Springtime in Celebration - Celebration, Florida

Spring has arrived in Celebration and to me, a full time transplant from Iowa, that means that it is time to put in a garden.

However, gardening is so different and difficult here.  The sandy soil, the high summer heat and the soil nematodes makes putting in a successful in-ground garden almost impossible. That’s why I like to grow some of my garden veggies in pots. One of my favorite vegetables is a flavorful, home grown and vine ripened tomato. Great on salads, BLTs, or just popping into your mouth.

I have been growing heirloom yellow pear tomatoes lately. These old heirloom tomatoes grow great in pots. Start your seeds right in the pot and you will have tomatoes 70-80 days later. I started mine just before Thanksgiving and had my first crop by the first week of February. I did have to take the pots in several nights when it got below 42. It is suggested that you don’t start the seeds here until February or early March but I wanted to see if it could be done. These little tomatoes grow like cherry tomatoes. Each potted plant will produce loads of small fruits, up to a bushel. The plants do need a cage, as the vine gets quite large. One of the best features of this tomato is that it will produce far into the summer. Most tomatoes stop setting fruit when the average daily high temperatures top 85 degrees. These tomatoes, like most cherry tomatoes, will keep right on setting on the vine at these high Florida temperatures.  Make sure you give them plenty of water and remember to fertilize the plant every couple of weeks.  Your tomato plants will love you for it. Try these little fellows.  You will soon be enjoying fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes.

Our club had a wonderful presentation last month by Tricia and Dave Alesbury, past president of the Celebration Garden Club. They have a one-acre garden, twenty years in the making, in western England that is a horticulturalists delight. They discussed the many varied planting beds in the garden, the greenhouse, the fertilizers needed and the history of the area. The pictures were gorgeous. If anyone in the club, or anyone else for that matter, wish to see the Zoom recording, please contact Brad at Docwags@gmail.com.

This month’s lecture will be on roses. Beautiful roses can be grown in Florida with some special care. Teresa Watkins, a local garden expert, will present her lecture at our monthly meeting on March 17, 9 a.m.  She will tell us what special care is needed to produce long lasting and lush roses.

This month is also the month where we are having our our spring pine straw sale. Pine straw is a fine alternative to bark chips for mulching your plants. It helps prevent weed growth and it will stay in place when heavy summer rains come. Check out our website, CelebrationGardenclub.org, for sales information.

Our Club is always open to new members.  Come as a guest to our Zoom meeting this month and consider joining this fall when we have in person meetings again at Heritage Hall. Dues are $30 a year. We have six monthly meetings, six, or more, field trips and work sessions to take care of the Memorial Garden and school grounds. We have a lot of fun at our meetings too!

Stay safe and get your vaccine!

By Brad Wagoner

Celebration Garden Club President