Disclosure: Monsanto Co. has compensated this post and the “Hey Let’s Grow Monsanto Home Garden Program”. All opinions are mine alone. #HeyLetsGrow
‘Hey Let’s Grow’, a home gardening program of Monsanto just sent me a box of garden goodies. Every year I have a vegetable garden, except for last year. I decided not to grow one because we were gone so much of the summer. We were out of town for almost two months.
Still, though, a volunteer cherry tomato plant came up, and I staked it and added some fertilizer to keep it producing until almost the end of July. It would have continued, but there was no one to harvest it after we left to go on vacation.
Every year I try to talk family members and even the housekeeper into harvesting and taking home the veggies, but no one seems to take the time. Or they just forget. Two years ago I got a bumper crop of okra, but when I got back I had a lot of giant tough inedible okra. Of course, it stopped producing, too.
Let’s See What’s in the Box
In the box from ‘Hey Let’s Grow’ there’s almost everything I need for this year. There are all kinds of seeds, a medium for planting them in, a couple of cute coffee mugs, some honey to go in my coffee, a new gardening apron, and several gardening implements. There are even markers, so I’ll know what I planted and where. I can’t wait to get started.
Another reason I did not plant last year was that my little bed needed to lie fallow for a year. I broadcast some rye and let it go. So yesterday I walked down the hill towards the lake and checked out my little plot. I pulled down the fence and started preparing it.
Gardening is Risky
Speaking of the fence. I had to fence off several of my citrus trees and my garden down the hill. Two years ago I planted a new grapefruit tree that was about 4 feet tall. Sometime within the next month, a deer had a run-in with that tree, because one morning I walked down there and all that was left was a stub. It looked like it had a fight with a deer, and the deer won.
Parts of the grapefruit tree were snatched about all over the place. I thought the tree was surely dead, but my nurseryman Uncle Ferrell suggested that I simply let it regrow. I did, and this past winter I got 9 grapefruit off of it.
Two years ago I planted some lettuce and spinach in my little garden, and I think the deer ate all of that too. So I learned over the years that cheap pieces of rebar can be used to make a fairly tall fence to protect whatever it is that needs protecting. Here’s how I use it around several of the smaller citrus trees. You can cheaply fasten it together with some wire.
And Then There are the Weeds
It has been an unusually warm winter this year in north Florida. Our temperatures only dropped into the 20s about twice. It has also been a rainy winter, and this means that the weeds are going to be harder to control this coming year. My azaleas are already blooming.
I do a lot of flower gardening in my four and a half-acre yard and spend a lot of time weeding it. It is so bad that I nicknamed it “the Garden of Weeden”. All we can hope for down here in damp sunny Florida is a good hard winter.
The yard was a lot easier to take care of when I had teenagers who were always getting into trouble–all three of them. There was frequently someone back there working off their punishment, but now they are all grown up and have ‘weeders’ of their own.
My Flower Garden
My garden includes knockout roses, antique roses, azaleas, several varieties of camellias, sago palms, elephant ears, several kinds of gardenias, and volunteer impatiens, to name a few. We also have an orchard of blueberries, satsumas, mayhaws, grapefruit, kumquats, a Key lime, and a Myers lemon.
I planted several sweet potato vines for aesthetics a few years ago, and last year I noticed that I have sweet potatoes underground. This will be the third year they’ve over-wintered. They are growing in one of my flowerbeds.
Success Or Not, I still Love it!
I wished I could say that I am always successful with my gardening; but certainly, it is not so. The Satsuma some years gives us a bumper crop and then other years nothing. Also, the flower beds get away from me by August, and it’s a jungle out there.
One year I decided to try my luck with container tomatoes. I got a grand total of about 2 to 3 on each very nice-sized lush bush. My husband the comedian started passing information around Tallahassee that friends needed to make sure they asked me about my bumper crop of tomatoes. Several people stopped me on the streets to ask me if they could have some. I could’ve killed him.
There’s a variety of lettuce in the kit, but I have no idea if I can grow lettuce. The deer ate my one and only try. Plus my Mayhaw to this day has produced zero Mayhaws, and I even got it a mate. So stay tuned!
It Makes Me Respect Someone Who Does This for a Living
By the way having your own vegetable garden gives one a newfound respect for farmers. Raising one’s own food is such a risky undertaking that we’re all very lucky that there are those who will do it for us. I wish to shout out a big ‘Thank You’ to America’s farming community.
I used to can and freeze a lot of produce especially when I was younger, but hardly do it anymore. Now I spend my time extra time writing, traveling, and visiting grandbabies. I’ll keep you up to date on the successes and failures of my vegetable garden inspired by ‘Hey Let’s Grow’.