Jupiter Farms garden...before the frost

Living in Jupiter Farms, we have the luxury of owning land.  I have 1.5 acres.  With the easements on 2 sides, I have an effective piece of land which is much bigger.

About 5 years ago, we decided to plant a garden.  We bought seed from the local Home Depot and used some techniques my wife had used on gardens before, such as raised beds and straw in between the planting rows.

We have had varying success.  In 2004 and 2005 we were punished by hurricanes coming through the area and wiping out all our work.  Discouraged, I stopped working in the garden for a year of two.  Then, last year I decided to change tactics.                    
I found a guy here in the Farms who cleans out horse stalls and consequently is always looking for a place to dispose of shavings and manure.  What a perfect combination for a struggling garden!

I called him and he delivered 2  ten yard loads to my house and dumped them way away from the house.  As you may or may not know, horse manure is very "hot" and has to cool down before you can use it.  So, I let it sit.

Then, during the summer I started moving it back to the garden and working it into the soil.  My chickens were happy to come help with the project occasionally turning over a worm or grub, a real treat for them!  This was in the happy days when the birds roamed the yard freely before the resident bobcat decided to pick off some of my birds.  They don't have this luxury anymore, I have to protect them.

Back to the story:  I worked the soil and we planted early.  Mustard greens, the largest plants in the pictures and which kind of look like tobacco, were the first and fastest plants to come up.  Following the mustards were collards, peppers and tomatoes and of course, lettuce.

Things were going really well until the record cold days on January.  We picked most of the crop to keep it from freezing and then covered the garden.  In hindsight, we probably could have left it uncovered.

As I have posted before, I share the crop yield with friends and needy neighbors....and the chickens.  When I do let them out, the first stop upon leaving the pen is the tomato plants where they steal red veggies that the squirrels have somehow missed.

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