Sunday, July 12, 2009

Probably the Last Update on the Homestead

Since I made the decision to give up my home, I've neglected my veggie badly. Just had to go out today and pull loads of crabgrass out of my small side garden.

These are some things I've learned about summer gardening in S. Florida:

1) Tomatoes that get afternoon shade will continue to bear. Not at the rate they do in cooler weather, but they will bear. Grape tomatoes bear the best. Some cherry tomatoes do well, but don't bear as well as in cool weather.
2) Blue Lake bush beans do not like hot weather at all, and mine faded and died pretty quickly when it got hot. They are touted as a bean that does well in the summer, but I think pole beans would be better.
3) Okra doesn't grow as quickly as it does in cool weather, despite being praised as a high producing veggie for summer gardens. Mine is pretty much at a standstill, and even the ones out in the compost pile aren't doing as well as they should. I've only gotten maybe 10 pieces of okra, and half the plants died.
4) Chaya grows like mad! I haven't eaten any, but my plants are big enough to start doing so.
5) Tomatoes grown in pots don't get the blight like ground planted tomatoes. Even mine that are planted in free compost from the city are doing better than the ones in the ground.
6) Eggplants don't bear as well as advertised in hot weather. My neighbor and I have the same eggplants. Both of our Ichibans died, and our Black Beauty's aren't doing well. She has one eggplant on hers, I have none. The eggplant I have growing in the pot is doing better than any of them.

Sickly Citrus

On another sour note, my best producing citrus, the Valencia, is dying from Citrus Greening disease. It's really sad. This was the only tree that gave me any fruit for years, now it's just dying quickly and the fruit won't ripen. I noticed this when leaves started dropping for no reason on an extremely healthy plant. Then the late fruit that was still on the tree, and was already orange, started turn back to green. Now I have no choice but to cut it down, and it's loaded with fruit. I'm hoping the other trees don't catch the disease, although the chances are high they will, since they're planted in the same yard. I'm telling you, citrus has been a total waste of time for me. I could have bought more citrus with what I've spent on trees and fertilizer than I ever got from these trees. In fact, most year I had to buy citrus, because even if they set fruit, it fell off.

Beautiful Bananas

Very sadly, the ice cream bananas are doing exceedingly well, as is the Dwarf Cavendish I brought up front. The Praying Hands is sort of stagnant, not dying, but not growing much either. It has a pup that hasn't had a new leaf in months. I hate to have to leave these behind, but bananas don't grow in Georgia.

Selling the Plants

I had my plants up for sale on a local Yahoo group, and had a couple of people come look. One bought $10 worth of plants, while her daughter just kept asking me for free stuff. I shouldn't have given her any free, but I did. I'm an idiot. The second person is someone I wouldn't want taking care of my plants. She was just obnoxious, you know? Very snotty, answered all my questions with another question, and told me to call her when I got the plants "more organized". She wanted to buy everything I didn't have for sale (of course) and was very upset I wouldn't dig them up for her, since she was in dress clothes.

So I AM getting them organized, and putting them back online, but I won't be calling her, that's for sure.

So much for my urban homestead. Actually, I'm thinking an apartment with nothing but a few African Violets is sounding very good right now. I'm so worn out from taking care of this yard!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What's going on.

Well, a lot has changed since I last posted. I did not get to go to Chicago or New Orleans. A lot of stuff happened in both my son's life and mine, and the trip is now postponed indefinitely.

I started work on the house. Found a very qualified neighbor who could do it cheaply, and managed to get one gable end of the house done before the city came and stopped work because I did not have a permit or a licensed contractor doing the work. There is no way I can afford a licensed contractor. I've pursued every avenue to get around this, but I can't. They won't budge, so in view of the fact that I'm already behind in my house payments, I've made a decision to leave my house and move out of the state of Florida.

I am very sad about this, but excited at the same time. I am choosing wisely, because I want this to be the last time I ever have to move in my life. I'm looking seriously at both south Georgia and New Orleans. Very different kinds of places, but places I could feel at home.

I never did get to do what I wanted to my little homestead in the city, and don't know if I am going to be having a yard where I move. I had bought the name "" a month or so ago, intending to change the name of the blog, so if I ever do get a place I can homestead, I'll be continuing the blog then.

