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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Potato Disapointment

Seventh year in a row with regular Irish-type potatoes and they are still a massive disappointment. We have changed plant dates, varieties, watering routines, soil mixes, pH, sprays, ant controls...

If you have this figured out for SWFL, please let me know because we will no longer be growing these.

My favorite carrot-in-a-pot two years running

Unwashed, fresh from the garden, and MUCH larger than they appear in the photo...

Chantenay Red Core Carrot

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Are you growing Lychee or Longan?

I am NOT but I wanted to share this with anyone wanting more information...



DATE: Tuesday, April 17th, 2018


LOCATION: WEBINAR – on-line access

TARGET AUDIENCE – Commercial growers

Link to the meeting on Zoom –

Note – you may need to download Zoom first.


2PM Dr. Daniel Carrillo Introduction and Welcome

2:05PM Dr. Daniel Carrillo Current situation and description of the erinose lychee mite and damage caused

2:30PM Dr. Jonathan Crane Current control recommendations
Commercial growers
Urban – homeowners with lychee trees

2:50PM Questions and Answers

Jonathan H. Crane, Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist

University of Florida, IFAS

Tropical Research and Education Center

18905 SW 280 St.

Homestead, FL 33031-3314

Tel: 786-217-9271

Fax: 305-246-7003

Cel: 786-255-5878

Faculty page:


Course offering:

Laurel Wilt:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Ugly

I promise to show the ugly in the garden as well as the beauty.

This is what birds did to my peaches and nectarines.

What am I am doing about it?

Picking them as soon as they start to blush with a pink color. That means checking twice a day. I allow them to ripen on the counter which is less than perfect but it means we will have peaches.

What do I plan to do in the future about it?

Trim my trees WAY back so that I can get either netting, pinwheels, tinsel, or a dog involved next year.

Friday, April 6, 2018

What to do with all the Eggplant

This round of eggplant was planted late last year and is in full production now. While we use what we can fresh, we also don't want to waste the surplus. 

How to freeze Eggplant 
Pierce fruit so it does not explode in the oven.
Bake at 350º until fruit collapses.
Remove skin.

My freeze method
Place cooked eggplant in a gallon bag and don't fill it very full. Remove air and zip closed. Squish/flatten contents. Freeze flat or fold in half and freeze. This allows me to break off pieces and use instead of having to use the entire contents at one time. 

Add to soups, meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, and more. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Summer Crops to Plant NOW

*parts of these plants are poisonous or should be prepared in a special manner

Basket Vine/Haitian basket vine/hoop vine*
Bitter Cucumber/bitter gourd/bitter melon/Balsam pear/Sopropo
Brazilian Spinach
Bunching Onion/Welsh onion/Japanese bunching onion
Ceylon Spinach (Talinum triangulare) AKA Waterleaf, Philippine Spinach
Chaya/Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)*
Cherry Tomatoes (NOT pear) (nightshade family)*
CowPea/Adzuki Bean, Southern Pea
Cranberry Hibiscus/False Roselle/Maroon mallow/Red-Shield hibiscus (invasive)
Edible Hibiscus
Eggplant/Aubergine/melongene/brinjal/guinea squash (nightshade family)*
Egyptian Spinach
Ethiopian Kale/African Cabbage/Abyssinian cabbage
Garlic Chives/Chinese chives
Hot Peppers (nightshade family)*
Jicama/yam bean*
Katuk/star gooseberry/sweet leaf/leaf vegetable/tropical asparagus
Lagos Spinach/Quail Grass*
Lettuce (under shade)
Lima Beans
Longevity Spinach/Moluccan spinach/ Dawn Dewa (Gynura nepalensis)
Malabar Spinach Basella/Indian Spinach/Vine Spinach/Country Spinach… and many other names.
Moringa/Horseradish Tree/Drumstick/The Miracle Plant
Okinawa Spinach
Okra/Lady’s Finger/Gumbo
Pigeon Pea/Gandule bean/tropical green pea/kadios/ Congo pea/ gungo pea/ gunga pea/no-eye pea
Prickly Pear Cactus/Opuntia/nopales/paddle cactus
Purple Lablab/Hyacinth Bean
Purslane (edible weed highest in omega-3s)
Roselle/Florida cranberry (Hibiscus Tea)
Seminole Pumpkin/Tropical Pumpkin
Sesame Seeds
Sugar Cane
Sunset Hibiscus/aibika/sunset muskmallow/hibiscus manihot
Sweet Potatoes
Tropical Lettuce/Indian Lettuce
Tropical Pumpkins
Water Chestnut
Winged Beans
Yams (NOT “Wild” or “Bitter” or “Air Potato”)*
Yard Long Beans/Bora/Long-Podded Cowpea/Asparagus Bean/Chinese Long Bean

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

New Zealand Spinach has a mind of its own

New Zealand Spinach
Tetragonia tetragonioides

While advertised as being able to "take the heat" this plant does not do well for me in the summer with our high heat and humidity. It does "take the heat" when our humidity is low in winter and early spring.

