Posts Tagged ‘Tropical Storm Debby’

After the Storm

Tropical Storm Debby pulled away on Wednesday after dropping a total of about 7 or 8 inches of rain on the area. As the skies cleared and the sun started to dry things out, I was able to return once again to my garden and make an inspection tour. I was actually very pleasantly surprised to find that nearly everything had not only come through unscathed, but seemed to have been relishing the deep, soaking rain. I will use the pictures I took during that tour to give you a quick guided tour.

The pictures below provide an overview of my vegetable garden. The first one shows two of my 4×4 raised beds in the foreground, with my cowpea patch just beyond. Although they’re hard to make out in this picture, I also have a row of green beans (White Half Runner) planted along the fence in the background. Those beans were planted in March and have about run their course, so I will be taking them out in the next day or two.


The next picture shows my SFG bed, a 4×4 raised bed which is the only bed I currently have planted in strict accordance with Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Garden specifications. As you can see, the plants in this bed are thriving, so thus far I give a big, green thumbs-up sign regarding this approach.


My fourth and final raised bed is the 3×6 bed shown below. Its primary purpose is to be a blueberry bed, but from this angle the two blueberry bushes are hard to discern. One is located just to the right of and slightly behind the bean tower in this picture; the other is in the mirror-image location on the left. The beans you see growing up past the top of the picture are Kentucky Wonder beans, all growing from a single square foot.


You may notice above that the square just to the left of the beans is empty. I had to remove the cucumbers previously growing there, because sometime during the storm, they succumbed to what I presume was a squash vine borer attack. Here is what they looked like when I found them.


Moving on to happier thoughts, the next two pictures show some bell peppers (Sweet California Wonder) and the first okra pod (Clemson Spineless) of the season.



The next two pictures show varieties I have never grown before, and which I am anxious to see on my dinner table. First, you can see a close-up of Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg beans. The pods become streaked with purple shortly before ripening. They are then allowed to dry on the vine before harvesting. The shelled beans themselves are very pretty little dried beans with a white or cream color, mottled with purple. Second, you can see a Fish pepper plant. It is now blooming quite a bit, and although I couldn’t get a good picture showing one, it has some little tiny pepper pods beginning to grow. Like the plant, the pods should be streaked with white.



I also noticed during this tour that the first of my cowpeas are developing pods. The picture below shows some California 46 Blackeyed peas on their way to becoming harvest-ready.


As you can see in this next picture, the marigolds are really beginning to come into bloom now.


And the rose bush I just planted the other day made it through the storm okay, even though it needed to be staked to stabilize it.


In my butterfly garden, several of the nectar sources are really popping out in blossoms. This picture shows some Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea).


Next is one of only three species of lantana native to Florida, Lantana depressa, so named because it stays low to the ground, rarely exceeding a foot in height.


Towering above the other plants in the area is this rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium). This is the same blossom that I showed being weighed down by the rain in my Wordless Wednesday Walkaround blog post earlier this week.

As an aside in case you are wondering, I do have other tall varieties planted nearby; they just haven’t grown yet. I am hoping they will catch up by late summer.


Since the storm left, I have noticed an incredible number of butterflies hanging around, but I have yet to get a picture worth posting. So far, I have seen several Zebra Longwings (Florida’s state butterfly), a couple Giant Swallowtails, a Black Swallowtail, and numerous Gulf Fritillaries. Speaking of Gulf Fritillaries, I found several Gulf Fritillary caterpillars on my passion vine, including the one in the next picture.


Before signing off, to keep from leaving you with the false impression that everything made it through the storm without problems, I’ll show a couple examples of things that didn’t fare quite so well. First, before the storm I had quite a display of tithonia torch (Tithonia rotundiflora) blossoms here and there around the yard. They are supposed to look like this:


Unfortunately, most of them now look like this:


I also have a couple hills of young, still rather tender pigeon pea bushes. The sandy soil nearby must have taken quite a pounding with the rain, as the plants now look like those below. Although they are still standing upright, I am concerned about the sand filtering too much light, inhibiting photosynthesis. For that reason, I will try to gently wash the sand off the leaves tomorrow. However, anyone who has tried to wash sand off themselves or anything else following a visit to the beach will recall that sand doesn’t loosen its grip easily, especially with just a gentle washing.


