Friday, July 5, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

Sorry that it has been over a year since the last post.  I am guessing anyone who was following this blog has long gone and may not return.  I am saddened by this possiblility.

What has happened in the interim?

View our Annual Report and you will see that we were not idle:  http://orange.ifas.ufl.edu/oces_pdffiles/OC%20Extension%202012%20Annual%20Report.pdf

A complete 9-month vegetable gardening season has come and gone.  We are once more in the rainy season.  With all the challenges of high temperatures, high humidity, native fungal spore bouncing around in the rain droplets, it is time to rest from the vegetable gardening activities of growing and harvesting vegetables. 

Now we should concentrate about how we will do better next gardening season.  Repair all structures and tools used in the garden.  Replish the soil with organic matter to build structure and add organisms that will help grow healthier plants. 

Yes, we did experience nematodes on Okra and Tomatoes so we are solarizing a couple of garden beds now.  It will that about six weeks.  We cleaned up the garden bed, removed all old plant material and weeds.  Then we added organic matter to the soil in the garden beds and mixed it into the top 6" of soil; raked it level, watered the beds well and then covered them with clear, 6-mil plastic.  We then sealed in the edges with soil from the surrounding area to keep air from getting under the plastic.  In mid-August, we will remove the plastic and all the weed that grew during the solarization process.  We will add more compost, some fertilizer and get our plants/seeds into the garden.

The Exploration Gardens at UF/IFAS Extension Service in Orange County has "flowered" in the best ways.  The butterfly garden is teeming with many different butterflies.  Some spill over into the Homeowner and Small Farms Demonstration Garden --- notably, the Parsely is very sparse now. 
The "warm season" vegetables are almost gone from the garden.  We have tropical vegetables of Chayote, Seminole Pumpkin and Cassava growing very nicely as well as the thornless Blackberries along the back fencing.  The Bog Garden is true to it's name with water almost standing daily with the frequent afternoon rains.  We measured 2.08" of rain since Wednesday.  The plants particularly selected because of this feature (poorly draining/compacted soil) haven't looked this good in some time.

A new Master Gardener Volunteer Training program is about to begin.  We have 32 candidates and hope to get all of them in the class that will start in September.

Hurricane season is into it's second month.  Do you have a plan that you have shared with your loved ones yet?  Do you have an out of state telephone number that everyone knows to call so the word can get around that you are OK no matter what else is going on?  Here are more tips:  http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/disaster_prep/hurricane_prep_fc.html

We will continue this later but for now, we are back and hope to hear from you all again soon.