Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Cool Season Pretties in the Edible Garden
If you've ever thought about planting some edibles there is no better time than now.
Learning to grow an edible garden has been one of the most enriching aspects of gardening for me.
For an endeavor that was so intimidating initially it's difficult to express how much joy it has brought over the past 3 years. Trepidation at times. But joy is always the overarching feeling that comes to mind when I recount this experience.
From my first effort at edibles in the spring of 2008 when there were just two lonely framed-beds in my side yard I fell in love with this process.
I also sensed the need to enlarge the space right off.
For me, rectangular boxes plopped in the corner were a great starting place but it just wasn't pretty enough. I shamelessly admit I like pretty. Pretty matters to me.
I envisioned creating a space that flowed with the rest of my garden.
A space that gave me the same peaceful sense I get when I walk into other areas of my garden. It would have curving lines with edibles and flowers blended together spilling and tumbling beyond their boundaries.
The straight edges of framed beds would be softened by the addition of hilled-up beds designed to avoid the traditional 'row' planting. And flowering hardy perennials would serve as foundational borders and edging. That way I wouldn't have to replace them each season.
It was simply a large grassy patch at the time all those dreamy plans were dancing around in my mind. Can you see the two framed beds in the upper left corner from the June 2008 photo above?
Along with the flowering borders there would be portable containers placed throughout in many sizes where seasonal herbs and flowers would rotate in concert with the seasonal climate or if it so happened ~~ the whim of this gardener.
Harvest. Just one of the sources of the joy I'm hoping to convey to anyone who really wants to try edibles but hasn't yet for whatever reason.
I'm a firm believer in "start with what you have and start where you are at the moment." Getting started is the key. Even if it's planting in one portable container. On a patio or a balcony.
In January 2009 to prepare for my second spring of sowing edibles more lawn was removed to enlarge the garden. Rather than spending my dollars on framed beds I spent them on good soil brought in and hilled-up in the new space.
Transitions from dreams to realities are not usually an overnight materialization. Always keeping in mind that gardening is the principle of seed-time and harvest.
Time. Every step takes time and patience. And with a little diligence and determination visions come to pass. By April 2009 what I had visualized in my mind was what I could see in my garden.
My home landscape used to be completely planned and predictable. The choice to plant heirloom seeds and allowing nature to have its way means that each season there are those occasionally surprises that add to the exhileration that blending flowers and edibles offers.
These days I can never be sure when/where a patch of bronze fennel or parsley or dill or even lettuce starts might decide to squeeze into a so-called 'planned' space and find some soil to take root. Fun stuff.
The sight of large leafy edibles happy to be in my garden supplies my table with food and my soul with great pleasure and satisfaction.
Life. Nurturing life and tapping into that sense of reward for giving my garden what it needs to grow. It gives back at a remarkable rate of return.
Peach tree blossoms are giving way to the beginnings of tiny fuzz balls of fruit. Outside of the designated edible garden is a Tropic Snow Peach tree mingled right in with ornamentals of agapanthus and pentas at its feet in the back garden. It has the feeling of being more naturalized rather than keeping ornamentals and edibles separated.
Self-seeding Gaillardia is no longer surprising. It is everywhere it seems. No problem. I've transferred many of the starts to other locations that could use a lift from these no-nonsense, brightly colored beauties.
What a learning curve there is with this type of gardening! What works. What doesn't. Not to mention the weather patterns and unexpected changes that affect each season. Inspiration to conquer comes along with the challenge. Attempts to master the timing, sowing, soil needs, irrigation, organic practices ~~ all a step by step process.
Last year with my first attempt at broccoli the plants were enormous but not a single fruit was formed. This season we've got broccoli! What could be more exciting!
Green Macerata cauliflower from heirloom seeds was added this year as well. Harvesting from both makes it doubly rewarding and oh, so delicious.
Cool season edibles planted last fall actually didn't mind the colder winter we experienced in December/January. Warm season seeds have been sown to come up when the fall plantings are spent. In Florida there is always a blend of seasons.
One of these days I aim to master eating (at least something) from the garden all year long. It's the humid, bug ridden world of summer when only bell peppers seem to endure that defies me. My first attempt to conquer the gap will be this summer. I'll be trying some heat resisant long yard beans to break that barrier.
Now what about you? Do you love this aspect of your garden like I do? Is it time to get to the dreams that dance in YOUR head?