Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Fall Edible Garden: Think Soil Prep
The brightest spot in the late summer edible garden is by far the sun-drenched coleus backlit in flaming red.
The last of the onions and carrots have been pulled up this week. Only the sweet pepper plants are continuing to produce any veggies.
Surrounded by perennial borders on all sides there are 4 raised beds and 2(4x8)framed beds that make up the edible garden.
The back side of the garden has a mind of its own post-summer. Not that I'm suggesting summer is over because every Floridian knows we are far from our first cool evening. But in terms of the edible garden the spring plantings have given way under the stress of the summer heat.
The two framed beds are catering to some wildflowers that I don't have the heart to extract just yet.
The native Salvia coccinea,scarlet sage self seeds each year. Next to red Pentas lanceolata, Cuphea ignea cigar plant, and zinnias the combination makes for consistent butterfly nourishment. And the gardener is happy to see blooms growing easily in the abundant heat and sunshine.
Even though the heat seems unbearable, Florida gardeners, it is time to get out and prep the garden for our fall plantings. Maybe you've already done this but I kept putting it off until the last week or so.
No question it is difficult to imagine fall while experiencing persistent high temps and humidity. It helps to get going now on the to-do list for the fall garden by reminding yourself how glad we will be in about two months when our edible gardens are starting to produce all that yummy goodness once again.
First things first.
It is the elemental building block of the garden but doubly essential where the edibles are concerned.
Soil quality deserves the utmost attention. Best management practices using organic matter will increase soil health in the easiest and most natural way. For soil rich in nutrients and teaming with microbial life make your own compost.
Getting started we've pulled all the troublesome weeds that also love summer heat.
Adding ample layers of compost to existing raised beds in lieu of buying fresh soil this season we're counting on it to provide needed nutrients making organic nitrogen available to the plants once the seeds go into the ground .
It's a beautiful thing to know we can shovel up as much of our own 'black gold' as we need. All materials recyled from the garden in the first place. Given the correct environment, organic matter such as grass clippings, plant trimmings, kitchen scraps, shredded paper, and leaves are broken down by organisms living in the soil. Sufficient moisture and turning frequently for good air circulation is included in the equation. Since our methods are more true to vermicomposting the broken down product contains oodles of red wiggler worms.
When we have fed our soil we can be sure the soil, in turn, will feed our plants.
Blood meal and bone meal were mixed in with the compost as it was being transferred to the garden. Over the top pine bark mulch was laid in order to preserve the moisture and keep the beds from developing a hard 'crust' while baking in the sun.
The beds will be left to 'cook' for a few weeks while the tomato seeds in small pots are developing their seedling roots.
Seeds of squash, bush beans, pole beans, broccoli, collard greens and cucumber will go in the ground in September. Later in the month and the beginning of October lettuces, spinach, peas, onions, radishes, and carrots will be added.
For a complete guide to Florida planting go here.