Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Wednesday in the Garden

 

Just another day in the VegHeadz garden—weeding, harvesting, cleaning up the compost bins to get rid of weeds sprouting and trying to go to seed, mowing grassy areas, spending time with friends, learning from each other.  Just a normal day.  Most of all, reveling in the beauty and abundance we have created together.  

Our garden arches provide 
shade as well as support.


Beautiful purple beans


Corn is ready to harvest when the
silk turns brown.  The husk can be
pulled back from the top to
check the firmness of the kernels.


Yen takes shelter under
the arch of a vigorous
indeterminate tomato
plant.  
 

Glenn’s pre-1900s bed is
thriving. 


As are Louie’s herb beds.  


Dune sunflower in a stump


Today’s harvest




Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Garden Perfection

 

June and Tommy loved exploring the rain garden

June and Tommy have been coming to the VegHeadz garden with their grandmother since they were barely old enough to walk.   We hadn’t seen them in a while, but they picked a good day for a return visit.  These are some of the things they saw today.  

Nicotiana—Woodland or
flowering tobacco 


A perfect eggplant

Mexican sunflower—a butterfly 
favorite

Tobacco Hornworm. Similar to a
tomato hornworm and feeds on
the same plants.   
First one seen this year.  
Probably not the last.
Larva of a large sphinx moth.  


Plum tomatoes galore.
 

This time of year, the predominant 
flower color in our garden is yellow.

Loofah


When immature, the loofah fruit
can be cooked much like squash. 
Dave is taking some home to try. 

The mature loofah fruit will
be at least twice this size and 
will be allowed to dry on the vine
before harvesting seeds and 
creating sponges from the 
fibrous skeleton.  


Nature at Work


The real excitement in the garden today was watching nature at work. A small bat had become entangled in the chicken wire around one leg of the garden’s central arbor, which adjoins the bat house.  The bat had no hope of escape, and became a meal for a resident rat snake.  Mr. Rat Snake couldn’t get the bat loose, so we helped him untangle it from the wire then left him alone as he moved away to finish his lunch in peace.  

We were so excited!









Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Feeding the Bees


Zinnias are a favorite for the bees
Feeding the Bees—and not only the bees.  Lots of other little garden helpers like nectar and pollen too.  In the heat of summer, everything in the garden is still unless you look closer.  There you will see many different kinds of good bugs “making hay” while the sun shines.   

It is the harvesting season for many of our spring vegetables.  This week a bounty of beets and potatoes made way for more heat-tolerant crops.  




A Large Milkweed Bug on milkweed


Beets


Nancy and Mary are enjoying Emma’s delight with her harvest of potatoes and beets


The deer are back.  Vinegar rags have
been reinstalled and Louie and
Cathy put down a border of
$strong-smelling fennel as an
additional deterrent.




+


Monday, May 20, 2024

VegHeadz Spring/Summer Garden Tour

The annual open house and plant sale at the Leon County Extension which was scheduled for Saturday, May 11 was canceled because of the severe storms, including three tornadoes, that passed through Tallahassee the day before. The plant sale was rescheduled and many people showed up to buy plants on Wednesday and Thursday of the following week. 

If you are one of the hundreds of people who would have enjoyed tours of the many gardens on the grounds, you will have to wait until next year unless you’d like to visit them and the adjoining orchard on your own any time during daylight hours. 

In the VegHeadz garden at the southern end of the property, we were ready to guide you through our many vegetable and pollinator beds. Thanks to Peggy McDonald for these great pictures giving us a virtual tour.  As always, photos just can’t capture the wonder of a garden.  Again the vegetable gardens and food forest can always be seen and fully appreciated on any day during daylight hours or join us for a personal tour on most Wednesday mornings when we are working there. 

Welcome to the VegHeadz garden as you enter
from the east side through
the rose arbor. 

To your right you will see pollinator
gardens and sunflowers.  

There are sunflowers planted throughout the garden. 
They are great trap plants as they are preferred by
stink bugs and particularly leaf-footed bugs.  

Our main rotation beds are designated as A-D.
This is bed D (actually three beds in
graduated sizes). This year plants in these beds
include tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  

Rotation bed C.  Plants in these beds 
include corn and beans.  

Rotation bed B. Plants in these 
beds include squashes, cucumbers
and melons.  

Rotation bed A.  Included in this bed 
were green peas and sugar snap peas. 
Potatoes were planted in January and
are ready for harvest.  They will be
followed with summer crops—okra, 
field peas and sweet potatoes.  
 
We also have four small rotation 
beds.  No bed is too small for good 
gardening practices.  

You’ve reached the edible forest garden 
at the south end of the garden space,
shadier than the area where we grow annual crops.  
Here you would see bananas, loquat, native plum, 
olive, turmeric, perennial onions and 
other plants.  

At the far back of the garden in the food forest,
this artistic trellis supports chayote vines
next to a fig tree with ground cover of longevity spinach. 

Mayhaw tree, a native with fruit 
for jelly and for wildlife. Also in
this area, peach and elderberry.

Mulberry and wax myrtle anchor 
this area of the forest along with
Satsuma, goji berry, lemongrass and
other understory plants.  

Heading back up toward the top of the
garden, we find a variety of 
individual “test” beds including
various types of pollinator 
plants, a variety of perennial onions, 
 a bed of pre-1900 vegetable 
varieties, a blueberry patch,
and a patio container garden,
among others.  

Herb beds, mostly perennials.  They now include
a number of artichoke plants.  So far they are
thriving.  

This artichoke plant produced five buds, which is the part that is
eaten before they open.  We’re letting a couple of them bloom.  

Adjoining the herb beds are the two
beds used each season to grow plants
from the seeds distributed at the
Leon County libraries.   

The central arbor is planted again this year with 
loofah gourds.  The vines will soon cover the arbor,
providing shade as you pass through.
We love to watch them grow
and the yellow flowers are big and gorgeous.

A Cardinal has built a nest in a large plant
of Sweetie Pie cherry tomatoes.

It’s fun to visit the 4-H beds next to
the arbor.  There are raised beds of many
different configurations and materials.  

Just west of the main garden is 
the rain garden, seen here through
the grape arbor just below it.  

We’re really sorry to miss the honey sale 
held each year with the Open House.  The
bees in the hives adjoining the garden
have been gathering nectar from our
plants all spring, including a large stand of
buckwheat which makes delicious dark honey.  

We even have sunflowers planted between
the compost bins.  

Adjoining the compost bins,
Bananas are already forming.  Can
you find them?

From the bananas, we circle around the main
rotation beds back toward the entrance.  
Here an eye-catching feature of the garden is the
cattle panel arches spanning between each of the rotation
beds.  Seen through this arch is the center part of our
garden, including worktable, storage shed, 
compost bins, and seating under shade for rest.

More arches

The arches support tomatoes, beans,
cucumbers—anything that climbs.  

Last, to the right of the entrance as we leave,
and maybe the most important,
are the many perennial and annual
pollinator plants which help
to control pests and to produce
abundant crops on our fruiting plants.
Also in this area are Roselle and yacon.     

Something is blooming at almost 
every time of year.