June 11th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Andres Mejides, Homestead, FL

Fennel, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes will continue to grow here in summer, but they are very iffy if STARTED in spring—we would normally start them in late fall. I figured, what the heck, I’ll give’m a shot anyway. Should’ve shot them with a bazooka instead. Quicker, and more merciful. Started both cherry tomatoes, 3 hot peppers, and fennel in 55% shade house, where they germinated beautifully and grew to transplant size. Once they went into beds, they struggled for a few weeks, then died. Same with ‘Beananza’ beans that were touted to be heat resistant. 

 

But, actually some good news! Basil ‘Aton’ is doing well. It is a slow grower in this heat and rain (triple-digit heat index, 4″- plus rain earlier this week!) but it is showing no signs of the usual basil diseases that plague us. The Asian and African basils do much better for us, and some of our plants are reaching the decade anniversary, even with last year’s freeze! The ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’ marigold is also holding its own. It isn’t anywhere near as big as the other variety that I planted a month earlier, but is just about to bud.

 

The real success story is the two All-America Selections zinnias—’Double Zahara Fire’ and ‘Double Zahara Cherry’. Again, they went in a little later than I usually transplant zinnias but they are doing well. Had about 80% survival rate after transplant. Not bad with temperature swings. I knew our high humidity would be a great test of foliar diseases that decimate zinnias here. NOT A SIGN! And, as advertised, they are self-branching too! Can’t wait to see if I can keep them going a few years, like my others. Annual is a relative term here!  

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