Garden Diary 2/12/2018: Better Health and a New Garden Plan

So my last post was terribly depressing. My health was so bad then that I was going to give up on gardening completely. Since then, my health has much improved, thanks to medication and a regimen of handfuls of vitamins and supplements every day. With warm weather here at last, I'm feeling much better about my gardening.

I lost a lot in the freezes, so the last couple of days I've been clearing out and disposing of a lot of the dead plants and cutting back ones that were damaged, but will come back. I said I wasn't going to bring any plants in during the cold, but of course, I did, and those will be that backbone for part of my new plan -- more on that later.

The Permaculture Experiment and A Big Project Whose Time Has Come

When I first started my permaculture experiment in my tiny garden, I talked about needing something to block the sun from entering a south-facing window in my LR, where I spend most of my time. I love the light, but hate the heat it creates, so I end up keeping my blinds drawn most of the summer.

At the time, I posted to the Reddit permaculture forum, and we discussed ways I could build a trellis there and layer plants in front of if and behind it to take advantage of the sun and shade. So this is the year I'm going to do that.

I'll be posting pictures later. I'm working on a Sketch-Up of it, but basically, my window is 8 ft. wide (did I say it's a BIG window?), and the top is about 7'10" off the ground. There is a 4.5' concrete porch in front of it, and I intend to extend that 2' with paving blocks. Right now, the pathway into the courtyard is within that area, so I'll have to reconfigure that to put it at the western end of the porch.

I'll build the trellis 6 feet tall (so I can reach to harvest the top), which still won't reach to the top of the window, but I will use a window valance curtain to block the top sun.

Behind the bean screen, I'll put pots of shade-loving herbs, flowers and some of my tropicals on a bench built on the 2' porch extension. I can use that bench also for starting seeds and cuttings, and put shade-loving plants underneath it.

In front of the trellis (south facing) will be some sun-loving herbs & flowers in a raised bed.

I figure if I do this the "cheap" way for now, with just some 2x4s and strong wire across the top and bottom to tie nylon cord to, I can build my trellis for around $20. As I can afford it, I can add more permanent wire trellising material, but right now, it's got to be as cheap as possible. I already have my herb and flower seeds.

This will also allow me to sit out on the porch more in the summer, which I do love to do, but it's just too hot out there with the southern sun beating down on the porch.

Loss of Shade from the Freezes

I lost a lot of shade from the freezes. My tropical hibiscus, which provided shade for the gingers and wandering jews planted under them are dead. I'm not sure if they will come back from the bottom or not, but right now, I can see no green except at the very bottom of the trunks. To protect those plants from dying of sun scorch, I'm going to have to plant some fast-growing plants to climb up the dead branches. I have morning glory & cypress vine seeds, and both of those grow pretty quickly, so I'll put those into the ground soon. I also have hyacinth vine, but I think that's too heavy for the spindly dead branches. 

I'm telling you, Mother Nature sure throws you some hardballs sometimes, doesn't she? But like my father told me long ago, "Things always turn out the way they're supposed to."

Happy Gardening!

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 on gardening right now. It's gotten to be too much like work, and I honestly don't want to do it anymore.

The gardens around here have gotten out of control, because I've basically neglected them for months. I keep saying I'm going to go out and rake or trim dead stuff, or whatever, but I don't. The weather is perfect for it, but I can't make myself do it.

One reason is because of my health problems. I have had to have a lot of tests lately because of digestive issues. I had a endoscopy last week, which found that I have serious esophagitis and gastritis, so I'm having to take a lot of medicine that I don't want to take, and it's depressing me. I hate taking pharma drugs. Still, I want to get well, so I'll take them until that happens. I still haven't gotten the results of the ultrasound or the biopsy they took during the endoscopy, so I'm anxious about those.

Getting old is horrible. I used to be able to work in my yard all day, now even this little 300sf of garden is too much for me. After I got the community garden, I knew I couldn't take care of it and what I have here, which is why I gave it up.

So this is my new garden plan. I'm going to sell all but a few of my plants, clear out the gardens and only plant a few easy-care perennials in them, things that won't die no matter what you do or don't do to them. Maybe I'll plant a few marigolds and zinnias in there too, but mostly, I just want things that need nothing that Mother Nature doesn't give them.

I hate that I have gotten to this point in my life, where gardening is just too much for me, but the time had to come sooner or later. I'll turn to being thankful for all the years I had, and maybe get back into growing my miniature African violets again. I did love growing those, and they're pretty easy.

I'm also thinking of moving into a smaller place, once I get rid of about 90% of my stuff. I keep just going smaller and smaller, but the smaller I go, the more I realize I don't need most of what I have. I'm even considering maybe becoming a van dweller, but that may not work out. We'll see.

So the blog is going to change. I'll still do the Month-by-Month posts, and I'll still do my garden diary, but I'm also thinking of doing more informational posts about gardening in small spaces, and posts on growing individual plants. As far as my gardens go, they will be leaner, cleaner, and some place I really do enjoy going out into.

Stay tuned for big changes.
Happy Gardening!

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 fruit trees and shrubs, so if you have been thinking of one, plant it now.

