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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.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Icy Plants and Winter Vegetable Harvest

Right on time the azaleas are budding out and many are beginning to bloom.

Just as these new colors are making their way on the scene to brighten up the brown, droopy landscape, we were warned of impending freezing temperatures expected for last night.

Rather than take any chances with the last of the vegetables I had left in the garden, I pulled up the carrots. Well, I do have another row of them coming up (and more to plant next week) but they were definitely too young to pull. I think they will be okay.
Also pulled out the last little bit of lettuce.
Is there anything better than fresh pulled carrots? (Fresh anything, I know) You just scrub them up with no need to peel and their pretty slick freshness is unbeatable.

So as a sort of kick-in-the-pants to just a tad bit of discouragement for all the damage done in the garden, today for lunch, I sauteed the last of the green beans with some carrots and garlic and ... oh. my. goodness.

Opting not to fight with preserving the tomato plants against all the odds any longer, yesterday I decided to harvest the rest of the (green) black cherry and purple prudens that were left on the vine. Here's to hoping they ripen in the kitchen window.
Every plant small enough to move was crowded onto the back porch and into the garage... once again. The container plants not small enough to move were left out to fend for themselves.
There was a bit of ice out this morning.

I made a big mistake. After spending hours staking and covering as many of the tender plants as possible, I forgot to turn off my automatic irrigation. It is on a timer and last night was my one day a week I'm allowed to water (county regulations). For some reason I had it in my head as I was doing all that covering that my irrigation was going to run the next night. Anyway, I was wrong and it ran last night. I don't know if a layer of ice did any further harm than would have been done already. I admit I was a little saddened when I saw all the ice this morning. I was a little angry at myself actually.

BUT no need to cry over spilled milk. It is what it is and the world has bigger problems than my plants with ice on them! So, we move on and we make the best of it.

The plants are staying covered and bracing for one more night of below freezing temps. It has been an unusual Florida winter to say the least. This weekend promises to be beautiful. Actually it's beautiful right now. Sunny and about 58 degrees. My favorite kind of weather.

Seeing the birds at the feeders this morning (there IS food in the feeder- I have to keep small amounts in them these days due to the squirrels spilling it out if I fill them) is a pleasant reminder of their care-free life no matter the weather.

I'm taking my cues from them today and I'm being grateful. Grateful for today. Grateful for the food we harvested yesterday. Grateful this should be the last of the arctic air that makes it this far south this year.

Happy, happy springtime thoughts! Meems


  1. Maybe you didn't intend to, but you made icicles!!! 15 degrees here in Tallahassee this morning, YIKES! One more night and then maybe some warming. You harvested a few things, lucky you.

  2. Yummy! Your carrots would have gone great with my salad! I've tried to grow them before- the darn squirrels scattered the seed everywhere! Of course it was at the tail end of the long wait for them to germinate! I think I'll try again this year :)

    Happy Gardening and I hope your garden makes it through the weird winter we all seem to be having.

  3. Darn the luck. I thought of you last night when I heard the national weather report. They mentioned how FL was getting hit hard again.

    Luckily you did get some carrots and lettuce in. Yummm. They look like a picture.

  4. I did the same thing, Meems. I lopped off the rest of the broccoli and some cabbage "just in case" they don't make it through tonight's freeze. Covered up the plumeria and evergreen wisteria. Everything else looks sadder than sad already so will just wait til our spring and see who made it. Most will come back, I know, and your outlook is a good one to adopt. After all, we do live in the sunshine state and have a long and lovely growing season.

  5. Meems,

    Your fresh carrots look so good! I love sauteed green beans, but haven't tried the beans and carrots together.

    I thought that using irrigation on the peach trees helped protect them from the freeze? I'll have to look that up to see if I've remembered correctly. Maybe it was to prevent desiccation? Hopefully, your iced plants with be fine. My calla lilies get encased in ice, sitting in the waterfall, and are fine in the summer.


