Potato Comparison – Why We Love to Eat Home Grown Vegetables.

Short and sweet, this photo compares a fresh dug red potato to one from the grocery store.

garden potato
Which red potato is fresh from the garden?

For some reason I am having a lot of trouble growing summer (yellow) squash here in Florida. Maybe it’s too hot, too humid, or something else. But I have had 2 small squash, and they were the sweetest, most delicious squash I ever ate.

Everything fresh from the backyard garden tastes a hundred times better than the bland, old stuff from the grocery store. I just had to take that potato photo when I saw the beautiful bright red color of my fresh-dug potatoes. Unfortunately most of them were really small because worms ate the potato leaves, so I dug them up early.

Potatoes are easy to grow if you have the space to grow them.  Unfortunately I do not.

Spring Again, March in the Backyard Garden

Planting some vegetables in the March garden in central Florida.

Here in Central Florida we are still having “cool” weather which I love. The neighbors are wearing winter clothing (seriously?) and complaining. When I say “I love this weather”, they tell me to go back to Vermont (I’m from New Hampshire).

I guess Floridians get grumpy when it’s cold.

The weather is perfect for planting the garden, and truly I should have begun sooner. Unfortunately I still have the lack-of-dirt problem. I’ve continued to add leaves, grass, and kitchen compost to the raised bed, but need to buy bags of dirt.

Now I have the money, but need the help lugging all those bags of soil and fertilizer / compost from the store and to the backyard.

For now I am using a few fabric bags where I have planted zucchini (or summer squash, I can’t remember which), lettuce and potatoes.  All are doing very well and growing fast.

Check out my other posts to see how things are going: May in the Garden.

squash plant
Zucchini or yellow squash (can’t remember which)

Tonight I will snip off the tops of this bib lettuce for supper. It will continue to grow back unless the hot weather moves in. Lettuce likes it cool.

lettuce growing in a fabric pot
The lettuce is loving the cooler weather

Yesterday I searched the Home Depot for some decent vegetable plants. I came away with a Celebrity tomato, and something called a Bonnie Original. One is a determinate and one an indetermanent, and as I stood there in the garden center I couldn’t remember what that meant. I thought one was grown within a cage and the other was sprawling. I think I was sort of right. Read more here about the difference between the two types.

tomato plants
Little tomato plants

I have tomato-stealing raccoons, so I’m not going nuts with the tomato plants. I also have a limited amount of space to grow things. The tomatoes may end up in bags with handles so I can easily move them inside at night away from tiny raccoon paws.

Potatoes growing in fabric pot
Potato vines

I planted some red potatoes, from my kitchen, with big “eyes” and that is what is growing in one of the fabric bags. I have good luck with potatoes. Although they are usually quite small, they are delicious.

I am so excited to see this little “volunteer” pepper plant! Glad I didn’t weed it out before I recognized it. My original pepper plant is still living and growing from last Spring! Even with all the cold weather over the winter, it survived (although it has a few aphids) and is flowering now. Amazing. I trimmed off the curling leaves and will see what it does. Apparently a seed was dropped, and now a new pepper plant is growing. I’d never heard of a “volunteer” plant until I lived in New Hampshire. My preferred word for them is “free”!

little pepper plant
“Volunteer” pepper plant

On my latest trip to Pell’s Nursery in Osteen I picked up this little Navel orange tree. I have left it in it’s original pot for now, but bought that ceramic one for later use. It has a few little oranges growing which I hope don’t fall off. Sometime between October and March I should be picking an orange or two from my yard.

little navel orange tree in pot
My new Navel orange tree

I’ve had good luck with growing the Persian Lime, so thought I’d add more citrus to the yard.

The Garden in March, One Month Later

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My Garden, March 2nd

Last month I began to plant my little garden in my Florida backyard. Because the raised bed was not filled with dirt, I used black fabric pots.

I began with crops that were more suited to cooler weather, like peas and lettuce.

Well, Skittle the cat decided to sleep in the bed of peas, so now only one stalk is growing as the others were a bit crushed. It was just the right spot for a nap in the sun. No worries Skittle, I’ll eat 2 peas and be happy.

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Skittle in the Peas

I also planted potatoes and they are growing like mad. I followed the directions from a blog I read and began by only filling the bags part way. Then I have added dirt as the tops grew. And boy did they grow! Course I’ll have to wait and see what’s happening down inside the bags, but hopefully I’ll have some little red potatoes to eat one day.

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Growing potatoes

I also just planted cucumber seeds and I see today that they are popping through the soil.  It only took 2 days for that to happen!

My two pepper plants are doing well, and one is blooming like mad.  This may be the year I am able to grow peppers.  They like heat, and yesterday it was 88 degrees, so there ya go.

I have more cardboard to put down in the bottom of the wood enclosure to keep the grass from growing up through.  Newspaper would work for that too.  Eventually I will empty the dirt out of my pots and fill the enclosure.  But first…. I may try to dig up the grass beneath the enclosure.

I always thought I would just set up the wooden bed and fill it with dirt and I’m ready to plant.  Now I have read at EarthEasy that I should dig down a ways to loosen the ground so roots can go down into the dirt beneath the bed.  This makes sense, as some vegetables do have long roots, but I didn’t think they needed that much space.

It got me wondering what the roots of vegetables look like, and which ones need the most depth to grow well.

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Bib lettuce and carrots

The Bib lettuce needed to be thinned and the carrots were planted using paper strips.  I had never used carrot seed tape before, and I bought it by accident.  The old method of mixing seeds with sand when sowing small seeds works fine.  I still had to thin the seedlings, even when I used the tape.

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March Tomatoes!

I can honestly say I have never had tomatoes growing in my yard in March!   In fact compared to gardening in New Hampshire, growth here seems to be accelerated.

Every time I visit the garden section I keep an eye out for hydrangeas.  I haven’t seen any for sale.

What I Learned From Fabric Pot Gardening

growing vegetables in fabric pots
Gardening in Fabric Pots
Last year I used these black fabric pots to plant vegetables in sunny locations in my small backyard. It was an experiment and I had no idea if anything would grow. But I needed a fairly easy alternative to digging up the grass.
These fabric pots are not very expensive and I would think that they can be reused. I’ll see when I dig them out to use this season. I like the fact that they can be set wherever there is sun, but then they can be taken down. The smaller ones (shown in my pictures) I used to grow potatoes and beans. I ended up with a bowlful of edible, but small, potatoes. The bag is really too small to get much of a potato crop. They would do better in the ground, but I don’t have the space.
I also grew green beans in two of the pots and I had loads of delicious beans! I will definitely try that again.
The larger holder is where I planted tomatoes along with basil, some herbs and radishes. (I have a photo of that one on this page.) The tomatoes got too large to stay upright and the “pot” wasn’t deep enough to hold a wire tomato cage. By the end of summer my tomatoes had fallen over from their own weight. I also had planted too many of them. I wouldn’t put tomatoes in the bags again.
I’m thinking a squash or zucchini plant may do well in a smaller pot and then it could drape over the sides and spread out. I always grow zucchini and even one plant takes up a lot of area in my little garden.
The larger bag might hold my cukes, carrots or beets. I guess it depends on what I decide to plant. When summer was over and the harvest was in, I emptied the pots and stuffed them under my deck. I am wondering if I could leave the dirt in the larger one next time. I don’t know how it would do over the winter.
If you want to try an easy way to grow something that can be moved from year to year, without digging up the ground, maybe a fabric pot would be right for you. For more ideas please read Discover the Benefits of Container Gardening by my friend Mike. It’s because of his page that I tried this! Thanks Mike!