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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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

First Harvest and Veggie Garden Update

There is a lot of .... let's say... energy that goes into the production of a vegetable garden. Prior to stepping out into this venture of a small-scale garden of raised beds and sown seed I weighed out, the best I knew how, what it would take to make it successful in terms of energy and time. I can't say I knew exactly what all it would take so I'm learning a whole lot as time marches on and harvesting is beginning.

Nonetheless, it is of import to interject here ... this first time grower of vegetables is having the time of her life. All these years with a vegetable garden just a vision on my "want-to-do-it-someday list", I don't think I could have predicted how much gratification I would get from this type of gardening. The joy of watching over these plants and nurturing them along to harvest has greatly increased my passion for gardening. Just the principle alone of sowing a seed into the ground and provided it has some light, water, and nutrition it will grow into a plant has me in awe. But further that the plant produces fruit that produces its own seed and the cycle starts all over again is something that stirs my soul.

On to the Veggie Garden Update

Saturday I harvested my first (eightball variety) zucchini and (goldbar) summer squash. (Seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds)

Even though he was very impressed ... hubby claims that stir-fry side-dish costed us $1,000. HA... he's a funny one. It was a bit of an exaggeration. If only I could have gotten by without having a tree removed a couple of weeks ago for the sake of better sun coverage. That's when hubby got involved weighing the cost. Alas, with that short discussion over with ----together we gladly savored the delicious flavors and freshness.

Note to Self: Pay Attention to the Seed Packages

(2) 8 x 4 raised beds - seed sown (except for tomatoes and peppers) March 10 and March 17.

When the seed packages include instructions (Pinetree Garden Seeds all do) they become a necessary tool especially for a first timer. For instance, "Plant 1" deep when soil warms 3-4 seeds per hill. Baseball size fruit grow on bushy plants. 55 days." Each seed variety with its respective instructions.

Next time I sow seed I'll know to pay attention to the instruction- they really do mean what they say. My little raised beds are over flowing with plants even after I've thinned a couple of times.

The lettuce was harvested for the fourth time this morning. Have to say this has been a big (but happy) surprise. The results have been more than I could have hoped and I'll be able to sow this same kind of seed again in late summer for a fall harvest. It is the Heatwave Blend of six different varieties from Burpee. Even though the description claims it can take some heat I had serious doubts it could take our Zone 10 heat. At the bottom of the package there's this little note... GARDEN HINTS: Lettuce grows best in cool weather.

We've had daytime temps in the upper 80's for a couple of weeks now so we shall see how long it lasts.

The first "Fresh Market" tomato is beginning to turn. I've been watching this one (above photo) like a mother hen. Each morning and night and sometimes in between if I'm already outside I take a look to be sure no little tomato-eating-critter has tampered with my first regular sized tomato. Even though I've harvested several of the smaller variety (patio) tomatoes and couldn't be prouder of them (they are very yummy)... I don't know why... but when this one is harvested it will somehow feel like I've grown a real tomato.
Saturday it was decided to remove a row of marigolds that were originally seed sown in front of my lone row of (bush crop) cucumber. It was my design plan to see the marigolds draping over the edge of the bed. Once again it was my fault for not leaving enough room for both rows to have their way. The marigolds did so well standing tall blocking the sun and air space from the cukes. They are now happily adapted to their new home... some in a container and some in the ground at the SW corner of the back garden where it is sunny and fairly dry.

I guess I have caught the seed-sowing bug... if there is such a thing. What seemed so risky and so daunting before I ever tried it now seems so fun ... so challenging in a good, healthy way... in the way that I just have to see if I can make it work. Do I have what it takes to help it grow? What does it take to help it grow? What and when to do what needs to be done. Just figuring it all out is half of the enjoyment. I've still got loads to learn. Every success is the reward that keeps the process going.


  1. $1,000 stir-fry! LOL!

    It all looks so good! Wish I'd planted more. Any day now, I'll be munching my first maters. It really is a great feeling, isn't it?

  2. I guess that means those squash and zucchini are running about $300 a piece right now! :)

    Everything looks wonderful!

  3. How very satisfying. I havent ventured into veggie growing really, I only have a few pots but so far so good

  4. The $1000 stir-fry comment is something my husband would say!

    Your vegetable garden is wonderful and I love your joy in tending it.


  5. Meems, your veggie garden looks wonderful. When I had a veggie garden, I always over planted it too.

    This spring I planted lettuce in a pot on the patio. Before the trees leaf out there's enough sun. I haven't made a salad with it yet - I've been picking leaves and eating them unadorned. I love leaf lettuce. And yes, my lettuce is planted too thickly, same as my past veggie gardens always were.

    Your initial investment will definitely pay for itself over time if you keep at it, especially if you preserve the inevitable over-abundance. In my experience, over time, even with the initial investment, garden-grown veggies are still cheaper than store-bought.

    Plus, you get to control what goes into your veggies, and you can avoid planting genetically modified stuff if you choose to.

  6. I hope no critters get to your "first real" tomatoes Meeems. It would be a big disappointment for you. Your veggies look so good. I am sure $1000 stir fry tastes better than the $10 variety. tee hee...