  6. Sounds like a delicious lunch Meems!

    I hope everything recovers from the cold and the ice. You got a beautiful photo out of the sprinkler oversight Meems!

  7. You are so conscientious about everything Meems, I'm sorry for your mistake...but it did make a gorgeous photo:)

    You certainly did manage to come up with a bunch of veggies, and they look good...even if they aren't fully developed. Hope this will be your final 'freeze'!

  8. I know how you feel Meems. I've lost quite a few plants but won't know the full extent till it warms up.
    My lettuce, carrots, swiss Chard, onions & collard greens are ok. Of course I have them planted in the big black tubs that trees come in from the nurseries. Collards are in the ground. I know that the tubs being black hold the sun's heat. Maybe that is why they are ok.
    I hope you didn't loose too much.

  9. Agree with Jan about the gorgeous icicle photo. Your winter harvest looks delicious, the carrots, especially. Love the azaleas too!

  10. This morning it was 11 degrees when I left for work. I hear it got up to 35, but I wouldn't know as it was back in the 20s by the time I left work. I am getting used to the fine layer of ice each morning and the random flurries that can be seen. :)

    Sorry y'all are experiencing some more freezing weather though.

  11. Darla,
    My son lives in Tallahassee. He said you guys didn't get out of the 30's yesterday! That just doesn't sound like even North Florida to me.

    The squirrels haven't bothered my veggie garden yet... amazing really since they bother everything else. Yes, I vote that you try carrots again. Maybe start the seed in small containers and transplant... although now that I say that I don't know how well they transplant. You would have to do some research on that one. Anyway, I always think you should try again.

    How sweet of you to think of me when you heard the weather. It was said to be colder in Miami last night than in Calgary Canada. Seems impossible but that's how fickle these cold fronts can be.

    Next autumn I'm going to try my hand at cabbage, collards and broccoli. After all they are cool weather hardy. This would have been a great year for them. What you say is true, we rarely have any of this to whine about so we should be grateful. This is jsst an unusual year... it will all be fine in a few weeks.

  12. Cameron,
    The carrots add a colorful flair to the beans, too. Do you sautee in olive oil and garlic? So easy. So good.

    Here's what I researched this morning after discovering my blunder with the irrigation. I knew the strawberry growers used this method to keep the berries at 32 degrees but was not sure how it affected ordinary landscape. This is a bit long but just in case this is what you were referring to I thought you'd want to know. This from UF IFAS Extension:

    Ornamental plants can be protected during a freeze by sprinkling the plants with water. Sprinkling for cold protection helps keep leaf surface temperatures near 32°F (0°C) because sprinkling utilizes latent heat released when water changes from a liquid to a solid state. Sprinkling must begin as freezing temperatures are reached and continue until thawing is completed. Water must be evenly distributed and supplied in ample quantity to maintain a film of liquid water on the foliage surfaces. Irrigation for several days may water soak the soil resulting in damaged root systems and/or plant breakage due to ice build up. Consult Extension Circular 348, Sprinkler Irrigation for Cold Protection, for more technical information on this subject.
    My irrigation was not going until the thaw. It remains to be seen how this affected my plants. Tonight it will be a radiation type freeze with possible frost.

  13. That agapanthus stalk is amazing iced over!

  14. Linda,
    It is likely mostly everything will recover. It isn't like us to have to start from scratch in the spring. We like our big lush plants to stay that way... HA. Who wouldn't right?

    Surely this is our final freeze. I can't remember the last time we had two in one winter much less two in two weeks. I'm so grateful for the veggies. They are the saving grace to all the damage.

    Smart of you to plant cold hardy vegetables in the winter. I will try those next year too... now that I have a whole year of veggie gardening under my belt. You might be onto something with those black pots. They must be murder to keep watered though???

    Thank you. I am hooked on growing carrots.I tried this type because of a Florida site that recommended them for being heat tolerant. They have been sweeter this winter than they were in the summer. I think they prefer the cooler temps in spite of what the package said about heat.

