This year-round gardening with vegetables still blows my mind, but I have a few plants that have been in my garden for over a year now. Yes, they go dormant (and even look dead) when the cold weather moves into Florida, but they come back and produce even better the second time around.
Will they still be around next year? I have no idea. But this Spring season has been a great one for my bell pepper plant and now my eggplant is showing signs of producing as well.
In the Spring of 2017 I planted two eggplant plants. One was eaten up by a tomato worm and the other continued to grow and grow. It gave me no eggplants until well into the season. I finally got one. Only one. I tried the paintbrush pollination method but still nothing happened.
The plant got huge. I had to cut it back because it was taking over the garden bed. When the cold weather came, the entire plant turned brown and I thought that was it. I’m used to plants dying and having to be planted in Spring. When my vegetable plants don’t die, and instead begin to grow again, it amazes me. I didn’t even know vegetables could do that.
However, at the base of the plant some greenery remained. As the weather warmed, more leaves and stems appeared.
The plant is now large again, and getting lots of flowers, which contain spikes.
As of now, May 2018, the plant has been flowering like crazy but again the eggplants themselves were missing. So the other day I pulled lots of the flowers off (that is when I noticed how spiky they were!). I don’t know if that is what the plant needed, but suddenly I now see a small eggplant. There are signs of maybe a couple more ready to pop out as well.
Too many flowers? I don’t know if that was a coincidence, but if your eggplants are not producing, try removing some of the buds.
While the rest of the country is dealing with freezing temperatures (sorry), I was taking photos of my yard and garden in the December sunshine.
Yesterday, December 30th I decided to get some photos of happenings in the backyard. Because much of the northern part of the country is suffering with snow, ice and unbelievably cold temperatures (you have my sympathy), I felt lucky to be outside in the warm sunshine and 60 degree temps.
Today I wanted to write this short post to share what it’s like to be able to avoid winter and watch a garden grow literally year round. This is new for me and I am not trying to brag. I miss New England even though you must suffer through the bad winters. It’s beautiful there and quite boring and dull here in Florida – until the monotony is interrupted by a hurricane.
I know that my poinsettia is not looking all that good, but who knew a poinsettia could grow in the ground and live from year to year? I discovered this by walking around my new neighborhood and checking out the plants in yards I passed. People were growing poinsettias. So after last Christmas, when I bought this odd looking one, I put it out back in the pot and continued to water it. Finally, just a few weeks ago, I planted it in the ground next to the hibiscus. I was able to bring it in last year when the coldest weather hit, so we’ll see how it fares in the ground. Because it’s next to the house I think it will do fine.
I caught this pretty little ladybug crawling over an eggplant flower and decided to try to capture it on my iPhone. The blinding sun made it difficult to see as I took pictures, but finally I got into a good position where the shade wasn’t a problem. Then I took a bunch of photos as the sweet little bug crawled around the backside of this purple flower.
Ladybugs are the best. They are a gardener’s friend. But don’t try to eat them, they don’t taste good at all. I accidentally had one in my mouth once – and yuk.
The Eggplant plant is still going strong. I’ve eaten one eggplant from it. The leaves are truly gorgeous and I photographed them in hopes of doing a drawing one day soon.
Never in my life have I been able to grow my own green peppers. But this fall I have eaten many from this plant. I also have a smaller plant which currently has white flowers on it (below). And I’ve used some hot jalapeño peppers occasionally too. I’m used to pulling up my vegetable plants by fall, but now I guess I will just let them keep growing and see what happens.
Here in central Florida we are expecting some cold weather next week. I know, I know… I’ll get no sympathy for temps in the 30’s when many people don’t see anything above single digits, with wind chills well below zero. BUT… this is Florida and our plants are still growing and not accustomed to freezing.
We will have to bring inside what we can and cover the rest.
One tree I will be moving indoors is my Persian Lime. I’ve eaten limes for weeks now – in October and November – and now I see there is new growth and buds on the tree!
Learning to garden and grow fruit in Florida is new to me, but I am open to learning new things. This blog is a journal of sorts to reference because I forget quickly what was blooming and when.
Using a paintbrush to help with pollination of my big eggplant tree.
You may be wondering about my post image of the eggplant with a paintbrush. I’m hoping that little brush will help with eggplant production. When your eggplant flowers keep falling off, you may need a little paintbrush too.
