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Garden Diary and Life Update - May 25, 2017

First, I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long. I've had a lot going on with the garden and work and life in general. Plus I'm lazy. If I can garden instead of writing blog posts about gardening, that's what I'm going to do. When I finish this post, I have to go water my garden and plant out some more starter plants and seedlings before it gets too hot. What am I talking about? It's already too hot. I should be planting things at night, because it's been in the 90s every day. Even the marigold cuttings I planted out struggle.

I'm thinking of making major life changes. While I love this little apartment and my tiny gardens, I am feeling like my life is too stagnant. After moving 5 times in 5 years, I thought I wanted to settle into one place for awhile, but I'm getting that urge to move again. When I was young, my father built highways. My childhood just happened to come right in the middle of the building of the interstate highway system, so basically, every 5 years, we would move to another city for him to build another highway. Before I bought my house in SW Florida, I basically moved every 5-6 years. No matter where I was, I got itchy after a few years and wanted to move.

I've been here in Gainesville for a little over three years, and I don't know why I moved here now. I thought I would love it because there is such a large gardening community here, but that just hasn't turned out the way I thought it would. Plus, I've found that without a vehicle, I am really unable to participate in a lot of activities. I don't see the point in buying a vehicle when it will sit in the parking lot most of the time, and just be a burden.

I've been watching van living videos. I don't know why. I found one quite by accident one day about a 53 year old woman living in a van, and it peaked my interest. I've since found that there is a huge community of people living in all sorts of vehicles, from cars to vans to RVs to motor homes. There are free places to camp all over the U.S. in national parks and forests, and really cheap campsites with amenties at state parks. I could go on about this, but basically, there are people living and traveling alll over the country on less than what I get in Social Security.

So now I'm feeling trapped again, and have decided to get rid of most of what I own, put the rest in storage, and move into a van for a year to see the country. If I like it, I'll keep doing it until it's untenable, but if I don't, I can always just move into another apartment somewhere, hopefully, closer to my son and somewhere that isn't so hot in the summer.

So how do I garden in a van? I guess I won't. I have two plants that I have had for many years that were gifts from my mother, so I'll take those with me. I've thought I could probably put a small shelf with a small grow-light somewhere in the van and grow a few herbs or african violets. Right now, it's just in the preparation stages, and I don't even know how I'm going to get the money for this van, so stay tuned for that.

Anyway, the plan is to stay here another year, work hard to make money, try to set up some sort of passive income (probably with affiliate marketing and maybe a YouTube channel), buy and outfit the van and take off in July 2018 when my lease expires. In the meantime, I have a few months of gardening I can still do, so I'll still be posting about that as usual, in fact, I'm going to be doing some videos on YouTube if I can ever figure out how to work this Samsung Galaxy tablet my son sent me to do them, then figure out how to edit them, upload them, etc.. I am not a tech person, so this will be a challenge.

In the meantime, for anyone close to Gainesville, I will be giving away and selling a lot of gardening stuff and plants before I go, so stay tuned and get ready to dig!

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


May is when the heat usually hits North Florida, and we consider it the beginning of summer. Not much will grow from seed this time of year, in fact this year (2017) has been so hot that my pepper seeds I planted last month never sprouted.

Vegetables to Plant in North Florida in May 

Fried Okra Is an Old Southern FavoriteImage Credit Lahti 213 CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


There is still time to plant these three vegetables from seed, which have so many different varieties, if you like them, you could fill your garden with only these. If you don't plant to do any summer gardening, plant some southern peas as a cover crop. They are great nitrogen fixers, practically grow themselves, and you can harvest the dried peas and turn the plants into your fall garden soil for organic matter.

Okra Southern Peas Swiss Chard

Veggies You Can Still Grow from Starter Plants

There are a wide variety of eggplants you can grow in your summer garden.

Even though not many standard veggies will grow from seed this month, there are still plenty of opportunites to start a summer garden with starter plants from your local garden center or big box store. I have a Ichiban eggplant I planted last week in a container, and already have a frut on it.

Veggies you can grow from starter plants are:


Peppers Cherry Tomatoes Eggplants

I suggest planting sweet peppers in a spot shaded from the afternoon sun, or you're likely to get sunburned fruit. Many hot peppers are also ornamental, so mix them in and amongst your ornamental plants.

I especially love cherry tomatoes, but with so little space, I only have two varieties growing; SuperSweet 100 and Everglades. Despite being a native tomato, Everglades fades pretty quickly once the temperatures get too high, so I always have a few clones going.


