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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. I have no idea why this happened, but since the other seed pod didn't make it either, I won't be planting brugs from seed this year. Probably for the best. I have too many plants now.

Another sadness, albeit just a small one, was that the only seed pod that my red butterfly weed has created all year, which I had been carefully watching for weeks, just split open and blew away overnight. I checked it yesterday. It showed no signs of splitting at all. So I cut back that one stem, chopped it into three pieces, and put it in water to root. I have already rooted a few small ones from another red plant, so I should have enough for a nice clump in the butterfly garden. I have yellow butterfly weed in abundance, but the red just didn't do well this year.

On The Veggie Front

Some happy news is that the SuperSweet 100 tomato has several fruits (no, I didn't count them) and is bushing out at the top. The Cherokee Purple has one strong shoot coming out of the bottom that will be the second stem, and the shoot at the very top is putting out blooms. I still have starts of these plants to plant out, but trying to wait until there is no chance of frost. The tiny everglades tomatoes are bearing already. I simply must find time to plant the ones still in the 6-pack. I did pot up the red bell pepper today, but not in its final resting place, just in a 1 gallon for now. The collards and kohlrabi are still disappointing, but I started fertilizing all these plants again last week, so I'm hoping for the best. Carrots and radishes still struggling. I won't be planting those again soon, as much as I love radishes. Sweet potatoes are starting to put out new growth, as are the Phillipine spinach (Talinum fruticosum). The pigeon pea I cut back drastically is putting out new growth, but I'm going to dig that one up and toss it. The smaller ones will stay and be used as chop-and-drop, because I've discovered that shelling the green peas is a PITA and I don't especially like the dried ones.

On The Ornamental Front 

I gathered Spanish moss today and re-built the wire baskets containing the tri-color Queen's Tears bromeliads. I also pulled up the dying giant Xanthasoma elephant ear and tossed it out by the dumpster, just in case anyone wants it. Looks like it was picked up already.

I bought three packs of flower seeds from Dollar Tree the other day, because they have them 4/$1. I got Zinnias "Lilliput Mixed" and "Giants of California Mixed," and "Rose Queen" Cleome. I never had much luck with cleome in SW FL, so I'm hoping it does better here. It's such a wonderful re-seeding plant. I have many other flower seeds that will be planted this year for the butterfly garden, which I'm pretty excited about.

The South-facing outside garden will be strictly for bulbs and perennials, except for the Everglades tomatoes and sweet potatoes grown as ground cover.  I'll find out once I dig it all out whether I actually got any sweet potatoes this year, but I don't thnk so. I also have them growing as ground cover in the courtyard. Once I get my community garden plot from UF, I'll plant them there, but right now, they are strictly ornamental.

In Other News

I've decided that I'm going to start selling a lot of my plants. Of course, this will have to wait until March, because I'm too busy getting ready for my son's visit the end of February, but that's what I'm going to do. All but my very favorite plants and a few houseplants I have for cleaning the air will be sold or given away. The money I make will be used to buy fertilizer, potting soil  and other needed items for the plants that remain.

I had hoped that I could tear out the courtyard and redo it this month, but my son's visit put a halt to those plants. At my age and with my health, I can't do it all anymore. I have to choose one project at a time, since I also still work, and getting ready for his visit is the one I chose this time. March wll be a busy month for me as well, but by the end of the month, all the gardens will be moved, replanted, and set up the way I want them.

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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.

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