There is something about a hint of spring in the air that gives me an uncontrollable urge to sink my fingers into a pile of sun-warmed dirt. Despite the fact that I live in Florida, and something is always green here, even in the dead of winter, tiny, brilliant green leaves poking out through dark, moist soil gives me a thrill somewhat akin to seeing a baby take a first step or graduating summa cum laude from an Ivy League University. Yes, I get a little carried away. And this year was no exception. I started my garden out with six pepper plants, seven tomato plants, three rows of green beans, 2.5 rows of peas, 2.5 rows of zucchini, and 2.5 rows of cucumbers.
Yes, I had high hopes for sure.
See How Beautiful?
Well, the peas were the first to fall victim to the harsh Florida sunshine. They duly popped up, grew to about 2 inches in height, then shriveled. So much for that.
Next, vicious creatures began munching on my peppers. Apparently, their favorite types are California bell peppers and green bell peppers. They left the others alone. The peppers are still growing, but some of them are merely stems, their leaves long sacrificed to the nourishment of some unknown creature.
Apparently it takes more skill to grow tomatoes in Florida than it does in some other places. These tomatoes produced much fruit, but they began to die from the bottom up. Some of them are still hanging in there, but four became naught but dead sticks, which I pulled up to make more room for the others.
The beans did well– flowered, bore fruit but a bean plant in Florida does not produce more than two rounds of flowers and fruit before giving up the ghost — they will be replanted soon, though.
The cucumbers were a victim to a common disease known as downy mildew. Apparently the only option is to pull them up and start over. I’ve been told that sulfur is a good soil additive to help prevent it, but who knows what it is or where to find it?
Oh, and the zucchinis? They did their own thing. I do not know if they will produce fruit in this state, but I’m going to leave them and see what comes of it.
So that is the sad tale of my garden — a mix of exceedingly hot weather, sandy soil, and lack of rain (except when it’s a deluge of rain) have wreaked havoc in my once beautiful beds.
But I will not give up. I will try again on the cucumbers and beans. I will do research on how to grow tomatoes. I will find out what is eating the peppers. When spring’s green fingers next reach through my windows and tantalize me with their promise, I will be ready.
After all, even gardens aren’t perfect the first time (or even the second time). Especially not in Florida.