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.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What to do with the peppers?

I have a dozen or more (still) baby yellow bell pepper plants.  I like bell peppers, really I do, but how many bell peppers do you really need?  I have two plants in the ground and one in a 3 gallon pot.  I personally think that's enough for me.  I'll put a couple in small pots for Jillaurie, if we ever get to visit, and a few maybe in 1 gallon pots to try to keep going for the fall garden, but other than that,  I think I'll have to toss the rest. 

I hate throwing out plants, especially vegetable plants, but hey...peppers take water and fertilizer.  I don't know anyone else who might want them around here.  WAIT...the people on the corner have a small garden plot, and he's a landscaper who knows how to garden, so maybe they would be interested.  Yes, I'll put them in little yogurt cups and take them over when they get established.

My veggies are already showing signs of heat stress.  They need daily watering, and wilt badly during midday.  Our temps are already  into the high 80's, and one day it actually hit 90.  I don't expect to get anymore tomatoes, since they don't pollinate in temperatures over 90.  I'll have to go out like I  have done before with a moist q-tip and pollinate them myself in the evening when it's cool. 

My cherry and grape tomatoes are, of course, thriving.  They love the summer, and I love them.  One new variety I'm growing this year is "Husky Cherry Red", which is a large cherry tomato that is yummy!  I have already saved one to get seeds for the fall garden.

I repotted a Cherokee Purple into a 5 gallon bucket and put it out between two of the citrus trees, where the oak tree shades it in the afternoon.  I have another growing in a 7 gallon pot in the  shade with an eggplant....another experiment. 

I've gotten quite a few "seed" beans from the one plant I allowed to grow and go to seed.  Wish I had done the whole row, as I ended up not planting anything there yet.  Still, I think between that one and letting one other in the row go to seed when they stop bearing, I'll have plenty of seeds for the fall garden.  I have a bowl of beans in the fridge right now waiting to be snapped and cooked.

The citrus trees, all but the kumquat and one navel, which were cut back, all have small fruits on them, and it looks like I may even get a few Dancy Tangerines and maybe one or two Hamlins this year.  This will be the first time in 12 years that they have all borne fruit at one time.  All because my friend told me to fertilize them a little each month for 9 months instead of three times a year.  Amazing.

Well, that's all for now.  See you back on the homestead!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Update on veggies and other edibles

Cut back the Ichiban eggplant drastically, to give it time to recover and maybe do something worthwhile. It was just wilting a lot like the roots couldn't support it, so I'm giving it a rest, and letting it make more roots and leaves. Hopefully, I can save it. It had fruits, but they were very small. I want those foot-long fruits like I used to get.

My baby Black Beauty eggplants are growing, and should be ready to plant out next week.

Dill is growing in 3 in. pots, and should be ready to plant out soon. New Ichiban eggplant seeds are sprouting, as are the new cilantro seeds I put in to replace those that didn't survive the winter.

I have to transplant some more yellow bellpeppers to larger pots. The two in the ground are doing very well so far, if not growing as fast as I'd like.

Pineapples are sad looking. I think they need a dose of Miracle Gro, as the manure and manure tea doesn't seem to be working very well to green them up. 
I think the Jaboticaba is on its last legs. What few leaves it had have dropped off, and it doesn't seem to be getting any more.  I've struggled with this plant for years, and I'm about ready to give up on it.  If I hadn't paid $30 for it, I'd have given up long ago.  I'll give it until the end of the summer, and if it hasn't come back, it's gone, no matter if it has green under the skin or not.

Same with the longan.  If it doesn't bloom this year, after 8 years in the ground, it's gone.  I do have a limit to my patience with these things.

Besides, I need space for the bananas to go somewhere other than where they are, and the spaces where these two plants are would be perfect. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crockpot Yogurt Experiment

I made a half gallon of crockpot yogurt from the instructions on A Year of CrockPotting, and it turned out pretty good. I had almost a half gallon of milk that was starting to turn, so I needed to use it up fast.

The yogurt tastes a little more like sour cream than yogurt to me, and it's not quite thick enough for my liking, so I'm experimenting with a few ways to make it thicker and add flavor.

First, I read that if you drain it through a kitchen strainer lined with a coffee filter, it will become more the consistency of sour cream, so I have one of those going in the fridge, and I can already see that a lot of the fluid is draining out. You're supposed to leave it for 24 hours, so by tomorrow morning, I'll know what it's going to look like.

