Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pure Florida Garden Day

I spent the last day before Daylight Stupid Time began transforming the now vacant (sigh) pig pen into a vegetable patch. The day had started with coaxing "PIG!" into a pen on our utility trailer so she could go to the fair. A mix of fresh Florida grown strawberries and some yankee apples did the trick and she is now sharing a pen at the fair with another well mannered pig. The swine show is Monday by the way.

This post is about transforming her pen, not the fair, so let's get on with it. She had dug amazing wallow pits all over her pen over the past 4 months and my first job was to smooth all that out. My ancient Troybuilt tiller is ill, so I did that by shovel and rake.

I had my eye out for flint chips and possible spearpoints (mostly atlatl dart points here) since whoever owned the place a few thousand years ago, had dropped a lot of flakes and a few points that I've been lucky to find.

Sure enough, the nice flake above popped out of the soil as I was raking. It's tempting to see it as an arrowhead, maybe a birdpoint that was flawed and discarded. It has the little central ridge and some symmetrical fluting on the "shaft" end ... maybe a flaw caused the maker to toss it midway. Some folks would sit down and ponder a multitude of possibilities if they found such a thing, but I had a garden to wrangle, so I just slipped it into my Wranglers.

I planted 6 "Celebrity" seedlings from the evil Walmart store in two beds along the interior fencing that divides the pig pen into two 16 X 16 squares. The fencing will serve as trellis as they grow.

Didja hear that optimism? " they grow." Our chance of frost is so low now, that I'm only gambling a little. I have to beat the bugs, heat, and humidity that is even now, packing it's bags and preparing to visit.

I also seed planted Burpee's Stringless Green Pod bush type green beans in a big block ... just kind of randomly scattered in a 5 X 6 foot rectangle. In a nearby wide row, I stuck in about 8 Orange Tendersweet watermelon seeds.

Amongst all of these, I sprinkled Ferry Morse Carnation Flowered Orange Bowl Marigold seeds to attract pollinators and pretty up the place.

Today, I'll plant some Burpee Early Golden Summer Crookneck Squash for the missus. (Blechh!) I also have Jelly Bean hybrid grape tomatoes that I am going to plant directly as pelleted seeds. I never do that with tomatoes. I always use transplants, but what the heck. Let's see what happens.

Tarragon, Purple Coneflower, and Black-Eyed Susans could get in the dirt today too.

While I was gardening, I lit the surrounding grasslands on fire to reduce the threat of a ground fire racing up to the house or barnshed. An area I burned two weeks ago is already rich with tender green grass shoots.

It was a nice day in the garden ... too warm though. For the first time in months, it actually got hot. You could feel the change in the sunlight's energy. Time to lose the winter beard ... and I did.

Everyone was gone while I gardened and puttered, but I wasn't alone of course. The deer came to hang out and watch me creating a new buffett for them. I'm rigging tall posts this year with razor wire (just kidding) to try and keep them out.
The chickadees were hanging out with me too. The birdhouse next to the pigpen/garden was a busy place as they flew in and out, chittering and chattering. Yes, I had my camera with me, be patient. I was, and it paid off.
Chickadees tomorrow.
It was nice to actually do something outside around here. The weather has been spectacular, the JEEP's been topless for a whole week! I've missed alot of that great weather due to my huge, painful, never ending, National Boards project ...deadline in 3 weeks! I did not work on it at all yesterday, so today I will have to force myself to keep reflecting and writing in the kitchen with short garden breaks.
Curious ...
So far, not a one of the smart and interesting people I live with has noticed that I shaved my beard off.
I swear, I'm just another piece of furniture around here.
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Dreaming D said...

The deer don't seem to be fearful. Do you believe in deer feeders to help them out?

pablo said...

You taunt me with your arrowhead finds!


Floridacracker said...

