The Backyard Vegetable Garden

This is primetime for growing vegetables in Florida. I usually try to have all my seedlings in the ground by October 1st, but it was still above 90 that week, so I held out a little longer this year. Once the average high shifts into the 80s, that’s usually the perfect time. If you’re in Zone 10a like me, or even south of here, you’ve still got time to get your veggies in the ground. 

Last year’s collards

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know collards are my favorite vegetable to grow. I could sing the praises of collards all day. They’re so easy and they’re such good food. If you don’t know what to do with them, scroll down to the search bar at the very bottom of the page and type collards. That’ll keep you busy for a while.I planted the Earthboxes with my favorite Sun Gold tomatoes. I’m also trying out a couple varieties that claim to be tolerant of heat & humidity, so we’ll see about that. I also had more volunteer Everglades tomatoes pop up. Yay! I’m excited about a few new raised garden beds we built in a very sunny spot.I took a page from Plant City’s playbook and planted a bed of strawberries surrounded by Vidalia onions. This companion planting should help keep the critters away from my strawberries and make for some big, super sweet onions. 

My friend Leslie and I traded seeds a couple months back so I’ve got lots of new things to try. I should have some baby lettuces to pick soon. There are rows of carrots and radishes popping up, and one row of Louisiana green velvet okra. I’m hoping this does better for me than the Clemson spineless variety. I found some pretty herbs at Rock City Gardens in Sebastian to help fill in the herb bed. I’ve got a few types of basil, oregano, lemon balm, sage, spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon thyme, flat and curly parsley… and I’m sure I’m forgetting some. I used the lemon thyme on fish last night and it was heavenly. The first pest attack of the season: a team of zebra caterpillars making quick work of the arugula. Grrr. I plucked them all off and sprayed with neem oil. We’ll see if that does the trick. If you follow Instagram stories (you know, the ones that disappear after 24 hours), you might have seen this yesterday. While I was digging a hole I came across a perfect little lizard egg. I put it aside to find a special spot for it. As I was carrying it back to the house IT HATCHED IN MY HAND. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Suddenly I had this tiny, slimy anole wiggling like crazy in the palm of my hand. It was cool.
So that’s the promise of a garden, along with the inspiration for recipes I hope to share here all winter. Let me know what you’re planting this year, and give me all your tips and tricks in the comments below. 






14 Comments The Backyard Vegetable Garden

  1. bt November 3, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve been spending most of my “gardening time” on hurricane recovery. I still don’t have my veggies and herbs in the ground yet! If you can spare a few sun gold seeds or babies I would be eternally grateful! Also, any tips or ideas for things I should try this season would be awesome. No habaneros this year…🔥🔥🔥

  2. suwanneerose November 3, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Of course! I’ll also force a collard seedling or two on you while I’m at it. I usually wait on the peppers until spring because I run out of room, but I’ve got tons of seeds if you want those, too.

  3. Julie November 4, 2017 at 8:23 am

    We haven’t gotten our garden started yet either! Phil just recently built our first raised bed because I’m so over the nematodes infestation in the ground, even after solar treatment. All my herbs are in pots, but I’d like another raised bed for them. We’re doing smaller this year until we get more raised beds built, but I’m looking forward to our winter garden!

    1. suwanneerose November 4, 2017 at 9:09 am

      The nematodes drive me crazy. I used a treatment from Arbico Organics but I don’t think it helped much. If you and Phil are going with raised beds I know I’m on the right track. Can’t wait to see what you grow on Instagram.

      1. Julie November 4, 2017 at 2:44 pm

        Phil made our raised bed 2 boards high, which seems too high to me. Do yours function fine with one board? We haven’t filled up with dirt yet.

        I’m looking forward to seeing what you grow this year, AND of course, what you prepare with your harvests!

        1. suwanneerose November 4, 2017 at 7:03 pm

          Funny you should comment on the height! I’ve got three old ones that are single boards. They function just fine, but I was really hoping to go higher for the new ones so I can have good deep dirt for root veggies and it’s just easier to get in there and weed. We built the new boxes several months ago with 12-inch boards and planned to add another 10 inches on top of that, but Toby had second thoughts after we saw how they bowed once we added dirt. It looked like they would not be structurally sound once we added the top boards, so we stuck with one. My mom has some high ones that have a different type of construction (a little more complicated) and they’re so nice! Also, Bok Tower has the most beautiful galvanized metal boxes that I’m dreaming of once this wood rots away.
          Toby would like me to add something about the dirt we used. We mixed perlite, vermiculite, peat, black cow, and Florida sand. We’ll be adding compost at the end of the season and covering with black plastic to bake next summer (and hopefully kill nematodes). Happy gardening to you, Julie!

          1. Julie November 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

            Thanks for your input, Danielle. I hope our double decker doesn’t bow out with the dirt…yikes! I think I’d like a single board raised bed for my herbs. Maybe Phil can be talked into this! 😉

          2. suwanneerose November 6, 2017 at 7:29 am

            Here are the plans for the ones we made a few years back. They’re very basic. (if the link doesn’t work, type in raised beds in the search bar at the bottom of the page) Raised Beds
            but those are a little too wide. Hard to get to the stuff in the middle.

  4. Misti November 5, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Collards! We love them, too. We have similar seasons here in Houston (9a) , though not quite because we can’t quite get those winter tomatoes. I really miss that (was in 10a when I lived in FLL/Miami–think it has turned into 10b now). We try the fall tomatoes and I’m starting to get some now but it can be hit or miss when we get a frost. Last year I was *thisclose* to having tomatoes when we got our first freeze.

    1. suwanneerose November 5, 2017 at 10:22 am

      Tomatoes are such a pain to grow but I love them too much to quit them. I need to go out there today and spray with some dish soap because I’ve already got something going on. Collards, on the other hand, are a gardener’s dream. I bet you can grow them most of the year in Houston. Good luck with your winter garden, Misti. I’ll be checking your blog for updates.

  5. Evangelia November 5, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Beautiful start on your garden. I look forward to seeing your creations with your home grown vegetables and herbs. Interesting lizard egg experience, that was great timing.

    1. suwanneerose November 6, 2017 at 7:34 am

      Thanks, Evangelia! Now I’m just waiting on everything to GROW! The lizard hatch was very strange.

  6. Nicole November 6, 2017 at 8:18 am

    What a beautiful garden! I finally got some things planted last weekend – after high temps and travel, I’m really behind, but full of hope that these little babies thrive. I also had some Everglades tomato volunteers and a surprise cucumber emerge — how exciting!

    1. suwanneerose November 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks, Nicole! Gotta love those little Everglades tomatoes. I can’t believe you got a volunteer cucumber! I buy cukes all the time, and I so wish I could grow them. They get little weevils and they always struggle. Let me know how you do it!


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