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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, May 7, 2009

We're Going To Need A Bigger Basket

Zinnia seeds were sown at the same time the veggie garden seeds were planted. So cheery they are in their varied bright colors. Growing between the pole beans and the green beans they are starting to bud and flower. Well, I should say they are budding again. That is, after my fellow-gardening DIL reminded me I needed to snip off the first buds that actually showed up around Easter. It was painful, but she was right, they are now forcing out two stems instead of one. Thanks, E.

It is to be expected when a gardener triples the size of a vegetable garden that perhaps, just perhaps, the harvest will also triple. Only, for some unexplainable reason, the fact that the harvest is now coming in so fast I can hardly keep up continues to surprise me. :-)

Each morning when I meander around the garden it's as if the growing gods were working overtime during the previous 24 hours. Just how is it vegetables grow so quickly!

Last year in the two beds I started with it didn't take me long to realize I had over-sown most of my seeds. I didn't have a clue what I was doing so I learned quickly the process of thinning the seedlings that popped out of the ground on top of each other. Even then I wasn't brutal enough and my squash plants crowded each other out as did my tomatoes.

This year I purposed to intensively plant the garden again only not with the same method in mind. With companion planting as the goal I made my garden plan for spring. Now with 6 beds to work in my determination was strong not to crowd the vegetables with each other. There's a difference you know. Planting vegetables too close together is not the same as planting them tightly and then intermingling lots of herbs and flowers in between the rows or sometimes an individual plant.

It's very much a "feel thing" for me much like how I cook and landscape garden. With no exact formula to guide, somehow the variations in the plants' heights, widths, stalkiness and/or airiness just makes all the difference in air circulation and compatability. So it has worked really well for the green beans to round the corner into the wando peas and for the spindly stems of nasturtiums and zinnias to fill in every empty space of dirt next to each.
The peas (climbing their own trellis) are perpendicular and planted as an end cap of sorts to the pole beans (climbing their stakes) and also the green beans. Then another layer of nasturtiums on the most outer edge so there is not one foot of wasted space in that bed.

I left 18 inch to 2 feet for the pathways. Even so, walking space is being squeezed out daily by overflowing vegetables and flowers.

The pathway between the zucchini and lima beans is not useable any longer for the prickly squash leaves have blocked all passage.

I gave up on trying to keep the cilantro from blooming. It loses its pungent, wonderful aroma and flavor once it flowers. But as in most of garden life we must learn to embrace every stage of the plant to get the full satisfaction from it.

All this blooming and growth is drawing in all the wonderful critters we anticipated to help with the balance of the eco system at Hoe and Shovel.

The feathery light dill works well next to the very stiff stalks and wide leaved squash plants which I sowed diagonally due to their growth habit. Carrots are planted horizontally at the end of the bed but quite closely to the squash and dill. Their fruit is under ground and their wispy top growth weaves in between the heavy squash stalks. As do the spindly nasturtium stems. Where the harvested radishes were growing I've now planted sunflower seeds.

Some of the critters coming to visit are easily recognizable and are old faithful friends.

Standing in the midst of the garden sounds and feels much like an orchestrated buzzing fly zone. There are so many flying critters coming and going it is quite fascinating. The bumble bees are zooming around so quickly I've literally had to dodge them in some of their flight patterns. I'm trying to remember if they were so large at any other time. Or am I just noticing for the first time? Honestly they are more the size of a sphinx moth than a bumble bee. Regardless, they are having a feast of a time sipping here and sipping there.

When the goal of attracting friendly bugs to rid the garden of the enemy bugs works its good to know which ones are friend or foe. Identifying bugs is not my greatest gift. We've got some new ones this year like the interesting fellow above. Any ideas from some of my bug loving readers? I'll have to post more later on all the bugs - for now there's a line in a Disney song that keeps running through my head... "at the ball, at the ball, at the ugly bug ball". Can you tell I hang around with a 3 year a LOT?

