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Change in Gardening & Life Plans

I know I have not done much in this blog for the last couple of months, and I apologize for that. I've been going through a lot of personal stuff, and I have lost my enthusiasm for gardening.

As some of you know, I waited six months to get a community garden plot, but after only a couple of weeks of having it, I gave it back and they graciously returned my money. I have faced the fact that I am now not healthy enough to take care of a big garden. In fact, I'm really burned out

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

Garden Diary: September 15, 2017

Well, Hurricane Irma has come and gone, and I still have a living room full of plants. I wanted to do some much-needed maintenance before I put them back out, but I've been so exhausted, it didn't get done.

Everything fared well. A few plants got bent over, but I have propped them back up, and they seem to be fine now. Gladly, it hasn't rained for a few days, so maybe I can avoid losing so much to root rot.

I'm going tomorrow to be assigned my

Garden Diary: August 26, 2017

The Only Triple Datura Bloom So Far in the Butterfly Garden

So, here I am again. I know I've been neglectful of the blog, but summer is such a hard time for me. But  now is fall planting time, so I want to catch you up on what's been happening in the garden.

Peppers - Finally!

As you may remember, I planted pepper seeds last spring, hardly any of which sprouted. I vowed to try again in the fall, which I have, the difference being,

Graden Diary: August 3, 2017

The Little Ruby Alternanthera is Taking Over the Outside Garden
The heat, the heat, the heat --- the rain, the rain, the rain -- that is about all I have to say about this summer so far. Last year's drought had me out watering every day, so I was happy for the rain, but be careful what you wish for!

A Garden Out of Control!

There are plants I'm beginning to regret planting now, because this summer's overabundance of rain has them growing out of control. Plants I relied on for groundcover last year during the dry weather, such as sweet potatoes, wandering jew, and Little Ruby alternanthera, have now gone wild. I spent part of yesterday, out in the drizzle tearing out huge patches of sweet potato vines and the native creeping spiderwort I had thought would be lovely as a ground cover.  The purple wandering jew I dumped out under the hibiscus bushes is threatening to choke out the white wandering jew and the peacock gingers, so I have to get that under control.

The Little Ruby alternanthera is NOT creeping along the ground, but growing so tall I'm going to be forced to yank a lot of that out also, since it's covering up and taking away light and nutrients from other plants.

Rain, Death, and Destruction

In the meantime, some plants are simply rotting from the rain, such as my Ichiban eggplant, which I cut back due to fungus caused by the distinct lack of airflow in the courtyard. Now it's stayed so wet that it's starting to get root rot, and I haven't had time to save seeds from it yet. The bell peppers, which like it a bit drier, are also struggling and have had to be cut back drastically to try to save them. The chaya cutting I planted in the new garden by the fence rotted very quickly, which surprised me since it had several leaves and was growing nicely. I have plenty of other chaya I can take cuttings from, though, so not a problem. The Taro I planted in the courtyard are evidently in a space that is too wet, and refuse to grow, while the ones I planted in the butterfly garden are thriving.

Plants That Love the Rain

Luckily, some of the plants are loving the rain and heat, and are thriving. The perennial hibiscus are doing well, especially the H. sabdariffa, which did nothing last year. I have four plants now growing with great abandon, so I'm looking forward to a nice crop of sepals to dry for tea. The cranberry hibiscus are also doing fairly well, but aren't large enough to harvest leaves from. I've managed to get several cuttings from the three plants that survived. I have a couple of the H. radiatus plants that are growing, but not thriving.

The daturas are liking the rain, which is odd, since they usually like it dry. The triple yellow daturas are growing and one is setting buds, and I have one double purple which is dong well in a container, although the ones out in the gardens seem to be languishing. The poor little single LeFleur lilac was drowned after I put it into a larger pot, but luckily, I have more seeds.

And of course, the bananas are flourishing with all this moisture.

So that's it for this update. Due to the outrageous heat, I've decided to put off all but the most necessary maintenance until fall.

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Garden Diary - July 8, 2017

It's been awhile since I've updated you on the garden, but I don't do a lot in the summer. I was crazy busy in June, so didn't even get a June Month-to-Month post up.

