Long on Pineapples, short on rain

We have a long position in pineapple. Aside from the 6 I have growing in the garden, Nancy found a real bargain at a market in Ocala at $1 apiece. She bought 6 which should give me enough for my smoothies until next year at least. The big question in my mind is what to do with the tops of the new ones she bought. Considering that it takes about a year to produce progeny, do I really want to take up that much space in the garden? It just seems like every once in a while we can buy them for a $1 so why take up the garden space.

Still no rain and the lake continues dropping. I’ve certainly seen it lower but it’s now the lowest in a couple of years and starting to expose bottom sections that have been submerged for over 5 years. It’s nearly impossible to use the jon boat from the dock although the poke boat is just fine with it. It’s also too low for decent swimming but we’re hopeful that will change by mid summer.

We’ve really been getting more garden to table action this year than ever. I think part of that is because Nancy doesn’t drive so she’s spending more time in the kitchen and we’re trying new veggie recipes. We’ve had a better/wider variety this year and I’ve been picking earlier. Today I picked the very last broccoli, the very last cauliflower and the last of the beets. The only winter veggies left are the kale plants. Just starting on the summer stuff with the green beans and zucchini.

One thing that seems different this season – good different – is that everything I plant is growing. I normally lose a percentage of the seedlings to critters, plant diseases, drying out, damping off, cut worms, and the feared and dreaded nematodes, etc etc etc and compensate for that by over planting. I’m sure we’ll still experience some losses but this is the best start ever. I will admit that I’m spending more time working it – weeding, watering and trimming anything that looks unhealthy but it’s light work and it’s been cool enough to make it doable. The only thing left is planting pepper and eggplant seedlings in the next few weeks and planting watermelon seeds. I’d normally have those seeds in now but there’s no spare room. I’m anticipating the kale to start crashing next week and I’ll replace those with watermelons.

Where I usually suffer high losses is with tomato plants but this year they are all growing vigorously. I’ve planted 5 varieties, 18 plants total (not counting the renegade cherry tomatoes), 2 of which I have prior experience and reasonable success. The other 3 were selected based on the catalog hype. I would have been happy to end up with 10 good ones and by now the weak ones have usually fallen away so I may be looking at a record harvest. I’ve talked it up so much that Nancy is going to Fresh Market to jump on a sale for ground beef that will complement the tomatoes in making pasta sauce. Pretty embarrassing for me if they suddenly crashed.

Shoe Glue

Finally got to fish the current bluefish run. The surf has been a total disaster for the past few weeks with high winds and strong currents. It was still not “good” but caught 3 small ones and lost about that many.

We tried roasting beets. Lindsay had recommended them and we have a very long position in beets; good but I prefer pickled beets to any other use so far. I’ve never eaten so many beets in my entire life and would guess my blood iron is over the top. We took a large bowl of them, 5 pounds, to Joey’s as our contribution to the Easter feast and they seemed to be a hit – none left. Nancy’s iron rose a few points at her test last week which they attributed to the iron infusions. I guess that could have helped but I have more faith in the beet load we’ve been pumping.

Lot’s of blossoms on the bush beans and a few micro beans popping out. Ditto zucchini. I’m guessing that means some edible size beans by the end of the month and perhaps a zucchini. In both cases I’m determined to start harvesting sooner this year. I always wait just one more day so they’re larger but in doing that, I’m overloaded with full size and toughening veggies. We’re also picking a few cherry tomatoes, the renegades, so I guess you can say we’re eating the last of the winter goodies and the first of the summer crop. I’ve ended up with about 20 legitimate – not renegade – tomato plants and a couple of those are already sporting small, green progeny. I judge the cucumbers are a couple of weeks from blossoms which will/should equate to fruit mid May. We’re experiencing an extended cool, dry period which is helping everything. I have to stay on top of things to keep it all sufficiently watered but no signs of humidity related problems.

One good thing came out of our visit to Joann Fabric the other day. I was standing around waiting for Nancy and happened to spot a table of glue products. One that caught my eye was something called “shoe glue”. Anybody that wears walking/running shoes knows that eventually the sole and/or heel separate from the upper part; no matter the brand, no matter the price. The shoe is perfectly good insofar as wear and support but it’s flapping in the breeze. I bought a package and gave it a try. After a few days, so far, so good.

The other thing we picked up at Joanne’s and the reason for the trip was to find a new Ott light for Nancy to use playing bridge. There was a large selection and we ended up with a table mount, flexible neck, LED model. There was one I liked better because it was battery powered and eliminated the need to be close to an outlet but it promised only 3 hours of life whereas the Crescent City game frequently goes over 4. I still think if managed properly, charging during breaks or turning off when not in use, it could make the full game but I lost the battle.

Back Again

Busy, fun week. Nancy’s cousin Fred and Martha visited this week and luckily we had great weather to get out and about. That week was followed by two full weeks of doctor’s and misc time consuming events. Then Nancy had a double whammy day with the eye shots and the infusion within a few hours of each other and 60 miles apart. Another example – Nancy’s old bridge friend was abruptly moved from her home in Crescent City to a retirement place in Palm Coast. That involved us for several trips. Yesterday was a doctor first thing followed by Joanne Fabric in Daytona, Rossi’s Diner for lunch -the high light of the day – Sam’s Club and Publics (that’s the grocery market which this word processor won’t let me spell correctly). Doesn’t that sound like the day from hell. Can you believe I haven’t been fishing in the lake for a couple of weeks – the Pokeboat is just sitting down there unused.

And I was getting just as far behind in the garden as with the blog so I stole a full day and caught up; picked lots of beets, lettuce, and the rest of the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kohlrabi. It’s now looking pretty good and all the new plantings are doing well. One big decision this season was not to plant corn. I’ve bent my pick on corn for the past several years, each time learning that corn is available very cheaply locally and that it’s better than the stuff I try to grow. The big consequence of that is that it frees up about 30% more space in the garden and is allowing me to plant a mammoth tomato crop and to space plants further apart – cut down on the overcrowding which probably hurts the yield. My thinking is that I should end up with better albeit fewer plants. I will probably just rest and solarize a few spots and kick off an earlier fall. I also just found a variety of watermelon that may be well suited for a small garden. Last year I had an unplanned/unplanted outbreak of rogue watermelon that basically took over the garden while producing only a few good melons – lot’s of not so good melons. This new variety is a prize winner and the vines are only 3-4’ making them manageable and I’m hoping it does as well as the rogue plants. Without the corn, I’ll have lots of space to experiment with new varieties like these melons. Also going for a new red okra.

Pulled/dug the potatoes, both the Flor-Ida’s and the little red ones. I was disappointed with the Flor’s but think maybe it was a technique issue rather than the plants themselves. I read that the right way to grow them is to make the initial planting in a trench and then as the foliage grows, push soil into the trench, up around the plants. I didn’t do that but as soon as I picked them I saw why – the new potatoes form above the starting spot instead of underneath it (as I expected). Consequently the new potatoes were not deeply in the soil and more on the surface. I’ll try again in Sept using the trench approach. The little red’s were great and I think produced maybe 10 pounds. I started them from seedling potatoes purchased at Walmart so I’ll for sure do those again.