  7. There is something about growing from seed that I just love - flowers or edibles, doesn't matter. Your veggie garden is beautiful and looks like it promises to be bountiful, too. I'm going to look for some of Burpee's Heat Wave blend for my fall garden. I'll bet my rabbits will LOVE it! (They proved they love greens by eating all our spinach this winter . . . )

  8. I'd say that your mighty fine looking veggies are well worth the money spent on them. Your boxes are so lush and green and I can't wait to see the rest of your bountiful harvest!

  9. Hey, has your DIL been to Apalachee Native Nursery in Lloyd? They're having a sale this weekend. It's not one of those 'pretty' nurseries, but they usually have some good stock.

  10. this sounds a lot like my $100 free tadpoles.

    That's it, we are moving. I am so jealous you already have squash. Mine are not even in the ground.

  11. Hi Meems, you have a bountiful harvest coming up. And the beds looks so neat and orderly, even for a veggie garden. You have done well, with food to show for it. Your $1000 rings a bell here, my better half christened himself The Financier of Faire Garden at the spring fling, so he would get along well with your guy, we must not let that happen! ;-> Watch for birds pecking a hole in those tomatoes at the top, they do that sometimes. We planted 8 ball also, can't wait, ours have just now germinated in their raised mounds.


  12. I am so happy for you that you are harvesting real vegetables from your veggie garden, and enjoying it so. Congratulations, and welcome to "the other side" of gardening. Isn't it fun?

    And never count the cost! The value of a homegrown tomato can't be measured in dollars and cents. It is priceless!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  13. Thank God for a generous hubby, who not only indulges your gardening fantasies, but with good humor! Removing a tree to add more sunshine to your vegetables? He is a rare sort, for sure! How else would you have the liberty to enjoy countless hours in your most prized pleasure, creating, planting, and harvesting your labors for sheer enjoyment? At the very least, he still puts his feet under your table for his meals! A shout-out for hubby is due! I appreciate his goodness to you all these years! Thank you, son-in-law for taking such good care of my daughter. She is definitely worth it, for sure! Bless you both!

  14. sophie: Thanks. It is more fun than I could have thought... would love to see your little mater garden! and thanks for the info on the nursery... I have passed it along.

    jane: HA! Pat yourself on the back for an A+ in math. The rate is dropping however as I've harvested a few more since this post. I'm counting on this process to continue. :-)

    Patient: A few pots works out just fine. I actually just HAD to put a tomato plant in a pot too just to see how it would do compared to the raised beds. It is doing well but not growing as fast.

    gail: husbands DO tend to stick together in this arena I think. HA.

    Linda: I found myself eating the lettuce as I picked it too. But huge salads are my favorite. I think one of the best parts is knowing there are not chemicals involved.

    The investment will definitely urge me along to "keep at it" as you say. Over time I know it will take care of itself and more... not to mention the sheer delight it gives me... that counts too!

    Lisa: No critters so far. You know what they say, you get what you pay for...

    nancy: you are right... both the landscaping and the vegetable garden are rewarding... thanks.

    mary beth: I think the heat wave blend will be perfect for you. Sometimes I don't think any one wants to hear so much detail (like where I got my seed) but then I remember I got my seed purchase list from blogs I was reading... it was really helpful.

    hanako: thanks... I harvested some green beans yesterday and today... too much fun!

    aunt debbi: that's funny... $100 free. Oxymoron?

    Frances: birds wouldn't do that awful thing would they? I'm just so thankful the unrelenting grasshoppers haven't found my lettuce... It is nothing short of a miracle. The eightball grows like a weed... and it is quite tasty.

    Carol: priceless is perfect! Yes, I am having a blast. The feeling of walking out my door, turning the corner to the side yard where the veggies are growing is just so... fulfilling. Thanks for all your encouragement and your great blog full of wonderfully informative material that I can adapt so many miles south of you.

    SG: Always cheering for the hubby... and yes, it is well deserved. Shout-outs are in order for his patience with me and all my many projects and endeavors over the years. I think I'll keep him around another 30 years.

  15. This is really fascinating how fast all this happened - I was just reading about you building raised beds...
    and you have already the first harvesting behind :)
    isn't it really satisfying?

  16. Very nice Meems! Tell hubby to imagine he's eating that scrumptuous food in a bistro in Lyon France and $1,000 will seem like a bargain. I can almost taste those tomatoes.

  17. ewa: It is pretty amazing how short our growing season is actually. The weather is great for getting started but already now the warm night temperatures threaten to warm the soil beyond its liking... Yes, the whole seed to fruit process is very satisfying and remarkably fun.

    Rees: Thanks. You have a good imagination... I'll definitely use that one.

  18. Wow, Meems! Look at all that green stuff! We're still in the planting process here!

  19. kylee: our spring growing season is pretty short actually. We get started at the end of February/early March planting seed but all is over by mid-June or sooner. The soil gets too warm with our warm nights and most everything poops-out once that happens. BUT- we surely are enjoying the harvest while it lasts.


Have a blessed day,

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