Garden Changes 

I tore out two of the brugmansias (angel trumpets) because who really needs 3 of the same kind of plant? Thought about giving them away, but it's really not a good time to transplant, so didn't do that.

In their place, I put a triple yellow datura, a double purple datura, a Hibiscus sabdariffa (sorrel or Florida cranberry) and a talinum fruticosum. Also added a few marigolds, but the snails made short work of them, so I added some white vincas and more butterfly weed. That bed has quite a bit of butterfly weed in it already, so it should be happy there. I just stuck sticks of it into the ground, but they all rooted, so it should be beautiful when they all bloom in the fall.

The courtyard plants are doing well. Of course, the Cherokee Purple tomato died, and I replaced it with some regrown bunching onions and a Texas Star hibiscus baby -- the only one that came up from seed I planted way back in May. There was so much rain that the SuperSweet 100 tomato in the 5-gallon bucket also died, but I had another out in another spot that wasn't doing well, so I transplanted it and it's starting to grow now. I also squeezed some seeds of one ripe fruit into the pot, which also grew. 

The yard-long beans are climbing their trellis and now putting out a few beans every few days. I like them, and will definitely be planting more of these in the fall. I've already saved some seeds from "hidden" pods that I found dried out. They are growing in a pot now, and I'm sure they've grown into the ground, but that's not a very good location in the corner with all the rocks, so maybe I'll try a larger pot this fall and plant more of them.

The Ice Cream bananas are doing exceptionally well, and have put out three pups, two of which are growing like mad and one new one that is just taking off. I'm hoping for a crop on two of the adults this year, but we'll see.

Bell peppers have been iffy. The NOID red pepper put out two fruits, then lost all its leaves, but it's coming back out now. The smaller Belle Grande survivor is struggling. I put it into a new pot with different soil, and buried it a bit deeper to try to get it to make more roots, since it is wilting badly every day. It has bloomed, but no fruits yet. On a good note, the Cubanelle has taken off, is growing like mad and has several fruits on it.

The Ichiban eggplant is doing o.k., but has also suffered with the excessive rain. I got one fruit off of it, and it took its time putting out another, which is growing well. I think I may have another coming.

Not much flowering. The angel trumpet put out one last shower of blooms, but I suppose I'll have to wait until fall for more. Vincas in the South-facing bed are about the only things doing well. Marigolds I planted in June are just now starting to put out a few blooms. They'll be gorgeous in the fall, so I'm being patient. The daturas I planted in the South garden are growing slowly, so I've started fertilizing them with Miracle Gro once a week to try to push them to grow faster. I know there are earthworms in that garden, but I think it's so hot, they stay very deep and the plants don't get the nutrients, so I may have to start fertilizing the whole bed.

The new beds are doing well, and everything is growing. The lemon grass, of course, is taking over everything, so I'll have to harvest some for tea soon. The hibiscus in the right bed are growing like mad since this picture was taken. There is a H. sabdariffa on the left and a Texas Star on the right. Marigolds are starting to bloom a bit, and the Dioscorea alata is winding up and through the fence. Of course, it will die down in the winter, and I'll see if there is a root worth harvesting.

The seedlings are doing o.k. I need to put the double butterfly pea seedlings in a pot so they can grow more. Of course, none of the other seeds I planted in the 6-packs even sprouted, but I'm leaving them there hoping against all hope something will eventually come up.

I took cuttings of the Cranberry Hibiscus that came up in one of the smaller pots and grew well, and they are rooting in water in the front window. I only got two plants out of 10 I planted, so I'm trying to at least multiply them. This one is doing o.k. in the South garden and another rooted cutting is in the brugmansia bed planted by the triple yellow datura. It seems to be doing o.k., so I should have at least three plants. 

Lots more has been happening, but I'll stop here. All in all, the gardens are doing well despite all the rain and heat. I'm harvesting some greens and beans and am generally happy with everything for now.

Hope all your gardens are doing well too! Tell me about them in the comments, if you like.

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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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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

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

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.


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.

Happy Gardening!

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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