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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back to the Garden

Well, it's not as if I haven't been in the garden. This is that wonderful time of year when I spend every spare hour there... and some stolen minutes along the way. Gee, now that I think about 'this time of year' and spending every spare hour in the garden has been going on since about the second week of January ...and there is more to do yet... such is life in the garden.

But today I am taking you with me back to the garden after my last few posts focused on the beautiful wildlife in and around Hoe & Shovel.

I've taken on a couple of new projects this Winter/Spring season and one of them is my first ever veggie garden. You might remember I placed my two raised beds (in February) on the north side-yard of my house where grass was the dominant visual. You can click here to see the back story on the raised beds. Since then, I dug out some of the grass -- transplanted some foliage from around other places in my garden to create this (above) new bed. Then I moved some containers (close-up photo) and an old chair next to the boxes. My goal was to add more interest/color and soften the look of the limestone gravel I put next to the boxes initially. Adding more foliage here provides a more peaceful and softer setting... which is always my ultimate goal.
When initially comtemplating the veggie garden I was a little overwhelmed with intimidation and fear about the "how to's" of working with vegetables/seeds/raised beds/timing/thinning/harvesting and all the other unknowns (to me) about this type of gardening.

I must admit, after all of that needless anxiety, it has proven to be a most rewarding experience. Now, I realize I have a long way to go but, even so, if not another thing happened in the garden I would define it so far as most satisfying. Watering each day and observing the super-fast growth each day is quite different than landscape gardening. It is thrilling to nurture this small area knowing that it is actually producing organic food my family will soon be eating.
For the update:
I've included progress photos here as if these unfurling green leaves were my children. I'm so proud of them-- the way they are responding and performing so far. I confess I'm doing the very thing I've often thought was a bit silly...
"and here (above photo) is the way they looked on March 21...

... and oh, look at how much bigger they've gotten in just three days on March 24... they now have two sets of leaves... aren't they cute?...

... and then in just 5 more days my little bean stalks/vines are finding their way up the poles and wrapping themselves around them like good little beans are supposed to...

... and then, oh just look at them now on April 4, all my cute little squash, zucchini and beans are growing so big they are ready to be thinned."

The Painful Side:
Now that was painful I have to tell you. Sending perfectly good vegetable plants to the compost pile. It was very difficult to pull those plants out of the ground. But it was for their good I know.

The remaining plants needed all the available space in order to reach maturity. So we went from 16 healthy squash plants to 4 - likewise with the zucchini and the cuccumber.

Now why didn't I build more beds? Oh, yeah, I wanted to be wise and start small to assuage being too overwhelmed. What that really means is - to lessen the odds of failure. But I'm getting off track. Sigh. There's always next season...

Where was I then? Oh yes, I was going on and on about how very pleased I am with the performance of my little veggies. I started out with two bell pepper and 6 tomato plants from the nursery. Everything else I've listed (except for some herbs) was planted from seed.
Just look at those peppers. They are a beautiful sight. It won't be long before they will be making me happy in some spaghetti sauce or a salad. What could be more thrilling? (don't answer- I don't want to think anything else could be this exciting right now.)
Lastly, I've got tomatoes! Lots of them. I'm staking and watering like mad. Anyone have a recommendation on what to use to tie them to the stake? They are getting a bit heavy... like all good tomatoes do... I think. I should head over to Carol's to see if she has already mentioned this somewhere in one of her informational posts about vegetable gardening.
Fortunately, so far anyway, the bugs, worms, grasshoppers and such in the other parts of my garden haven't spread the news that there's a tender new plantings feast on the north side yet undiscovered. I pray they never do but then that would be more of a fairy tale than a real life vegetable garden wouldn't it?


  1. I am so jealous that your seasons are months ahead of here in the UK. My tomato plants are a good 4" tall in the greenhouse at the moment. It is much too early to even plant squashes outside here. I have just planted some okra seeds in a heated propagator in the greenhouse in the hope that they might at least germinate.

