Garden Diary - October 19, 2016

Hibiscus Radiatus

Well, fall is coming in fast, and whereas parts of the gardens are going to sleep, others are just waking up.  The perennial hibiscus are starting to bloom. the H. radiatus (picture above) is blooming like mad and the Confederate Rose is showing signs of putting out buds.The angel trumpets have new buds coming up on the newly 'Y'd' root shoots. The hot pink regular four-o'clocks, which I can never catch in time to get a picture of, are blooming like mad, and the giant native four-o'clock that I cut down is coming back out and blooming.

 The yellow milkweed in the courtyard is blooming up a storm, but no sign of butterfly larvae yet. Last year, they laid so late on it that the larvae almost froze. I hope that doesn't happen this year. The milkweed I planted outside the courtyard isn't blooming at all, strangely enough.

Yellow Tropical Milkweed

I tried to plant some zinnia seeds in the courtyard, and they came up, but quickly died. Sad. I was hoping for something to attract pollinators, but I guess that will have to wait until Spring. As far as the veggies go, nothing is growing very well except the sweet potatoes and pigeon peas. The taro that died back is sending out about 20 new shoots, so I'm happy about that.

Of course, the Xanthasoma is still spreading and growing like mad, and I think it has put out its last bloom. I'm going to move the mother plant this winter sometime after it dies back, because it just isn't happy there anymore. I'll give it a home outside the wall somewhere. I have permission to plant a row of plants along the neighbor's wall, so maybe there.

Xanthasoma (Giant Elephant Ear) Bloom

I did transplant the tomato seedlings into their own pots; two into 5-gallon pots and two into 1/2 gallon pots. I actually have a volunteer pepper plant that I believe is a red pepper, so I'm trying to get that to grow. All the cayennes in pots died, but the one in the ground is still going strong, if not producing peppers.

I couldn't afford new potting soil, but I did add some perlite to the soil I have, because drainage is always a problem. I also added more holes around the bottom sides of the pot for more drainage. I hope it helps.

Some voracious beetle ate my lettuce, and I won't replant that. I have a nice pot of Talinum fruticosum that came up voluntarily, so I'll use that for greens for now. That plant has been my best source of summer greens, and while it can be invasive, it's so tasty and pretty, I'm going to keep it.

The bananas are growing every day, and I'm praying they ripen before the first big freeze.

Well, enough for now. Lots more going on, but I'm going to have to put that in another post so this one won't be too long.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Diary: October 9, 2016

The final blooms of the season of the desert rose

Last year when I brought in all the plants still in containers, I only had a small path left in the LR. This year, when I took the ones inside back out, I kept looking to see if I'd missed anything. Nope. All out. Shocked at just how few I have left to plant out, but then, I've stopped propagating every single trimmed branch (or I'd have 3 dozen hibiscus by now!). That was hard. I hate just tossing them on the ground to rot as chop-and-drop (one of my least favorite parts of permaculture), but that's life, right?

October is planting month for perennials and shrubs, so I'm planting out quite a few of what's left in pots. I imagine by the time winter rolls around, I will have hardly anything to bring in. By next summer, I will have rid myself of still more indoor plants that I'm just not interested in trying to keep alive anymore.

Maybe it's age, maybe it's infirmity, maybe I'm just burnt out on babying plants that don't want to grow well. Maybe I've been partially cured of my ZDD. Who knows? I just know that I was much happier in SC when I just let everything die back in the winter, and replanted them in the spring. I had very few houseplants and had no container plants outdoors that had to be brought in. The biggest thing I did was cut back the Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) to root in a bucket over the winter and give away to friends in the spring. The abundance of potted plants didn't happen until I got to SW FL and started into my "I need one of everything" phase. Stupid, that.

I'm glad I'm over it. I'm now very picky about what I grow. It must have a purpose; butterfly plant, edible plant, bee attractor, ground cover, etc. I don't plant things just to have them anymore, and I'm not hanging on to old favorites like I used to. With little to no shade here at present, my tropicals that I've kept indoors have suffered, so I'll either give them to someone who has more shade, or I'll come up with some sort of shade covering next year. I have to make things work here, because I'm not moving again anytime soon.

Life changes, and we have to change with it. I will always cherish the memories of my big yard in SW Florida and my large oaks under which I could grow just aboout anything I wanted. Those are lovely memories, and I miss my huge bromeliads and fruit trees sometimes, but it was a lot of work, and I'm not into a lot of work anymore. It makes me happy to hear the mowers running outside knowing I don't have to be pushing or riding them. It's nice to not have 200 plants to bring in out of storms and cold snaps. I may only have 300 sf to garden in, but I use it to its best advantage, so it's just enough for me.

Happy Gardening!

Month-by-Month in North Florida: What to Plant in October

Shasta Daisies
October in North Florida is the time when summer plantings are finished, and it's time to plant your winter crops, and some perennials and bulbs for spring blooms. It's also the last chance to plant strawberries, although you can still plant quite a few herbs. It's the best month to plant fruit trees and shrubs, so if you have been thinking of one, plant it now.

Vegetables to Plant in October

This is the month to plant all those leafy greens you are always hearing your should eat more of, as well as root crops like carrots, onions and turnips. You can still plant strawberries until mid-month, so if you don't have yours in yet, do it now.

* last month to plant these crops
** Only plant until the 15th

Arugula Beets Broccoli Brussels
Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chinese
Kale KohlrabiLettuce* Mustard
Radish Spinach Strawberry**

Ornamentals to Plant in October

With cooler weather coming up fast, annuals will start to fade, but if losing a few doesn't matter to you, plant whatever you find in your local garden center. A few hardier oranmentals you can add to your garden this month are

FoxglovePetuniaShasta Daisy

Bulbs to Plant in October

All the gingers can be planted this month, ornamental and edible.

There are a few varieties of Daffodil that do well in North Florida, but a warning: they may not bloom consistently in the lower sections of 9a. But if you are in 8b or upper 9a, here are a few you can try.

'Carlton''Fortune''Silver Chimes''Thalia''Sweetness'

Plant Thyme Now for Beautiful Spring Blooms

Herbs to Plant in October

October is a wonderful time to plant herbs. Some of the more tender herbs may need to be planted in containers to bring in during cold spells, but most can be planted right in your herb garden.


October is a lovely, cool month to work in your North Florida garden. Don't forget to gather the falling leaves for your compost pile or to use as mulch! If you have any questions about gardening here in Gainesville or the surrounding area, post them in the comments. If you like these posts and want to see more, you can subscribe in the sidebar by email or through a feed reader.

Happy Gardening!

Waiting On a Hurricane

Meet hurricane Matthew. This is what it looked like at 7:00 AM ET. It's ripping the east coast of FL apart as we speak, tearing down power lines, blowing away houses and knocking down trees. Over here in Gainesville, the effects are scheduled to start rolling in about 11:00 AM ET

The good news is that Matthew is now a Category 3,

Garden Diary: October 2, 2016

Not my sweeet potatoes, but these are the kind I planted

 Oh heavens! Is it October already? I'm flabbergasted! I need to get to work on the October planting post, but right now, I'm too busy trying to get my house ready for my sons to visit me. Of course, like most kids, I have no idea when they are coming. It was going to be the end of this month, then that