Paul Sarsfield's garden seems to be in an open field, but large oak trees a bit to the south shade it for several hours every day, especially in winter. Still the growth rate and production are fantastic.
His tomato plants are the best I've seen since Iowa, as tall as a person, dark green foliage, and hundreds of tomatoes, the first ones just ripe for eating. He has frost protection ready.
"I went away for a few days and came back to find blight starting," Paul says. "But I picked off all the diseased foliage and the plants seem to be growing past it.
Two rows of these tomatoes carefully staked are at one end of Paul Sarsfield's garden. Nine rows along a dozen heads of cabbage were starting to head in early December. "Last year," says his mother Della, I made 26 cabbage rolls from one head."
A row of white acorn squash suffered from powdery mildew. Still he got 24 squashes from 8 plants this fall and they are coming back since he sprayed them with cornmeal and water, then dusted them with non-fat powdered milk. Last spring he got 42 squash from 4 plants and saved the seed.
The rows of carrots and arugula, scallions, Vidalia onions and cabbage will grow right through frost and most freezes. When the photo was taken all but the cabbage were only about 6 weeks from seed and growing fast.
This soil is rich from plenty of mulch. Actually this spot was a goat barn 20 years ago, but Paul isn't sure that still counts. He uses newspapers and leaves for mulch and tills them into the soil between plantings. He hopes to solarize the soil next summer to reduce the weeds and disease spores. In the spring he will plant more squash, tomatoes, peppers, and scallions. One year he grew some of the best spinach I've ever seen in Florida. He also has habanero and Tobasco peppers and several large pots of blueberries.
Keep good records
Paul Sarsfield can tell you the name of every variety he has and where he got the seed. This way he can repeat the varieties that do well and avoid in the future the ones that don't.
Paul Sarsfield puts plastic cups over the top of his tomato stakes to keep them from tearing his frost cloth on threatening nights. Then he holds the cloth tight around the plants with bricks on the ground and snap clothes pins up the sides.