  2. Oh my gosh Meems. Your veggie garden is gorgeous and productive. Carol will be so jealous that you have tomatoes in your garden already. All of the northern veggie gardeners will be salivating just seeing these pictures. I on the other had am drawn to the chair in your veggie garden. It would be fun to sit there sampling your produce, sipping a cold drink and sketching the lovelies in your garden.

  3. Meems, your raised beds look great. and veggies are growing like crazy :) congratulations.
    what to use to tie the tomato plants? use old cotton t-shirt. cut it in stripesabt 2cm wide - it is soft enough to not hurt delicate stems. tie in so called '8' - if you know what I mean. if not, let me know, I will post a drawing :)

  4. Meems, Wow, your veggies look great! I'm very impressed!

    Ewa's idea is great. I never thought of that. I can't grow tomatoes here (not enough sun) but when I did grow them, I used these really nifty green velcro strips from a garden center. They're re-usable for years and years, and they're unobtrusive.

    I've also used green twist ties and green yarn. They all work, and I liked the velcro strips the best.

  5. Meems...your garden is doing so well! Way ahead of us here in Davis! And...there is an award for you over at Growing A Garden In Davis...

  6. nancy: I can only imagine you must relish the sunny, spring days after your long, cold winter. Enjoy those dirty hands.

    matron: oh my, you are a true gardener with all the preparation you must go through to bring your seeds along. I don't think I would be that dedicated. Although I sometimes wonder if I couldn't plant outside all year long would it motivate me to propogate inside? I don't think I will ever find this out. I think we are in Florida to stay... and I'm not complaining.
    Thanks for visiting Hoe & Shovel.

    lisa: Thanks for your always kind words. Well, at least I have "green" tomatoes so far.Do you know that chair in my garden was headed to garbage heap and I decided to revive it? I was aiming to add a more 'worn' & cozy feel to the veggie garden.I must nominate you (mouse & trowel)for the gardener I would like to have as a neighbor just so I can imagine you sitting there doing your sketches. How divine that would be.

    ewa: Thanks so much for your great suggestion. I think I know what you mean about the figure 8- probably to secure the stem so it doesn't slip?

    Linda: Thank you and I would love for you to be impressed when we actually produce some food. That will be the true test won't it? I must say I think we are on the right track... hopefully.I'll check out your tips for tying too. Thanks.

    Leslie: Wow. Thanks for thinking of me for an award.I'll get over to your place to check it out soon.

  7. Interesting from your garden!

    Spring has just started here, I hope to begin working in the garden tomorrow.

    Enjoy the next week :)

  8. Wow, I'm gone for a few days and you change the photos on your blog. Love all the new shots on top!

  9. Your raised beds are looking great! I want to build more - or should I say get my husband to build more - this year. The last time I grew veggies was when I "helped" my parents as a little girl, so I'm a wee bit nervous :)

  10. I love the raised beds and your vegetable plants have gotten so big already! I really like the idea of adding the chair to add visual interest. I"m a little behind you - I got my vegetables in the ground this weekend. And, I'm definitely asking my husband to build some more raised beds for me. They're so much easier!

  11. Your veggies are looking great. Looks like your first vegetable garden is a success!

  12. Marie, I do hope you get to work in your garden. Spring must be lovely in Norway.

    Melanie, my design side has to change things up - it's too much fun... glad you like it.

    Amy, I totally understand the nervous thing. With everyone's encouragement I forged forward and just did it... now I realize the fretting was needless. Not that I am accomplished yet but as is usually the case the things I worried about were bigger in my mind than in actuality. My hubby is not the least bit handy (he IS many other things- but not handy) so I have to hire someone to build my beds. I SO wish I would have started with 4 at least... oh well. Maybe I can remedy that by the fall?

    Emily, I think your timing is probably fine for where you are- north of me. Raised beds seem truly easy to control the environment. I just look at it like a container plant. They drain well but also need water often.

    Susan, I kind of hesitate to use the word success yet- but thanks- the green part does look pretty good. I'll be more likely to think I've done something when a harvest is on my plate. :-)


Have a blessed day,

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