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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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Painful Purging of the Squash Plants

As the labels I made at the time of seed-sowing are fading, so are all the vegetable plants in the garden.

Over the weekend we cooked up what was to be our last stir fry (with squash in it anyway) from the summer garden. The squash plants really struggled to survive this long. Over the course of their two month life they never produced prolific amounts of fruit due to the attack of worms and some sort of end rot. I think I can plant these again in the fall. Maybe they will do better with cooler weather.

It really was painful to yank the squash plants and add them to the compost pile. You can see the pitiful state of the vegetable garden today (above). Actually all the vegetable plants have been in rapid decline over the past couple of weeks. Our temps have been in the 90's, our humidity 100% and our nights are not cooling past the mid-70's.

Notice the leaning (pole) bean vine. I've mentioned in past posts my ignorance and poor planning for the heaviness and growth of the bean plant. In spite of me, the beans from this plant have been constant and plentiful.
Considering the ugliness and general decline of the leaves at this point coupled with the crowded conditions for growth I am daily surprised it is still producing healthy beans. I do have to lift up the heavy vine and really dig around to see the beans but they just keep coming.

With each smattering of colorful harvest I can only imagine it will be the last. Today my bounty really surprised me. I fully expected to pick much less when I made my way to the garden to water. Even the green beans keep hanging on. The plants are downright ugly but still have some blossoms and more beans growing.

It's a Good Time to be Growing Your Own Tomatoes

There are tomatoes still waiting to ripen. Tomatoes have been my greatest joy in the garden. They have been numerous and delicious. It has been so nice to know they are safe to eat with all the scare about tomatoes these past few weeks.
One problem, in addition to the declining plants and the bombardment of bugs, has been that recently some 'thing' is randomly plucking even the green tomatoes off the vine and poking out large sections. Whether it is to eat them or not I can't tell. By the time I find them the half-gorged tomatoes are laying on the ground with no culprit to be seen.
Overall, my first veggie garden has been a thrilling experience. Family and friends are asking if I will do it again. My answer is that I will have to do it again to see if I can do it better next time. I've learned a few things I'd like to put to use and besides that now that I've gotten a 'taste' of picking fresh from the garden to the table I don't think I'd want to be without a vegetable garden again.


  1. As always I am impressed. I have thought of you often these past few weeks as I have braved the tomato section at the store...knowing that you knew that your tomatoes were safe! Can't wait to see what the fall veggie garden holds.

  2. meeems,

    I have loved your vegetable garden adventures from your first post...on to your first tomatoes and now your putting it to bed. Gardening year round and gardening in such high temps and humidity sounds a challenge and you have proved to be up to it! This fall ought to be an exciting time in your vegetable garden.

    The only vegetable that I ever planted were tomatoes and some critter always got them the day before I planned to pick them. So we retired being tomato I wish we had kept it up...I am missing eating the big tomatoes.


  3. I do enjoy your posts but I find your climate hard to understand! 100% humidity - no I can't imagine that. One of pleasure I have from reading gardening blogs is the differing climates and how each gardener copes with it.

    Are there no edibles you can grow in Summer (do you call it Summer, it sounds too awful for that word!)? I assume from mjm's comment that you start again for the Autumn (sorry fall!), I am looking forward to hearing how you can do this.

    Thank you for a lovely blog (I really love the flowers best!). best wishes Sylvia (England)

  4. Sorry about the squash plants. Here, squash planted later are less likely to be attached by vine borer and squash bugs. Maybe yours will too. Your veggies looks great though.~~Dee

  5. I always dreamed that Florida would be a vegetable growing paradise. Now I find that the pests, heat and humidity can be just as great a challenge as the frosts back home. Oh well Meems, if it was easy, everyone would do it. I am impressed with what you have done.

  6. I am so happy that your first veggie garden has led you to think you will do it again. It certainly has looked good to me and as you say it is so healthy eating ones own veggies.

  7. Meems, I've so enjoyed going on this new gardening adventure with you.

    It sounds like you've got quite a set of challenges veggie gardening in your Florida climate. I admire your tenacity! There really is nothing else like growing your own vegetables. I miss it.

    You've inspired me to consider taking my dear husband up on his offer to sacrifice a slice of prime lawn real estate in the side yard where there's lots of sun for a veggie garden site. Next year? Maybe. . .

  8. mjm: slicing up my own tomatoes became doubly satisfying when all the tomatoes were pulled from the grocer shelves. It was a little inconvenient when eating out but oh well ... not that big of a deal... now they don't even think it was the tomatoes... makes me feel really bad for all the farmers that lost their crops for nothing.

    Gail: I have appreciated you keeping up with my first veggie garden and adding your encouragement along the way. I'm thinking I will always grow some tomatoes just because they were so easy... not that they didn't have their challenges... its just that even the one plant I have in a pot proved to me they really want to grow.

  9. Sylvia: Yes, we DO call it summer and the very word signifies to any Floridian about 4 months of humid high temps, lots of bugs, and lightning storms. Gardening in this climate can be a tad challenging considering the natural elements against us... but then again tropical weather allows for so many wonderful heat and humidity loving plants that you can only have in Zones above Zone 8.
    The remaining 8 months out of the year are the trade off. Our winters are probably much like your spring or summer. We rarely frost or freeze and the sun is always shining.The sky in winter is as sky blue as a child's crayon with the same name.

    Because our weather is so mild we can actually have a spring harvest and an autumn harvest. Two separate plantings; two harvests. Since this was my first ever spring garden, the autumn garden will be a new adventure as I will grow some of the same things ie. lettuce but some other new things ie. collard greens perhaps... I still have some homework to do before the endeavor ... thankfully I have a couple of months to get ready for it.

    Glad you like Hoe&Shovel... I appreciate your visits.

  10. Dee: I know I can plant squash in the fall I'm just not sure which variety grows best then. I'll be doing some research before I plunge into it again. The plants look awful right now but keep sending out their last hoorah of veggies... picked another handful of beans this morning... I keep getting surprised.

    sue: I guess that's true ... if it was easy everyone would do it. If it was easy I would have done it a long time ago. Every climate has its challenges and one learns to manage in the climate they live in or... not. :-)

    lisa: there is something that feels very healthy not to mention gratifying about eating veggies out of the ground you tended with your own sweat. Every effort has been worth the experience.

    linda: I have so appreciated you coming along on my veggie garden adventure. Your encouragement along the way has inspired me to get over the hurdles. I even wondered at times what I had gotten myself into. :-)

    I hope you do take up some of the precious lawn for at least a few veggies if it is in your heart to do. I know it is in your blood from your parents but it isn't always the time is it? A veggie garden does take a tremendous amount of attention. Then there is the rest of the garden too. I'm not one to start something unless I can finish it and give it all I have. If I had been working this spring I don't think the timing would have been right for me. you'll do it again someday I know you will.

  11. Hi! Have you checked your tomatoes for cutworms. If this should be your culprit, the vine itself will have leaves eaten from it. The worm is a long green worm that is hard to see because of its natural camoflauge.DM


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