Vegetables to Plant in October

This is the month to plant all those leafy greens you are always hearing your should eat more of, as well as root crops like carrots, onions and turnips. You can still plant strawberries until mid-month, so if you don't have yours in yet, do it now.

* last month to plant these crops
** Only plant until the 15th

Arugula Beets Broccoli Brussels
Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chinese
Kale KohlrabiLettuce* Mustard
Radish Spinach Strawberry**

Ornamentals to Plant in October

With cooler weather coming up fast, annuals will start to fade, but if losing a few doesn't matter to you, plant whatever you find in your local garden center. A few hardier oranmentals you can add to your garden this month are

FoxglovePetuniaShasta Daisy

Bulbs to Plant in October

All the gingers can be planted this month, ornamental and edible.

There are a few varieties of Daffodil that do well in North Florida, but a warning: they may not bloom consistently in the lower sections of 9a. But if you are in 8b or upper 9a, here are a few you can try.

'Carlton''Fortune''Silver Chimes''Thalia''Sweetness'

Plant Thyme Now for Beautiful Spring Blooms

Herbs to Plant in October

October is a wonderful time to plant herbs. Some of the more tender herbs may need to be planted in containers to bring in during cold spells, but most can be planted right in your herb garden.


October is a lovely, cool month to work in your North Florida garden. Don't forget to gather the falling leaves for your compost pile or to use as mulch! If you have any questions about gardening here in Gainesville or the surrounding area, post them in the comments. If you like these posts and want to see more, you can subscribe in the sidebar by email or through a feed reader.

Happy Gardening!

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 community garden plot. I've decided to rid myself of many of my plants here in favor of working more there. I do have quite a few plants I can actually take there, like some of my edible hibiscus and of course, sweet potatoes next summer. I'll be buying a lot of starts for the community garden, because I'm not having much luck growing things from seed. I'm not going to plant tomatoes at all. I don't eat that many, and honestly, I'm just tired of fighting all the pests and diseases they get. I'll be planting mostly greens and root crops, hoping they do well -- lots of collards, turnips and mustard - my favorite greens! Not much lettuce, my least favorite green.

As for here, I"m going to sell or give away most of my potted plants, especially my tropicals. I struggle to find shade for them every year, and I'm just a little tired of having to keep so many of them in the house.. I'm thinking of clearing out my courtyard entirely and just having a few plants and ground cover. I got too carried away and now it's a mess! I'm even thinking of taking out the bananas. I want to turn it more into a place I can hang out than a place I have to work.

So that's it for now. I'll try to have some pictures soon.

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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, the UF Vegetable Gardening Guide says to plant them between September 15 and October 15.

Vegetables to Plant in September

*last month to plant these crops
** plant in mid-September

Arugula Beans: bush
& pole*
Beets Broccoli Brussels
Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chinese
Collards Endive/
KaleKohlrabi Lettuce
Mustard Onions,
Radish Spinach
Strawberry** Swiss

Ornamentals to Plant in September

Most of your summer ornamentals that survived the summer will resume blooming when the weather cools in September, and you'll start to see a better selection of plants in garden centers. If you need to refresh or replace some of your summer annuals, try these.

AgeratumCelosiaZinniaWax Begonia

Bulbs to Plant in September

This is the time to plant your elephant ears. Alocasia, Colocasia and Xanthasoma can be successfully planted this month, along with a few other spring-blooming bulbs. For a change in taste, plant a few taro, malanga or eddoe bulbs. You can buy the bulbs right from your local grocery, if available, or from an ethnic grocery. Since they are in the colocasia family, they have beautiful elephant-ear type leaaves that are very ornamental. The young leaves of Xanthasoma are also edible, but no part of the Alocasia is edible, so identify the plants carefully before trying them, and remember that the roots must be cooked before eating because of the oxalic acid crystals they contain.

Elephant's EarCalla LilyNarcissusZephyr Lily

Mexican Tarragon puts on quite a show in the fall garden

Herbs to Plant in September

There is still time to plant a few of your favorite warm-weather herbs, such as


September brings cooler weather and more pleasurable temperatures to work in the garden. If you have any questions about gardening here in Gainesville or the surrounding area, post them in the comments.

Happy Gardening!

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, I got most of these seeds from fresh fruits, and they have all sprouted within days. I now have Cubanelle, the NOID red pepper that did so well last year, and tabasco peppers all planted from fresh ripe fruits. I did plant the rest of the Grand Belle Mix seeds, and have four seedlings coming up now. I plant to eventually plant these in my community garden spot, which I am told I will get by the end of September. They should be of a nice size by then, and grown into 3-inch pots.

"Little Ruby" Alternanthera is choking out other plants

 A Fresh Start

South Facing Outside Garden
I've made a decision to rip out the south-facing outside garden this winter. Last year, during the summer drought, I was begging it to grow, and this year with all the rain, some plants have gotten completely out of control. The Little Ruby alternanthera has come up everywhere from last year's seeds, and is choking out some desirable plants. It's pretty, no doubt, but there is way too much of it in the wrong place. I need to take a lot of that out. I've had to dig up some plants and put them into containers to save them from being totally killed by it, and others, like my triple yellow datura, just refuse to grow. Plus, none of the zinnia or cosmos seeds I scattered came up, and I'm thinking it just overgrew them and choked them out. I have only two small zinnias that have survived from the dozens of seeds I planted.

