Seeds are up and getting big for the fall garden. This is our plan, though as with anything, nature may change it up some. All veggies this round are started from seed. All were ordered through Baker Creek or Southern Exposure. All are new varieties to me unless noted with an asterisk*. In the end we intend to really minimize the number of different varieties we grow, but we're still in the experimentation phase right now. When choosing varieties, I look for quick return (in the spring we have to beat the heat and in the winter we have fewer hours of daylight meaning everything grows slower anyway), good yields, tolerant to heat, humidity and disease and obviously, good taste. We're not against hybrids, just haven't really tried many yet. We'd rather do open-pollenated heirlooms as much as is feasible... but we've already learned there is a definite place for hybrids in the Florida garden!
July: Tomatoes- Black Cherokee and Uncle Mark Bigby
Belle Peppers- Sweet Chocolate and Charleston Belle (low germination rate on Charlestons... just planted round two this morning)
Watermelon- Blacktail Mountain and Sugarlee (again, low germination and planted more)
Cucumber- Edmonson Pickling
Collard Greens- Georgia Southern
Green Beans- Contender
August: Broccoli-Waltham 29* and De Cicco
Bok Choy-Ching Chang
Swiss Chard- Canary Yellow and Flamingo Pink
September: Brussels Sprouts- Long Island Improved
Cabbage- Early Jersey Wakefield and Early Flat Dutch
Lettuce- Jericho, Little Gem*, Sweet Valentine, Slo-Bolt, Mignonette Bronze*
Turnips- White Egg
and more collards, broccoli, bok choy and swiss chard
October: Radishes- Early Scarlet Globe
Peas- Wando*, Lincoln*, Little Marvel
and more brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, turnips, brocolli, bok choy and swiss chard
November, December, and January: more radishes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, turnips, bok choy and swiss chard.
January also begins spring planting, but that's still unplanned. More about that a few months from now.
For companion planting, I've done the best I could with our plan and the suggestions made in Carrots Love Tomatoes. Here's the plan:
Bed 1- Watermelons (fresh soil that has never seen a cucurbit... a vining squash-type plant)
Bed 2- Peppers
Bed 3- Lettuce and Radishes
Bed 4- Peas and Turnips
Bed 5 and 6- Tomatoes, Collards and Swiss Chard
Bed 7- Beans and Cucumbers
Bed 8- Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc)
And a smattering a dill here and there for insect repellant. Much of what I did this season as far as companioning wasn't so much what really HELPS each other, but rather what won't HURT each other and then also arranged them so short brassicas and lettuces aren't shaded by tall vining beans and cucumbers or bushy tomatoes.
To Prepare Beds, if its an already established bed, I double dig (which is essentially tilling gently with a shovel) and add composted manure and some sawdust. If its an unestablished bed and I have the energy, I do the same, but then cover the tilled part with newspaper before piling the compost and sawdust on top. If I'm feeling lazy (as being 7 months pregnant tends to do), I lay the newspaper pretty thick right on top of the grass and pile the compost and sawdust on top and pray the grass dies before it pushes up. I don't recommend this version in the spring or summer as the grass is just way to hearty then.
To Plant Seeds, I put them in seed cups filled with about 2 parts compost to 1 part sawdust and elevate them above the ground to keep down the bug activity. Some have major problems with squirrels, but I think that can be solved just by keeping them in a higher traffic area where human smell is detectable to them. I have more of a problem with an 18 month old dirt loving boy so my seed station is on top of a pile of wood pallets and I tend to get good rates.
To Protect the Garden, determine what you're protecting from. DON"T put your garden right next to woods where any critter under the sun can come out and munch and quickly be home again. We have one garden fenced with wood pallets and the other fenced with standard 3 foot rabbit guard fencing. Our main pests are gopher tortoises and rabbits though the fence does wonders to ward off little humans as well. 3' is nice because its still easy enough to step over and a gate does not need to be installed. We do have a "gate" where a pallet can be removed somewhat easily to allow wheelbarrow access, but its not simple enough for daily or twice daily removal for quick harvesting. Keep your garden accessible to you, but not little critters. Don't try to keep out raccoons... it won't work. Just harvest before they do.