Monthly Archives: September 2015

Planting Begins

The Inspector

The Inspector

Today is my first planting of the fall 2015 season. While I was working, a neighborhood critter stopped by to inspect my job. The photo shows him next to a hole I was preparing for a tomato plant. He must have approved – he didn’t say anything.

I planted one tray, four plants each, of broccoli, cauliflower, and jalapenos. There were no varieties listed on these plants. I also planted a tray each of “Copenhagen Market” cabbage, “Beefsteak” tomatoes, and “Purple Top White Globe” turnips.

Did I say Turnips? Yep. They’re an experiment—I’ve never tried growing them. I was surprised when I spotted them in the nursery so I asked the woman behind the counter how they grow in Florida. She looked a little evasive when she said, “we sell a lot of them.” I guess I’ll see.

I ought to pick up the empty trays

I ought to pick up the empty trays

Just in case there’s any confusion: these are turnips, not rutabagas. Rutabagas are yellow. Turnips are white. Turnips are also one of the few root crops I really like.

The second photo shows turnips in the foreground with jalapenos to the right, broccoli and cauliflower to the left. Cabbages and tomatoes are out in left field.

Just Tilling in the Rain

 

Ah, sunny Florida!

Ah, sunny Florida!

I’m trying something a little different this year; actually tilling the garden. With a power tiller!

The weather report claimed that light thunder showers would begin about ten this morning and last all day. It’s Sunday and my neighbors prefer quiet before 9 AM; I headed over to Home Depot about 8:30. HD’s smallest rental tiller is a Mantis XD – thirty-seven dollars for four hours.

After waiting in line – and waiting in line – at 9:30 I was finally ready to load the tiller in my car. Just as the heavens opened. This was not a light shower! But I couldn’t wait to see if the weather improved – I only had four hours.

Halfway done (on the right)

Halfway done (on the right)

The Mantis owner’s manual euphemistically refers to it as a “traditional tiller.” That means it is operated by brute force. The manual also waxes enthusiastic about how efficient their tiller is at chopping up grass and weeds. The reality was somewhat different.

I carefully followed the instructions – walking backwards through the garden as the little Honda motor tried its best to wrench my arms from their sockets. Fortunately I got a break about every 5 to 10 feet. That’s how often I had to stop, turn the tiller on its side, and unclog the tines. I estimate that the motor was actually running about fifteen minutes out of two hours.

Tines? What tines?

Tines? What tines?

But the job was eventually done and it was much quicker and more thorough than using a shovel. The rain, by the way, never let up once while I was working. But it stopped, for good, at 11:30. The rest of the day has been clear and sunny. Why do I even look at weather forecasts?

I’m Back!

Yes, our soil always looks like this

Yes, our soil always looks like this

It’s about time for a new planting season to begin in Florida. For your pleasure I have included this lovely picture of typical, highly fertile, black Pinellas County soil. And if you believe that one…

 

The weather this summer has been very strange: hot – cold – hot – cold. Of course, when I say cold, I mean 78°. And the rain… For a while I thought I was living in India during monsoon season. Now it’s settled down to only raining a couple of times a week.

 

Cardboard, palm fronds...any mulch will do!

Cardboard, palm fronds…any mulch will do!

This afternoon I began preparing the garden for planting. Step one: rake off the branches, logs, and mulch that were rotting all summer. Step two: weeding. The worst were the purple sweet potatoes; they’d spread very aggressively beyond their allotted bounds.

 

 

 

The biggest tuber is about 12" long.

The biggest tuber is about 12″ long.

After I pulled up a couple of pounds of tubers I decided to just run the lawnmower over them. I don’t eat very many carbs but I might as well cook these up. Tomorrow.

One of the compost piles has been aging all summer; I broke it open and dumped eight wheelbarrows full (50 ft.³) onto the garden area. After spreading it out, I sat back to admire the view. Imagine—what if the soil really looked like that?

 

 

Wheelbarrow load one--of eight (about 2000 lbs.)

Wheelbarrow load one–of eight (about 2000 lbs.)

More work to do tomorrow.