Cloning Tomatoes

Speaking of clones, this is an excellent time to start clones of your regular tomatoes for planting in the fall. Simply snip or snap out suckers (shoots that come out from above a leaf) about 6 inches tall, stick them in a jar of water indoors, or bury them deeply in a pot in a shady space outdoors, and you will have all the tomatoes you need for fall planting. I already have my Cherokee Purple clones stuck and growing.

Annuals to plant in May in North Florida

Salvias and Sages are some of the best flowering plants for your summer garden.
There are not a lot of annuals that can take the summer heat, and this late, it is better to use starter plants. Fortunately for gardeners wanting lots of color in their summer gardens, salvias and sages are plants that come in a myriad of colors, sizes and shapes, and it loves our hot summers.

Salvia Angelonia Wax Begonia Ornamental Peppers

Bulbs to plant in May in North Florida:


This is the month to plant daylilies. These plants have come a long way since the days when they grew wild in ditches along the roadways (thus the name "ditch lily"). Did you know that the species plants, the original ditch lilies, are edible? Yes, every part of the plant is edible; buds, leaves, and roots. The hybrids are also edible, but most don't taste too good; trust me, I've tried.

There are a wide variety of tropical and non-traditional vegetables that also love our hot, humid summer, so subscribe to the blog to find out more about those in future posts.

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Garden Diary: Seed Report - April 27, 2017




This has not been a good year for growing peppers from seed, and it seems I'm not the only one complaining. Our of all the seeds I planted, so far, I have:

Garden Diary: April 16, 2017

Heirloom Amaryllis - Either Stargazer or Starburst, Not Sure.

I've been so busy working in the garden lately, I have had no time to write about it. The weather in the early morning is so beautiful and perfect for gardening. Soon enough, it will be too hot to garden,

WBITG - Sping is Springing Fast in Flowers!



In case you don't know, WBITG stands for What's Blooming In The Garden. I've sort of slacked up on these posts lately, but I'd like to get back to them, so here goes.

It's April 2, and it seems to be very quickly moving into summer. The temperature today is predicted

Month-by-Month in North Florida: What to Plant in April (UPDATED for 2017)


April is the last planting month for many vegetables in North Florida before the heat of summer comes. There are actually very few vegetables you can still start from seed, but there are oh so many

Month-by-Month in North Florida: What to Plant in March (UPDATED FOR 2017)



This is one of our prime planting times in North Florida, the time when we plant most of what people consider summer annuals and vegetables. There are still a few hardier winter crops you can plant, but

Garden Diary: March 10, 2017


Triple Yellow Datura
Finally got in the mood and planted some seeds yesterday  and today, but only a few of each. Got some of the seeds from eBay, so hoping they are good. I think

Garden Diary: March 7, 2017

Pigeon Pea Flowers

I've finally started working in the gardens, and so far, I've gotten a lot done. Unfortunately, I am not pleased with the camera on my phone, so don't have a lot of pics for you today. I'm going to have to

Garden Diary: February 12, 2017


Memories of last summer's garden
It's a sad day in the garden. I managed to keep a brugmansia limb with a seed pod alive for months, but today I noticed that the seed pod had gotten mushy and the stem was rotting.

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


February gardening in North Florida is generally a time of preparation, cleaning and planning.  Temperatures are still cool and there is still a chance of a hard freeze.

February is also a month of transition. It is the last month to plant a second crop of your fall/winter vegetables. If you didn't get around to planting your fall and winter garden, there are still quite a few cool-weather vegetables that have time to bear before hot weather.

But February is also the month we start looking to our spring gardens, starting seeds indoors for peppers and tomatoes and planting our watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, cucumbers and sweet corn.

Vegetables to plant in North Florida in February:

It's time to plant your melons! Watermelon and cantaloupe can be planted this month. February is the last month to plant Irish potatoes and many of your favorite fall/winter veggies.

* Last month to plant these vegetables.
** First month to plant these vegetables


ArugulaBeets*Broccoli*Brussels
Sprouts*
Cabbage* Cantaloupes**
CarrotsCauliflower*Celery*Chinese Cabbage* Collards* Corn, Sweet**
Cucumbers**Eggplant**Endive/ Escarole*Kale* KohlrabiLettuce*
Mustard*Onions, BunchingPeas, SnowPeppers**Potatoes, Irish*Squash, Summer **
Squash, Winter**Tomatoes**Watermelon**


Annuals to plant in February in North Florida:


Pansies and violas are still going strong in the garden, but in February you can add plants in the dianthus family (pinks, sweet Williams, and carnations) and dusty miller, which look beautiful growing together.

