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A Second Spring

The weather here in central Florida has become quite nice again.  Nights are in the high 60s and days are in the high 80s.  The rainy season is over, the whiteflies are dead and gone, and the humidity is a bit lower.  All that means the plants think it’s springtime again, and are acting appropriately! We had a chance to check out York County Landscapers and to get a couple of interesting outdoor landscape ideas.

We took the red rice bean plants out of Box #4, amended the soil with fresh compost, peat and manure, then planted Golden Bantam corn: 

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The sun’s path through the sky during the day is lower now, and the house casts a big unfortunate shadow over about half the box…the half the box where the corn has yet to sprout.  The Romanesco has sprouted just fine in the same area in Box #3 so I may have to just plant more of that in the shady part of Box #4:

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Gardening is fun, isn’t it?  Stupid sun.

The cucumbers are sailing along, despite pests o’plenty.  We’ve blooms and tiny cukes all over the Parisian Pickling cuke, and the Pearl Hybrid and Lemon cuke seedlings have put out their first little grabby tendrils:

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The peppers continue to bloom, though I do see the fruit getting smaller as things cool off a bit:

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I just can’t yank out the plants while they’re still in bloom.  I’m clearly not ruthless enough to be a true farmer.

The Fresca strawberries were moved from a strawberry pot (*spit*) to Box #1 after the Yellow Pear tomato was murdered by hornworms…only nobody ever told me not to plant strawberries where tomatoes had just grown, and they’ve been puny ever since.  So, have to find a new home for them so we can actually have berries this year, dangit!

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All the tomatoes (Mr. Stripey, Hawaiian Pineapple, Roma and Isis Candy) are blooming, giving me hope for fresh tomatoes through at least Thanksgiving:

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The carrots are going like crazy.  That’s Purple carrots in the pot outside the box, then Parisier Markets, first crop in the middle of the box, second crop at the far left end of the box:

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Have to pluck out the occasional interloper in that bed, they seem to love whatever the carrots are putting back into the soil:

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Sprouted another round of Lime basil after the first was nommed by the Girlchild’s cat:

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Speaking of herbs, I’ve altered the plan for the new boxes somewhat.  There were originally only going to be two new boxes, lining two sides of the outdoor patio, each double the height of the original boxes (24″ instead of 12″).  In the inevitable delay in getting them constructed (soccer, rain, football…you know, important stuff!), I had some time to think…and plot…and plan…and now we’re going to put two 12″ tall, 8’x4′ boxes around the patio and put two 12″ tall, 10’x2′ boxes behind the pool enclosure, where the Very Disappointing butterfly bushes currently reside.  As you can see, keeping beds weed free here in Florida is a Herculean task, and raised beds are pretty much a necessity:

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The two 10′ beds will go on either side of the Scentimental rose there in the center, and will just encompass the bleeding heart vines on either side.  The butterfly bushes are coming out, yes…they became drought-struck after the summer rains stopped, despite being planted months and months ago, and having plenty of time to get established:

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And they’re just too spindly for actual screening, not that we need it with this awesome display on our back fence, which effectively raises it from a 6′ fence to around 9′:

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How cute is that composter, I ask you?  (Built by the Husband completely from scratch, thankyew.)  It is ROCKING at its job, too…we took everything out last weekend and gave it a thorough turning, and the whole load is going to be *perfect* by the time we need it for spring amendment.

Anyway, back to the “speaking of herbs…”  I’ve always been interested in herbs and herbology, so these back two boxes will be Le Grande Herbe Experimente.   (See how I made everything look important by adding that extra “e”?  I’m SMRT that way.)  So, going into that area will be, in no particular order:

  1. Black cumin
  2. Roman chamomile
  3. Cilantro
  4. Elecampane
  5. Feverfew
  6. Hyssop
  7. Marshmallow
  8. Motherwort
  9. Spilanthes
  10. St. John’s Wort
  11. Self-Heal
  12. Agricultural mustard (for both soil amendment and seed harvest)
It’s just a bonus that almost all of these plants also flower gorgeously.  Joining them in the long beds will be all the culinary herbs that are currently in pots inside the enclosure: sweet marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, and the coming-along-nicely horehound.
I swear, it’s almost more fun than I can stand!