Dreaming D,
Welcome to Pure Florida!
My deer keep their distance, but they have become more tolerant of me. I don't feed them with feeders, but I do keep my land in a deer friendly state with lots of edge and cover. I like to see any type of feeder (even bird) used sparingly and sporadically so the critters don't become dependent.

You taunt me with your round and otherwise shaped rocks!

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

That's a great picture of the deer and I never notice that Jimmy has shaved off his beard until he mentions it to someone about 3 or 4 days.
Don't're not a piece of furniture...they love you...they're just wondering what's different about you and can't quite put their finger on it yet.

You sound like you live in Paradise. Arrowheads, wildlife, forests, neighbors not too close and a loving family.

roger said...

you taunt me with your wtermelons.

SophieMae said...

This morning, after a full actual 8 hours' sleep, I ALMOST feel like I could zip on down there today. Tomorrow for sure, if I had someone to let the dog out while I was gone all day.

I feel your pain. About a week ago, I lopped off a good 8-10" of hair. Nobody noticed. >8\

SophieMae said...

OOPS! PS - Love the deer shot! On the way home last night, we saw about 20 scattered up and down the roadside. Nice to see the hunting season-induced deer drought is over - until the next time.

Suze said...

I guess I'm a dumb city slicker - why won't your pig be coming back home after the fair?

pablo said...

That's Yankee with a CAPITAL Y, and don't you forget it!


Hurricane Teen said...

Ah! I want to start my vegetables so bad, but I have to wait for us to move...and who the heck knows when that will be. I'm planting tomato seeds this there usually a problem with that?

Good luck with the garden! I will petition Mother Nature in your behalf to hold off the frosts till November!

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the encouragement. It was tongue in cheek whining ... mostly.

you tempt me with your grey misty days.

8 to 10 inches of hair? Wowsers!
You're right about the deer, 20 to 30 in the 11 mile stretch between Bronson and Otter Creek is the norm.

Welcome to Pure Florida!
No, it's a great question. The kids show the pigs for ribbons, etc on Monday, then on Wednesday, there's a real livestock auction where the steers and swine are auctioned one at a time while the kid who raised it shows it. That is the "goodbye" moment.The prices are all inflated above market price to help the kids with college funds, etc. Very generous businesses and organizations do the bidding. At that point, your animal goes to a holding pen where a single large livestock company purchases them at real market price.

LOL! My mom would say the same thing!

With our short window for tomatoes, I usually use transplants, either from my Dad or the store. Once summer evenings stay over 70, the tomato bloom will stop. That happens early as you well know.
I have a few of last year's datil bushes that I nursed through the winter and I should get a major headstart on the datil harvest from them.

vicki said...

This is a rich and colorful post, FC, with many things that catch my interest. It's also exceptionally well written and I would be interested in seeing a glimpse of you sans beard. Unfortunately, I am in mourning for PIG, making it difficult to comment on anything else. I hate to even ask: how much does she weigh?

threecollie said...

Sounds like a wonderful day. It must feel great to be gardening!

Deb said...

I made my first garden planting today, walking over a snowdrift to plant lettuce and other greens in a covered bed that had two inches of soil on top that wasn't frozen. Your day sounded pretty good!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Very fine post, Mr. Cracker. I am looking forward to Chickies.

I notice the deer also do not have beards. Maybe you are being mistaken for one.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for caring about PIG!, she's had a fantastic life compared to most of your grocery store pigs. Beardless me will probably show up in some future adventure. Pig was about 240 pounds.

It did feel good.

You are the last one I would have expected to be planting anything!
Way to go.

I have been called "dear" before.

Thunder Dave said...

We've been in the 60's all weekend. It looks like spring might be just around the corner for us!

Lightnin saw the smoke in the photo and asked if you were having a pig roast! ;-)

Alan said...

Our chance of frost is so low now, that I'm only gambling a little.

There's an optimist in every crowd. {chuckling} I'll be planting my spring garden the first weekend in April after our average last frost date passes. I've done the "spread bedsheets on the garden in the dark while freezing my behind" too many times.

