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Garden Diary Feb. 1, 2019: Drastic Pruning Has Begun


I couldn't wait any more, so I went and whacked  back the Christmas cassia (Cassia bicapsularis) and the Cranberry hibiscus (H. acetosella). I was going to do the confederate rose too, but I want to root some of those cuttings to sell, so I need to wait a bit for those.

I hope all chance of a hard freeze is over, but who knows? I just know that I"m sick of all these plants, and since I'm trying to do something different this year with more annuals, I'm going to sell or give away most of my tender container plants and concentrate on things I don't have to worry about over the winter.



I also need to cut back the tropical milkweed, because I've pretty much given up on having a Monarch farm. The lizards and other critters just love eating the larvae too much. I'll root the cuttings and dig up the plants, then put them into pots and sell them. I may just sell them as "you dig" bare root plants. haven't decided yet.

There is much to do this time of year, especially when you're trying to redo the whole garden. I just want a clean and clear courtyard and something easier to care for outside that won't overgrow its space and multiply out of control. The original plan just isn't working without any full sun, and narrow garden beds. It's time to rethink things.


Maintaining Your Childlike Sense of Wonder



I frequent one particular gardening forum, and I hesitate to post at times, because I realize some of my posts are sort of silly to serious gardeners. I post about getting excited over cuttings rooting or seeds shooting up, but I am so in awe of nature that I just get excited about the tiniest things.

My grandmother was my gardening guru, and she taught me to never take anything for granted, and always be thankful for what nature gave you. She always got excited when the wild violets started blooming, because she could put them into salads or make medicinal syrup with them. She made tea from the leaves and made us drink it as a tonic. I didn't learn until later how many wonderful medicinal properties they had.

My grandmother had a reverence for plants that I've only seen in Native Americans. She would spend a lot of time trying to save an ailing plant, and would bury it reverently when it died, telling me to never put sick plants in the compost pile. I carry that reverence for nature with me to this day, and it's the reason I became a Pantheist.

I remember her gathering seeds from wild mustard and explaining to me what a blessing a mustard plant was because it provided greens in the summer and seeds in the fall to make mustard with and put into pickles. She always let the wild mustard stay wild, scattering some seeds here and there along the path to her house. She did that with all sorts of wildflowers and wild plants. In the summer, when we visited, I couldn't wait to go see if her seeds came up. They always did.


I had a gorgeous Christmas cactus a few years ago that started to die here during a particular wet summer. I tried so hard to save it, but it just didn't seem to want to live. I ended up with two leaves of it that I managed to keep alive. One grew into a nice sized piece, but that too started to die and resisted every attempt I made to save it. Now I again have two leaves I managed to save. I had the hardest time getting them to put out any roots at all, but finally, they took and settled into their pot. This morning, I noticed that one leaf has a baby leaf sprouting out of the top, and you would think I had won the lottery I was so excited!

Yesterday, on the garden forum, I posted pictures of two plants I had grown from cuttings that were doing well. I thought later than I shouldn't have done it, because no one was likely interested, so this morning, when I found my new leaf on my struggling Christmas cactus cuttings, I didn't post it. I came here instead and wrote this post.

I noticed yesterday that the wild violets are starting to bloom, and I thought about my grandmother. I wished she was here so I could show her my tiny new leaf and have her tell me how wonderful it was. My mother would have done the same. I miss them both so much, because I don't have anyone around me that still has that childlike sense of wonder that makes them excited about such things.


Garden Diary: January 21, 2019 Impatiently Waiting for Last Chance of Frost

I don't really like very cold, freezing weather, which is why I moved to Florida. I moved from SW Florida to North Florida because I missed the seasons. I wanted a short winter where things actually died back and went dormant, but it seems I may have to go a bit further north for that.

It's hard to tell what's going to happen to the weather nowadays. Last year, we had two hard freezes in January that killed back a lot of plants. I was  hoping for one this year, so I could start anew in the gardens, but it doesn't look like I'm going to get one.

