Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Starting Small in the Garden

It has been a while since the last post and as with everyone else, much has happened, much has changed.  However, the seeking of nature has never lessened and I have been enjoying working on a small garden. 

Having a garden is a commitment and can be overwhelming, for this reason it is ok to start out small, such as just a pot of mint or your favorite herb.  From there, you learn how things work and adjust.  It's important to remember that there will not be a 100% success rate, things die off, are eaten by pests and the environment can be unpredictable.  

For reference, the hardiness zone in my area is 10a, you can find your Growing Zone here.

The soil here is mostly sand and any top soil will just sift through and disappear, so planting native plants and plants that are meant to survive and thrive in this environment is important.  When planting native species in your zone, the plants have a better survival rate and need less attention.

Growing in Florida's climate can be a challenge, it is hot and humid, so I am learning to take advantage of the cooler months.  I have started composting to make my own nutritious soil as not much grows in the sandy soil that's here, the plants just don't grow healthy and strong, thus they are easy prey for pests and disease.  Last year, I worked the compost into the soil and that did not work out for me, the plants would barely grow and what did grow died pretty quickly.  Earlier this year, I have put down about 3-4 inches of compost on top of the sandy soil and a layer of mulch to keep the moisture in.  I saw a great improvement in the plant growth and once a month I added a layer of compost to keep the plants fed.

At the beginning of the year I planted peppers and tomatoes, a rule of thumb is to sow extra seedlings as not all will make it.  When the seedlings grew large enough, I planted them into the compost layer, but many disappeared overnight, looks to have been eaten down to the soil level.  This can be disheartening, but the extra seedlings came in nicely.
Amish tomato.
The variety I planted was the Amish tomato and although the plants started out good, the Florida Spring was too hot too quickly for the plants to produce a lot of fruit and harvest was minimal.  As Florida growing season starts up again in September, I am now starting seedlings again to try out this time of year to compare what works best for my garden.  I will be adding chicken manure to the compost before planting the seedlings.  The tomatoes that we did harvest were sweet, flavorful and so delicious, they simply can't be compared to anything store bought.

Petite Marigolds
Edible petite marigolds.

pineapple plants

The pineapple plants have started by store bought pineapple tops.  I cut off the top, trimmed off the fruit part and peeled off a few layers of the bottom leaves to expose the roots, stuck it into the ground and watered.  Pineapple plants take 2-3 years to produce fruit, so the wait is on. :)

Parsley, ginger and salad do great in pots, the salad mix was grown during colder months in Florida.


Mint is easily grown in pots.  Once a year I do replant it as the roots fill up the pot.  One way to replant the mint is by cuttings, just bury the cut end into the soil, water until the plant is established.  Another way is when trimming the plant to leave a smaller stalk with the rooted runner in tact, plant into soil and give it water.

Radishes growing in pot.

Radishes grow very quickly and are ready to harvest as soon as 3 weeks.  The above photo is a pot of radishes with seeds sown randomly.  I wanted to try a different way than what the package suggested, I scattered the seeds randomly and covered with soil, watered and left in full sun.  I have learned that radishes like a lot of water in order for the root to grow large enough for harvest.  I harvested these as they grew in, the top of the root becomes visible.  Pulling these larger plants allowed space for the smaller ones to grow in and this gives a steady supply of radishes.  These were grown in the cooler Florida months and I left a few to go into seed production for the next growing season.

Radishes grown in pot.

sweet potato flower
Sweet potato flower.

The sweet potato plant came from curiosity; a sprouted sweet potato peel.  I never knew what a sweet potato plant looked like, I expected something similar to the regular white potato, but to my surprise it is a vine that grows along the ground.   

I'm excited to see what the growing season will bring, until next time; happy gardening!

With love,


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