Friday, May 22, 2009

Time for the summer garden

For most of the country, summer is the time to garden. You plant in the spring and reap the bounty of fresh fruit, veggies, herbs and flowers until the first (or sometimes second) frost. As I have mentioned before here on my blog, it's different in Florida. We can start planting anywhere from August through around October/November and harvest while everyone else is enduring winter. Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, and other delectable goodies are just waiting to be enjoyed. Late April and May begin to bring us warmer temperatures, and our little patch of paradise starts to show signs of weariness. The cucumbers are tired and don't want to grow anymore, the cilantro and lettuce decides they are going to send up flowers instead of new leaves, and the tomato leaves starts to curl under because it's just too darn hot. It's like they all decided to throw a temper tantrum and proclaim loudly "I don't want to play anymore!!" I told them "Okay, then, I'll just find some new garden playmates", and so I did. There are a few veggies that will grow well in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer; namely watermelons, okra and hot peppers. I don't have room for watermelons, but I do have room for the okra and peppers. Of course since I'm the only one in my household that eats okra, I'll probably be sharing it with anyone(everyone?) that I can give it to. I'm growing cayennes, habaneros, jalapenos, poblanos and "grove peppers". They are a tiny little pepper that my grandfather grew all his life and it makes the best pepper sauce for cooked greens. There are also a couple of tomato varieties that are supposed to be somewhat "native"; one of them is called Matt's Everglades Tomato. I have read about them on the Florida Gardening forum on but haven't found any seeds yet. Maybe next summer...

My herbs are still doing well. The basil is quite prolific and I am using a little just about every day in something. I toss a few leaves in our salads and have been putting it on my turkey sandwich when I brown bag my lunch for work. It adds a nice bit of flavor to what can be a very boring lunch. The oregano, chives, thyme (both regular and lemon), sage, dill and tansy are all looking good and being useful as all good herbs should! I think I am going to make some basil vinegar and I would like to make a large quantity of pesto; however I am not sure about freezing it. I'm afraid it will taste different than fresh pesto (which I absolutely adore) so I may make a small bit and see how it does. Of course I will dry some of my herbs to use later in the year, but I love to pick them fresh and use them...they are just delightful! If you have a garden planted this year, I hope you enjoy your harvest as much as I am enjoying mine. They can bring such joy and a sense of accomplishment to one's heart.

Happy gardening,