I got the idea that more gelatin, in the form of flavored gelatin, would make it thicker and give it flavor, so I'm experimenting with that as well. I took two cups of crockpot yogurt and heated it for 2 minutes in the microwave (it had been refrigerated, so that just got it warm). I don't know if microwaving kills the active cultures, but I'm hoping not.

I dissolved a package of sugar free lime Jello in a half cup of boiling water, and added that to the yogurt, and whisked it all together well. I poured this into dessert glasses, and put it back in to cool. Hopefully, this will turn out somewhat like the Yoplait Key Lime thick and creamy yogurt. We'll see.

Anyway, I figure at $1.50 a half gallon for the milk, and a little electricity, and maybe a few packs of Jello, I'll have yogurt much, much cheaper than store bought. Plus, if the draining thing works, I'll have sour cream as well.

It takes awhile to make this, but I figure it will be well worth the price once it's done. I'll update this when the lime flavored concoction sets.

CLICK HERE for the update.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Early harvest from my veggie garden

I know I need to take more pictures, but it's a serious pain having to resize them and try to get them to line up right on Blogger.

I actually harvested some veggies last week, a few green beans and 4 squash. I gave the green beans and one squash to my neighbor, because I'm on this 10 day fast. She cooked the green beans in spaghetti sauce...sort of yucky to my mind, but she enjoyed them, so oh well.

She and I are doing sort of a "joint gardening" thing this year. Since I can get the veggie seeds with my foodstamps, I'm buying seeds, and she and I are sharing the harvest. She has much more planted then I do, but I'm working more on getting my gardens ready for fall. I have a lot of stuff in pots, as well, so I guess that counts.

I planted way too many crookneck squash, so I actually dug some up and gave them to her, and they transplanted well, so now she has squash plants too. Same with the peppers. I planted a bunch of yellow bell peppers, some of which I gave to her and another neighbor, and some I kept for myself. Tomatoes go without saying, because I only really planted the earlier ones for her, and gave her all the winter tomatoes. I only like tomatoes for sandwiches, and I love cherry tomatoes, so most of what I have going now is cherry, grape, and beefsteak varieties. I do have the Cherokee Purples, which I'm pleased to say are doing very well so far.

My potato pot (experimental) seems to be thriving, and I found some old lathe screening the other day, and wrapped it around inside the pot, so I can keep adding leaves and see just how many potatoes I can get. I'll try to get a pic of that up. It's really ugly, but I'm going for utilitarian, and it IS an experiment, after all. My sweet potato bin experiment doesn't seem to be doing as well, so I'm working on figuring out another scenario for that one. Vines simply stopped growing, very unlike sweet potato vines.

On the upside, the citrus trees (all but the kumquat) are loaded with blooms. Usually, during a warm winter, they bloom in March, and the wind blows all the blooms off. This year, probably due to colder weather, they bloomed in April, after the worst of the winds had passsed, so here's to keeping my fingers crossed I'll be in this house long enough to see the fruit.

Yes, I'm still facing foreclosure, but still fighting it. It's so sad to me that their greed is causing me to lose all this, but I just prefer to think that the universe has something better in store for me. Maybe I will be able to rent a room from someone in exchange for working in their yard. That would be perfect, wouldn't it?

Anyway, keep me in your prayers. Until then, I'll be here, plugging away at the garden, trying to survive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Changes Are A-Comin!

Today, I purchased the domain, which will eventually be the new name for this blog. It will be all new, with a new template, but still the same information.

I've officially made greenlasagna a dot com as well, so check out to see all the other changes.

Thanks for your support!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Natural Pest Control for Your Garden

Chemical free gardening is healthier for gardeners, consumers, and the environment. Chemicals from farm and lawn runoff in Florida have been linked to red tide, which not only kills sealife, but causes respiratory problems in humans and animals. Lawn and garden chemicals leach into our groundwater, and are still present in municipal water supplies, even after processing. It is unclear what the long term effects of these chemicals is on human health, but in recent years many disorders such as infertility, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism have become more and more prevalent in industrialized societies where chemicals are most used.

I've written two articles on natural pest control that will educate you on what is available, and how to use it.

Very basic information can be found here:

Organic Gardening Basics: Natural Insect and Animal Pest Control

More detailed information on Neem Oil, Spinosad and Homemade Pesticides can be found here:

Natural and Homemade Pesticide Alternatives for Your Organic Garden


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Site Map and More

I've added a site map to the sidebar. So far, it's not very refined, and I'll be working on that as time goes by, but I wanted to give you a way to just view certain things.

