Check Out These Pages, Too!

"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.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Veggie Garden Chit-Chat

This was supposed to be the basil plant purchased just so it could flower and in turn fill my gardening soul with the sweet sight of its tiny white blooms. There are others that aren't allowed to flower but are kept pinched back for use in the kitchen.

Have you ever seen a basil leaf 5 or 6 inches long? Needless to say, no flowering allowed on this prolific plant. It is feeding us well, adding its wonderful flavor to salads, spaghetti, and other meat dishes.

Just for fun... look at the camparison of growth in the photo above and the photo below ... in just 18 days. I wouldn't have realized it myself if not for the wonder of photo documentation.

It's been a while since I gave a veggie garden run down. If you've not read Hoe & Shovel before it would be fair to let you know this is Hoe & Shovel's first attempt at a veggie garden. You are welcomed to link to the back stories of its beginnings here and here.

There are some not-so-profound lessons I've learned about my garden over the course of time since March 13 when I put the first seed in the ground. These little tidbits were running through my head yesterday as I spent some uninterrupted hours further staking up the tomatoes for the umpteenth time (I'm not complaining), and harvesting beans, squash, tomatoes and bell peppers.

If you'd like to hear my ramblings, pull up a chair... I'll pour you a cup of coffee and ...

Okay, I guess you'll have to pour your own coffee ... too bad ... I wish each wonderful reader could stop by for a visit and you could tell me your lessons too.

Here we go.

The not-so-profound things I've learned/observed/discovered/decided ... you get the picture:
  • That the cute ¼” bamboo stakes used initially to hold up small tomato plants aren’t as sturdy as they are cute.
  • That the 8’(1 x 2) furring strips bought to help secure the house windows during the 2004 'Hurricane season from Hell' (never actually used then)… come in handy (cut in two) for bolstering the growing tomato plants.

  • That the pole beans need a wider trellis to start with … again cute didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. It isn’t easy to harvest pole beans from vines twisted around each other.

  • That it's possible I just might choose design (=cute) over function. ... sigh.
  • That each individual squash and zucchini plant needs about 4 feet in diameter of space to spread. That translates to a maximum of two in an entire 4 x 8 bed. I only have two 4 x 8 beds so that translates into only 4 plants all together and nothing else planted. That translates to ---I WAYYYYY over-planted each bed and the squash and zucchini have not done great. Good, but not great … no overrunning amounts of fruit like should have been produced by so many plants given the proper amount of room.

  • That carrots have lots of greenery using up space above ground and they are WAYYYYYYYY bigger on top than what’s under the ground.
  • That I should have thinned out the carrots much more than I did. (Their harvest date is tomorrow and they aren't ready- hmmmm... I don't know what that means.)
  • That it’s okay to pull some carrots up every once in a while just to see if there really is anything orange that slightly resembles a carrot growing underground.
  • That marigolds planted in front of cucumbers will get much taller than the cucumbers and in turn block the sun from the cucumbers. Cucumbers need the sun to grow. I know, I'm really impressing you now.
  • That marigolds planted anywhere in the bed would grow very tall and have to be transplanted to another place in the garden because my small beds just don’t have room for (those) flowers AND all the veggies I tried to grow.
  • That even though we left 3 feet on either side of the raised beds where the confederate jasmine grows along a fence —the jasmine happens to bloom at the same time as the garden is growing. The bees love the jasmine. They don’t especially like me brushing up against them trying to make my way around in the garden.
  • That I could breathe in the smell of tomato plants all day long and not tire of it.

  • That it’s okay to cut off a tomato leaf occasionally just to walk around with it held to my nose taking deep whiffs of its wonderful fragrance. That I can do the same thing with basil, lavender, and cilantro and the plant is none the worse for it.
  • That green beans are the very same green as their leaves and sometimes can be overlooked during the picking... Best to scour each bush a couple of times.

  • That blue lake green beans grown in my garden might be the easiest to grow yet most wonderful flavor and taste of any beans I’ve had in my entire life.
  • That I’m quite glad I took the advice of the Burpee package and planted another row of beans two weeks after the first seeds sown. Now I will enjoy beans for more blessed weeks.
  • That cubanelle peppers and bell peppers grow very rapidly. Cubanelle are very sweet and tasty.

  • That I definitely need more raised beds to grow more veggies. (Hopefully in time for the fall garden!)
  • That the experience of vegetable gardening has been too wonderful for words. I’m quite sure I’ll never be satisfied to be without one.


  1. Sounds like we have you for life as a fellow vegetable gardener! Yes, you absolutely need more than two 4 x 8 raised beds. Way more. Plan now for where you will put your new beds because now that you have grown your own vegetables, you can't NOT grow your own vegetables.

