Saturday, January 31, 2009

Still Digging

I made a total mess of the first attempt at gardening.

It is true that we have harvested a few modest tomatoes and our cilantro has grown strong and stout but that was because they were potted in full sunshine. Actually the tomatoes could have done better but they have at least produced something. The vegetable beds less so, before I moved them into full sunshine also:

I decided late last year that we should be growing vegetables as part of the not completely serious Dig For Victory revival spurred by the economic slump. There has of course been a determined move by some forward looking people to support local agriculture and diversity in plantings which gained momentum when petroleum prices skyrocketed to $147 a barrel last summer, in 2008. My idea was, in less visionary style, to get some practice growing stuff before it becomes absolutely necessary. With everyone skirting the notion that this recession might very well turn into a depression I figured it would be smart to spend a couple of hundred dollars on lumber and make some plywood and plank vegetable beds. So I did, and this is what they look like in their new full sun location:The thing was I had no idea how much sun they should get and it turns out that in winter the sun moves way to the south, even here, and they weren't getting enough sun at all closer in to my house on stilts. The situation is exacerbated by my splendid trees that surround my home and the next result was small plants and seeds that sprouted okay but then withered as they tried fruitlessly to get sunshine....This, the fourth of my beds, I left in its shady place while I brace to select some of the plants to save and others to discard after much sunless effort on their part:The business of moving these beds from their sunless location under the house was fairly hard labor. I shovelled the dirt into the wheelbarrow. Lack of sun also caused the dirt in the beds to stay rather more damp than I had planned and thus I think I was also over-watering them which didn't help. Anyway I shoveled the dirt into the wheel barrow and some trash cans and hauled the empty frames to their new locations. One started here in full shade:And clearly it was too shady because the spinach and lettuce just went all spindly on me as they sought sunlight. I guess South Florida winter sun looks feeble to me, comparatively, but it is as strong as summer sun in northern latitudes...My potted fruit trees, key lime, lemon, mango, avocado and pomegranate all seem to be benefiting from their move into full sunlight as well and the strawberries have finally produced a flower or two. And I hold high hopes for the pineapples as well enjoying some late evening rays alongside the pomegranate tree:Now I'm going to have to regulate the watering a bit and make sure they get enough. Then I will have to see whether or not I might have to move the beds again (oof!) back under some partial shade under the full grown coconut trees for the summer. Perhaps, I hope faintly, full summer sun won't be excessive...? I need this time to experiment clearly because knowledge as the saying goes comes with experience...I did have a couple of small successes with jackfruit seeds which I got from a fruit that I bought at Fairchild gardens in Miami. I put the seeds in water and of five, two sprouted, and this one is the strongest of the two:I have seen a couple of homes in the area with vegetable beds appearing, though not all are bursting with life as it were: Though one up the street near my house is looking excellent, grown by a surer hand than mine:

An interesting by product of all this industry was when one of my neighbors stopped by to chat about my growing efforts. Interesting because I have noted that I live on the second most unfriendly street in the Lower Keys. Gardening, not motorcycling it turns out, is the great leveller.