Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

The Japanese Blueberry Tree that Started it All

January 31st, 2009 by Matthew Steinhoff

Our 2008 Christmas Tree: A Japanese BlueberryIn mid-December 2008, we went looking for a Christmas tree. We ended up with a Japanese Blueberry Tree. (In 2007, it was a cataphyla tree. Before that, it was a Honeybell tree.)

Our Non-Traditional Christmas Tree Tradition

A few years back, we decided it was stupid to spend a lot of money on a Christmas tree that we were just going to throw away in a few weeks. Better that we spend about the same amount of money on a tree that we could carry outside and plant at the end of the Christmas season.

Even if the tree died inside or didn’t do well in our yard, at least we started out with good intentions.

Unfortunately, finding a tree can be difficult. Our requirements:

  • Must survive two to three weeks inside.
  • Must be less than eight feet tall, including the pot.
  • Must be awesome. (No ficus or other typical office plants.)

A Dozen Nurseries But One Stands Apart

Growers Choice, Inc. - Grow Your Own FoodWhile scouting for trees, we came across Grower’s Choice, Inc. on Northlake Blvd. west of Military Trail.

They weren’t yet fully open at this expanded location but we ran into Tim Whelan, the owner.

What set Grower’s Choice apart from the other nurseries is that it had a huge area for vegetables. There were a dozen varieties of tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, bird peppers, three different types of eggplant, herbs, lettuce of two kinds, broccoli and many others as well.

w8684-tim_whelanTim spent several minutes pointing out all the plants and giving us growing tips. He was also very proud of his tomatoes. He put our four-year-old son to work plucking sweet sun sugar tomatoes and passing them around. Tim explained that they were going to have a demonstration garden up and running when the nursery opened. I got a card and told him we would be looking forward to the grand opening.

Pitching the Story to Jan Norris, South Florida Food Blogger

After visiting Grower’s Choice, I immediately called Jan Norris. She runs a South Florida Food Blog. I was totally excited by the whole grow-your-own-food concept. As exciting as the idea sounded, I knew nothing about gardening and didn’t have any time to learn. But, certainly she could do some research and find out more about farming.

Our Own, Modern, Victory GardenNorris was lukewarm to the idea. Home vegetable gardens come and go every couple decade, she said. She would need to think about it. Needless to say, what was just an idea in December is an actual garden today.

Helpers, Sponsors and Advisors

Tim Whelan was kind enough to donate my first garden’s worth of food. He’ll also be answering any gardening questions I might have. (Grower’s Choice is located on Northlake Boulevard a couple miles west of I-95. Be sure to check out their demonstration garden.)

Jan Norris is going to tell me what to do with what it is I’m growing. My culinary goals are low: I want to make salsa and have a salad.

Our Own Modern Victory Garden

Well, maybe ‘victory’ is putting the cart before the horse. The raised-bed is built and the soil is in place. We even put in our first crop last week.

This blog will cover our vegetable garden experiment. We’ll cover construction, what we planted, what problems we ran into and, in general, what it took to get food. Throughout the process, keep checking back to see how we are doing.

Live GardenCam: Broadcasting Now

You, too, can watch my food grow. If this become really popular, I may have to take the live camera offline. Until then, please keep watch and let me know if you see any bugs.


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