As you all know, I write articles all over the web on how to grow food, and also on how to recycle and reuse things. I'm getting together snippets and links to all those articles here, because I think it all pertains to Urban Homesteading. After all, we do more than just grow food, don't we?

I added "Grow Your Own Food" to the site map to show all the articles on growing food. Some of these are just for South Florida, but still have some valuable information for everyone. I'm writing more general vegetable gardening articles now, so I'll eventually have them all up.

I'll soon be adding "Green Living" to the sidebar, when I get some of those articles up and linked to.

I'm going to try to start a "Weekend Roundup", where I will just post pictures of the yard, and what's growing, and what's being done. This will save me having to post pics on every post, as that is very time consuming, and I'd rather be gardening and teaching others to garden.

"Friends and Neighbors Friday" will feature links to blog posts from other veggie gardeners and homesteaders, so if you have a post you think is helpful, or just interesting, email me with a link, and I'll check it out. No promises, but if I find it useful, I'll include it.

So stay tuned! I'm going to be promoting the blog more as well, now that it actually has some content, so hopefully some of you will get some traffic from that.

Growing Herbs Properly Prolongs Their Useful Life

Herbs are one of the easiest and most enjoyable plants to grow. Fresh herbs add a special flavor to your dishes, and growing your own guarantees that you aren't getting toxic chemicals with your herbs.

Harvesting herbs properly can extend your harvest considerably. Harvesting techniques are different for different herbs, but there is one rule you should always observe: No Haircutting! It's tempting to just chop off the whole bunch of herbs such
as parsley and cilantro, but this stresses the plant, and can even kill it.

You should harvest herbs as you need them. Harvesting can be done at any time you like, but remove no more than one-third of the total plant. Wait for the plant to regenerate that growth before cutting again. Read More

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tomato and Eggplant Worm Pile Experiment

I've been trying to build this worm bed with a base of horse manure, leaves, and kitchen scraps. So I think I killed the worms by piling too much on and not keeping it moist enough. I don't see any in there.

Still, there is all that great compost material, so I didn't want it to go to waste. I trimmed back some suckers and half dead branches (left over from the winter freeze) from the Park's Whopper tomato plant. I love these huge beefsteaks, but this plant seriously did not do well, and what tomatoes it got were getting eaten by something.

Just as an experiment, I stuck four of the suckers into the compost/worm pile to root. I had thrown an overripe ichiban eggplant in there, so I tore it open to see if some of those seeds will sprout. Since they are related (tomatoes and eggplant), they should grow well together. We'll see.

I moved the pot o' potatoes under the oak tree, because potatoes actually don't do too well here in the summer. Maybe by keeping them under there, I can keep them alive. Hope so, anyway. I'll be planting the sweet potatoes in the larger pot next lots of plans for this weekend, so no more gardening.

That's all for today. Most of my gardening lately has been my edibles, but I'm going to try to put something in the gardening blog soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tomato Report

I separated and repotted almost all the tomato seedlings today.

I had 10 Cherokee Purple seedlings, and I only need four at best, so I put the rest into styrofoam cups to share with neighbors.

I put both Husky Cherry Reds into 3 gallon pots. Never have grown these before, but they look like patio tomatoes, so I'm sure they'll be fine in the pots.

I cut some suckers of of the Park's Whopper, and put those into a 1 gallon pot to root. This is my favorite tomato variety, so I want lots of them.

I ran out of soil, or I would have separated and potted up the Black Pear tomatoes as well. I have 5 of those, so I'm going to keep two and give the rest away.

I need to go get more soil, and also I need to get more styrofoam cups. I didn't plan on working outside today, but the tomatoes needed desperately to be transplanted, so I did it. I can't walk outside without doing something! There is just so much to get done.

Tomorrow I'm going to dig up and move the Ice Cream bananas and replace them with Yellow Bell Pepper plants.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Old Garden Spot

My first real garden was in the back of my yard, in front of the hedgerow. It got almost full sun, and was only shaded in the hottest part of the afternoon. It got overgrown after many years of non-use, and today, I started to clean it out, thinking it would be nice to use it again.

