and on. We got another quarter-inch here on Saturday night. It has been a week since I last needed to water the garden. The plants still looked good when I got home from work today but I decided to water them anyhow.

Not much news. Yesterday Clay borrowed my live trap. His target is a chicken killing possum. Such is Cabbagelife in the big city!

Today I picked:

1.5 ounces of jalapeňos
6.0 ounces of eggplants
6.5 ounces of bell peppers

My tomato vines have lots of green tomatoes on them. I’ve never been a fan of eating green tomatoes so I think I’m going to wait.

Enjoy the pictures – my first batch of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are starting to “fruit.”

Cauliflower

Rainy New Year

What is it with this weather?

December was mild with only a few cool days – normal weather. A frost is very rare in December. On the other hand, a solid cloud cover with barely a glimpse of the sun is not normal from Christmas to New Year’s. And did I mention the rain? I thought we were in the dry season. This past week it rained on Monday. I worked in the garden on Tuesday. It rained on Wednesday and Thursday. Finally, the sun came out yesterday (Friday, January 3) but the temperature plummeted. The high for the day was only about 53°F.

So I didn’t get as much done in the garden this week as I had hoped to.

Potato HarvestI harvested the sweet potatoes from the four plants that I had bought at Lowe’s. As I worked I discovered that only three of the plants had survived. I harvested a whole 4 1/2 pounds! Many of the tubers were rather small.

I also pulled a small purple sweet potato that was growing as a weed amongst the bell peppers.

Note to self: keep mixing compost into the soil and, next time, add a little fertilizer at planting! The heavily weathered soil on the Suncoast has little natural fertility.

Crater LakesWhile digging sweet potatoes I also weeded the bed. Then I planted the four cabbages and four broccoli that were patiently waiting in their 8 inch pots. I used the crater planting technique. I filled each crater with water – untreated, straight from the hose. Since it rained on Wednesday and Thursday I didn’t do any watering this week.

I quit work while there was still daylight so I could get cleaned up to go to a New Year’s Eve prayer fellowship. That was a peaceful, productive way to bring in the new year.

Clay and Maggie dropped by on Wednesday to bless me with a half-dozen eggs from their chickens. They also wanted to see my garden and pick up their manure buckets. I sautéed the purple sweet potato, one of the Beauregards, and an eggplant in palm oil. We enjoyed sampling them together. The purple potato wasn’t as sweet as the orange ones. Maggie’s especially fond of sweet potatoes so I sent some home with her.

P1000374We checked the temperature of the newest compost pile – number four. Even though it was less than 9 inches deep and there’d been a cold rain all morning the temperature was up to 84°.

After looking things over, Maggie asked why I bothered transplanting the broccoli and cabbages into the ground – they were growing so well in the pots. What a silly question! Obviously, I had to transplant them because, uh, you know. Well, I mean. Hmm…

Maybe I ought to experiment with container gardening?

By the way – what’s the plural of broccoli? There seems to be some confusion online. Since the word “broccoli” is the plural of the Italian word “broccolo,” I’m going to use broccoli for both singular and plural in English. So let it be written, so let it be done.