Growing Your Own Produce - Green Tip #27
For Your Listening Pleasure
Humor me for a minute
Back in the '80s, as a professional copywriter, I often feared my creative juices wouldn't run parallel with the time constraints within which I was to produce. After all, businesses hired the production house with whom I was employed, to write and produce television commercials in order to successfully market their service or product. I was the only in-house copywriter. Not only was it my job to write the copy, but layout the storyboards and aid in production for all of our clients! It was an amazing career, but could my talent be brought forth on cue? My creativity has always been spontaneous, brought on by a fleeting glimpse, a scent, a memory, a song, an emotion or even a breeze. I’ve written poems on napkins, envelopes and paycheck stubs when a thought raced through my mind compelling me to put it on paper and my notebook wasn’t at hand. (I now carry a notebook with me at all times in case I have a creative spurt!) However, I shouldn’t have worried myself. Earning a living doing what I love was exciting and kept my creative juices flowing rampantly.
Why am I telling you this? I have once again been given the opportunity to do what I love, and that is write. When I first began bringing you the green tips, by Thursday of each week I knew what my subject matter would be and what air I wanted the articles to release. But creativity, at least the way it comes to me, is not subject to the regiments and schedules I’ve imposed on my life. Even if I do have a topic planned, many times happenstance changes my course. I’ve begun to believe happenstance, or the best laid plans of mice and men, as I lovingly call it, is God’s way of keeping my soul from becoming too regimented, of maintaining the life of my free spirit.
Bear with me - I'm getting to the point
So, today’s topic is courtesy of happenstance. As I was doing my weekly (scheduled!) grocery shopping yesterday, I had a conversation with a young man offering samples of pineapple, a featured special at the store. To give you an idea of how much of my life is on “automatic pilot”, I’ve been shopping at the same grocery store, every Friday after work, since 1987! My store is undergoing a tremendous remodeling (sure, now I have to learn where everything is all over again!) project. It’s beautiful and they’ve expanded their produce department to include many more organic options. The store really has improved tremendously. Oh, shoot! I’m getting off track again…… Anyway, a young man offered me a sample of pineapple as soon as I got my cart. I tasted it, said it was wonderful and he proceeded to tell me they are on sale for only $2.99. I politely declined, stating I grow my own. He said, “Really? In Florida?” Absolutely! And I proceeded to tell him how. He’s going to buy a pineapple and start growing his own! I don’t know how thrilled the store will be with his choice, but I felt good in passing on a green tip!
Starting a pineapple plant is easy
Isn’t it beautiful this weekend? As I said last week, the fall planting season is just around the corner! It’s cool enough now, that we can get back in the yard, clean it up and ready the beds for fall color! I intend to add vegetables and herbs to my fall planting. Before I get into what you can and should be doing for the landscape in October, I’d like to share with you how to add pineapple bearing plants to your landscape. It’s really very easy:
Begin by simply twisting the spiny top off the pineapple, or if you prefer, you can cut if off leaving a small section of the fruit attached, then simply poke it in the ground! You don’t need to dig a hole or put it several inches down; just make sure the base is beneath the surface. I have 9 pineapple plants growing on the side of my house where grass won’t grow, partly due to tree cover, but mostly due to the extremely sandy soil located there. I also have 4 plants in a grassy area of my backyard. They really need no special treatment. No need to fertilize or water. I let Mother Nature take care of my pineapple plants and each year I’m blessed with beautiful, sweet pineapples! The fruit is white, as opposed to yellow, and much sweeter than the store bought pineapples from which they originated. Pineapple plants also self propagate, much like bromeliads, so make sure you have room for more! However, they are slow to bear fruit, taking about 18 months between each harvest. So, next time you buy a pineapple, start your own garden from the spiny top. Once you’ve removed the spiny outer layer from the fruit, don’t forget to add it to your compost pile!
Veggies to plant in the Fall
Ok. So we’re now in October. What is recommended for your landscape? Today, I’ll address vegetable and herb planting only. October is the time to plant beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, lettuce, mustard greens, onion, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard and turnips. It is also time to plant the following herbs, if you are so inclined: anise, basil, cardamom, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, lemon balm, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, tarragon, thyme and water cress. My neighbor has a beautiful rosemary bush that graces her landscape but not her kitchen, as her husband doesn’t like rosemary. I will be propagating my own rosemary “stash” from her bush, since I use it all the time! One of my favorite uses of rosemary is with boneless pork chops. I marinate them in a little sea salt, white ground pepper, olive oil and lots and lots of rosemary. Toss them on the grill and brush with the marinade……. Major yum factor! There I go again, getting side-tracked! OK, time to throw out the fly rod and reel ‘er in! So…
Before you begin your Fall planting, clean up the yard. Till any old mulch into the soil with a stiff rake or hand tool, disturbing, loosening and redistributing the soil. This will help aerate the soil, as well. Follow your seed packet directions.
If you’ve planted sweet potatoes during the summer, they should be ready for harvest. Now is also the time to select large transplants of warm season tomatoes, eggplants and peppers for the garden. If planting tall growing vegetables, add a trellis for them to climb. This will help keep them to be pest free.
Here are some harvesting tips for a few of the veggies mentioned above:
Beets: pick some when they reach 1 ½” in diameter and let others grow a little larger. This will “keep ‘em coming”.
Broccoli: harvest in the morning, when the heads are large. Cut about halfway down the stalk to encourage side shoots.
Carrots: pull once they've reached a rich color. Baby carrots can be picked once they reach ½” in diameter, round carrots at 1 ½”.
Chard: harvest when the outer leaves are sturdy. Leave 4 to 6 leaves intact to encourage continual growth.
Cucumbers: pick when skin is glossy and smooth.
Eggplant: pick when they've grown to size and are smooth and glossy. If you let them sit too long beyond this stage, the skin thickens and they become bitter.
Lettuce: pick in the early morning while the leaves are still crisp. If cut about 4-5” above the soil line, you’ll reap additional harvests from each head as they grow.
Peppers: pick when they reach full color on the vine.
Pineapple: twist from the base of the fruit, where it is attached to the plant, when it turns yellow to yellow-orange.
Spinach: use same method as lettuce to reap more than one harvest, leaving 5-6 outer leaves for re-growth.
That’s it for this week, folks. My cats’ inner clock is beckoning me to feed them. Until next time, keep a smile in your heart and never, ever let the music fade!
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
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