Problem is, the oak trees grew a lot in the last 8 years. Guess they would, since I had all those plants under them that I had to fertilize. Now the old garden spot is shaded from about noon on, so no good for really growing most veggies. There is one place there on the side of the yard that gets full afternoon sun, but is shaded in the morning. I think that's where I'm going to put my tomatoes in the fall.

This time around, they'll be in pots, because I really don't have time to dig up a place big enough for all those tomato plants.

Today I tried something I've always wanted to try. I stuck eggplant cuttings. Now, I don't know if eggplants will grow from cuttings, but if they will, I'm going to have three more Ichiban's. I have some Ichiban seeds, but that takes so long, and I want some more plants now. The first time I ever grew an Ichiban, it got three feet tall, and lived for 3 years. Anybody ever rooted eggplant cuttings? Just wondering.

I'm thinking of planting some peanuts. I don't know why, just to make me feel more at home, I guess. I remember eating peanuts right out of the field when I was little and spending time at my paternal grandmother's house. She leased her land to a farmer, and he grew corn and peanuts. As children, we weren't much interested in the corn, but the peanuts were like field candy.

I'm doing a lot of strange stuff this year, just experimenting. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Veggie Report

The veggies are coming along. The tomatoes took a hard hit during the freezing weather, but I cut them back, and they're coming back out. The problem is, they have blossom end rot, so I'll have to add some calcium to the soil. I may actually not even mess with those, because it seems my rat is back, and every time one gets ripe, he eats a hole out of it. I may just leave those two for him, and plant some others somewhere else in the yard. That way, he'll have plenty, and won't try eating the others.

I have to get rid of the rat, though, because I planted some other veggies in the same bed. My yellow crookneck squash and okra is coming up, and more beans. The rat doesn't seem to like the eggplant, so it's doing well. Believe it or not, the beans that got hit by frost are coming back out and now have blooms.

I have a lot of tomatoes to plant out. All 10 of the Cherokee Purple seedlings made it. I also have two Husky Cherry Reds, which look like they will be patio size, and can be grown in pots; and 5 of the Black Plum, which I've never tasted, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'll be growing the yellow bell peppers, which are big enough to transplant, in pots, I think. My neighbor gave me a lot of mixed pepper seeds, so I'll plant them and have some nice surprise plants. She said there were red bells, orange bells, cubanelles, and jalapenos all mixed together.

The pineapples have started to grow, and I'm watering them with horse manure tea. They like natural fertilizer best. After I've leached all the tea out of it, I'll add it to the compost pile

My Valencia orange still has a couple dozen oranges on it. The grapefruit next door is still loaded with fruit as well, so I've had a bounty this year. Plus, there is a vacant house down the road that has Honey Mandarin oranges, red grapefruit, and tangelos. The neighbor says the man died, and his family isn't down much, so take all I want. I've been loading up every couple of days. The Honey Mandarins aren't going to be edible much longer, so I've been stuffing myself.

I've hauled a lot of horse manure lately, and have started a lasagna bed in the back. I'll layer horse manure, oak leaves, and kitchen waste in there and plant in the fall, if I'm still here.

I'm still fighting for my house. A long story, but I have still not gotten my insurance money for my kitchen fire, because the mortgage company won't let me have it unless I use some of it to catch up on the payments. I've called legal aid, and will probably be filing bankruptcy to save the house. I'm waiting to hear from them for an appointment.

So I still have no stove. I'm going to call a repairman and see if this one is o.k. to use. It may be that I've been doing without a stove for nothing, but I really didn't have the money to deal with it.

Life goes on, such as it is. I'll probably end up leaving here, although I hate to. I kick myself for not selling and leaving two years ago, when I could have made a bundle on this house. Now it's not worth what I owe on it, and I'm stuck here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm baaaack!

Haven't been doing a lot on the homesteading front lately, because I'm in a financial crisis of my own, and fighting to be able to stay in my house. No sense making it into a homestead if I won't be here, right?

Anyway, I'm starting to plant some veggies. Put out a single squash plant last week, but plan to plant more. Planted some more Blue Lake Bush beans today.

On the tomato front, I have about 10 seedlings of Cherokee Purple Tomatoes that I need to put into bigger pots. Also have two Husky Cherry Red seedlings. They look like pretty compact plants. The Early Girl and Park's Whopper were badly burned in a freeze, but I cut them back, and new growth is sprouting out all over them. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of the green tomatoes, due to the fact that I didn't have time to do anything with them, so they went to the compost pile.

