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.
I am working on a way to make the set up of my indoor garden look nice. We do not have a basement or spare bedroom to put the garden in, so it is in the downstair room that is right next to the front door. It has big french doors that are easier to just leave open than close them. Small room and a tight fit with the furniture! It is also my painting studio, so it can get cluttered with paints and canvases! Such a hard room to keep looking organized!
I have taken over a corner of the room for the plants. Since, this is something people can see, I want it to look nice and interesting. I have not yet truly achieved this. I have been putting the garden together piece-meal as I did not want to sink a ton of money into this project unless I thought it would eventually pay off. I do find myself wanting to buy a lot of fun stuff for this! So-trying-to-hold-back!
I have some string lining part of the wall for the plants to grow up. I think I will change this out later for fishing line. I think it would be really pretty but also a useful to design this like a living wall. I could then, hide some of the plants behind the couch, and they could grow up the walls. I think that is more of a future plan than one to tackle right now. Currently, I am just going to do a living wall in the corner. The cucumbers and winter squash are currently growing up the strings. The winter squash is doing great and is getting some height. The cucumber is getting bigger, but it is taking its sweet time getting any height on it. Had I known the peas would get so tall, I would have planted those differently. The tomato cage looks ugly, but the plants out grew their support. I have taken note for the future!
I am stacking the plants, so they stay close to the lights. That also allows some over lap in the lighting. I had them a bit more spread out, and I don’t think they did as well. In addition, I have lined the wall behind the plants with tinfoil. Oh yes, classy! But, it serves its purpose of reflecting the light back to the plants! I hope the plants grow up enough to hide this! All of this limits the design of the garden a bit!
I can’t wait to get my seed starts and propagated plants transplanted into nicer looking pots. I think that will help a lot. I also have some nasturtium seeds in the ugly plastic bin. I am hoping they will over flow the side and cover but the unsightly look.
Soil gnats and Springtail (small little gray bugs that seem to jump when disturbed) have been a bit of a problem. I have tried to soil gnats are bad for your plants, so I have worried about controlling them more. Springtails, apparently, are not bad for your plants but are a nascence. I have little yellow sticky traps on the tinfoil. Those catch a good number of pests. Letting the soil dry out a bit does too, but you have to be careful to not kill your plants in the process. I try to water super close to the roots to concentrate the water. I also notice that the gnats fly up to a lamp I have on in the room at night. The light seems to zap them! Gross but glad they are killed! I have also thought about adding a soil powered bug zapper that looks like a cute lantern to the garden to help control the pest without having to spray! I have not pulled the trigger but that might be a future purchase if this goes well! Things like apple cider vinegar traps did not work well for me.
😦 about a week and a half ago, I started to notice the leaves of my black beans were a bit off. They had tiny little spots on them. I thought it might be because of the grow lights. I also had not noticed any other problems with the plans and could not see any other problem. So I moved the light a bit farther away. I did not help.
What did finally point me to the problem was one of my outdoor plants got spider mites, and I notices the leaves looked the same as my indoor plant. BOO! I lost my outdoor plants as it is still raining and just washing the spray off.
When I got back inside, I turned over some of the worst looking leaves and low and behold there were the same types of mites! I cut the worst of the leaves off and put those in plastic bags. I then started to spray the beans with Neem Oil. This will be my plan for the next 2 weeks.
I hope this will kill the mites and my beans can get back to producing!
Sad day today as I walked out to get in my car and noticed the head of my new eggplant was looking a bit droopy… How? Why? Too much water still?
On further inspection, I notice there were holes in the stem in two places. I took a knife and cut into the stem to see if I could find out what was in there. I did see a small beetle moving fast. I squished him before he could get away, but also, before I got a good look at him. I do not think he was the problem, but he could have been a different problem. I did read these plants can get stem borers. 😦 So, sadly I lost the top of my eggplant to this problem. I am sad that it was not yet a big, strong plant yet, but my hope is that other branches will come out of the base.. While I really want lots of eggplants, I am interested to see what this plant does either way.
**Side note, cutworms were found in this pot a few days later, so it could have been a cutworm all along! No real way to tell.