Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Gardening

Here are several pictures I took a few weeks ago of the Summer Garden and some comments on what seemed to be working and what was not. Many vegetable gardeners in Central Florida do not attempt to grow anything in July and August. But I have been experimenting with some varieties that are not too difficult during the hot and humid months. Here I have documented what worked well for me this summer.

Here is a broad shot of the backyard vegetable garden in the middle of July. You can see the tomato vines are dying, but the Marigolds and basil look pretty nice.
Here you can see the left over carrots along with Marigold, Basil, and Georgia Collards all doing well. The carrots seemed to grow very slowly and became really tough in the heat. I will probably skip on growing these in the heat again. The Summerlong Basil did great and we had way more of it than we could use. The Sweet Basil would have done better with some shade. And the Collards started having a lot of wilt issues with the heavy rains at the end of July and August. Next summer I think I will skip on the Collards.
Here the Arugula and Sweet Basil looks good. But both of these would have done better with some shade. Next Summer I am going to try to use some Shade cloth over these varieties. I also tried some Swiss Chard but it really did not work out well in the middle of the summer.
Most of the sweet peppers survived the summer. But the fruits were very small and the plants were wilted a lot of the time as you see here. Next year I want to use more mulch and shade cloth over the pepper plants. The good news is that now that Fall is approaching the pepper plants are looking better again. I will do another post with an update on more Peppers.
The mint went crazy over the summer and I need to trim it back. Also the lemon basil grew fast and bolted.
I direct sowed okra, yard-long beans, and Malabar Spinach on June 16th, which you see here about a month later. The Malabar Spinach did great and I will definitely plant that again next year. The yard-long beans I need to harvest now and will show the results in a separate post. I had some issues of tiny black flies and some issues with the wet weather but for the most part they have done well. I have a lot of Okra that needs to be harvested now. It has grown easily as advertised in the heat of the summer.
Here are some California Blackeye No.5 cow peas about a month after I direct sowed them on June 17th.

These are Jackson Wonder Lima Beans that I direct sowed on June 16th. These did not grow as fast as the yard-long beans and the cow peas and are not as productive. I think I may skip on growing them in the summer next year. However, they were pretty easy. Only thing I had to do was pick over some caterpillars off them occasionally.
Here is another row of Malabar Spinach. I will do a separate post of how productive this was with very little care over the summer.
I had a few sweet potato plants that survived the rat and rabbit issues I had earlier in the year. The good news is that I have not had any rodent issues since I installed the three foot high hardware mesh fence I made around the whole garden. So I should be better prepared to plant more of these next Summer.
The Summerlong Basil and Parsley was easy and did great in the heat of the summer with no care.