Time to Get Growing

If you happen to be a transplant from the North, your mind probably isn’t turning to vegetable gardening at the moment. We lived most of our lives in an area where you carefully monitored the weather, longing for the frost-free date when you could safely plant your tomatoes. Then, in early September, you monitored the weather again, this time for the first killing frost that would officially finish the vegetable gardening season.

Well, that’s all different here in SW Florida!

I’m having a difficult time adjusting my head to this fact, in spite of living here for some 22 years or so. I did better this year and actually had the vegetable garden started in February. It was a huge success, for the most part. Then I did the unthinkable. I planted a second crop of my favorites. It was a total failure! The only plants that thrived were the weeds. I learned the hard way that our hot, humid, rainy summers are not what the vegetables want. If they sprout, they quickly succumb to mold, mildew and the wide variety of bugs that all adore the summers here. I even managed to screw up a crop of okra, which is supposed to do well in our summers!

And now it’s time to Get Growing again. Late August should have seen me planting tomato seeds, as well as most other plants we normally transplant into the garden. I should be starting to transplant them out NOW. Instead, my more or less Yankee brain is just now getting itself wrapped around the idea of planting the seeds.

Not to worry. It will take 4 to 6 weeks to get the seedlings big enough to transplant. Seeds germinate quickly in this weather, so I should be able to get caught up… unless we have more of the horrid freezing weather we had last year!

Today I will be planting two or three varieties of tomato seeds, peppers (both sweet and hot varieties), broccoli and other cole crops. If time and energy permits, I will be planting green beans, too.


Frost on the Pumpkin?

Yep, there has been frost on the pumpkin patch the past few mornings. And yep, I still live in Southwest Florida. The pumpkins weren’t grown here this year but were purchased from a roadside stand to make a display for Halloween, followed by the harvest display for Thanksgiving. And three days ago, there was frost on them! The day after that, the frost was a bit heavier, clearly visible all across the field, turning the grass into a field of sparkling diamonds as the sun rose. This morning, the frost was only in the shaded areas and only on the taller blades of grass in the chicken yard. I don’t care what anyone says, either. Frost is frost, even if it’s only on a single blade of grass! And… it ain’t s’posed to be this far south!

We are under a freeze warning for tonight and tomorrow night. Yikes! Predicted temperatures are in the upper 20s to low 30s… with wind chills dipping into the low 20s.

Tomato plants are in bloom, tiny cucumbers are on the vines and the papaya trees are loaded with big green fruits. We won’t even think about all the plumeria and desert rose plants, or the poinsettias and yellow sweet potato vines growing in the half-barrels at the end of the driveway. Or even the hibiscus that are blooming, for that matter. If the temperatures drop as predicted, it will all be gone by morning.