Sure enough, the nice flake above popped out of the soil as I was raking. It's tempting to see it as an arrowhead, maybe a birdpoint that was flawed and discarded. It has the little central ridge and some symmetrical fluting on the "shaft" end ... maybe a flaw caused the maker to toss it midway. Some folks would sit down and ponder a multitude of possibilities if they found such a thing, but I had a garden to wrangle, so I just slipped it into my Wranglers.

Intersting you should say this. I've got a blog post that I've been meaning to get around to for a while now about the arrowhead I found in my garden and about a half-cup of chips and flakes I've found while working there or in the orchard. One of them might be a point that broke off as it was being worked, but it's kinda small. Maybe I'll do it this coming weekend now.


LauraHinNJ said...

Before I forget: you might treat yourself to a manicure.


The thought of setting tomatoes out now is something else! I guess yours stop producing just as ours get going. What do you do for a nice tomato in August?

I came home today to find my husband starting mesclun and chard seeds in these little plastic greenhouse kits we buy that make it harder to kill the seedlings.

Florida does sound like paradise to a spring-starved northerner, but, like your veggies, I wouldn't appreciate your summmer heat.

Suze said...

Thanks for the explanation about the
pig. I've been reading your blog - and enjoying it - for a few weeks now. I live in South Florida - and have since 1979. They've ruined it here - but your area seems so beautiful. Your nature photos are great - and your house is gorgeous.....I'm so jealous.

Anonymous said...

I gotcha beat - the Jeep's been sans top for almost two weeks. HAH!

Like others, I am so jealous of the artifacts you find around Pure Florida. Since my place was underwater when the original denizens of Florida still roamed freely about, there is little in the soil but for limestone fossils (another coral - ZZZZzzzzzz.....)

We have many volunteer tomato plants around (I need to photograph them). They grew up from spread compost! Many of them have the beginnings of fruits on them, and they're doing MUCH better than my last batch, dutifully planted in their own patch. Goes to show ya - sometimes you can try too hard. They're not show quality vines, but still they're nice to have.

We also have the papaya trees with young fruits, and my orange tree has twice the flowers and young fruits on it from last year. In the next five years or so, I think we'll actually have a pretty good little food production going on.

Oh - and I got HOT both days this weekend whilst diggin in and fencing the brand new chicken run. I made a mental note to ONLY undertake new, big projects like the coop and chicken run during cool months. That'll help the household budget, too. One outdoor project per year (or two littler ones).

I'm also a little bit jealous of your deer! I think we'll see some around soon enough, though, with the chicken coop. Those birds have already caught the interest of some new predators in the area - but that's a subject for my own post on my own blog.

Sorry for rambling here, but it was a meaty post, Fc, and a lot of fun to read.

The chickadee pictures are great, BTW.


Floridacracker said...

I'll make her ribs when she comes down to thaw out.

Seeds are cheap. I like to gamble and if I have to restart, I restart. Hey, post your flinty post! Pablo loves to hear about other people finding arrowheads.

Hey, those are working hands, not show hands. A manicure... snort!LOL.
In August, we start our fall crop of tomatoes. If we have our ducks in a row, which sometimes occurs here ...

Well thank you very much! I know what you mean about S.Florida. We love it here and I find it hard to imagine being anywhere else.

Isn't it amazing how cool we look in our topless Jeeps? I imagine people in rainless climes get to feel cool all the time.
I find as the top goes down, my testosterone level goes up.
I enjoyed your long comment. Do you actually eat Papayas? I tried once, but the smell ...
Have you tried growing any of the other tropical fruits that we north Florida types can't grow?
My dad said the same thing about his citrus trees in St. Augustine. He doesn't know how they will hold all the potential fruit.

My experience with chickens is they are like flashing 'EAT AT JOE'S" signs when it comes to predators.
None of mine die of old age, that's for sure.