Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting The Beds Started

On Saturday I took a drive up to the landfill for some compost (probably the highest point in the area by far). I borrowed a friends pick up, and found myself a little short handed with my tools. Ideally, a pitchfork would have been best for loading the bed with compost. Instead I had a rather dull spade shovel that didn't dig into the compost too well. I filled a little over half the bed with compost before realizing I was pooped.

Getting home I realized that I had just enough to fill only one of my raised beds close to the top. Being that I have another 2 or 3 beds filled, I now know what it will entail getting them filled.

Lesson learned: Filling the bed of the truck I have available to me will provide me with almost 2 beds worth of fill/compost. Bring a friend to help shovel.

I let the beds settle for a couple days, and probably could have let them set for another week, but my garden is behind schedule, and I have seedlings to get in the ground.

Planting the corn seedlings

Overview of the first bed. In front free tomato seedlings and the surviving pepper plant we recieved at the Mount's Botanical Garden Halloween Festival. In the rear is corn seedlings with squash interspersed. We planted a bunch of bean's into the compost. I know this is a little late, but from what I've read, beans grow much faster and may be able to catch up. We are practicing a little bit of permaculture here by planting the "3 sisters". These plants grow well together by providing nutrients and beneficial things that the others need. Beans use the corn as a "pole" to grow on, suash shades the corns root or acts like a natural mulch. Each plant puts nutrients into the soil that the others need. Not sure what will go in the middle, but that's half the fun of learning as you go along. I'll probably sprinkle in some cabbage or lettuce, since this is the cool time of year in South Florida, and it should do fairly well.

I eat dirt.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Check out Homegrown.org!

I just discovered Homegrown.org, a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace that caters to those of us interested in learning from each other about gardening. This is fantastic, as it will really help streamline some of the inevitable mistakes you often make just starting out (even though mistakes aren't necessarily a bad thing). I started a group there called South Florida Sub/Urban Agriculture, which will run in tandem with this blog.

Since this blog will be primarily work as a journal or note book of my garden, I will put more of my questions to people on the forums there, since I am more likely to get an answer there rather than shouting into the ether of the net.

My page is here: a small victory garden

Monday, October 13, 2008

Here's To Your Own Personal Victory!

I believe my interest in gardening must be genetic. Because it is something I have only recently grown a taste for. My whole childhood seemed to focus on how not to do yard work. I despised it. I loathed it. When I was about 26 I took a job with a friends landscape company. This did not make me enjoy yard work much more - in fact it made me question just exactly what I went to school for in the first place. 3 and 1/2 years later, I left that profession with a better understanding of lawns and plants, hoping to never have to do it again.

Strangely enough, perhaps like fatherhood, I felt a need to do yard work. Either I've programmed myself to take satisfaction from a day of physical work outside, or something in me really connects with getting down and dirty with plants. For the record, I still hate lawns, and find them to be a huge waste of effort, money, resources, and offer very little return on investment.

I began gardening last year, here in South Florida. I have a slight advantage or disadvantage to some of my northern brethren. While they are finishing up their gardens for the year, I am just getting mine started. The advantage of gardening down here is that while a cold snap/freeze is possible (though usually pretty temporarily, if at all) I get to garden from Sept/Oct to the end of May. That's a 9 month growing period. I could probably even grow through the summer, but it's pretty dreadful and hot, that I would just rather take a break (at the end of this coming season though, I may try my hand at scaling the growing down to self watering containers on the north side of the house).

I called last years garden my "happenstance garden". It was a bit thrown together, and experimental with gardening here in the tropics. I devoted as much time as I could to it, but I still failed it in many ways. My results at the end of the season were mixed. The Tomatoes did great. Broccoli was a bust (they grew great, I just missed trimming the buds so the florets would turn into bunches). My so called Giant Sunflowers only grew to about 3 feet tall (as opposed to 8). My Cucumber's were tiny. I've learned a lot since then. So I'm ready to give it a go again this year, a little earlier and a little smarter too. The nice thing about gardening is that making mistakes teaches you so much, and you develop new strategies to implement next time.

So comeback often, I'll be using this as a place for links that helped me, notes on what I'm doing (right or wrong) and learning about making things stick, and grow in the greenhouse/sandbox known as South Florida.

I would like to give a special thanks to the folks at Homegrown Evolution for their inspiration and tips about gardening in an urban environment. The shear determination of Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne to do a lot with their limited resources is a continual inspiration. Please visit their site and buy their book The Urban Homestead.