When I say “garden” I am referring to our small container garden. Due to HOA/landlord restrictions we cannot grow a garden in our yard. Also, I live in central Florida, home of mild & sunny winters.
How did your 2013 summer garden grow? Ours, eh, not so well.
Our squash, cucumbers and eggplant grew beautifully with 100% seed success but all the flowers fell off and we didn’t get any fruit :( The last eggplant is about to be tossed, I couldn’t bear to get rid of it because the foliage is so lush.
The green peppers stalled after 2 weeks of decent growth.
The tomato plants were eaten by something before they could grow very high.
So what happened? Well, I think it was a combination of a lot of things. We had a very cool summer with too much rain, followed by immediate heat (heat index of well over 100). I also think the squirrels and bunnies have found their way into the screened porch again. Actually, I know the squirrel has since I’ve seen him! Funny story, did you know squirrels can swim? He fell through a small hole in our screen, right into the pool! We blocked off the hole the bunnies chewed through the built-in planters in the pool area (seriously! They chewed through fiberglass and cement!) but I’m not 100% sure they aren’t still getting in.
The lettuce grew very well in the cool weather, not so much in the heat. I am going to stop growing it for now and try again in the fall and winter.
Regardless, I had one terrific success…basil! My mother-in-law gave me a small basil plant for my birthday in April and it must have been some new kind of King Kong basil. The one plant quickly turned into 4 plants…then 6 plants…all being grown in a small styrofoam cooler with soil reused from last year! Seriously! I can’t kill the stuff. I didn’t dry any this year since I still have a ton dried from last summer but my freezer has enough basil cubes to last me a long time. Everything else I get from it this summer will go to making pesto.
A few weeks ago I bought a mint plant at the farmer’s market. We don’t use much mint but the kids asked and I caved, and it was super cheap. The farmer told me to plant it in sand, weird, right? Well, I filled a 5 gallon bucket with sand to about 5″ from the top. I dug a hole in the middle, put the plant in it and filled in the hole with soil. I topped it off with about 4″ of soil and the plant has taken off! This is my first experience growing mint and I guess it really is true that mint will grow anywhere!
My plans for this fall and winter are slowly coming into place.
-At each payday do/buy 1 thing to help us in our goal to grow more food. In September I plan on buying several large storage containers to grow onions and broccoli in and to prepare for starting sweet potatoes in the spring. Ideally I’ll get 10 containers for sweet potatoes before February, but we’ll see.
-Bring the basil & mint inside as needed and keep them alive for as long as possible. Fortunately we get a lot of sun in the winter and I have huge sliding glass doors I can put the plants by.
-Do away with the eggplant and peppers that aren’t growing and replace them with loose leaf lettuces, spinach and beets.
-Start a regular process for growing sprouts indoors. I have a tendency to grow too many at once and they end up getting slimy.
-Sometime this fall/winter we’re going to install a grow light over our bar area and use it to grow herbs indoors.
Do you have any plans for transitioning your garden this fall/winter?