Thanks to everyone who reads here, and keep checking, because I may just be back.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I don't think my life can get any crazier

After the kitchen fire on Christmas Day left me without a stove, and with fire damage over and around it, I thought that was as bad as it gets. Then there was the three month fight with the mortgage company over the insurance check.  What a load of crap that was! When they finally sent me the check, they had not endorsed it, so it was sent back.  Then last week, I received the endorsed check, but they had not gotten a signature guarantee, so the bank wouldn't let me deposit it. After some swift Fed-Exing, it got here this morning, properly endorsed and guaranteed.

I don't have a car anymore, and my neighbor and friend has been providing me with transportation to places I absolutely have to go.  She had to work today, so I had to walk to the the rain.  It wasn't raining hard, but I totally hate rain, and I couldn't find my poncho, just my ex's, which is about 5 sizes too big and a hideous reddish orange.  But I put it on, and trudged the nearly a mile to the bank, then over to the grocery for cat food and a Coke, then back home. It took all of an hour, and it wasn't so bad.  My feet got drenched, of course, and the bottom of my jeans.  Plus, the front and sides of my hair got wet because the hood of the poncho was so big I had to keep pulling it back to see where I was going, and look for cars when crossing streets.

To top all this drama off, last weekend, the power line coming into my house shorted out and blew out most of my remaining appliances, including my refrigerator fan  and microwave.  For the last week, I have had no answering machine, alarm clock, or bottom half of my frig.  Plus, it blew out my Mac, so I don't know yet if that can be repaired.  I did get a check from the power company for the smaller appliances today, but I will have to use that to get licensed technicians to check out the other things before they will pay me for them.  I'll have to have an electrician check out all the wiring to be sure it's not fried and going to start a fire somewhere.   I lost about $50 worth of food out of the bottom of the frig as well.  

So it's been a hell of a year for me.  I'm just happy it's almost over, and I can hopefully get back to some semblance of normalcy soon. If it hadn't been for my gardening, I would have gone quite mad, I can tell you that.  What little food I got out of my little experimental garden was worth it in therapeutic value.  It was truly the only thing that was positive in the last few months.

Next month I'll be traveling to Chicago to see my son, and then to New Orleans to meet my Facebook friend Michael.  I need a vacation, really I do, and when I get back, I'll be ready to start setting things to right again.  Right now, I'm just too exhausted, physically and mentally to do much of anything.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Status of the Experimental Garden - May 16, 2009

I will be so happy when the garden is moved into raised beds in the back.  This garden, while it's been fun to grow, is not producing like I'm used to, and I'm terribly disappointed in it.  Here's the status of the veggies in it now:

Cherokee Purple that's in the ground has a few fruits and seems to be doing well. The one planted in a 5 gallon pot out back is doing well also, and already has a couple of fruits on it.  We'll see what they do when it gets really hot.

Park's Whopper, as expected, is not producing anymore fruit due to the daytime temps being too high.  I'll start taking cuttings from this next week to grow for the fall garden.  Dosing it with liquid fertilizer helped the tomato size a lot, as they were way too small (and still are) for this variety.  I seem to remember that this one needs lots of fertilizer to have the really large tomatoes I like for sandwiches, so I'll see what it does when it's planted in the raised beds out back.  Planted 2 of these in a 7 gallon pot out back, and they are surviving, if not doing much growing.  I may replace them with something else if they don't bear.

Sweet 100, Grape Tomato are both going gangbusters. They love the summer heat, so they'll be thriving through out the summer.  Husky Cherry Red is looking to be a perennial favorite for me.  It's determinate, so great to grow in a pot, and even though it seems to be slow growing, it puts out lots of large, beautiful cherry tomatoes, the kind you get in restaurant salads.  I've already gathered seeds from the first fruits and planted them in a pot, so hoping to have more of those before the summer is over.

Black Pear has just started to produce fruit. One plant isn't doing well, no matter what I do to it, the other is thriving.  Both are in 3 gallon pots, and I may move them to 5 gallon pots. I put them in pots because I heard they don't like harsh afternoon sun, so I can move them if they start to fail.