I will leave you with that for now. I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour around my garden!

Happy Gardening!

If I promise to miss you, will you go away?

I wish I could tell you how much rain Tropical Storm Debby dropped on the area before pulling away, but I can’t; she hasn’t left yet. Between squalls yesterday, I emptied the rain gauge shortly before it would have overflowed. The marks on the gauge go up to five inches, so it was a bit more than that. I emptied it again this evening, but it only had a bit over an inch then. Now, it looks like it could start pouring any minute. Rain chance overnight is at 70% and then 80% tomorrow. It looks like it should start to dry out on Thursday or Friday.


But I’m not complaining!! It has obviously caused me to curtail my gardening activities, but we have been bone dry this year until now, and this storm could have been a whole lot worse. Locations along Florida’s Gulf coast have had several times this amount of rain, leaving a number of areas flooded. I also remember the summer of 2004, when we had three full-fledged hurricanes (Charley, Frances, and Jeanne) come through here in a matter of six weeks! Even as I write this, western states such as Colorado are experiencing hot temperatures and devastating fires, and the northeast is melting from record heat coupled with humidity. So, all things considered, Debby has actually been a rather well-behaved guest, as tropical systems go. But she has overstayed her welcome. Truth be told, I’m just itching to get back out in my garden, that’s all.

Still, I did manage to do a couple things garden-wise today. The sun came out for a little while this afternoon between rain squalls, so I was able to expose my fall starter tray to a few rays. This is sorely needed, as several of the plants, tomatoes in particular, are getting quite leggy.


I also had time between rains to harvest some green beans. It’s not a huge harvest, but it’s enough to allow the two of us to have beans with a couple meals. You can see for yourself in the picture below. These are a combination of White Half Runner and Kentucky Wonder. With any luck, I should be able to pick another batch in about a week or so.


Well, here comes the rain again! Seriously. I’m not making this up.

Rainy Days and Sundays

We don’t get very many rainy days here in Florida. Now, before you look at me like I’ve flipped my lid, note that I did not say we don’t get very many days with rain here. We do. Hardly a day goes by in the summer without it raining. On a typical summer day, we will have sunshine in the morning, clouds at midday, and then by sometime in the afternoon, the skies let loose with lightening all around, gusty winds, and blinding, driving, torrential rains. And then it’s over. The rain stops, the wind dies down, and the sun comes back out.

That’s not what I’m talking about. A “rainy day” is one of those days when you wake up to rain, have rain throughout the day, and when the sun goes back down, it’s still raining. On the rare occasions when we do get this kind of a rainy day, the rain usually has a name. Today has been one of those days, and the rain’s name is Debby. That name was assigned by the US National Hurricane Center yesterday evening when Debby reached tropical storm status.


I snapped this picture about an hour ago, and it has continued to rain since then. For those of you more accustomed to the metric scale, the other side of the gauge shows a reading of about 7 cm.

I don’t know how much we will end up with before this system moves out. The forecasts have been very inaccurate up to this point. In fact, based on last night’s forecast, I went to bed with the expectation of spending today gardening. That didn’t happen. Nonetheless, I’m still grateful. So far, we have been spared the really heavy rain, and we haven’t had any winds of consequence.

About the only gardening I’ve accomplished today was a little bit of tending to my fall garden’s starter tray. The tomato and pepper seedlings are big enough now to where I was able to select the strongest specimens and to clip out the rest. I always feel a twinge of guilt when I play God like that, but I know it’s for the best. So, with just a few scissors snips, I got that starter tray down to one plant per square. Pretty soon I will be moving them into individual pots to carry them through the next phase. They are getting a bit leggy now, so if it ever stops raining, I’ll start exposing them to more sunshine.

Just not today. Debby says otherwise.