    Yikes. THAT is cold... and you aren't used to it. Oh my. Good thing you left your ginger in my care... It has been sleeping snuggly in the garage this week.

    Good eye. That is the last spent bloom I hadn't cut. It did pose for the ice quite well.

  15. Your carrots look wonderful, Meems. I've wondered all day how your garden did last night. Ugh! There was so much damage a couple of weeks ago, there is no telling what more was done here - but I can tell you that the farmers down here were hit very hard last night. 23 again this morning. It is 11 pm and already 35 tonight.

    The goldfinches nearly emptied my feeders today. I wondered if this bitterly cold weather makes them extra hungry. I was rather amused this morning watching them try to drink from the frozen water in the birdbath.

    The weekend is forecast to be perfectly delightful and we are headed to the beach.

  16. Dear meems,

    I was surely hoping that the big freezes were over for you...How shocking to wake up to ice every where...a beautiful mess for certain. Your harvest looks beautiful and I imagine the carrots were delicious....they look scrumptious. Hopefully this will be the end of winter and onto a beautiful Florida spring...

    In the mean time keep warm and have a good weekend...I hope you and Mr Meems have a adventure or two.

  17. Meems, the weather channel showed the strawberry growers in Plant City this morning trying to save their crop. They had ice on them and were still irrigating to try to save them. I thought of you and hoped you were far enough south. I suppose it just was meant to be this year. Your attitude will serve you well though and hopefully soon your lovely gardens will be back to their glorious selves. Take care and I hope you have seen the last of the ice!

  18. I know you had to harvest the tomatoes early, but goodness, they look great!

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  20. Wow you sure make us northern gardeners jealous. If you want to get another tomato plant back into the ground in short order, Garden Harvest Supply offers potted vegetable plants.

    Enjoy the warmer temps that are on the way!

  21. We have been hearing about Florida's freezes on the national news. It's a sham--so much damage..

    Don't feel bad about the irrigation system. The water freezing on the leaves may cause some damage or discolorations but it isn't likely to kill most things. In fact, that is what we northerners do when we get an unexpected hard freeze. We run outside and spray every tender thing with water. It insulates and often saves our plants that wouldn't otherwise survive. I've done it many times.

  22. Meems your mistake might be a blessing. Like you I had read somewhere that sprinkling your plants during a freeze will help protect them. Warm wishes from the islands.

  23. Hi Meems...I, too, hope this is the last of the cold weather. The playground at my daughter's school was white this morning and the water in the birdbath there was frozen. Now, I'm headed downstairs to begin taking my potted plants back outside. Have a lovely weekend!

  24. meems,
    i love seeing your fresh crops, it gives me lots of warm feelings, thinking of the spring that is coming.
    wow i hope you are going to be finished with all this unusally cold weather by tonight.
    i am ready to get on with it.
    those tomatoes look great and i hope you still have some in 6 days, ripe and ready to eat.
    the azaleas are so pretty, did they do okay?
    here's to the coming week and hoping for a warming trend.

  25. don't remember a winter quite like this for last several years! my weather forecaster on the news said specifically not to irrigate/water tender tropical plants - so that seems conflicting to your post(?) i was thinking of you these last couple of days, knowing your anquish and the effort you had to make to save as much as possible in your garden. i was glad once again that my plants from the patio can be brought inside & others covered with sheets/blankets. i did have extreme damage on plants in the yard that were left exposed :-(
    you will have a very busy Spring ahead, replacing and replanting some plants beyond saving - but so much fun for you!

    don't you wonder where all the birds go in this extreme weather? when you have to be sure domestic animals are housed and protected - how do the birds and field animals survive the freezing temps? i've always been curious about this, that they seem to have an internal knowledge to come through any severe weather crisis - even our Florida hurricanes.

    BTW - remember that i LOVE fried green tomatoes - hint, hint!

  26. There may be an upside to your inclement weather.

    The weather here in the Pacific northwest can be very fickle. Cold winters, like the one we're having this year means there are fewer bugs next spring-fall. So maybe you'll see fewer bugs too.

