In case you were wondering…

It was actually 73 degrees F. (23 C.) and 98% humidity at 7:00 A.M. When I checked the Weather Channel, it predicted a high of 82 F. (28 C.).

Since I don’t trust the weather man, I pulled out my Magic 8 Ball and asked if the high today would be 82…

Trust the 8 ball. It’s already over 82 degrees

Belated New Year’s Resolutions and having a blizzard

My Christmas cactus didn’t bloom until mid-January, so I’m not sure if my resolutions are belated or the earth tilted a little off it’s axis and time has been affected. As far as work is concerned, I’m always trying to get caught up, so I’m leaning towards the tilted axis theory.

I recently ventured into the “dieting” blogs, which has become an annual habit for me, right after I resolve to lose some excess poundage. I like to see what everyone else is doing. The only problem is reading about dieting makes me hungry. So, even though I ate a late breakfast around 9:00 A.M, I’m forcing myself to wait until noon to have lunch.

I just went to the grocery store a couple days ago, and I refuse to buy snacks. So, every time I open the refrigerator door, I end up staring at vegetables. Also, I don’t buy a lot of fruit… like bananas, because when they turn black I want to make banana bread. The same applies to apples, pears, peaches… I like to bake, but now I just admire my Kitchenaid mixer from afar. I used to make bread every week, but I haven’t made any bread since the onslaught of the plague. About the same time that toilet paper was flying off the shelves, I noticed that bread flour and yeast started disappearing too. I often wonder how that turned out for the new to bread baking crowd. Just writing about baking makes me hungry… I make a mean focaccia with slivers of garlic and roasted dried tomatoes, with generous amounts of olive olive oil [sigh].

Other than work and obsessing about food, I bought myself a Peloton for… I was going to say Christmas, but I should probably throw in my birthday and every other celebratory event I can think of. It would have been Christmas in July, since that’s when I ordered it.

I bought it as the plague waxed and waned, and waited 2 months for delivery. I miss riding my “real” bike, but I had to weigh old age versus safety and convenience. Peloton won out. So far it hasn’t become an expensive clothes hanger. It can be addicting though or just another obsession? I’ve written that word enough times now I’m smelling perfume.

Being confined to Home and Garden has lured me back to the TV. I continue to watch HGTV and DIY channels and I think I can fix a leak, hang curtain rods, and lay tile now. I have experience at laying wood floors. I did it once, which was enough. I’ve added the History channel to my repertoire and lately have included Ancient Aliens and the Unexplained. I personally haven’t had any alien sightings in about 8 years. Escape to the Chateau is another show I like to watch. Their walls are 2 feet thick, so it has been interesting.

As for the blizzard, well if you’re thinking snow kind of blizzard, not really. This is Florida, ya know?

At most, I’ll be shoveling a foot of sunshine, and I don’t think I’ll be having this Blizzard either. Just wishful thinking…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ride Sally Ride

What do you talk about when you’ve run out of stories to tell? You talk about the weather, of course.

Well, I can give you a short update. The heat took out the tomatoes and the sweet banana peppers, so the only thing I have struggling to survive is the jalapeno pepper plant. I have 10 jalapenos trying to ripen… oh, and the Italian flat leaf parsley, which I bought by mistake, it’s flourishing.

The temperature has been in the mid to high 90s (f), and up to 102 degrees on occasion. But now? Water, water everywhere, falling from the sky… or blowing sideways in the wind. Now, we have Sally…

Tropical Storm Sally to bring heavy rain, gusty winds to Central Florida; 5 other systems being tracked

Tropical storms, tropical depressions, all mean rain, more rain, and wind and rain. Did I mention rain?

It’s just plain wet! September has always been the busiest season for hurricanes and storms. So if we can make it to October, we may have a reprieve. I’d be willing to share some of this wetness with California!

 

The Master Gardener

Today, I’m writing my thesis to complete my Master’s degree in Agriculture, specifically focused on Organic Home Container Gardening: Growing Tomatoes in Florida.

I have learned more than I ever wanted to know, and then some. When I brought my 3 little tomato plants home, I figured that one out of three might deliver tasty red fruit.

As the plants grew into lush, leafy green plants, I had high hopes.

I had just harvested 3 lbs (almost 1.5kg) of sweet banana peppers. I was beginning to imagine that my thumb was turning green.

My lovely harvest of Banana Peppers
I ended up pickling 5 quarts of peppers, because… what do you do with that many peppers?

So, now I’m anticipating tomatoes. The little blossoms are setting fruit, and I’m out every day counting the little tomatoes developing. This is so rewarding… I think to myself.

I think I mentioned that it’s hot in my neck of the woods (here). Tomatoes don’t especially like temperatures above 90 degrees (32C), or high humidity.

This is where I enrolled in tomatoes 101.

First: early blight and bacterial blackspot, over-night mind you!

What the heck, you were gorgeous yesterday! (early blight)
Eventually, all those little spots join hands, the leaf turns brown and you can vaguely hear a death knell (or are those my wind chimes?).

Not just one tomato plant, but they obviously like to share. All three plants were looking sad; my crop was circling the drain.

I furthered my quest by doing research… on Google and YouTube, and I discovered an organic remedy. I quarantined the plants as if they were Covid positive, and sprayed them with a concoction of water mixed with baking soda, vegetable oil and dish detergent and sprayed the heck out of them all. I didn’t have high hopes, but voila! I arrested the disease and didn’t kill the plants!

I cut off all of the dead leaves, and they all looked happy and healthy again! Cheap fix, I’m thinking. Even the one plant that I had given up hope for, sprang back to life and grew 2 feet. A miracle!!

Second: Tomato hornworms

I go out the next day to admire my crop and discover to my horror a batch of worms decimating my plants! Not just one plant, all three had these critters… munching away!

Where the heck did you come from?

Moths, that’s where they come from. Laying eggs on the plants under the cover of night, when no one is looking. You would think the worms are birthed at a full 2-3 inches long, and starving for tomato leaves. You never see them until one day you find a dozen 3 inch worms chewing away.

The culprit. AKA manduca sexta moth, or Sphinx Moth. Hateful suckers!

Well… if it’s a light infestation, just pick the worms off the plant and kill them, so they say. I was very busy, morning and night. I must have killed the first round, but in 3 weeks, they should be making another appearance… new hatchlings. Now I have an organic bacterial spray, and I’m ready for the little buggers.

So my Roma tomato plant has 18 tomatoes growing and ripening… even if it only has 10 leaves left. The Patio tomato had 8 tomatoes growing, but…

Third: Sun Scald

Sun cooked tomato.

I lost 3 of the 8 tomatoes on the Patio tomato plant. Seems Florida sun is cooking my tomatoes.

I had to give them some shade, even though they are supposed to get 6-8hrs minimum of direct sun. Not these puppies, they need shade! So I got some sun shade material, and with the aid of tomato stakes and clothes pins, I created a little canopy over their delicate, ripening fruits. [sigh]

Fourth: Tomato blossom end rot

Yesterday this…

Too much water. It rains here every day. Sometimes it rains for several days. Sometimes a gentle shower. Mostly a deluge of several inches of sky water. Mother Nature

 

 

Luckily, it was only on one tomato.

Did I mention that I bought a jalapeno pepper plant? I was looking forward to pico de gallo. It stands to reason that I will have 3lbs of jalapenos and no tomatoes.

Carne Asada with Pico de Gallo on soft tacos is to die for.

You would think that I would give up on growing tomatoes, but now I have an arsenal of preventive measures, and will soon have my degree in tomato agriculture.

I’m planning to start over in October, when it cools down… if ever!