Not much has died back completely. In fact, some things are coming back up! I went out to dig cannas today to send bulbs to a friend, and found sprouts under the leaves I'd covered them with. Last night was supposed to be down to 29 F, but only went down to 40 F. There is no freezing weather forecast  for the rest of the month, and it usually starts warming up in February.

And the rain! This is supposed to be the dry season, but it's definitely not that. It's dreary, cloudy and more humid than it should be, when it's not raining.

It's good in a way, because I still have most of the plants I had started with the intention of selling them, but bad in another way, because I still have all those plants. Plus, I had planned on selling the banana corms after they died back, but they aren't dying back, so I'll have to sell them as is, which is harder to do.

Is it so bad to want a little frost? Just a little. Just enough to clear out the gardens and leave a clean slate. I guess it is this year.


Garden Diary: January 1, 2019: Drastic Changes in the Gardens in the New Year


2019 is a year of out with the old, in with the new for me. I started this garden with the hopes of growing food, but that didn't work out well at all. There is absolutely no full sun, so most of what I tried to grow either did nothing or very little. Plus, there is a distinct lack of pollinators, so even the things I managed to get to grow didn't produce anything. So I've had to rethink what I have and what I want.

Giving Up On Growing Most Veggies

My sweet potato patch produced only one twisted little potato that looks like a turnip, and two babies that grew from the vines growing into the ground. I know more will come up, so I'll just eat the leaves and not worry about getting any tubers. I'll continue to grow the eddoe, because it's really a pretty elephant ear plant, and seems to put out a decent amount of roots.





I tried tropical edibles, but wasn't too crazy about them. I have the chaya, but I don't really eat the leaves from that, because I don't like spinach that much. I'll keep it because the bees love the blooms -- IF it ever blooms! Since I don't eat salads, the cranberry hibiscus is pretty useless, but it's pretty and adds color in the summer, so I may keep that one.


I planted Jerusalem artichokes this year, and they grew well, but I don't think they put out many roots. I have to dig them soon to see what I got. I'll keep those, but will be moving them to a place with more sun where they won't interfere with the space in the courtyard.


Other than that, I may plant a few greens, like amaranth and collards, but no lettuces. I honestly just don't like leafy greens that much. I'll continue to grow my one Everglades tomato, because it's basically the only tomato that will do anything here.

Catering to the Pollinators



One problem I have in this garden is a lack of pollinators. I used to have paper wasps and a few native bees, but even those seem to have gone, so I'm going to plant pollinator attractors this year in hopes of bringing in whatever I can.

I'll be planting a lot of blooming plants for bees. I'm getting rid of most of the larger plants that are taking up way too much space, like the amaryllis, and putting in things like tall marigolds, zinnias, cosmos and pentas.

I'll be getting passion vine for the gulf frittilary butterflies and coral honeysuckle and more morning glories for the hummingbirds.

I'm taking out ALL the bananas and replacing them with brugmansias and pigeon peas for pollinators. I'm also planting more elderberries for bees, and praying my chaya blooms this year, because bees love those flowers.

My whole focus this year is BEES. I need to attract them and keep them here.

Re-configuring the Courtyard

One of my first projects will be to reconfigure the courtyard. I want to start selling plants, but to do that, I need to create room for them to grow. My son installed a small seating area for me to put the table and chairs so I can have the regular "porch" for growing sun-loving plants. It's the only place I have where I get full southern sun in the mornings and afternoons.

I also plan to build a small lattice shelter somewhere for my shade plants. It's so hard keeping them from being fried in the summer, especially when the shade plants I have for them die back in the winter, so a lattice house is a perfect solution to get them out of my LR in the summer and out into the fresh air.

Since I'm taking out so many of the large plants this year, the entire look and feel of the garden will be changing. It will be lighter and brighter, without so much green. It will have much more color and much less foliage.