My first New Zealand spinach seed was planted about five years ago in my old garden behind the house and I have never purchased seed again. It never came up during that first summer but later it happily germinated when the weather started to cool off in the fall. 

My New Zealand Spinach now self sows or is helped a little by me. When I harvest, usually about March, I strip off the best leaves to cook then compost the remains (with seeds attached to vine) in an area I want it to germinate and come up in the fall. 

The remains are moved around different places in the gardens year after year. Crop rotation my way. What amazes me is that seed has come up in places I have not "placed" it for several years.

How to use? Rinse, add some water, cover, cook until tender. New Zealand Spinach is one of the few tropical-types that you can cook. I like to eat with butter, salt, and a bit of apple cider vinegar. Our leftovers are diced, mixed with parmesan, mayo, and perhaps a dot of something zingy and used as a dip. Unfortunately, I eat this "dip" with a spoon I love it so much.

Another lovable weed ground cover: common yellow woodsorrel

Common yellow woodsorrel  
Oxalis corniculata 
Again. This is me rethinking something that I am constantly -trying- to remove from my garden. I have fond memories of this plant from when I was young... My mom taught me when I was a kid that the leaves were edible and tangy. I learned later in life that eating a small bit of oxalis is fine, but we shouldn't overdo it.

So when woodsorrel showed up in my garden, I had a love/hate thing going on with it. I googled common woodsorrel to find out it is a Florida Native and decided instead of trying to yank it out (nearly impossible anyway) from under my peaches and blackberries, that I am going to embrace yet another "weed" groundcover into my garden in certain areas.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Highlights SWF Vegetable Pest and Disease Hotline

Thank you Gene. This is abbreviated:

Whiteflies are increasing around SW Florida and have reached serious levels in places with nymphs and pupae present in some fields but populations are still way below last spring.

Growers and scouts report that thrips are blowing everywhere around SW Florida and note that
populations can vary greatly between fields and often even within one field – one end of field may be
clean and other end have over 10 per bloom.

Cabbage aphids are showing up in some crucifers around South Florida. Around SW Florida, aphids are enjoying the dry weather and populations are increasing in many places. Scouts report that some days it seems there are winged aphids blowing everywhere.

Growers and scouts report that spidermites are becoming more common around SW Florida and have
been sprayed in several places.

Around SW Florida, growers and scouts report that leafminers are hit and miss depending on location.

Around Immokalee, growers and scouts report worm pressure remains consistent with mostly southern armyworms, also some beet, fall, loopers, melonworms and a few pinworms in some locations.

Powdery Mildew
Growers and scouts report that with drier conditions powdery mildew is starting to move in on several watermelon fields around Southwest Florida. Scouts report finding lesions on rinds in some locations. Powdery mildew is high in squash and is showing up in some older pepper as well.

Fusarium is widely present on tomato and watermelon around SW Florida and appears to be increasing in severity in many places. Both Fusarium crown rot and race 3 is being reported in tomato. In watermelon, vines are exhibiting classic fusarium symptoms beginning with one runner wilting along with some yellowing and vascular staining of vines.

Downy Mildew
Downy mildew has been showing up on a wide variety of crops around South Florida including basil,
crucifers, cucurbits and lettuce. Growers and scouts report that drier conditions over the past few weeks seems to have slowed disease progress.

Late Blight
Late blight has been around SW Florida for some weeks on both tomato and potato but has not emerged as a significant factor this season.

Cabbage is still going like an energizer bunny

Photo is of the second heads from my cabbages planted in early fall. Note quarter for scale. Some are huge brussel sprout size and others are perfect to cut in half and fit into a small crock pot for boiled cabbage. When the second set of heads are harvested, the entire plant is pulled and composted. In addition to these smaller heads, we have a second planting of cabbage that is just now coming in with full sized heads.

With our approaching hot days, I expect the cabbages to start cracking. They crack because they are "going to seed" plus we actually got a bit of rain and the heads are swelling. If I am not ready to harvest the full sized heads and they start to crack, I twist the cabbage so the roots twist in the ground. This slows the cracking, however the second crop will either not happen or be very small. This time of year, with 90ºs approaching, I know I will not get a second crop from this "cold crop" and have no problem twisting them.