April 27, 2011

Welcome to my micro farm :0) OR Death of a colony !!

     Gardening is one of those things I get from my Dad.  Growing up on Long Island the weather and the soil were perfect for a summer garden.  Way before it was in my Dad used Square Foot Gardening at our house.  We composted in the 70's... who knew my Dad was hip!!  I think our garden was overall probably 12x12 then divided into sections within.  I loved spending time tending the garden (at least that is how I'm choosing to remember those days).  One of our favorite summer dinners was simply BLT's. Using Levi's Rye Bread we only had to pick ONE tomato from the garden to make 6 sandwiches as each slice of tomato covered a slice of bread!
     Move ahead 30 years (yes I was a toddler when I worked in the garden) and our garden attempt of 2011.  We have used square foot gardening since our home in Va Beach. Here in FL it makes even more sense.  The dirt is so horrible and we live in appropriately name Clay county so add that to the mix and raised beds are truly the best option.  We have been composting for 2 years now and love that.  We do our best to be as organic as possible and even have 2 rain barrels.
     With the slight interruption of my life we just didn't get our spring garden in when we should have.  For the first time in years I bought our starter plants.  I have a small green house where we usually seed start our plants.  The weather here is also out of kilter.  We've been consistently in the 90's for 2+ weeks now.  ~So as you can see I have properly presented reasons as to why it isn't MY fault  we're behind, Thank you.

     In 2008 a friend of ours brought a huge basket of lemons to church to give away.  These beautiful lemons came off 1 tree in her yard. Since then I have been hooked on the idea of growing fruit.  Christmas of 2009 brought 2 different orange trees and this past Christmas a lemon.  None of these went in the ground as a tree first had to come down (see blog: Margins, Tumbleweeds and Chainsaws).  Recently I read an article on peach growing in my area.  I called around and no one had any.  Upon visiting a local nursery I discovered apple trees for  NE Florida.  Unlike citrus trees most fruit trees require 2 trees for production.  We now have a McIntosh and a Golden Delicious.  But it doesn't end there..... I also discovered a variety of Kiwi so of course 2 of those are in the ground as well.  **Side note private garden centers are soo willing to give you deals on plants as all of the above was less that $50**  We were in the process of planting our trees and needed to run to Home Depot.  What did we find there with fruit already hanging????? A peach tree!!! Yes you normally need 2 trees but this one was already bearing fruit so we bought it!!!!  It was the last one so having 2 wasn't even an option.
Just in case you've lost track:
  1. 1 Lemon Tree
  2. 2 Orange Trees
  3. 2 Apple Trees
  4. 1 Peach Tree
  5. 2 Kiwi Vines
  6. 6 Blueberry Bushes (forgot to tell you about these)
Did I mention we don't have even 1/4 of an acre?

Onto our garden.  We have 4 4x4 boxes.  Each one will be filled with various yummies before long.  Our first box is in and most herbs with eggplant and 1 bell pepper.  I was working in box 2 weeding and sifting the dirt.  I noticed that my hands and arms were itchy and I wondered what new weed was causing this.  Then I saw it.  Mid-way up my arm the nasty little scourge of playgrounds in the south.... a fire ant.  For those unaware of these little critters:
Unlike many other ants, fire ants do not really bite, they sting. But then, neither do mosquitoes and we call those bites, too. The fire ant will bite with its pincher's, but that is only to get a tight grip on you. Then they sting you from their abdomen and inject a toxic venom. One welt can be the result of ten stings! They hold on with their pincher's and turn a circle, stinging you all around it. This can result in a pea sized welt or even larger depending upon your sensitivity to their venom. They can then move to a different area and continue stinging you. About 40% of people in infested areas, or more than 20 million, are bitten each year by fire ants. The worse thing to do of course is scratch.  You're supposed to massage the area in an attempt to get the venom out.  Usually though you've been bitten in numerous areas by the time you realize what is happening and who has time to massage? And if you haven't guessed by the name these pea size welts...feel as if they're on fire
last night this was covered in grits
     Now while I have acclimated to living in the south there are a few things this Yankee cannot adopt and grits are one of them!!  However after attending an Ag Extension class I learned a new use for these nasty little grains..... FIRE ANT KILLERS!!!  Remember we try to keep our garden as organic as possible so NO pesticide is coming anywhere near my farm.
UGGHHHHH Total depression.  I thought it would be cool to find a link showing how grits cause ants to well..explode.  We've used grits in the past quite successfully to rid ourselves of these tiny dragons.  Well in doing my properly required blogging research I have learned <big sigh> that grits do NOT in fact kill the ants.  They simply just move :0(  BUT I did find a new PROVEN remedy... garlic juice!! 
Well maybe I didn't kill that colony as I hoped when I dumped half a bag of grits on it. But they better be gone for the garlic is coming.   Hey if they don't like garlic does that make them part Vampire??? Think about it makes sense!

our baby peaches one is hiding

going to be a great blueberry season

our 2 kiwi vines



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