What do you have planned for your gardens in 2019?

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HAPPY GARDENING!

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



January is one of the coldest months in North Florida, but it's a great month for starting veggies for your spring garden. Put your potatoes in the ground this month, and start some tomatoes from seed or clone some from your existing plants for spring planting. You can also brighten up your landscape with the cute smiling faces of pansies or add a graceful camellia to your flowering shrubs. As the days get longer and winter is upon us, gardening is still going strong in our part of the state.

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


Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule or whatever you celebrate this holiday season. No, you can't plant poinsettias in North Florida this month, but what would December be without them?

Garden Diary - November 18, 2018: Starting Over From Scratch

Cranberry Hibiscus in Bloom
As those of you who have been reading this blog since I moved to this apartment know, my gardens here are an ongoing experiment. At first, I planted anything I could get cheap or free or grow from seed, but as seems to

Garden Diary: September 30, 2018 - A Garden Out of Control and How to Tame It

Peacock Gingers and Wandering Jew under the Hibiscus
This was the first year I used fertilizer on my gardens, and I wish I hadn't. I was committed to growing organically, but things didn't seem to be growing quickly enough, so I said "why not?" and applied some mild, timed-release bloom

Garden Diary: September 24, 2018 - Yard Crew Weed Killer Disaster, and a Sign of Hope



My beautiful hibiscus, which was killed back to the ground by the freeze this past January, has finally put out its first bloom. What a beautiful site after the disaster I have been faced with since last Wednesday.

The yard crew for my apartment complex, which is an outside contractor, has not been doing its job this summer. I was patient, because of all the rain, but

Garden Diary - September 2, 2018 - Potting, Repotting and Cleaning




The sun comes up later now , but the mornings are staying cooler longer,
which allows me to get much more done. Yesterday, I had an orgy of transplanting rooted cuttings and repotting potbound plants.

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

Beautiful calla lilies are wonderful container plants for spring blooms.

September is the main planting month for fall/winter crops in North Florida, so get out your shovels and get to work! All the cole crops can be planted this month, and you still have time to plant bush/pole beans and winter/summer squash although this is the last month to do so. This is also your first month to plant lettuces.

Mid-September is the time to start planting strawberries, in fact,

Garden Diary: August 2, 2018

South Facing Garden

I know I should keep up with this blog better, but there is just so much gardening to do, and work, and housekeeping -- there never seems to be time to get in here and give updates.

As you can see in the picture above, the rain has caused the gardens to go berserk. I always have a plan, then that plan always goes to hell

Month-by-Month in North Florida: What to Plant in August (UPDATED for 2018)



The main garden season has finally arrived in Florida, and here in the northern part of the state, we are already planting our winter crops. Since we have a shorter growing season than Central or South Florida, we plant a lot of our cole crops and leafy greens in August. Yes, I know, it seems it would be too hot, but somehow they survive until it starts cooling a bit in September.

Garden Diary: July 4, 2018 Fat Plants, Skinny Plants, Plants That Grow on Rocks

Got this gorgeous white pentas on half price sale at Lowe's.
It really stands out in the garden. 

Hello again. I've been so busy gardening, I haven't had time to post. I think about it a lot, but then I end up just going over to the Florida Gardening Forum on Gardenweb and posting there.

The Saga of the Unruly Banana

The other day I noticed a small green leaf on my window sash. I thought it was just a piece of banana leaf torn off during a thunderstorm, but it didn't dry up and die, it got BIGGER!


Upon further inspection, it turns out that a pup from one of the large banana plant had grown up between the siding and the concrete block wall. YIKES!

I had to do something about it, so I looked at the situation, and found I would have to take out it's mother plant to get it out of there. Not a problem. I was thinking of taking the bananas out anyway.

After taking out the basket hanger and moving a lot of containers to clear the way for it to fall, I pulled it out of the ground by