Thursday, May 16, 2013

The last cool-weather crops

It's my opinion that the best growing season here in north Florida is the winter because the cool-weather crops that grow right through to late spring. But now that season is transitioning to the warm/hot weather and those lovely crops that we've enjoyed through the winter are ending their cycles. I've loved that my husband and I have been eating from the same six broccoli plants since November! After harvesting the large curds (heads) shortly after Halloween, they've sent up side shoots with abandon--if we don't pick them every second day or so, they'll bloom, which would signal that they can slow down. I planted a second crop of broccoli in January that are now sending up their own side blooms, so we've been eating lots broccoli!
A harvest earlier this week created ... a whole meal salad.
In the photos above, I created a whole meal salad from this one harvest. Starting with the knife at the bottom and moving clockwise: butterhead lettuce, garlic chives, purple lettuce, curly parsley, chive flowers, come again broccoli. broccoli flowers, and carrots--both orange and cosmic purple. I fried some 7-grain bread in olive oil and wild garlic for croutons and then we created our own oil and vinegar dressing and topped it all off with some Parmesan cheese. Very nice meal. In my presentations, I mention that my husband and I have reduced our food bill by about 15%--whole meal salads are one of our favorites!

I harvested all the lettuce yesterday, because some of the plants were beginning to bolt,
which makes them bitter. Time to take them all in and hope that we eat it all before it spoils.

If I'd harvested the lettuce earlier in the season, I would have left the roots in place so we could have enjoyed some come-again lettuce. But it's too hot now. A rosy wolf snail found in the lettuces. This is a good snail--a carnivore that eats slugs, worms, insects, and other snails. While the shell was cracked, it was alive. I moved it to the Swiss chard row.

Sweet onion harvest

Sweet Onions!

Yesterday was the day. The soil was dry and more than half of the onion leaves had fallen over. In addition some of the onion were blooming, a bad thing for the maximum bulb size, because the producing the flower uses much of that stored energy in the bulb.

We'll hang the most of the onions on a line in the garage, the ones that were blooming and the smaller ones with no good leaves left, we'll move to the refrigerator to use first.  It'll be months now before I have to purchase onions.

Next, I'll harvest the garlic.
Yesterday's onion harvest. Half of them had been growing in that empty wide row between the parsley
and the second broccoli crop and some carrots. For more information on wide row gardening see my post "Wide Row Gardening and Trench Composting."

Hidden ginger lilies are blooming this year.

The rest of the landscape

While I write a lot about the edible gardening, the rest of the landscape is looking wonderful with the flush of growth due to the recent rains and warm weather.

The previous owners left us with some canna lilies that have multiplied like crazy and have started blooming.  They also had planted some hidden ginger lilies, which took me a while to finger out what the heck they were since they only bloom every other year. See my piece "Hidden Ginger Lilies and other Intriguing Monocots."

I'm off to the Florida Native Plant Society Conference today, which is in Jacksonville this year. If you're free tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday, come on over.

Hope to see you there!

Green Gardening matters,
Ginny Stibolt 

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