I also have parsley and catnip seeds coming up, but need to plant more catnip, because a few plants got killed by the cold. I have about 6 yellow bell peppers ready to plant out, and a couple of tiny Solo papaya seedlings that I need to put into larger pots.

The pineapple plants are starting to grow now. I went and got free horsemanure last week, so I'll be watering them with manure tea very soon.

I stuck a couple more spinach bush cuttings in the ground to root. The one in the pot is still growing, but I need to take it out and put it in the ground.

The bananas are all doing well, even the baby ice cream bananas, but I will have to move them, because I just noticed that if I leave them there, they'll be blocking the sun onto that vegetable bed.

I'm planning out my herb gardens. I'm going to do knot gardens in different places around the yard, instead of having them all in one place.

I bought seeds for everything I want to grow this summer; okra, eggplant, peppers. I have a sweet potato ready to cut up and put into the ground as soon as it sprouts a little.

I'm still planning on growing the tropical veggies, and have some eddoe (malanga) and taro in the ground at present.

One orange tree and the key lime are blooming, and already have tiny baby fruit. Nothing on the others yet. I'm starting seeds of Honey Mandarin oranges. A neighbor who passed had a tree, which has been supplying me with all I could ever need. They are so yummy! Of course I've been eating grapefruit from the tree next door, which was loaded this year. My valencia still has a few dozen oranges on it that aren't quite ripe enough, so I'll have some next month for sure.

Just picked the last of the starfruit for now. I've been trying to trim the tree back, but had to wait for all the fruit to ripen. The Japanese Plum (loquat) is loaded down. Trimmed off some lower branches, so I'll need a ladder to pick fruit this year.

I'd love to grow chayote, but you have to have a very strong trellis for it, and I don't have one right yet. Maybe next year.

Guess that's all that's going on so far. I'll try to get some pics soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Green Bean Bonanza, Sad Tomatoes and more...

Remember those Blue Lake Bush green beans I planted, the ones that had been in the freezer for 12 years? Well, I cooked up a whole pot of them last week. I wish I had taken pics, but I didn't. I actually cooked them at a friend's house, because I had a kitchen fire on Christmas Day and don't have a working stove right now. Yeah, I'm a clutz. I left grease on the stove. Good thing I wasn't cooking a Christmas dinner! There are some upsides to not celebrating Christmas, although, if I'd had a house full of people, maybe the damage wouldn't have been so bad.

Anyway, the beans are putting forth another flush of blooms, and I have some harvesting size now, so I'll be picking them and doing the crock pot thing with them. I expect to get quite a few beans from these plants before I have to replant them.

My tomatoes aren't quite as healthy as my beans. It seems the Early Girl has been hit by a blight, because all the bottom leaves are dying and falling off. The fruits are being eaten by some sort of bugs. I need to spray them, but I hate to use poison. I've been taking cuttings from the plant, but if it has a blight, they won't do well either. Sad.

The lonesome little Japanese Eggplant is loaded with blooms and tiny baby eggplants. One is harvesting size. The sad part of that is, I love fried eggplant, but have no stove. I guess I'll try to boil some water in the microwave and blanch and freeze them. I had good luck with my eggplants living a long time last time I planted them, so hopefully I'll have the same with these.

I cut the tops off of turnips and planted them, but I haven't really watered them a lot, so they're not growing. It was really an experiment to see if I could get turnip greens out of them.

I planted lots of seeds, some I got in trades and some herb seeds I bought. I am really praying the Cherokee Purple tomatoes come up. I've always wanted to taste those, but they are way too expensive at the store. They're heirlooms, so I can save seeds.

I also have some Grape and Cherry tomato seedlings growing. I don't know why I have so many tomatoes, because I don't really even like them!

I really need to get some squash and cucumbers into the ground, but I've been so busy, I haven't had time to prepare the garden spot on the other side of the yard. I'm going to try hard to get that done this week.

I have some volunteer watermelons coming up in the compost pile. I'll probably leave them just to see how it goes.

Guess that's all for now. Happy Homesteading!

Growing Tomatoes in a Sub-Tropical Climate

Homegrown Tomatoes Are Easy in South Florida If You Know How

The most frequently asked question by gardeners when they move to South Florida is "how do you grow tomatoes?" In South Florida, you grow tomatoes primarily in the winter. This is because our growing seasons are reversed from the rest of the country. Read More...