The garden is growing the best it ever has since I tried starting a garden last year.
A year ago May heralded a tepid, humid beginning to a very hot Florida summer and brought with it an incredible number of pests. Many seasoned Florida gardeners said it was one of their toughest years, so I felt emboldened to be more prepared this year. So far pests are at bay.
The backyard has always sung with varieties of birds with visits from orioles, robins, hummingbirds, and cedar waxwings.
More permanent residents like cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, chickadees, catbirds, carolina wrens and woodpeckers (downy, redheaded, pileated) have always been welcome. Especially as they help control the pest population.
This year the catbird, mockingbird, cardinal and Carolina wren families have had children in the yard. I suspect the wrens were born in one of the stored kayaks (a safe enough place) and when they were young, it was fun to watch them come learn to find bugs in the potted plants and how to eat suet. And as just happened, it is always a good sign to have a kite fly over the house.
At the same time as the garden has blossomed, I purchased a Fuji X-T5 camera. While I have had point and shoot Fuji cameras, switching from my DSLR Canon to a mirrorless X-T5 is a steep learning curve.
Despite having all the necessary dials readily available on the camera (love this aspect as it reminds me of my first SLR my father bought for me) the camera appears to have more computing power than my laptop. Nevertheless, I am practicing with the new camera with the garden as subject.
Eggplant pollination puzzles me. I kept watching for flowers that were female (as I do with the cucumber and Tigger melons). Before I saw bees flying around, I would pollinate the cucumbers with my paintbrush.
Now that there’s a burst of many flowers, I am happy to let the bees pollinate the cucumbers.
When it was too cold for the peppers to be outside (especially during those 40F night temperatures) I would successfully apply my electric toothbrush to pollinate flowers on the peppers. Now I am delighted to let the insects do the pollinating.
But the Black Beauty eggplants? Which flowers are female and which male? I have read contradictory accounts of how eggplants are produced. One account says that the flowers are self-pollinating, so it would be enough for the wind to pollinate the flowers. Another account says a plant has both female and male flowers. Which means we need a bee or butterfly or paintbrush.
In any event I was pleased when nights finally became warm enough to move the eggplants outside and let the insects (or wind) do their thing. If you can clarify for me about the Black Beauty eggplants, please let me know. Thanks.
The watermelons are coming along slowly but healthily, the longevity spinach continues to do well and the nasturtiums are a delight both to eat and to enjoy the spray of color. The dill, parsley, chives, and Genovese basil do well. The peppers are a delight with aji dulce, sweet banana and marconi finally bearing fruit.
Last year I built 2 wood raised beds and this year I purchased 2 metal raised beds. Curious oppossums, armadillos and squirrels cannot so easily access or run away with cucumbers and beans. The netting constructs on top of the beds are drawn at night.
To my delight the Spartan cucumbers, Blue Lake green beans, and Everglade tomatoes are flourishing. I was surprised at the size of the Everglade tomatoes — only the size of your fingernail — but the flavor is impactful.
I look forward to pickling peppers and ideally the cucumbers too, but the cucumbers are so tasty they really don’t stay around long enough to pickle.