I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tropical Gardening

Lately, my time has been spent working, traveling for work or simply not being home. At least until  this weekend. This is my first weekend with lots of free time and time to relax. No rushing anywhere, no babysitting and no going to a triathlon. Just down time. Lovely.

My ideas for the blog were overflowing until actually sitting down to type today. Poof all gone!  Thus my writing will be what I know. My Garden.

My garden is in Zone 10.  Having grown up in Zone 5, it can honestly be said that this is a whole new world of gardening. In the gardens first year I remember reading when to plant tomatoes and peppers. We bought bags of topsoil and built a single raised bed. The plants were never thinned and the peppers grew gangbusters. The tomatoes grew lush and green and once they set and the tomatoes started to turn a light red color they all succumbed to blossom end rot and god knows what virus.  Overnight my lush garden turned into a bedraggled mess. It was almost enough to make me give up.

In the seasons since there are a few things that have stuck with me and have helped me through the past few years.

1) Raised beds are a priority. With nematodes as an ongoing issue raised beds are a must. You will get one year of good tomatoes on a new bed. Then you must solarize the soil to kill both nematodes and pathogens or fumigate the soil.

2) Varieties that grow up north may not grow well here and in some cases they may not even grow at all. Summer squash, may not do too well.  Italian cocuzzi has been a prolific item as has crookneck squash.

3) Rhubarb- not going to happen. We get no chill time and the nights are exceedingly hot. Add that to the humidity and it rots in the ground.

4) Onions. Bunching onions are the onion of choice in this climate. Short day length onions are an option and my success has been limited thus far. Northern onions will not grow here as the day length is not long enough for the length of time necessary for the onions to bulb.

5) Spring planting does not apply. My garden goes in throughout August and September. A second planting can go in during February or March. Hot months the options are limited but one can grow sweet potatoes, collards, some peppers, and some tropical vegetables. Herbs do well year round if they are protected.

6) My garden grows items that can't be grown in the north. It contains persian limes, calomondines, barbadoes cherries, figs, carambola and avocado. There will never be apple, plum or pear trees in my yard.  

7) Beans grow like crazy here. Italian flat, Pole beans, Purple Pole Beans, Asian Yard Long Beans...they all grow well in this climate. So much so that my husband groans toward the end of the season when they are on his plate for dinner.

8) Plants in the bug box stores are not bred for this environment nor are they in the store at the proper growing times. Last week they had cabbage in Lowe's. Really??? That goes in the garden in December or January.  

Gardening in the tropics forces you to learn a new way of thinking about the food you eat. New varieties are a must. It has made it easier to try one or two new items each season to figure out what exactly will grow in the climate. Doing so also gives me time to figure out how to cook the new items properly an the hubby time to determine if he likes it or not.

July will mean getting seeds started for the upcoming planting season. Then the whole cycle begins anew.  And I can't wait!!


  1. I'm kind of grateful for the "down time" that winter affords us here. I guess I wouldn't make a very good Floridian. I hadn't thought about how you can't grow apples, but yeah, I guess not. Oh, but you can grow pineapples! And how I'd love to have oranges, lemons, limes growing in my yard! Coconuts? Bananas?

    You're wise to pay attention to your Hubs' likes and dislikes, sometimes I grow things my Hubs doesn't like and then that's usually something I have a bumper crop of. When I know I have to eat it or it won't get eaten, it gets so I don't want to... (exception: asparagus and beets, but not together. Heh.)

    If the climate would just settle down some so we'd know WHEN to plant stuff, and if we could catch a break and get some appreciable RAIN, it might be a little easier to garden in NE Oklahoma!

  2. Oh, don't get the wrong idea Ilene. I still plant things he does not like a lot, collards and okra. I just don't plant a many of them. I grew a pineapple last year and it was the best tasting pineapple we ever ate. It was sweet with a hint of coconut....my pineapples are not producing right now. It takes a couple of years for a pineapple to grow.

    We are in dry season and moving toward rainy season. Rainy season is almost as bad as the molds and mildew go crazy. The tropical plants love it.

    A lot of people here do not plant this time of year just to get a break. My garden is empty right now. A couple scraggly tomatoes, a hawaiin pepper, collards, bunching onions and a few herbs. Kind of like a winter garden for you ...lol.

    I am with you on the asparagus and beets....lol :)


Your comments are always appreciated and I love to hear what you think. Especially my overseas reader! Have a great day!