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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, April 14, 2009

Lettuce in the Round

The spring vegetable garden is well underway. And, yes, this is another post about that very spot in the landscape. So if you've heard and seen enough of it by chance, I'm giving you fair warning- here we go again. Let's see, how many times and ways can we talk about this section of the garden? It is safe to say, I'm enamored by the goings on here daily.

Do you see that beautiful, tender green and purple lettuce bunching up tall behind the carrot tops? It has done so well and we have enjoyed so many great salads from this crop.

Heirloom Seeds: Little Gem and Petite Rouge planted 2.23.09

Any regular reader here probably knows by now I'm a big fan of curvy beds in the landscape. So this spring, at the outset, expansion of the initial veggie garden (home to only 2- 4x8 rectangular raised beds last year) was a must. Curves to rid the strict straight lines of the beds in the veggie garden were also a must. The first step to achieve this was to cut out the outline of the entire border in curves that dip in and out of the grass. I worked the rest of the design of the garden from that outside perimeter inward. Backing up, I should say first, I measured out to the point to start the curves by including the number of feet I needed for the new beds and allowed for planting flowers and edging plants along the curves.

Along with adding many more flowers and herbs as companions to the vegetables, I thought it would be fun to experiment with planting in ways unconventional to the typical straight lines in which we tend to sow our seeds. For the record, I have stuck with traditionalist ways and planted several straight rows in most of the other beds.

Can you see in the above photo how the lettuce was planted to follow the rounded curvy bed? There are carrots -- Heirloom Seeds; Danvers Half Long and Burpee; Sweet Treat encompassing the lettuce. Not too visible yet is Pinetree Garden Seeds; Lancelot Leek in the middle and Heirloom Seeds; Red Creole Onion even further out beyond the carrots squeezed in between the outside border of bacopa and society garlic.

A 24" round shallow bowl sits at either end of this rounded bed. One filled with herbs and the other with flowering plants.

The Golden Yellow Flowers Are Back
Squash plants are very large in case you didn't know. The verrrrryyyy wide prickly leaves are born on long hollowy, prickly stalks. The plants have to be on the list of fastest growing vegetable plants. I'm not sure about that but if there is a list like that squash should be on it. I've decided that if I didn't grow squash plants for the food I'd grow them just because of their tropical appearance. Every day - and I'm not exaggerating - every day they get bigger. They are just luscious.

You know you want to see them from this angle, too.

Last year I clearly remember getting so excited when the plants began to flower. The golden yellow flowers are huge, too. It has been so interesting to compare my notes and photos from last year. I planted a little earlier this year so my harvest is starting a little earlier...zucchini (Pinetree Garden Seeds; eightball)already harvested and loads more on the way.

(What's that bug on the bottom right stem- I hope it's one of those I'm trying to attract?--didn't even see it until I saw the photo)

Pinetree Garden Seeds; Goldbar Summer Squash combined with zucchini, nasturtiums, more carrots, more lettuce, radishes, a volunteer tomato plant (hope it is Black Cherry) dill, chives,and thyme. When the lettuce and carrots are harvest I'll plant more sunflowers in their place.

Bell Pepper planted next to sweet basil in the tomato bed. Actually I've tucked in the pepper plants in several of the beds sort of randomly filling in spaces.

Bush Lake Green Beans flowering ...

... and the start of beans behind those blooms means soon there will be no more purchasing beans in the grocery store. I've already planted out two more succession rows next to the Lima Beans in another bed.

Speaking of Limas... Pinetree Garden Seeds; Henderson Bush Lima Beans ... the beginning flowers of the Limas...
Lastly, I knew you'd want to see the tomatoes again.
The heat lately (88 degrees yesterday-but cooling a little tomorrow) is welcoming more and more bugs but so far nothing major to deal with beyond a few worms eating the leaves. Now we cross our hopeful fingers the tomatoes make it to ripening.
I've learned a few things from last year's experience and one of them is to take time to enjoy what's growing. I get out in this part of the garden early in the morning to water and to inspect the undersides of the leaves. There is always something new to see. Always some flying, crawling critters accompanying me. Now days there is some new fruit that has turned up overnight, too.
If you've made it this far in this post, please know how pleased I am you've come along on yet another of my veggie garden journeys. You must know how excited I am to be growing food. It is a fulfilling experience that's somtimes difficult to explain. From the amount of words I used here I don't think you're gonna believe that one. :-)
Happy gardening, Meems


  1. I love your vegie posts...keep them coming. The garden is beautifully designed (enlarging the photo gives a great view) and I keep learning more about vegetable gardening! I love curvy beds and designing a vegetable garden to be beautiful as well as productive is a great idea. I am so charmed by it that I brought home some beautiful speckled lettuce that will be added to a sunny spot! It's Flashy Butter Oak! You might even have it growing! It will join the Rainbow Swiss Chard and the Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes I am trying! Ornamental and productive vegetables! have a delicious day! Gail

  2. Fabulous Meems. I hope you have Open Houses at your home---to let others see what you do. You have a phenomenal home/yard/garden... I'm SO impressed. If I lived closer, I'd come and visit and LEARN from you.

    Save me some of that wonderful lettuce and bell peppers. YUM.


  3. No wonder you are out in your veggie garden daily. I don't blame you one bit. I would be out there several times per day. It is an inspiration to see. Keep those posts coming. Those blooms on the veggies are gorgeous and show such promise.

  4. Meems,

    You are taking veggie garden to a beautiful level! I love the combinations with flowers, the curves and the flowers. A very artistic design! You really make me want to pick veggies out of your garden and eat them in the garden! LOL


  5. Our lettuce got so beaten down today,from the storms that came thru.Did your's?Tomorrow will be a better day,weather-wise,I'm sure.