Yellow Bells have a few fruits on them, but aren't growing very much. I have one planted in a pot where it gets more shade, and it has just put out one fruit.  I know they will scorch in the summer sun, so I may have to devise some sort of screening for the ones planted in the front, as they'll get the sun in the hottest part of the day.

Didn't plant the Cayenne yet. Don't know if it's too late, but I'm going to try to start a few in pots and put them on the other side of the house.

Yellow crooknecks are failing.  I think it may have something to do with the ants, as it seems they are determined to overrun them, not matter what I do.  Treated once with Sevin dust, but to no avail...ants still there.  I haven't gotten but about 8 fruits off of them, and those were not that nice.  It's getting too hot for them, so I may just pull up all but 2 or 3, and plant more of something that will withstand the heat better, probably more okra and eggplant.

No name cheapo okra seems to be doing very well, loving the heat.  Pinched out the first fruit to get the plants to branch and produce more.  They are still competing with the squash for nutrients, so they'll do better once the squash are gone.  Planted some more in the lasagna bed out back, but so far, only a couple have come up, even after the rain and frequent watering. I may have wasted that pack of seeds, and will try to get some Clemson Spineless next time I'm at the store.

Put out a small crop, then looked like they were dying.  I pulled all the beans off and fertilized and side dressed with manure, and they seem to be coming back.  I put a few more seeds in the ground, but so far, only two have come up.  More may come up once the rains come steady, dont' know.

Ichiban was not doing well, so cut it back and it seems to be coming back out very slowly.
Black Beauty - Just planted out two seedlings, and have 3 more waiting to get large enough.  May try growing them in pots.

POTATOES are growing pretty well in their pot, and I need to add more leaves today.  It will be interesting to see how many potatoes I actually get from these, since they were grown in deep shade, and were just some old, sprouted potatoes from the fridge.

SWEET POTATOES are not growing like I think they should in their bin.  I just added some manure, and will be adding more compost. They may not have enough root room  I may have to just put them out into the ground and let them run. 

CANTELOUPES are another experiment. Just tossed some seeds from a store-bought one into the lasagna bed, and a couple have come up.  We'll see...they were planted really late.

PEANUTS a definite experimental only sort of thing.  Planted 10, only one plant emerged, so planted 9 more, this time in their shells, but shells were opened slightly.  They're also planted in a compost pile/lasagna bed place.  Just wanted to see if they would grow.

So the garden isn't as nice as I wanted, but I think it will be better once it is in raised beds where it doesn't have to compete with tree roots.  At least, I hope so!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The great tomato experiment fails, and Pulling out the heavy artillery

I was late planting my tomatoes this year, and shortly after they got large enough to produce, they were hit by a freeze. I only had two at that time, a Park's Whopper and an Early Girl.

The Early Girl finally died, but not before I got some cuttings rooted, which I gave to my neighbor. The plant is doing very well in her yard, but did nothing in mine.

The Park's Whopper is not producing large fruit, and something is scarring the fruit badly. This has always been a favorite tomato of mine, so I'm very disappointed. I have a couple of babies rooted that I'm going to put into 5 gallon pots and try again.

I truly think this is because of where I planted them. They get plenty of sun, but the ground isn't very fertile, and they are competing for nutrients with two large trees nearby, plus my purple leaf plum. I think that once I get the raised beds going in the back yard, and get them into those, they'll grow much better.

In the meantime, I'm pulling out the heavy artillery - Miracle Gro. I've said before that I'm as organic as I can be, and I have added lots of compost and manure to the garden bed, but to compete with the roots, I'm going to need to do some heavy foliar feeding. So I'll be out early in the morning, hose end fertilizer sprayer in hand, feeding these babies to see if I can salvage something out of them before they kick the bucket.

Everything in the bed is looking peaked, even the beans and squash, so I think that in order to get as much as possible out of this small experimental garden, I'm going to have to do what has to be done. Next year, I'll probably not plant anything but ornamentals there, since that seems to be what does best, but it was worth a shot.

On the upside, the cherry and grape tomatoes seem to be thriving. Go figure.

This small garden was an experiment anyway, and I'm finding that this is not the best place to grow veggies. Well, experiments are experiments, and some fail. I got enough off of the plants to make it worthwhile.