phishfood
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:06 pm
Location: Central Florida

New member, new gardener

:) Hello all.

As the thread title says, I am new to gardening, so I am going to need lots of help.

My mother always had a large vegetable garden in Canada before we moved down here to Florida, but the dirt there was extremely good, and just about anything seemed to grow really well. Once we moved to the land of sand and sun, though, she never managed to grow anything to speak of.

Well, she is getting older, and I am looking for ways to keep her active (as I am selfish and want her around for a long time yet), so I decided that I would get her a garden going once again. So I hauled home a pickup truck load of clay and several bags of compost from HD, and mixed that in with the native sand. We planted radish, squash, pole beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, beets, and cucumbers.

I liked the radishes. Everything else was pretty much a bust. Several things hardly grew at all, others grew but haven't produced much, some seem to have been attacked and murdered by nematodes, the carrots were small, hard, and fibrous, etc.

So NOW I have went at this gardening thing with a vengeance. What I want for everyone to do is to lie and tell me that everything that I have done is perfect and that I will be blessed with monstrous and tasty vegetables.




What, no liars in the house? :o What kind of forum IS this?!? :lol:

OK, so then tell me what I have done wrong.

The original soil was good old Florida sand, with a very minimal amount of organic material. I have, in total, added probably 5 cubic yards of red clay to a 20'x20' area, then tilled it in till the dirt was a slight orange color and there were no large chunks of clay left. Then I had a friend who was demucking something somewhere dump me a couple of dumptruck loads of black muck (I think that this is very comparable to peat), of which I have tilled in probably 4 yards into the mix. Then I got about 2 1/2 yards of compost (still steaming hot) from a local mushroom factory and tilled that in. So what I have is a mixture of clay and sand from 9 to 12 inches deep, an mixture of muck, clay, and sand from 6 to 9 inches, and a mixture of compost and muck, with a little bit of clay and sand thrown in for good measure, in the upper six inches. This stuff looks so good that I was tempted to bypass all of the growing hoopla and eat the dirt itself.

Now, to address the nematodes, I raked the garden area level, dug a shallow ditch around the outside of it, and, while chanting "Die, Nematodes, Die!", stretched Bisqueen across it (2 layers), and threw the dirt back into the ditch on top of the plastic. This, I understand, if left in place for 30 days or so, will raise the temperature enough to kill off those rascally little devils. When this comes off, the first thing that I intend to plant is a row of marigolds around the outside edge, to slow the inevitable reinvasion.

When I get the plastic off, I intend to run a Ph test on the soil, but the question is, what is the target point? Does it differ for different vegetables? Should I till any lime that is neccesary into the soil, or should I just spread it on top?

I am sure that I could come up with many more questions, but I don't want to wear out my welcome quite yet, so I will abstain for now.

And finally, if you have read this far, thank you very much for taking the time to do so. And if you actually decide to post an answer to any of my questions, I'll send you a radish in the mail.

Dreaming of a big ole' mess of collard greens,

David
Last edited by phishfood on Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

LoreD
Full Member
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:07 am
Location: Chicago Suburbs

You never mentioned when you planted. Florida and Texas usually have two planting times (spring and fall gardens). The summer crops like tomatoes, etc are planted twice a year because of the summer heat. Tomatoes will have a fall planting of transplants in September for end of Nov and December Tomatoes. Spring planting is in late Feb and early March (I think) for early summer tomatoes. The plants are removed during the heat of August.

I think that cool weather veggies may not work even during winter.

I'm not an expert on this because I'm in Chicago, I just have read the posting of zone 9 and 10 gardeners.

You may want to include in the thread title your hardiness zone.

LoreD

phishfood
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:06 pm
Location: Central Florida

My niece has done some checking on this, and she tells me that we are in Zone 9a, if that helps.

IIRC, we planted in early to mid May. Sounds like that may have been a tad late, although the radishes were all eaten by mid June.

LoreD
Full Member
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 12:07 am
Location: Chicago Suburbs

Phish,

All of the zone 9 gardeners are getting ready for their fall gardens. I don't know whether you start from seed or use transplants. If you start from seed you would be starting your seedlings in the next couple of weeks for planting in Sept. If you use transplants then you would just buy them in Sept.

I'm in zone 6 and an early to mid may planting would work for me.

Aren't you lucky, when you made a mistake you don't have to wait a whole year like the rest of us.

Don't try to grow carrots, your cool wheather season is too short.

I'm very surprised that HD didn't tell you that it was too late to plant.

LoreD

User avatar
Jess
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

Hi :D
Firstly let me say how much I enjoyed reading your post...very funny.

I too am about zone 9 and these things grow well for me..Globe artichokes, rocket, strawberries, raddishes, black and red currants, onions, garlic, tumbler tomatoes (which are in pots in sem-shade),lettuces and other salad leaves. You just have to think slightly differently when it comes to growing edibles if you want crops to get through the summer. My soil too is quite sandy with a lot of organic matter added and then I have to top it twice a year (Spring and Autumn) as the level drops so fast.

phishfood
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:06 pm
Location: Central Florida

LoreD wrote:Phish,

All of the zone 9 gardeners are getting ready for their fall gardens. I don't know whether you start from seed or use transplants. If you start from seed you would be starting your seedlings in the next couple of weeks for planting in Sept. If you use transplants then you would just buy them in Sept.

I'm in zone 6 and an early to mid may planting would work for me.

Aren't you lucky, when you made a mistake you don't have to wait a whole year like the rest of us.

Don't try to grow carrots, your cool wheather season is too short.

I'm very surprised that HD didn't tell you that it was too late to plant.

LoreD
I am hoping to start some plants in small containers in the next week or two, then transplant the seedlings shortly after I take the plastic off. What type of plants would work well with this?

And I am generally not the type to ask for advice, at least not until I have things so completely screwed up that it takes a miracle to fix them.

That is a bummer about the carrots. My Mom really likes them.

User avatar
Grey
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1596
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:42 am
Location: Summerville, GA, Zone 7a

Hi David -

I grew veggies in Central Florida for many years. The biggest trick is understanding that the packets with seeds in them tell you the WRONG time to plant them!

Run to a bookstore, get this book: Month By Month Gardening In Florida. It's your BIBLE. There are lots of these books for other states, but the guy that wrote that one was dead-on. I miss my book, I left it for the buyers of our house so my garden might not die (I think it did anyway, but we won't talk about that). It will tell you the right times to seed, how to handle the common pests, etc. I had notes scribbled all over inside that book, oh how I miss it now!

One thing the book was wrong about: don't bother planting carrots in the fall. They don't do much until early Spring anyway.

Collard Greens, beans, peas, broccolli, cauliflower and salad greens: plant in the fall.

Your soil, I think, should be pretty good. I think you are fighting the high temperatures right now, maybe you planted too late. Basically, from June to August, there is no gardening in Florida. Just don't even try. If it's too hot for you out there most of the day, its too hot for your plants too. Just something I always said.

Herbs also gave me troubles. I learned that everywhere else, they like full sun. But in Florida, the want midday shade. I had a spot at the edge of a tree where they got sun in the morning and sun in the afternoon, but the scorching times between 10am and 2pm they were under some shelter. Worked beautifully.

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”