For many months now I have had an eggplant “tree” growing in my garden. I’m not familiar with growing eggplants. In my New England yard I think I tried a few times and picked maybe one eggplant from my own garden! The plants never grew very large – maybe a couple feet high. Here in Florida, my eggplant has become a small tree. And this photo was taken AFTER I pruned big branches off the thing!
Because of the warm climate, vegetable plants just go on living for many, many months. I am not used to that. The New Hampshire growing season was very short. When frost and freezes don’t happen, I suppose the plants could go on living forever. I don’t know. Does that happen? I thought vegetable plants were only good for one season.
The plant produced many little purple flowers, and I kept hoping to see the dark purple vegetable pop out, but it never happened …. until just recently.
I figured there might be something wrong, since the plant itself is healthy and big. It gets plenty of water and sun. The weather has been hot, so I attributed the lack of fruit to that. However, the days have become cooler and now that one eggplant had set, I hoped to see more. That is not happening. All the other flowers are still falling off.
I searched online and found a helpful article at Gardening Know How, which told me that lack of pollination may be the problem.
So this morning I went out with my little paint brush and swished it around inside some of the flowers. This is what that article said to do. Now I’ll wait and see if I get more eggplants forming. (Update: this did not help. I never got any more eggplants – that season – Read what happened the second year.)
I don’t love to eat eggplant, but I would definitely use them in a stir fry or vegetable lasagna dish. I just need this big plant to give me something to cook with!
In the meantime, I am using green peppers daily. I never thought I could grow them, but it appears I just had to wait.
Now that the weather is cooling off here in central Florida, gardening is on my mind. I can comfortably step outside and work in the yard. October was a little hot, but November has been nice.
My Gardening in Florida book says that October is the time to think about growing cool-season crops. Now it’s November and I still don’t have enough dirt for planting. But if I did, this is what I would have planted.
Also, further down the page, see what is still growing and beginning to produce vegetables!
What to Plant in Fall
Suggested planting includes carrots, beets (I seldom eat) and turnips (I never eat), which can be started as seeds. No need to buy seedlings. Last spring I planted carrots in a fabric pot and they did pretty well.
My book has a section about building strawberry pyramids – so I assume I should plant strawberries this time of year. I don’t really have the space for them, so maybe I need a pyramid? There is probably no time or money for that this year, but it’s something to keep in mind.
What I really need is a fence. It will give me some place where I can add containers and keep the raccoons out at the same time. There is no money for that right now.
I must deal with reality, so here is my list of vegetables I could have planted in October. My garden is 10 feet long by 3 feet wide. So not a lot of space, but I do have fabric pots to use as well. If only I had a garden full of good dirt.
Lettuce Kale Onions – plant around the edges, take up little space Peas – Will need a trellis
Some Plants Are Still Growing Well After Summer
I all but gave up completely on growing anything over the summer. I had planted tomatoes, eggplant, squash and peppers in Spring. I did get some small tomatoes but the raccoons helped themselves. The squash plant got bugs and died before it gave me any squash. The Eggplant and Peppers are still going strong. In fact they are now doing well.
My neighbor, who does no gardening in summer, said that when it’s too hot the plants won’t produce. She covers the ground with plastic to kill the nematodes. However, I wonder if she realizes that burning out the bad also affects the good. I’m not sure it is wise to do that. And because my plants survived the summer and are now looking good, I plan to keep the garden going all summer long next year.
I honestly thought everything would eventually die in the summer heat. I kept watering, just in case. My eggplant grew into a small tree! It was pretty, and has plenty of purple flowers, but never gave me an eggplant to eat. Finally I cut it back hoping the excess energy put into growing would be used to possibly give me some eggplants.
And then…. today (maybe 2 weeks after trimming it) I was watering in the morning, as I do every day, and I found a small Eggplant beginning to grow! Yay… more please.
The only other vegetable producing plants that have survived are the peppers. The hot pepper plant gives me a pepper here and there.
I have 2 bell pepper plants. One is in a fabric pot and it has produced a couple of peppers over summer. Now that the weather is cooler, the other pepper plant is producing like mad! I’ve never been able to grow peppers but maybe the secret is to plant in Spring and wait until Fall to eat them.
So, what I’ve learned so far is that planting in Spring gives me vegetables in Fall. The plants seem to go dormant over summer and then produce when the weather gets nice.
I’m continuously amending my soil and will continue to do so. I think poor soil was inhibiting growth.