Back into the Garden

One of the best things about being a gardener in Florida is the fact that I can enjoy two growing seasons.  While many of my northern neighbors are harvesting their bounty and closing their gardens for winter, I’m planting anew.  Days are growing shorter, temperatures are falling (supposed to be falling though I’m still waiting), my peanuts are maturing, my sweets are fattening and I’m knee-deep in the till of it!

Yes, my back is aching but my corn is in and so are my Limas and zucchini!  Okra, pole beans and pumpkins, too.  What a great feeling it is to plant a fall garden, like the breath of spring only better, because within weeks my weeding and harvesting will be accomplished with a nip in the air and a breeze at my back.  Fall in Florida is a great time to be outdoors.  Actually, fall anywhere is a great time to be outdoors and my favorite time of the year, what with scents of cider and cinnamon drifting through the house (thank you pre-packaged potpourri mixes), the evenings growing cool and cozy indoors.  Not too long now and I’ll once again indulge in the soft flicker of flames in my fireplace.

“You have a fireplace in Florida?”

Sure do!  And the minute the outdoor thermometer hits 60 degrees the heat is on in my home–and by heat I mean firelogs!  Then the kids and I will head out to the garden and harvest some golden sweet potatoes and mash them into the most delectable pies and sides for the dinner table.  Wish we had an apple tree. It would be so neat to send the little ones scurrying up its trunk with instructions to pluck to their hearts’ content.  We could make apple pie and cider, float some in a tub and practice our bobbing technique tossing the leftovers onto the compost pile!

Now doesn’t that sound like fun?  Until then, we’ll grow what we can.  Next weekend we’ll transplant our tomato sprouts to the garden along with some squash, red beans and carrots.  Come November we’ll add our garlic and onions and put them to bed for the winter, tucking in a few potatoes here and there beside them.  Yes, we run the risk of frost with an early crop of potatoes but I must confess, there’s nothing like the taste of fresh buttery sweet Yukon Golds.  Definitely worth the extra effort in frost blankets and kid-crafted greenhouses. (Yes, that’s a potato castle above.)

We do like a challenge around the Venetta household and what better challenge than to go head-to-head with Jack Frost?  He’s a feisty old guy but we’ll be ready for him if he tries to take out our potato crop this year!

Anyone else planting their fall vegetables?  How about cover crops?  You know, a key concept to keeping the organic garden healthy and productive?  I’m thinking of playing around with some soybeans this year.  Should do wonders for the soil and we may even be able to harvest some.   Which would be a good thing.  I’ve heard soybeans are great for a “maturing” women’s health! 🙂

 

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Posted on September 12, 2011, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Hi Dianne … what is a cover crop and what do soybeans do for the soil? I want to increase my vegetable garden next year and would love some tips on increasing bounty and keeping it organic.

    We just had our first frost last night, so I’ll be pulling out plants this week instead of putting them in. I hope you’ll show us more of your gardens over the winter months. Usually by Christmas, I’m cruising the internet, looking for pictures, craving the feel of black soil on my hands (well, gloves, because I don’t want the worms to touch my fingers) and it’s good to know I can check your gardening blog to get my garden fix. 🙂

    • Cover crops are what you plant during the winter months to improve your soil. Soybeans make an excellent choice because like any bean, they put nitrogen into the soil which means your dirt will be begging for seeds come spring! You can also try a heavy seeding of winter rye or alfalfa (depending on your temps) then till it back into the soil for same nitrogen benefit.

      And yes you can check my blog all winter for photos, tips and rants because it’s all in the life of a gardener! As to worms, I actually harvest their poop from a worm bin in my garage. GREAT source of nitrogen and favorite topic of the kids at the school garden!

  2. I was born with a very black thumb, but thankfully my father-in-law was not. He shares the wealth of his garden with us and his offerings are the best we’ve ever tasted. Congratulations on your successful garden.

  3. Having a garden – those were the days. We used to plant green beans and pumpkins and broccoli but then we built a deck off the back of our house and put in stamped concrete so our son could hoop and WOOP, there went the dirt! I miss seeing the tomatoes growing and the vegies and we tried to plant in a container and it just didn’t fly. Any suggestions?

    • You may want to try incorporating your veggies into your landscape areas. My vegetables seem to do better inthe ground than container–probably because of the watering issue. 🙂 I have a wonderf rosemary hedge and if you have areas in an incline, try vine growers like zucchini. Fence line? How about pole beans–and the list goes on!

  4. This post was delightful, Diane. Being Brooklyn born and bred, I remember the old Italians and what wonders they could do with a small patch of land in front or in the backyards. Pigeon coops, Victory gardens and clothes lines as far as I could see both ways from our house to the next corner.

    However, my mom was from Poughkeepsie and my two aunts who lived their had beautiful rambling gardens from one season to the next. It was amazing to have my uncle go out and “pick” the vegies for supper, or my aunt cut rubbard and make strawbettey rubbard pie for that evening.

    • Italy and some its very small green spaces are a perfect example of how to garden within one’s landscape, ie. Vineyards on the rocky cliffs, tomatoes winding up and around posts and of course the windowsill herb gardens. I can smell the basil now…

  5. This post was delightful, Diane. Being Brooklyn born and bred, I remember the old Italians and what wonders they could do with a small patch of land in front or in the backyards. Pigeon coops, Victory gardens and clothes lines as far as I could see both ways from our house to the next corner.

    However, my mom was from Poughkeepsie and my two aunts who lived their had beautiful rambling gardens from one season to the next. It was amazing to have my uncle go out and “pick” the vegies for supper, or my aunt cut rubbard and make strawbettey rubbard pie for that evening.

  6. Sorry for the spelling. It posted before I could correct 🙂

  7. We have had a drought for the last year and a half, so we didn’t even get our pumpkins in this summer for fall harvest. Just pulled a bunch of grass from my daylily patch and will start weeding the rose garden soon. I love fall!

  8. Fall is my favorite season as well. I think it brings out the nesting urge in all of us. I love to head out to the local farms (when we lived in Maryland, we lived between two) and gather my own pumpkins and apples. My kids used to prefer the strawberry harvests, but they ate more than they put in the basket! I, too, am a nut about the fireplace. There is nothing more comforting. Our home in Maryland had a giant wood stove that ran constantly 9 months out of the year. When we moved to Atlanta, I immediately had a fire pit installed in the backyard. Now, when we sit out on fall evenings, we can still enjoy our fire. 🙂 Added benefit: it keeps the bugs away.

    • Never thought it appealed to my nesting urge but you make a good point. Wait until I tell my husband he’s experiencing his nesting urge right now (fall is his favorite time, too!)–I love it! 🙂

  9. Great post, Dianne! We usually have the spring garden, we do a square foot garden all around the perimeter of the backyard. This was the first year in many that we did not. I definitely missed the fresh tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers!! But we just didn’t have the time to commit. Never done a fall/winter garden, but we’ve talked about it. By the way, I did have an apple and pear tree once…it wasn’t as nice as you’d think. The squirrels would get them before they’d fall and take three bites and throw them on the ground. It was more mess than productive.

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