  27. Patricia,
    I am still in awe of how much colder you get down there.There are just so many twists and turns to the zone map in Florida. those goldfinches are heavy feeders right now aren't they? I just LOVE having them around and listening to their sweet song. We didn't have too much damage this time around. What was damaged in the first go round was pretty much done in this go round. Have fun at the beach... it should be perfect.

    I really thought for sure we wouldn't have another freeze after the last one. But, I was very wrong. The carrots are really nice and sweet... I think the cold actually helps them sweeten so that's a plus. Mr. Meems and I are babysitting tomorrow and hosting a 3 year old birthday party on Sunday. No special trips for us this weekend. Only special people. :-)

    Plant City is about 20 miles east of me but they get about 5-10 degrees colder than us. They run their irrigation all night long to keep the strawberries at 32 degrees. The cold actually helps make them sweeter. They think they didn't sustain too much damage in even the last two freezes.

    Thank you. There is just something about fresh produce that looks good even if it isn't ripe.

    Thank you. I actually already have more tomatoes in the ground - in pots - I brought them inside during the freeze.

    I definitely don't understand how that works. So far it doesn't seem to have spoiled anything any worse.

    I wasn't sure but now it seems it is so. Thanks for the warm wishes. We have warmed up again to our norms... back in the 70's tomorrow.

    What a labor intensive job this has been draping and undraping... loading up pots and unloading. I sure hope this is the end.But, today I was thinking how grateful I am that I have pots to load.

    Unfortunately it will take a lot longer than 6 days to ripen those tomatoes now that they have been picked. The timing just isn't right for veggies for this visit. :-(

    We are probably finished with those freezing cold snaps. I'm sure I'll be routing for some cooler temps when it gets hot again too fast... just not freezing please.

    I can't remember one this cold either... not since I've been keeping good records anyway. The birds know how to find cover during this weather. What amazes me is how they survive up north in snowy climes. They probably think they are in the tropics down here. I saw butterflies out today. Now they are amazing little creatures knowing how/where to hide during two whole days of cold. BTW- these tomatoes are cherry tomatoes... not exactly the fried green kind. Sorry.

    Someone said to me the other day, "at least this freeze gets rid of the crab grass." To that I said, "I'd rather have the crab grass."
    But no-bugs (the bad kind) now that might be a good trade-off.

  28. Oh my!!

    We had similar up hear--but your carrots is lovely to see, reckon' the new sprouts made it. I did pick all our yellow pear tomatoes knowin' they would nto survive.

    But I'se INSPIRED by yore good attitude about it all, very true.

    Know youse having a pretty Saturday now that thangs is returnin' to normal Florida weather.

  29. I liked the icicle photo. Very pretty. Meems! Did you know that lady bugs eat bad bugs?? :o)

  30. Not much time now until I'm basking in that nice warm Florida sunshine! Looks like you're going to be warming up quite a bit this next week, which I'm sure makes you just as happy as it makes me. I'm looking forward to meeting you on Tuesday! :-)

  31. Aunty,
    Hey! We had a beautiful weekend didn't we? I have some yellow tomato seedlings started - never have grown them before. My tomato plants got fried Wednesday and Thursday nights. :-( The carrot seedlings are fine and will get more seed in the ground this week.

    Yes, but only because of one super-smart 3 year old reminding me of how those lady bugs work for us.

    Turns out you have picked a classic Florida winter week to visit. Perfectly beautiful predictions. See you Tuesday... call me and let me know what time. :-)

  32. I hope by now you have warmed up again, Meems, and no more frost in your garden. I know you didn't intend it, but the icicle photo is lovely! Fresh carrots and green beans in February sound like quite a treat.

  33. Tomato plants root easily, so you can take the suckers and root them in moist soil. It gives you a little insurance against frost and hurricane and is a lot quicker than sowing seeds.


Have a blessed day,

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