  6. Meems, your garden looks great. We need to make a time for me and Debbie to come over....she is so excited! Also, want to get my tomato plants. :) My herb garden is doing great! I'm going out this week to make another. Thank you for all your help.

  7. Gail,
    I keep learning more about vegetable gardening, too. No speckled lettuce here but it sounds fascinating. We have to stick with varieties that take the heat. Good for you trying a few things... ornamental and productive!

    Dear Betsy,
    You are too sweet... of course you could come by and we could learn from each other. No waterfalls to hike here though! :-(

    So often I'm out there allll day but you are so right... I go check in the morning and again at night. I'm just as happy with blooms on the veggies as the ones on the perennials and annuals.

    You could join me picking right out of the garden and not even making it to the kitchen sink. That's part of the reward I suppose.

    I was SO happy about the rain!!! I checked on the garden when I got home tonight and all is well. Your lettuce will probably pop right back up with a little sunshine.

    e-mail me... we'll pick a day... I've got them all potted up for you.

  8. Heh..nothin' like a woman wif' curves!

  9. Meems,

    Have much luck with eightball zucchini? Got some at the farmers market last year they were yummy though one was rotten inside. We are growing pattypan squash this year.

  10. Aunty Belle,
    Or a woman with a garden with curves... :-)

    I grew the eightball last year and they did reallly well until the worms got to it. So this year I went with what worked last year along with adding a couple of new things. They should be picked early before they get too large...very tender and tasty.

  11. meems, no need to explain your enthusiasm to us gardeners. we all plant things so we can watch them grow. veggies are captaviating in a different way though because you want them to make it so bad to be able to enjoy their goodness. i love to have fast growing things because it is so utterly amazing from day to day. i really thought last year i could see my mamoth sunflowers growing before my eyes. it was very cool.
    i am so glad to see everything doing so well. it gives me hope for what we are about to plant(just one more week)yipee! we are still working on the newest bed out in the field for corn, beans, squash and pumpkins. it is beyond the fenced in part and at least three times as big. it feels very ambitious but we are enjoying turning up so much earth.
    keep showing your veggies, i love them.

  12. Your garden looks wonderful. Soon you will be scanning the internet for recipes for squash and zucchini;)

  13. Meems,
    I think it's just wonderful the way your veggie garden blends with the rest of the garden. I love the daisy like flowers. What are they?

  14. Growing veggies gives us adults a child-like view of the garden again. It's exciting to watch how it changes daily and even more exciting to eat your own homegrown food. It gives one a feeling of self-sufficiency and accomplishment. It's a shame that more folks don't do it with their children. ANd, by the way, I like your curvy veggie beds. That's what you call putting your personal imprint on a vegetable patch. Enjoy the fruit of your labor, Meems.

  15. Hi Marmee,
    I remember last year your veggies were coming in real good about the time mine were finishing. Such different zones we enjoy. Interesting isn't it how fast veggies grow once they get going. Last year I squeezed way too many squash plants into one bed. This year I tried not to do that and they are taking up every inch just about of that one bed anyway. I stuck some squash seed in the back yard behind some lily of the nile... just because they are so pretty.

    Oh my, you all have taken on a big plot of ground... someone must have gotten happy with that tiller.

    Thank you. Funny you said that - right now I'm searching for bell pepper recipes. HA.

    Thanks so much- I am enjoying it so much more than last year because the design suits me better and I'm feeling a little more comfortable with the growing of it this year. The orange flowers are Gazania and the white ones are Osteospermum x
    'Flower Power White'
    South African Daisy PPAF
    (although the tag on mine said Blue Eye - I've seen them called Casablanca and all kinds of name of the Internet)... this is my first experience with them... I'm really happy with them.

    I do feel a little child-like when I get so excited over a hover fly or some of the other tiny flying bug I discover when snooping around under the leaves... Or when I notice fruit growing for the first time and smile with glee... it is very satisfying for sure.

  16. I can't read enough of your veggie posts. I love the curvy beds and designer planting. I like adding a teepee made from bamboo support sticks for vining plants.
    I wonder, are you doing the veggies organically?

  17. Penlyn,
    Do the words Florida veggie gardening and organic go together? Yes, for the most part- so far. Last year I had to resort to using sevin once to get rid of worms on the squash plants. I amend the soil a few weeks before I get started with blood meal and blood bone. I've purchased an organic fertilizer from mountain valley growers but I'm not sure it has all the trace elements it should. I mulched this year with oak leaves. I'm hand picking worms and grasshoppers-- so far so good. I'm checking my squash plants everyday for those awful worms that bore through the stems and leave that nasty gook behind. Do you have any tricks for organic? Or know of an organic fertilizer I could use? I still have so much to learn.

  18. I love your squash! I love my squash too, of course, but I've got a funny looking white pattern showing up on my Zucchini plants. I have a post going up tomorrow morning with a photo- would you lend your expertise, if you have time?

  19. I've got my first-ever totally organic veggie bed going, Meems, and just a small problem with bugs. (I don't mind giving them a few lettuce leaves, as long as they leave me some.)
    I'm betting you know the old veggie oil-Dove dish soap-water potion formula for bugs. (If not, mail me.) As for fertilizer, Rick Martinez from Sweetbay Organic Farms recommends a fish-seaweed concoction. I found a pretty easy (but stinky!) recipe on the internet. I haven't had to use it, thank goodness. Shoot me an email at my work email if you want it.
    I think going organic means donating some veggies to our garden friends, and hand-picking nasty squishy things. I've also learned I need to wash off my organic lettuce -- the dirt is too crunchy!


Have a blessed day,

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