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March 8, 2012

Growing Dill in Florida

I love herbs. I love all of them, parsley, dill, cilantro, basil, rosemary, you name it. But dill is by far my favorite. For some reason dill is considered a sort of exotic herb in the supermarkets. Every time I see dill in Publix, I get blown away. It is like $3.50 for a few little twigs. Amazing.

Dill is very easy to grow. In my experience, it grows even better than parsley. Once you have dill in your garden, you will always have it, if you allow it to go to seed. Dill will re-seed itself in any available space, even on the lawn. Blooming dill is a picture of beauty and a great pollinator insect attractor:

I seed dill in succession, from October through March, and it responds well to that schedule. I have fresh dill for eight months of the year, except for the hottest moths; nothing survives our summers, except okra and cowpeas. But I am OK with having dill for the most part of the year, and it is easy to dry dill and use in your cooking. Here's "cutting" dill that was seeded in December or so, and will keep producing well for another month easily.

I also usually throw a bunch of dill seeds in between cucumbers and cabbage where it makes a nice companion plant. When cucumbers mature, dill will be grown enough for cutting, as well as growing in the shade of cucumber leaves to stretch the season.

Dill is not very demanding. It likes water and somewhat fertile soil. Other than that it is a very happy plant with a lot to give.

March 2, 2012

What can we plant in March in Florida?

Warm weather is here, and Florida gardeners are preparing for the summer harvest. All main warm weather vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant) should be transplanted now.

Pepper Transplant

Unfortunately, it is too late to start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant from seed. It usually takes about six weeks from seed to transplant size, and that will bring us to mid-April for transplanting; this is too late because May heat will be too brutal on the young plants. Big box stores carry transplants, these will do the job of providing summer vegetables. Mark your calendar to start the seeds in early August for the second Florida season of warm vegetables.

Tomato Transplant

Some vegetables can be still started from seed, these include cucumbers, squash, zucchini, corn, and beans.

Cucumber two weeks old from seed

Seed these directly into the garden and keep the soil moist all the way until the seedlings get established. Shade off young seedlings of cucumbers, they do not like direct afternoon sun or being dry at the roots.

My addiction to seeds brought upon a strange challenge. I was seeding a lot of vegetables and did not mark some of them. These seedlings came up and looked like a cucumber plant. But now I am at odds. It is quite a strange looking plant, so if anyone can identify it, please let me know in a comment. Otherwise, the mystery plant will have to produce the fruit to uncover its nature and purpose.

Mystery plant - identified! Milk Thistle

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