24 Sep 2012

October 2012 - Vegetable and Herb Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North: What to do now and what's happening


Octobers bring much promise to gardeners here at 20 degrees North and October 2012 is no exception.  This month ushers in lovely rains, cooler nights and shortening days with falling soil temperatures and visions of carrots, beetroot and parsnips popping through our freshly-composted gardens.  These root crops, along with radish, turnip, kohlrabi and swedes can now be directly sowed into our gardens.  Most importantly, the arrival of October signals that the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is behind us although we must now face the western Caribbean portion of the season.  This is the most dangerous time for persons living in this part of the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico.  Luckily, so far this season we have been blessed as most storms have stayed north.

In our gardens, greens such as bok choi, mizuna and swiss chard lead the charge on lettuce, kale and spinach, which come later on in the season when our temperatures drop further.  The 'great tomato transplant' can now begin in earnest although the danger of heavy rains and the resulting loss of some seedlings will continue well into November.  Irregardless, we should continue as this is but one of the challenges of living in the tropics and sub-tropics.  Other seedlings that can be transplanted during October include, sweet pepper, wong bok, kang kong, florence fennel, cabbage, and cauliflower.  Don’t forget to stick in some marigolds, basil, dill, parsley, thyme, scallions and rosemary to help create diversity of plant types, heights, scents and textures to deter pests and attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees.

The hydroponic project at Plantation Organic Gardens has been re-started with lettuce and new this year is a container gardening project utilising waste containers that we are excited to demonstrate.  This system is very simple but yet very effective with minimal time, effort and money.

Summer 2012 has been brutal with the heat index as high as 117 degrees Fahrenheit and ambient temperatures regularly around the low-to-mid 90s.  Luckily, the rains have been fairly regular throughout July, August and September 2012 and this has helped cool our days.  We had a standing joke at Market at the Grounds this Summer that goes something like this' "it's Saturday, it's market day and the downpours will soon come" as it seems that it rained every Saturday morning for the entire summer.  The mango season has been almost non-existent this year as a combination of early rains and bumper crops last year has had  their impact.  The avocado season has been fair thus far and this has been a blessing for those farmers that rely heavily on these and mango for the majority of their annual incomes.  Other summer fruit such as sweetsop, soursop, guinep, plum and custard apple have been great and a relatively new fruit to Cayman, longan, has been prolific thus far.

The GreenMarket by Plantation Organics located on Shedden Road is now open on Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays.  Our Sunday GreenMarket and Open House at Plantation House Gardens continues 2-5pm on Sundays and we continue to attend Market at The Grounds every Saturday.  Our monthly Tasting Event will re-start during the first week of November 2012.

Our annual "Outstanding in the Field" event, partnered with the Cayman Slow Food chapter and The Brasserie Restaurant, will be held on March 9, 2013.  So mark your calendars if you wish.

Until next time, Happy Gardening from our team at Plantation Organic Gardens.


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