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November 16, 2011

Grocery store gifts: sweet potatoes and peanuts

It's harvest time!

Sometime in July I planted sweet potato slips grown from a store-bought potato, as well as some peanuts, from a grocery store bag as well. The sweet potato harvest in a picture below is just from one slip; and that's what you should expect usually, six to ten potatoes from one slip. Sweet potatoes are pretty undemanding, they will grow in slightly fertilized sand, in fact these grew in just that, very poor sandy soil.

Peanuts do not demand awesome soil either, as a member of legume family they fix their own nitrogen. The harvest in this picture is just from one peanut. Not a bad outcome, somewhere from ten to twenty peanuts from one. I imagine, if I plant a pound of peanuts next year, I will have twenty pounds harvest, that will make a huge bag.

I tasted one peanut and it was still quite raw. The kernels should be somewhat darker in color; and the plant leaves themselves should turn yellow or light brown, indicating that the "children" are taking in the nutrients. I will give them another month, after that I will take another sample. Peanuts are an indeterminate vegetable, so we cannot count on a 100% maturity; as long as most of the peanuts mature the harvest should be deemed as a success.

The beauty of a garden is that once you grow something, it will always be there. I have tons of volunteer tomatoes, peppers, dill and bok choy. Sweet potatoes and peanuts are self-propagating as well. Since it is impossible to dig out every little root, they will continue giving for the seasons to come.

November 8, 2011

What can we grow in November in Florida

Think Green!

Our fall, winter and early spring months are perfect for growing your greens. Granted, greens is a broad term, but most common vegetables gardeners grow and enjoy in Florida are lettuce, bok choy and radish. Radish, although not commonly thought as "green" does provide it's contribution for a salad in a form of young tender leaves.

I usually grow a lot of Romaine lettuce from October through the end of April, seeding every month:

If you have never grown lettuce in Florida, you owe it to yourself to get a package of Romaine and seed it now. There is absolutely no comparison to the lettuce you can get in a grocery store. Lettuce picked from your own yard straight to the plate is crispy, juicy and tasty. Could you believe it, lettuce actually has taste? Try growing it in your garden to find out, you would be amazed.

I also grow other greens, such as Kale, Mustard greens, bok choy and broccochini (broccoli that does not grow heads). Pictured below is Kale, a green that is extremely high in vitamins and minerals:

You can seed radish every two weeks, just a small patch, to have fresh radishes through the end of April:

And last, but not least, you can start now and grow your favorite herbs, dill and parsley. Here's dill:

And Italian parsley:

You can also seed snap peas now to have a harvest in March and April.

Plant all these vegetables in full sun, this is very important. Florida gardening is "upside down". In the summer we shade tomatoes and peppers, and in the winter we give our greens full sun. If you plant greens in the shade they will grow spindly with very few leaves and radish might not produce the bulbs.

November 6, 2011

Three sisters garden: they are growing

It's been two months since I started a Three Sisters Garden project, and I'm happy to report that so far all off the sisters are doing extremely well. I'm glad that I staked the beans because the corn did not have a chance to grow tall enough prior to the beans taking over. Now the whole concoction is taller than me:

Squash is blooming:

And corn is blooming as well:

We have three weeks left till Thanksgiving, which is when usually this garden is supposed to be harvested, so hopefully we will not have an early frost and will enjoy the fruits of this age-old arrangement.

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