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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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