Thursday, January 22, 2009

Last year, even before the economic meltdown, Brooks and I had decided to promote growing food in with the landscape plants. We have long been sneaking some things into ornamental plantings -- kale, cabbages, blueberries, fruit trees, and the like. Now, we feel like people might be ready for taking the next step. We got to work on garden designs. Ultimately, we felt the old square foot gardening principles best addressed what we want to do: attractive, low maintenance, organic, highly productive, and, did we mention attractive?

Our first endeavor has, of course, been for our personal use. Unable to till a proper garden spot where we live, we plopped our sf beds directly on the concrete pad. We have limited sun throughout the day, especially during the winter, and weren't sure we would get all that much out of it. We began the project in October, a little late by local planting standards, and got an early cold snap in November.

We have been eating out of our little garden almost daily since Christmas. We planted broccoli plants instead of seeds, so they were the first to harvest, and, of course, that meant we ate broccoli almost every day for a while. (Better to plant seeds, so as to stagger the harvest. Happily, we have been harvesting the side shoots and a friend turned us on to the fact that the leaves, too, are quite tasty, so they have been turning up in our stir fry meals.) Oriental greens, which seem to be a blend of different plants, are also quite good in salads and stir fry. The bok choy was unbelievably good. We eat salad from the lettuces almost every night. Trying to hold off on the carrots and let them get a little bigger, but ooooo they look so good. The sugar snap peas are almost ready to eat... maybe another warm day or two. Seriously doubt they'll make it into the house, though. Some things are just meant to be eaten off the vine.

We don't know if the cabbages will ever form a proper head, but are they ever beautiful. Just for the record, planting the five leftover cabbages in one fifteen gallon nursery pot is probably not a great idea, but again, they are so beautiful I don't care. What a perfect ornamental to carry us through til summer.
'Tis a sad, sad thing to witness the melting down of our landscape plants in a transition zone such is Tallahassee. Down go the philodendron selloum, the alocasias and colocasias (elephant ears), ground orchids, tender palms, and a host of perennials which I was trying to coax through the winter with minimal damage.
Yes, we do try to push zones here, planting zone 9 or 10 plants with impunity. I guess we're trying to benefit from global warming.
However, cool season veggie garden looks great. Will post pics next time!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cold comes to N FL

We haven't had a lot of really cold weather this winter, but we are in the middle of a cold snap which has us shivering, and the rest of the country downright frozen. I've had plants (all containerized) for the past three nights, and things for the most part look like they've survived the 20F degree low.
Pedilanthus is going to lose all its leaves but last year I left it uncovered one night when it barely hit freezing and it turned black almost all the way to the soil. I have a lot of succulents. The kalanchoes have suffered the most, and the sweet little 'flapjack' will be relying on the babies next spring... I don't know whether it is common for the parent plant to die back, but ours has.
We'll be working today at the G'boro farm. When I was there a couple of weeks ago the rudbeckia we planted in Oct. were loaded with tight little buds down in the crown. Wonder if they'll bloom now?