Getting Ready to Grow Veggies in Florida

gardening
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I’m not there yet, but soon I will be learning to grow veggies in Florida.  I’m quite aware of the central Florida climate, as I lived there for over twenty years.  I didn’t have much time to grow my own vegetables but I plan to do a lot of that once I move back.

I’m wondering how well certain things will grow, and if there is no point in even trying to grow crops that prefer it cool.  I have a good, informative gardening book, but it doesn’t say too much about choosing crops for Florida.

So I searched for Florida vegetable gardening blogs.  A well-written blog can be better than a book.  Personal experience with local gardening can be extremely helpful.  I’m coming across a lot of blogs that prefer to show off their tropical shrubbery and well-manicured landscapes and fancy backyards, but have little in the way of helpful information about choosing and growing vegetables.

I think there are a couple of reasons for this.   Continue reading “Getting Ready to Grow Veggies in Florida”

Sparse Vegetable Garden This Year

zucchini in the garden
Growing Zucchini

It seems to be the consensus here in my part of New England, the gardens are not growing all that well.  Not that I know that many people, but almost everyone I do know has a small backyard, or patio garden.

Just last night, one of my neighbors walked by and we chatted for a few minutes.  I know she has beautiful raised garden beds behind her house, so I asked how the garden was growing.  She said it’s not producing well.

My sister grows all her vegetables on a big, sunny deck in front of her house.  It’s convenient to care for, as she works long hours each day.  But this year she doesn’t even have zucchini growing.  If we lived closer I would have some extra to give her.  My zucchini started off slowly, but now I’m picking one or two from the two plants I have.

The cucumber is really slow.  I’ve only had 2 cukes so far.  And the hot pepper plant is also not producing the many peppers I remember having last year.  The only thing that is doing better this year than last is my garlic.  Even the parsley, one of my favorite things, is not all that big. Continue reading “Sparse Vegetable Garden This Year”

Picking Zucchini Every Day Now!

Freeze zucchini to preserve it for later, when there is too much to use fresh.

zucchini in the garden
Growing Zucchini

Anyone who grows their own zucchini knows that once those suckers begin to appear, it’s zucchini picking every day.

When I begin my vegetable garden in June, I include two squash plants, and one is always a zucchini. Usually I have yellow squash too, but this year both plants are zucchini. Within the past few days I’ve picked two zucchini each day. My neighbor gets some, but she lives alone and won’t need all that many.

Most people know to pick their squash when it’s medium size. Any zucchini that gets overlooked, and it’s easy to do, may end up the size of a small baseball bat. I found the one pictured below, stuck under the stems of the plant last year. It was a monster!
big overgrown zucchini

Usually I just slice and boil the veggies, as it’s the easiest way to eat them. Fried zucchini is really good also. And of course there is everyone’s favorite – zucchini bread. In fact, if you search online, you’ll find a numerous variety of recipes that use the green squash as an ingredient.

Unfortunately the zucchini comes in at the time when summer gets hot. It’s the time of year when I do not want to heat up the kitchen by baking bread.

With all that squash ready to use, the only other way to keep it fresh to use for a later time, is to freeze it. This is the first time I’ve frozen my excess zucchini, but I don’t know why I haven’t done it before.

It’s so wonderful to pick fresh ingredients from the backyard, but if they are picked and then sit around for days, the vitamins deteriorate, and you might as well have bought them from the store. Preserving them fresh is most important, so pick, shred, package and freeze the zucchini as soon as you pick them.

Pick, shred, put in freezer bags (with date and label – it will keep for 8 months from what I’ve read), and store to use at a later time. Bake that bread on a cool day, or add to a batch of homemade soup. How simple is that?

Planting Day is Coming Soon

greenhouse and seedlings
Almost planting time
I realize that many people have already planted their vegetable gardens, but here in the northeastern U.S. we just had snow this past Saturday! Not in southern NH where I live, but in the north. It was very cold and windy.

I have learned the hard way to be patient and wait for warmth (June) to plant my store bought tomato, basil, and zucchini plants. If seedlings are planted before the ground is warm enough, they won’t grow well. This is especially true for certain veggies, like green peppers. The reason we are told to make hills for planting squash and such, is so the little mound of dirt will warm up.

In the northeast we have had a ton of rain over the last week or so. I have put out a few seeds (carrots) and on the one nice day we had I added some marigolds to the garden. But my tomatoes, basil, cukes, and zucchini are still waiting in the green house. If the sun comes out, I move them out onto the deck for direct sunlight, but they go back into the green house for overnight. I love my little green house! It has really come in handy to store the seedlings and they are doing quite well. Some 90 degree days are coming this week, so I’ll get them into the yard by the weekend.