And... as in most gardens all is not bliss and fairy tale around here. The weather has quickly turned humid and quite warm and with it comes the constant challenges of keeping the plants happy and free of infestation. I've been fighting white flies and aphids galore for the past two weeks on the tomatoes. Lots of water spraying and some organic insecticidal soap so far. But what I can't figure out is why the leaves of some of my tomato plants are turning brown and yellow on the edges. The tomatoes are fine but the leaves at the bottoms are getting ugly.
This year I've pruned the suckers and leaf stems as instructed (which I didn't even know about last year) up to the lowest flower cluster. This process seems to allow more air around the roots and keeps the limbs from getting tangled with each other.
I've also mulched the beds which should be keeping in the moisture better. Any suggestions or information from you more seasoned gardeners is much welcomed.
Happy May days in your gardens, dear readers. Thank you for taking time out of your busy days to visit. I'm sure your gardens are keeping you hopping just as mine is.


  1. How wonderful it all looks...I can almost smell it when I look at your beautiful pictures!

  2. Meems, I love your garden. I hope mine will look like that one day! I really like how you use every inch of space. But I'm really impressed with how many veggies you're getting from it. My goodness. By the way, how is the coco mulch working out? I was thinking of ordering some of it, but not 100% sure.
    Good post!

  3. You must have one fantastic dinner party with all that coming from the garden! beautiful pics!

  4. Your vegetable garden looks so lush and full! I'm not good about pinching back and thinning. I'm always afraid that I'll get less, but you prove that you get more. I can't wait to have some fresh veggies from our garden.

  5. Meeems, Hi! The garden looks's hard to believe that this is only your second've created a beautiful, healthy garden and it shows in the produce! I've branched out to a few vegetables but there is even less sun in the garden...the trees keep growing. Have a sweet weekend. gail

  6. Oh my gosh girl. You have one splendid garden. I should have such trouble of the plants growing over the pathways.

  7. Beautiful garden! That critter is very interesting!I wonder what it is.

    My word verification is "cheap".

  8. Hi Meems~~ The brown leaves on your tomato plants are likely "Late Blight." It's a fungus in the soil (probably from last year? Did you plant your tomatoes in the same place or did you compost the plants last year and use the compost for this year's tomatoes?) Or it could have been on the plants when you got them. Humid weather makes it worse. You can Google Late Blight, Tomatoes and get more info.

    Your garden is a work of art. Functional and oh, so lush and full.

  9. Your garden looks wonderful and is obviously producing very well. About your tomatoes, they have more fungal problems than any other plant I can think of. Various wilts, early and late blights, it is almost impossible to diagnose which one of these you have now. Experts recommend crop rotation on a three year basis. It helps but definitely won't solve the problem 100%, the pathogens are in the soil and in the air. Spraying a fungicide helps but has to be done at frequent intervals.

  10. It all looks so healthy. What a wonderful problem to have blocking your pathway....more veggies. It's very encouraging to us not so seasoned gardeners to read about they way you planned your garden this year and the reasons for it. Great post!

  11. nanamoo,
    Thank you. Breathing deeply in the garden is heavenly right now.

    So good to see you and thanks so much for your kind words. The coco mulch is a hit. I'm a fan of the way it stays in place and a bigger fan of its appearance. If I didn't have so much ready-made mulch with my oak leaves -- I'd definitely order more of it.

    I'm working on a garden party.

    Don't you always have that little tiny thought that what if this seedling I'm pulling is the one that would have done better than the rest? In the end you just have to do it because you remind yourself it works.

    I've still got so much to learn. But I have to say that so far this year I am happier with everything so much more than last year. Sun in the garden is scarce around here too as you know.

    Those squash plants are mammoth now and just keep getting in my way. I don't even try to make the pass through anymore-- I walk all the way around them. :-)

    Those word verification can make me laugh. I'd love to know what my critter is... have seen two of them now and they make a deep buzzing sound.

  12. Grace,
    I suspected that might be the issue. I had googled it before I wrote the post but they were planted in brand new soil purchased thsi year. I have a plan for rotating each of the beds each season to avoid these problems. The plants it is the worst on were the seedlings I bought... not the ones I started from seed. I'll keep checking into it since now I need to figure out what to do for it.

