Friday, March 23, 2012

farming in florida...

Let me start with the last days our road trip...while the memories are still fresh.  We spent a few days in the Homestead/Florida City area...the last stop before heading south along the Keys.  We were in farming country...and hubby quite liked that.  Immediately next to our hotel...a crew was busy planting papaya seedlings.  He went to investigate...and learned how things are done in southern Florida. 

This is what that papaya crop should look like within a year's time...ten to fifteen feet tall and bearing lots of fruit.  The soil is basically coral in this area...and irrigation is a simple matter since the water table lies just a few feet below the surface (everywhere).  Papayas do best in soil that is high in organic matter (coral is good, it seems)...and thrive in tropical climates.  There are obviously no papayas growing where we come from!

The corn harvest was in full March!  Corn is something we are quite familiar we grew corn for the fresh market for many years.  We planted in April or May and harvested late summer.  In Florida, most annual crops are planted immediately after Thanksgiving and harvested before Easter.  After that...too hot!  It was surprising to see that such short stalks could produce fair-sized cobs.

We watched trucks of fresh green beans coming from the fields...

...and large fields of tomatoes ripening in the sun. 

And then we stopped by 'Robert is Here'...a fruit stand which has become a well known tourist attraction.  It seems Robert grows much of his own produce...some bearing names I had never heard of before.  Mamey Sapote looked most interesting...'tastes like a fruity pumpkin pie.'

Just down the road from Robert's farm...and at the entrance to Everglades National Park...we visited a farm of an entirely different sort.  Everglades Alligator Farm is a real working to the public.

Beneath those murky waters lurk many alligators.

We strolled the paths...and watched the alligators being fed.  And I wished my grands were there to see it all.  I myself was not endeared to them!

We took an airboat ride through the swamp...of course!  I managed to keep my camera dry...for the most part.  As for me...I was drenched and my white T-shirt was no longer white when the ride was over.

Though it was mostly about alligators out there in the swamps...there were many birds keeping them company out there.  The birds were more photogenic! 

And that ends my farm tour in southern Florida for today. 


  1. Alligators...ohhhhhh...

    Lots of new and interesting things to see in Florida. I love that Elmer acts on his curiosity. So does John. I would go through life wondering.

  2. Papaya seedlings that grow to that height in a year - wow! I wonder if there would be any way of duplicating that in Canada? An indoor compost heap? There was a fruit stand in Osoyoos that had bananas growing in a greenhouse at the back. What fascinating things you saw - including the short corn crop.

  3. Your trip looks amazing...although I would have skipped the alligators :)

  4. That air boat ride would have given me second thoughts. I guess I've seen one too many mysteries on TV that feature an air boat in an alligator swamp!

  5. Judy- Fascinating holiday from start to finish. You are sure to hit all the interesting points! Great farming pic's Thanks for the post cards and the blogging.

  6. You're right - corn plants in Texas don't look anything like Fraser Valley corn either, but those tomato plants are huge! Like me, you seem happy to see the alligator farming and not experience it... You might have wanted the parents with the grands to be sure they'd stay far enough away! Thanks for posting while the memories are fresh...

  7. I learnt something new today....coral soil and papaya. Our Chilliwack corn would put that short corn to shame...did you eat some?
    Alligators...that would have been a fun boat tour....worth the dirty shirt:)

  8. That's amazing that those seedlings grow like that in a year! Glad you made it through the air boat trip without falling overboard! That really would be a fun fruit stand to see!

  9. Lots of new info about how our food gets grown. So glad you did get a swamp tour. Ours was in a very small and quiet boat that slide through still waters, but someday I would love to experience an air boat tour too.
    You and Elmer take the BEST trips! Don't stop traveling!

  10. Thanks for giving me a travelogue through places I'll probably never get to see in person! All those wonderful foods - wonder what all has to happen to import them to us in Canada.

  11. I had NO idea what a papaya plant/tree looked like!!

    WHAT an interesting post and how differently farming is in different parts of the country!

    I think I have missed a few of your posts so I am going now to see where you have been and what you have been doing. I love to 'travel'.....any way I can!!!

  12. Those papaya trees reminded me of the ones we saw in Indonesia. I love papaya much more than pineapples.

  13. Fascinating, Judy... the Papaya crop is so interesting- amazing how it can grow like that in a year!
    I didn't realize their corn stalks weren't tall like ours!
    I'm with you .. the alligators can stay out of sight under the murky water!

  14. It looks like you had plenty of fascinating things to do. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Oh so interesting. I love seeing you in my minds eye....I have such a vivid imagination that I even manage to create the conversation regarding it all.

  16. You shared so many interesting stories from your trip. I really enjoyed reading every one of them. Not sure I would have liked the ride through the alligator domain, but I am glad you documented it for us. You should write a book.

  17. We passed very quickly through all the Keys on our way to Key West last trip, with no time to explore the other Keys. I would have loved to see Robert's stand and try some of those exotic fruits and vegetables! The alligators and swamps look so prehistoric, don't they?

  18. I'm glad you showed us the papaya I know what a certain couple of trees in my neighborhood are! Funny looking things.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson