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Springtime in the garden

Yes, I am gardener. Have been since I was a kid. I was my mother's slave labor at our home in Australia that came with elaborate multi-level gardens. As you would expect a kid to do, I hated it at first. Pulling weeds, using a manual powered lawn mower, edging with shears, tending to fruit trees and other edibles.

But somewhere along the way it became interesting. I think it was when my mother introduced roses to the garden. With interest, came curiosity, and with that came knowledge. Been hooked ever since.

Now Barbara and I live in a little house in Orlando and I grow flowers and have an ever- expanding vegetable garden. The price of food keeps rising and the garden keeps growing. Just finished a lettuce harvest that was much more than we can eat and have been giving it away for a months now.

The interesting thing about growing in the sub-tropical Orlando climate (9B) is that the planting season is not what I expected. Summer is not a prime growing season for many vegetables. Sweet potatoes and eggplant love it, but not much else. So this summer I will be experimenting with shade cloth. High temperatures and lots of rain make summer difficult for most other veggies.

I made a list of the plants we eat the most. In order of how much we consume:

1 - spinach

2 - onions

3 - garlic

4 - tomatoes

5 - cauliflower

6 - broccoli

7 - peppers

8 - cabbage

9 - potatoes

10 - carrots

We're about to reach self sufficient in most of these vegetables, plus strawberries and blueberries.

It's fun to dig in the dirt and after many failures, I might have finally cracked the code for growing spinach without it bolting to seed as soon as it gets leaves big enough to eat.

So I'll keep growing and learning and experimenting. I use soaker hoses and drop irrigation systems for most of the garden. I want to water at ground level and don't spray the plant leaves with a hose. They get enough of that with the rain.

I try to grow everything organically but will confess that sometimes I don't. If there were a really good organic fertilizer for onions I would like to find it. However, the one thing I won't compromise on is using harsh chemical sprays on my plants. If Neem Oil and Spinosad can't fix it, then it won't be fixed. I also use a lot of marigolds, zinnias, and basil to keep bugs away from the plants. Companion planting is important and I try to pair plants that thwart the bugs for each other.

That's all for the garden right now. I need to get out there and do some work before it get's too damned hot.

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