    Humidity and tomatoes just don't go together. Thanks so much for the help.

    Thanks so much for your help. Like I mentioned to Grace... the soil was brand new this year. Now I'm wondering if it could be caused from over watering? I'll check into it... and the fungicide ... do they make that in an organic formula?

    Love to be of any hlep at all. I don't know much about what I'm doing. Just feeling my way through each situation. Last year I just decided to start doing it even though I didn't feel at all comfortable (or confident)with any of it. I'm learning as I go. But isn't that what all of life is about... so much to learn and experience if we just take a chance.

    Me, too.

  13. I bet those beans I bought at the grocery store came from Florida! Meems - your garden is a treasure - so much variety to choose from - you are indeed spoiled for choice when it comes to prepare a meal.

  14. Your veggies are so attractive! And so lush. You are so smart for having a veggie garden. I've got a small yard. But I'm thinking about a spot for one of my own. Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Meems,

    Your bug is not a friendly one it is a type of robber fly. They kill bees, butterflies and whatever they can catch. Get over it they are everywhere we have 6-10 a day here later in the season, everything in nature has it's place you know.
    Having internet problems or I'd seen this yesterday.

  16. Meems,
    I read something on your comments about your getting coco mulch? About a month ago the news mentioned a coco mulch that was poisonous to pets. Dogs love chocolate it makes them sick or could kill them, chocolate comes from coco.

  17. You have a very grand garden! I like your market basket and I have one too.

  18. Babara,
    So happy I don't have to buy beans from the grocery store anymore. I'm giving them away now there are so many we can't eat them all.

    If you desire to grow veggies I encourage you to start a few in some pots. Even in a small space you can derive a lot of good produce, not to mention great satisfaction from growing your own. Go ahead- you've got nothing to lose.

    I KNEW you'd know. I had a gut feeling it wasn't a friendly buzzer. I've never seen one until this year. But there are several I've never seen until this year... I guess the veggies (or it might be all the other buzzing critters) that draw them.

    The coco mulch is not chocolate. It is coconut mulch. Not to worry.
    Thanks so much for the ID.

  19. Wow I think you're ahead of me. You're in Tampa, right? I think we have similar weather. Ocala is probabably slightly cooler, though. I also noticed that you have a little shade on your garden........kinda like mine.

  20. Nice shot of the robber fly! I've not found them overly cooperative posers.

    You know, that line from Jaws is going through my head now. Ü

    My tomato plant got maters before Duller's. Would I gloat?! Nah, lol! I really had to hunt for heirlooms. Hybrids are thick as fleas, but those heirlooms are like hen's teeth. I didn't plant as much as I'd planned, coz I'm SO hoping Duller's job interview in Brooksville is a hit.

    Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

  21. Meems, you veggie beds and all that produce look simply wonderful. I can imagine veggie gardening being both more challenging and more rewarding in your climate.

    I'd never know just seeing your garden that you're fairly new to growing veggies.

    Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

  22. dear sis,

    everything looks so incredible...all so delicious. i am looking forward to partaking in some of those goodies. isn't overcrowding walkways and needing a bigger basket a great problem to have?>)oh yes. i too am learning the process of thining out but it is so hard to do...i need a lot more time to learn and practise.
    maybe you should put up a little sign at the end of your drive..."veggies for sale...whatever is in abundance"

    i am so glad for you that most everything is going so well. tell me what you find out about the blight...maybe i can avoid it.
    love and hugs, meems

  23. My goodness, I am totally overwhelmed by your veggie gardening success-looks like a seasoned professional to me!

  24. A feast for the eye and tummy! Happy Mother's Day, dear Meems.

  25. Meems, your vegetable garden is outstanding! You gave me some ideas, thank you! Images are great!

  26. So beautiful! Your blog makes me want to move to Florida! I would love to have such a long growing season. The veggie harvest looks incredible! -Jackie

  27. Now THERE we go - GREEN BEANS!!! They are probably my number one favorite garden veggie. Unless it's beets (pickled only). Or sweet corn. Or spinach.

    Your veggie garden looks fabulous, Meems!


Have a blessed day,

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