Dianthus Pansy ViolaDusty Miller


Bulbs to plant in February in North Florida:


It's the time of year to plant some of our favorite bulbs here in North Florida. Crinum lilies come in a wide array of colors, shapes and sizes and are a Southern passalong plant. If you want something showy in your garden, add some gorgeous blue Agapanthus, also known as Lily of the Nile. They also come in white, so mix them up for a bold display. Dahlias are native to Mexico, but are hardy to Zone 8, so they do very well in North Florida. Their flowers range from two inches across to dinnerplate size, in a multitude of colors, so if you have room, go crazy with these classic beauties.

DahliaCrinumAgapanthus

Flowering Shrubs and Trees to Plant in February in North Florida:

If you want to choose flowering shrubs for planting to add late winter color to your yard, Red Maple, Spirea and Star Magnolia flower in February.

Only one more month before the freezing weather is gone and gardening begins in earnest here in North Florida! It's hard not to get excited this time of year and plant too early, but remember that there is still that slight chance of a hard freeze, so be patient with the more cold-tender plants so you will not have to start over later in the month.



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Photo Credit: 
Agapanthus By Denis Conrado; el Lavras, Brazilo., CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Garden Diary - January 8, 2017: The First Winter Freeze



The first big freeze of 2017 here in N. Florida has left me with a lot of damage  in my tiny garden. I didn't cover anything but one brugmansia with a seed pod on it, because I wanted to see just what could survive a freeze and what couldn't. It seems that the courtyard does not offer as much protection as I had thought, but the south facing fruit wall garden doesn't seem to have had much damage at all, just like last year.

So here are the winners and the losers:

In The Courtyard

Strangely enough, the Cherokee Purple tomato is badly wilted, while the Supersweet 100 next to it seems fine so far (see pic above). Luckily, I have a couple of rooted suckers from the CP, so I can replant that once it gets warmer. By the way, that trellis to the right is one I picked up from beside the dumpster. It has a broken leg and is a bit rusted, but I can fix all that and it will be pretty with some Cardinal Climber planted on it, from seeds I rescued from a plant down the road just recently.

The banana plants sustained major cold damage to the leaves, but I won't know about the fruit until it either turns black and falls off or continues to grow. I don't see how it can survive another cold night, though, and we have many more to come this winter. It would have been nice to have bananas, but it wasn't meant to be.


 

Tender plants in the courtyard, such as the Phillipine Spinach are wilted, but the milkweed looks fine. I think this is the last hurrah for the giant elephant ear, though. It usually goes completely dormant after the first real freeze, so no great loss there, since I'm taking it out this year anyway. The collards and kohlrabi are fine, if still growing at a snail's pace, and the kohlrabi refuses to bulb.

The Brugmansia Bed



The only plant I covered was the brug with a seed pod, and it still wilted. I cut one limb with a seed pod off and have it in water in the house. I may do the same with the other seed pod branch, because I'd really like to get some seeds. Some parts of the brugs have wilted leaves and some don't One is defiantly still blooming.  They normally die to the ground and reemerge in spring, and they are going to come out and be moved anyway, so I'm not too worried about them.

The oyster plants in the brug bed border all have frozen foliage, which is to be expected since they are Z10 plants, but they have leaves piled around them, so they may come back from the base. I've had that happen many times before in SW FL during freezes. Still, I will probably go dig up and pot the largest clump and cover the others with pots tonight.

The Hibiscus Bed 

The hibiscus seem to be fine, and are still blooming this morning. I'm sure after another night of cold, they will likely drop all their flowers, but that's o.k., because I'm planning on whacking those back severely in February. Everything in the bed underneath seems to be fine, save a few exposed frozen leaves of the wandering jew. Even the shrimp plant survived, but I've taken several cuttings from that in anticipation of its death, which will go into the shadiest part of the new butterfly garden this year.

The South-facing Fruit Wall Bed

Of course, everything in this bed is fine, as usual. Not even the yellow cannas have gone completely dormant. I did see red on the Confederate Rose leaves, and the coleus will probably not survive another night of cold, but that's fine, because it's supposed to go completely dormant anyway. The pigeon pea blooms seem to be frozen, but I can't tell. It's a pretty tough plant. Everything has 3-4 inches of oak leaves protecting its roots, so I don't see anything not surviving the winter, unless we have some strange arctic express or something later on.

So that's it for the first freeze. We are expecting even colder temps tonight, so the bananas and tender things will likely not survive, but that's nature.

Happy Gardening!

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