Big Garden News

A few posts back I was wondering whether the red truck or the truck mirrors attracted cardinals. It’s the mirrors. I parked the Merc about 20’ from the truck and the cardinals immediately flew from those mirrors over to the car mirrors. The Merc is a gold/tan color so clearly it’s not the red color that they’re attracted to.

Another crop breakthrough – beets. I’ve bent my pick for the past 8 years trying to produce a decent patch of beets. I was always able to get plenty of foliage but no roots. We were ok with that because Nancy’s quilting buddy loved the greens and supplied us with ground beef (in exchange). I tried a variety named Lutz this year and have been overwhelmed from the get go – fast, high level of germination, success in transplanting the thinned seedlings, great foliage and now beautiful beets roots. I think it was the right combination of soil and weather and maybe not repeatable but I’m sure going to plan on doing it again. Nancy has a blood iron deficiency so we’re attacking it the natural way – with beets. She’s been taking an iron supplement for almost a year and it’s done no good at all. She recently started a series of iron infusions, at about the same time the beets started coming in, so my concern is that the infusions will get all the credit instead of Lutz.

How many tomato plants are too many? The problem is that I can’t see into the future and from year to year have different levels of success. In poor years, aka last year, you have to do it with numbers instead of high production with a few plants but if you plant large numbers and they all work – what in the world do you do with the fruit. We use lots of sauce for pizza and pasta throughout the year but the crop last year just didn’t support out needs for the off season. Right now I have 16 plants, half regular and half plum/sauce types and 3/4 of them are varieties I’ve never tried. I think by the time I’m done planting seedlings, I’ll be at 20, the most I’ve ever done. I’m also pulling out all the stops in handling the transplants. They are starting off in a 2 cubic foot hole full of compost and sprinkled with my personal tomato fertilizer mix that includes egg shells and epson salts. The varieties selected are supposedly the most disease resistant, heat resistant, nematode resistant ones in the galaxy. (also the most expensive seeds ever). No “heirlooms” which always sound great on paper but are just too wimpy to handle a Florida summer. Unless there’s some complete environmental melt down or locust attack, I feel I’ve done my best and we should be overwhelmed with red beauties.

Late breaking garden news – 4 new pineapples popped up overnight. I think I planted them a year ago and if I recall from last time, these will be ready for harvest in June. I remember buying the pineapples on a “buy one get one free” sale so this means I will actually have bought one and gotten 4 for free. I checked on the plants that have already produced fruit a year ago to see if those will continue producing and sure enough, each of those had a new fruit popping out. That means there’s some seasonality to it because there was absolutely no hook between those and the ones in the garden.

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