I have not written for a while because I was having some trouble with my outdoor and indoor gardens. Things that only time will teach you for sure. I read a good deal about FL gardening online, but nothing really teaches you like experience.
Pretty much all of June was rain. So the plants grew well, but they did not produce much. My theory, the rains would come during the day when the pollinators should be out. The rainy conditions also made conditions too difficult for proper fertilization and production.
Once the rains finally let up, I had great growth for a little bit. But, the temperatures also began to climb. I had read that the plants have a hard time with fertility and fruiting when the temperatures get into the 90s. This seemed to have proven true for this garden.
By the end of July, my eggplant and tomatoes outside got spider mites and those have proven difficult to control. My squash and cucumbers were taken over and demolished by Melon Moths.
Take a ways:
– Too much rain is terrible and leads to low production
– Too hot and a lot of plants will not produce
– It is unbelievably hard to control Melon Moth in the hot part of summer (starting to cool down and they are not as big of a problem).
– While your pepper plants will not produce during the hot month, if they can make it through the hot months, they will start to produce again in the fall when temps go down. Mine did get infested with whitefly though during the hot months. My peppers had a really really tough time with sun scorch. Almost 100% of the peppers that I got had some sun scorch damage
– I cut back my eggplant to get ride of the spider mite damage, the plants have come back as the temps drop. Seems like the mites are coming back though.
My indoor garden has been fun, and I have learned a lot. I have rearranged it many times, and finally, think I have a pretty good setup going.
– I have a few pepper plants that look great, but they are VERY small for their age.
– Also, I think it takes longer for the peppers to ripen inside. Currently taking notes on that.
– My tomatillo has grown well, but its companion plant died while I was on a trip. I have read I need two plants so they can cross-pollinate. Since my tomatillo is blooming, I am a little bummed.
– Beans and peas do excellent inside, but the beans are susceptible to spider mites (They have proven to be hard to get rid of but are easier to control inside)
– Basil, kale, and cilantro do well inside.
– Cucumbers will also grow inside, but you need to have them in a really easy to access location to hand pollinate the plant.
Well, over the past few weeks, I have learned some interesting things about gardening in Central FL. Things like tomatoes and other nightshade plants do not do really well in temperatures over 90. Not that the plants cannot take the heat (although that can happen too) but that their flowers will not set and might fall off. That was not fun to learn given that my plants were just starting to really produce.
SO PLAN B! I brought my tomatoes inside and put them under a grow light. About a week after bringing them inside, I picked some of my first ripe tomatoes. It felt good! Since they have been inside, I have had 4 more tomatoes develop, so I am happy about that. I have not seen any new ones in about a week, though. I did find some green caterpillars on the plants about the same time. Over the next 3 days, I checked my plants over and over to pick them off and rid the plants of the little buggers! I have also had some dry leaves and fungal gnats. The fungal gnats are my current battle I am determined to win.
Since bringing my tomatoes in, I decided to plant a few other vegetable plants inside. I also brought in a few of the olds that have been struggling with the weather. I will keep some notes to see how they progress inside.
Currently inside with big grow lights:
Tomatoes (Full plants and cuttings)
Zucchini (Full plant and seedlings)
Brussel Sprouts (seedlings)
Under a small grow light and kitchen window. About 3 weeks old.
Minor leaf lettuce
Beets (3 weeks old where inside until 2 days ago, although read they like cold so might be moving them back inside. FL is in the 90s now)
Turnips (3 weeks old where inside until 2 days ago, although read they like cold so might be moving them back inside. FL is in the 90s now)
Outside in parking spot
Peppers (has full-size peppers and still set fruit about 1 week ago)
Eggplant (setting fruit but 2 blossoms fell off in the past week. Might be getting too hot)
Winter Squash (just starting to produce flowers)
Tomato (small and has never flowered)
6/1 A few days ago, my Pink Oysters Mushrooms started to pin and are doing great!!! They have tripled if not quadrupled in size! I am also noticing that there is a slight color change in the fruit. As they get bigger, I guess the color fades just slightly? They are still a really pretty color of pink though!
6/3 My Pink Oysters are now NOT doing great! I think I got over zealous with a few of the things I had read. Early on in the growth, I left the edges of the plastic that covered the mushrooms more open. A few days ago, I started to tamp the edges of the plastic down after I sprayed the water under the plastic. Not tight but I think it prevented the good air exchange. That allowed carbon dioxide to build but did not allow for oxygen to flow freely around the mushrooms. This is only a guess, but I think I am on track with my thinking here.
I hope my mistakes help others!
**Update – I looked at the mushrooms again and noticed that there was a clump of pins under the original old mushrooms. I find this a bit odd but also fantastic. Maybe they are not a total lose? I will update on their progress. I am keeping the end of the plastic more open now.
YAY! Success! And OMG were these delicious! I just did a super simple Pan Fry!
My Pink Oysters, I am letting rest right now. I took them out of the plastic, and I am letting them dry out just a bit. In about 2 weeks, I will try to get them to pin again.
So my first two zucchini have been a little misshapen. The very first was small in size, and the blossom end was narrower than the stem end. The Blossom end also started to rot as it started to change color indicating it was ripe. The second fruit did something of the same thing, but it was bigger in size. It was almost at the point where it would have turned an orangey/yellow color and started to get its markings. I noticed it was smaller at the blossom end and the end started to go bad. There were a few little gray bugs on the zucchini. I am not sure what they are, but they seem to live in the soil under the hay.
I think this is blossom end rot, but I am just not sure. I had some soil with egg shells in it, so I sprinkled some of that on there.
6/1 – I am pretty sure this is now Blossom End Rot. I looked up some DIY at home solutions for this. I read that TUMS can help with that. So I added both crushed egg shells and TUMS to the pot. From what I read, egg shells can take a while to break down, so they are a good long-term strategy. I add the TUMS as a short term strategy. Fingers crossed!
6/9 Still having problems with small fruit and Blossom End Rot but not as bad. It has also been raining EVERY DAY for over a week! In some of the research I have done, this can also contribute to this problem. 😦 I don’t think I will know what is truly going on until it stops raining but that does not seem like it will happen for another week.
Also, the zucchinis also stay pretty small. I have had really thin ones that get to be about 4 inches in length. Some suggestions I have seen only for this problem are lack of or insufficient pollination. Seems strange as I have bees and butterflies in the garden, but I guess it is possible. I will try hand pollination and see if that does anything. Will update as I try some things.