    I'm just now sowing my first beans and squash since we are finally safe from frost.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. I have the exact same problem, both in packing too many things into four 2x6 boxes, and rubbing my fingers on the tomato stems just so I can smell the lovely fragrance.

    For the carrots, you just have to wait a bit longer for them to increase, I am having the same problem with my parisier market carrots, but they're getting there. The best thing about them is you can eat them any time, even if they're bitty, and then space them out a bit more in the next planting.

  3. What a successful veggie garden Meems. You should be proud.

  4. Wow, Meems - your first garden is so beautiful and the leaves so lush looking.

    I'm consumed with envy of your basil - and really want a few of those big green basil leaves, a tomato, and some fresh mozzarella this very minute, but am not going to get any of it. Phooey.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. Carol: I was so sure I was getting in over my head with 2 beds... HA! If I'm gonna plan my life around the veggie harvest anyway, I might as well have more beds to play with!

    My garden will be history while yours is flourishing... and so the cycle goes.

    stacy: I admit I've eaten some of the tiny carrots along the way and there actually are a few ready to harvest. BUT some are twisted and crooked from not thinning enough. AND if they all harvest on the same day- what did I think I was going to do with all those carrots? AND how do you know if they're ready to harvest except by pulling them out of the ground?

    I like the idea of 2 x 8 boxes I think -- especially for the beans... might be easier to get to.

    Lisa: Not totally successful but I am really happy with it for the most part. I have to say it is most satisfying to eat from what I've grown.

    Annie: Gee, thanks... I have to credit any lushness to the good soil imported to begin the garden. I did forget to mention Caprese. It is oh so wonderful from the garden... would love to share.sigh.

  6. Lovely honest and refreshing. I guess we all make mistakes and that is how we learn.
    I can't believe you like the smell of tomato's....I can't bear it.
    Give me the lavender or basil anytime.

  7. First Garden, WOW. It looks fantastic. What on earth did you use for fertilizer? I know compost but do you have a lot of bees to pollinate? If these 2 beds do this you will differently need more. Also if you have room try your hand at thornless Black Berries or any kind of berry that you like. Good Luck. You're doing great. Wish I could do half that good.

  8. meems, what a wonderfully delightful read! Is it possible that Tampa might be Eden? It seems to me you just started your garden and now you are having entire meals! Where did the time go?

    Years ago we met a woman on a San Francisco public bus who had a large bouquet of fresh basil. Naturally we began to talk and she told us her father occasionally worked at the fish docks and to help him deal with the smell he would tuck a basil leaf in his nostrils. We all had a great laugh!

    I love to rub tomato stems and smell that is a good summer smell!


  9. I can't believe this is your first year growing veggies - they look MAH-VA-LOUS! I planted my squash too late and think I'll get NO fruits this year, so enjoy yours. Usually they produce three time what we can possibley eat and give away. I visited Monticello recently and came home wanting to put in more veggie beds.

  10. Meems you have a lovely vegetable garden, everything looks so well grown. I can smell the Basil! I think once one has the veggie bug and tasted the freshness of the vegetables it's hard to shake it off! I don't thin out the carrots. I let them crowd and harvest when they are about ring finger size some are a bit smaller. Delicious very tender.

  11. That is some major basil you got there! Everything looks wonderful (as always). Oh and I really like the blue pots!

  12. Lots of good tips to help the rest of us. Thanks for sharing!

  13. OMG I cant believe how wonderful and productive your first veggie garden is. I'd give it a 10 for success!
    I know what you mean about the basil flowers-I came home to see several of my Thai basil with lovely triangular purple blooms and have yet been unable to cut them off! Happy cooking and good eating!

  14. Oh Meems, I'm so envious of your veggie garden! I've been scoping out the front lawn and the side yard for a veggie garden.

    I'm sure my long-suffering husband would never agree to a vegetable garden in his precious front lawn, but I just might be sucessful talking him out of some prime lawn real estate in the side yard. It's actually sunny enough for vegetables there. This spring I grew some lettuce in a pot. I pick it right from the pot and pop it in my mouth - no salad dressing required!

  15. So many great points you've mentioned here that I can learn from. We just put in the seeds for our very first veggie garden. I'm planning to put some sort of netting around one of my douglas firs and growing my scarlet runner beans up the tree.

  16. wow! your garden is loaded with beautiful veggies. i can't wait to see it in person friday here i come and proably get to taste a few things, right?

  17. wow! your garden is loaded with beautiful veggies. i can't wait to see it in person friday here i come and proably get to taste a few things, right?


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway