The Good, Bad & Ugly of Our Third Month as Gardeners

Mid May marked our third month of gardening (mis)adventures, and we’re beginning to reap the good, bad and ugly of what we sowed.

The Good

Starting with the good, we harvested a handful of peas and green beans, as well as our red pepper, and they tasted delicious. The boys were even excited to try the peas and beans and Luke said they were the best peas he’s ever tasted!

We also improved the garden by installing supports in the form of bamboo teepees for the green beans and a trellis for the pumpkins.

Another highlight from this month is that I started growing sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes thrive in Florida’s hot summer, but I had been struggling to figure out how to grow them because they don’t start from seeds like the other veggies I’ve grown.

Instead, you plant slips, which are grown from an existing sweet potato. You take an organic potato, cut it in half and put the open half in water. Soon sprouts will form and once they get big enough you cut them off and put the sprouts in water to form roots. Once the sprouts grow roots they become the slips that you can plant them in the dirt. I’m currently sprouting the eyes from a sweet potato I bought at Publix in a mason jar.

The Bad

Now for the bad. The plants that grew those delicious peas we all loved so much all keeled over and dropped dead. I think the Florida heat became too much for them because even after transplanting them and putting them in a shadier location, there was no hope. We’re going to try again with new seeds in September, which is their prime growing season.

The Ugly

And now, the ugly.

After excitedly plucking off two ripened yellow squash, I grew disheartned when I noticed a little tiny hole drilled into the side of one of them. I slowly cut into it and was greeted by a cute little green catepillar. I hoped for a vacant squash as I cut into the second one since there was no evidence of an intruder, but I was not so lucky. As cute and harmless as they were, I can’t eat something that has been invaded by a bug, so the squash (and catepillars) all got thrown in the trash.

Now the plant appears to be in pretty bad shape. All the buds have died and the plant is not full and healthy. I’m not sure if it’s just the mildew problem or if something else is the cause for concern.

The pumpkins are my other “ugly.” These things have become the bane of my existence. They were completely taking over the yard with vines sprawling inches overnight. I got some advice to train them up a trellis, so I entrusted my handy husband and a trellis we made. However, the vines are so delicate, and they were being overtaken with mildew, so everything died after we installed the trellis.

I think I planted too many too close together and all the shade caused by their big leaves caused the mildew to form. It had been flowering quite a bit, and some of the flowers appeared to have a bulge that I thought would become the pumpkin, but now we’re back to square one. Every day I go out a cut off dead leaves and try to salvage what vines I have left. There is some new growth so I’m hopeful that we’ll still get some pumpkins out of this.

Pumpkin vines taking over the yard
Mildew forming on the pumpkin leaves – once they get speckled like this they will die 😦
Mid-build on the trellis

We’re still having fun gardening although the novelty is beginning to wear off. It’s nice that now that it’s getting so hot, the garden doesn’t require much maintenance aside from occasional fertilizing and fungicide treatments. We’re just sitting back and waiting to see what happens with it next!

As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to send your gardening tips my way!

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