One of the things we enjoy here in Cedar Key is our island climate - a microclimate. Most of our states are miles away from our oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, leaving us unaware of a year round climate exclusive to our islands. My first year round experience of Florida islands was New Smyrna Beach. These islands are barrier islands with shifting sands and amazing salt content of the air.
On the other hand, the Cedar Key islands are set in a relatively calm environment surrounded by salt water. The water tends to moderate temperatures, taking those cold northwest fronts and warming the air; in contrast, taking those hot July days and cooling them by gentle breezes blowing across the water.
Many of us who grow ornamentals have to be aware as well as vegetable growers of salt air and its effect. Many plants cannot stand a single salt spray upon their leaves and soon drop all leaves or simply die. I do not know of a single vegetable plant that will survive these conditions and very few ornamentals.
Many of us have microclimates around our homes - included are northern shaded areas, sun, intense southern and western exposures, and the eastern side, generally a blend of shade and heat.
One of the most common discussions I have with fellow islanders is containerized tomato plants! Here are a few of my thoughts: young plants are good in small pots of four to six inches; full grown plants should be in three to five gallon pots, so increase your pot size two to three times; black pots increase soil temperature and try to avoid them; place in full sun (six plus hours a day); avoid salt air and use a low nitrate fertilizer; and by all means maintain even watering to avoid blossom end rot.
I walk through my garden all the time looking under leaves for insects, proper leaf color and structure, and above all - things that are different! I planted a hundred foot row to broccoli transplants that were in three inch peat pots. As time went on I noticed some plants grew better than others even though conditions were the same for all of them. I knew that I should have a more uniform stand of broccoli in this row. Water and fertilizer were identical to all as I use fertigation. After harvest the remaining plant is removed and that is where I found my answer. That harmless little peat pot that I buried restricted root growth and caused smaller, less productive plants. I doubt that I ever again will direct plant broccoli in peat pots.
This experience leads me to a most important subject: personal garden research! By all means ask another gardener for advice or call your agricultural agent. By research and experience - not publications - I can tell when mustard plants are ending their life cycle. I squeeze green peppers to feel their flex to determine green stage maturity. Thin walled peppers flex easily so they need more growth before harvest. Potato blossoms on top small potatoes under ground! This is personal research so by all means make this a part of your gardening experience! Next time: annuals - biennials - perennials.
Mash your melons,