Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gardeners know when to "fold"

Gardeners are gamblers

We plant seeds or seedlings and we bet that we'll end up with a bountiful harvest, but it doesn't always happen that way. So when a crop is in distress, we need to yank it out and move on to something else. Case in point: our fall cucumber crop that I talked about last time. We had a pretty good harvest of 20 or so crispy cukes, but the vines got hit with a blight, so it was time to pull them out even though there were small fruits coming along and frost will not come until late December. The vines would not be able to overcome this fungus, and the longer you leave an ailing plant in the garden, the more likely it is to leave tainted soil behind. So I pulled the vines, gathered all the fallen leaves, and put them out with the yard trash. I never put diseased plants in the compost. We have to know when to fold, just like the old gambler...
"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
"Know when to walk away and know when to run..."

Even though there were more cukes coming, I ripped them out. Fall blight...

Eat your seeds!

Eat the seeds!
We enjoyed a lovely acorn squash for dinner the other night and I also prepared the seeds for eating.
Separate from the squash flesh, cook for 10 minutes in about a half an inch of salted water, and then place the seed/saltwater slurry on a cookie sheet to dry. I turn my oven to 300 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn it off, leaving the seeds in the warm oven for an hour. You can also dry the seeds in the hot afternoon sun. Of course, this is also fun to do with pumpkin seeds, which you may have on hand very soon.
Add a little salt to about 1/2 an inch of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the seeds onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Put in a cold oven, turn the heat to 300 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn off. After an hour, delicious seeds to eat.

Snags are so important for bluebirds and other wildlife.


Snags, stumps, and logs

Whenever possible leave this deadwood in your landscape to provide food and shelter for bluebirds and other wildlife.

I covered this in my upcoming book, "The Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape." Marjorie Shropshire, my excellent illustrator, created a lovely drawing to illustrate the concept.

I turned in all the drawings and their captions into University Press of Florida this week. This was the last piece of the puzzle; I'd already turned in the final draft, the color photos and captions, the B&W photos and captions, and a collection of possible cover photos, so now the ball is in their court. Yay!

I hope you are enjoying the excellent gardening weather. Just remember, if you are planting trees or shrubs that this is the beginning of our dry season and extra irrigation will be needed for the best success.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

Sunrise this morning. How can you not love Florida sunrises?

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