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Growing Tomatoes Year Around in South Florida

Credit: HotBlack at
Imagine having fresh-picked, vine-ripened tomatoes from your garden in February when most of the north is covered in snow. Having gardened in Florida for over 15 years, I've learned more about growing tomatoes in a tropical climate than I ever thought I needed to know. One of the best things I learned, mostly through trial and error, was how to keep tomatoes growing year-around. Oh sure, sometimes there is a freak freeze, and you have to cover them all up and hope for the best, but most of the time, there is nothing to keep you from harvesting luscious, juicy tomatoes in South Florida for 12 months of the year.

Tomato plants provide easy propagation material by putting out shoots called "suckers" in the leaf nodes (where the leaf meets the stems). Called suckers because they suck nutrition from the main plant, it's best to remove them so your plant will produce the largest and healthiest fruit possible. Read Full Article...

God and Weeds

Spanish Needle with seeds
Photo Credit Wie146 / CCSA  2.5 / Wikimedia
(For all my Christian readers, this is tongue-in-cheek. I'm not a Christian, but I was for most of my life and respect the Christian religion. Please don't get all bent out of shape about it.)

I spent some time weeding the past couple of days, and I have come to two conclusions:

1) Spanish needle is the most noxious weed on earth
2) I am totally justified in not worshipping a God who would create Spanish Needle.

I'm now totally convinced that there cannot be a God, or if there is, he isn't a gardener.

Floridian Zone Denial Disorder

Everything is a "disorder" now, so I decided that I must suffer from major FZDD, or Floridian Zone Denial Disorder. I plant things that aren't hardy in my area, then get all upset when they freeze.

Here are some symptoms of FZDD:

1. Inability to accept zone hardiness recommendations. This is characterized by the tendency to "ooh" and "ahh" over catalog items and the inability to keep from ordering things not hardy to your zone. Also includes confusion as to why northern plants can't be brought to Florida and thrive as they did where you came from.

2. Tendency toward "zone push". Characterized by thinking such as "It will be o.k. if I cover it during the cold", or "If it dies, I can get another one next year." Includes the delusion that shade growing will save many northern sun loving plants.

3. Hoarding of blankets, sheets, plastic and other protective gear in order to make vain attempts to save non-hardy zone plants from cold snaps.

4. Excessive container planting, followed by intensive transfer of potted plants to a warmer place (like inside your house) when it gets too cold. This tends to result in making your house a winter jungle, which can only be traversed with care, through very narrow avenues weaving between the pots.

5. Compulsion to make things bloom out of their zone, when a dozen or more people have quoted you horror stories about how they have tried and failed.

6. Weatherphilia, characterized by constant monitoring of weather stations, weather charts, statistical data, and may include having a weather board on your wall with all the charts and data attached. Includes almanacitis, which is a obsession with almanac information, and may include a tendency to collect almanacs from 20 years ago or more.

7. Argumentitive syndrome, characterized by a tendency to contradict and condemn anyone who says you can't grow something in your zone, coupled with an uncanny knowledge of statistical and anecdotal data to back up your opinion.

8. Catalog obssessivitis, characterized by a tendency to order every gardening catalog from every zone in the southern hemisphere, and an inability to refrain from buying dutch bulbs and planting them in zone 10.

9. Extreme mood swings, ranging from excessive elation over a single bloom to crying jags and depression over the death of a plant. Anger over inability to make plants conform to expectations is common, and may result in violent ripping out or chopping down of non-performing specimens, coupled with uncontrollable outbursts of obscenity.

There is no cure for this disorder, but with treatment, a reasonable level of reality can be instilled into the sufferer.