The sweet potatoes in that garden have to go too. I planted them hoping for a crop, but they are really not harvestable due to the roots of other plants. I'll have to find a way to get them out. I'll leave the ornamental sweet potato and hope it can now have a chance to grow.

The larger plants in that bed tend to overshade the other plants there, so I'll be taking a lot of those out as well. The large red cannas and a couple of the pigeon peas will be gone. I'm going to leave only the yellow poinciana, which is finally growing, and the confederate rose, which is up past the roof now.  I may move the confederate rose to where it gets more sun, because I don't know if it's going to bloom this year or not, since it gets so much shade from that oak tree.

My Favorite Coleus

 Changes Planned for the Courtyard as Well

I'm also thinking of ripping out most of the inside courtyard too, and putting some of those plants up against the fence, like the bananas. I want to create some artificial shade in there on the south side with latticing and vines so I will have somewhere to put my tropicals. I'm definitely removing the sweet potato vines from the courtyard, as they are getting way out of control also.

It was all just an experiment, and I want to just start over and try different things now. I can hardly wait until the leaves start falling. That's my sign to start ripping things out and letting the garden go dormant for the winter.

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

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.

The heat has been unbearable lately, but at least there is rain this year. I'm waiting to hear from the UF community garden about the availability of my garden plot there, so I will be starting my seeds in 3-inch pots so they will have room to grow until then. It will probably be September before I can get in, so they'll be pretty well established by then.

Vegetables to Plant in August

* last month to plant this vegetable

Beans: bush
& pole
Lima Beans* Beets Broccoli Brussels
Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chinese
Collards Cucumbers* Eggplant*Endive/
Mustard Onions,
Peppers* Summer
Shallots Tomatoes*Turnips

If you want to grow lettuces or tender greens, you can grow mico or mini greens, such as those pictured above. Simply sprinkle your seeds in a tray and let them grow to the size you want, then cut or pull them up.

Ornamentals to Plant in August

With the hottest days of summer ahead of us, only a few ornamentals will take the heat.


Bulbs to Plant in August

Aztec LilyButterfly LilyWalking IrisSpider Lily

Herbs to Plant in August

Bay LaurelGingerMexican TarragonRosemary

August is a hot and miserable month, but as you can see, it's still a good time to get a jump on the fall garden. If you have any questions about growing food here in Gainesville or the surrounding area, post them in the comments.

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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Month by Month in North Florida: What to Plant in July

July is a month of anticipation in North Florida, because most of our fall/winter crops are planted in August. There are only a few veggies you can start from seed in July, but there is still time to put larger plants in the ground. You can usually find veggies such as peppers and tomatoes in sizes from 3-inch to 1 gallon pots, or sometimes even larger at nurseries and big box stores.

Time to Start Pumpkins and Cucumbers

Early July (before the 15th) is the time to start your pumpkin. Plant them directly into the ground, because squash family plants do not like to be moved. For the smaller decorative or personal pumpkins, save space by growing them up a strong trellis. This will also keep soil-borne insects from attacking them.

Cucumbers can also be started in July, and again, I would suggest planting directly into the ground and trellising them. You can also wait and plant them in August, but it never hurts to have an early start, so if they don't grow well, you still have time to replant.

Starting Tomatoes for Fall

Tomato seeds should be started indoors now for fall planting. Keep them indoors until they are around 4 weeks old, acclimating them slowly outdoors for a few hours a day. I always start putting mine in shade first, then semi-shade, then morning sun before exposing them to the harsh summer sun. It should take about 2 weeks to acclimate them.

Southern Peas

There is still time for one more planting of Southern peas, also called cowpeas or field peas. There are many varieties of these easy-to-grow nitrogen fixing legumes, so try a few new ones if you have space. If you're growing okra, plant some of the climbing varieties underneath them for nitrogen fixing and free trellising. These are great companion plants for heavy feeders such as eggplant.

Planting from Starts 

Eggplant and peppers are best planted from starts if you want a late summer crop; however, you can now start pepper seeds indoors to plant out in the fall. I usually start my bell peppers indoors in July and move them into 3-inch pots once they have their second set of leaves. This will keep them going until you plant them out or move them up to larger pots in August.

Cherry tomatoes will also do well from starts, the bigger the better. I suggest either buying small starts and putting them into containers or buying 1-gallon or larger starts to put directly into the ground.

Watch out for Everglades tomatoes starting to fail in the heat, and be sure to gather seeds, which you can start now for a fall crop. I like to just squirt the seeds out into a 1 gallon pot, where they will come up and start growing again. You don't have to take great pains to get these plants to grow.

Ornamentals to Plant in North Florida in July

There aren't a lot of annuals that will stand being planted or transplanted during the July heat. It's best just to keep your present annuals watered well and look forward to planting more in the fall.

Bulbs of butterfly lily, gladiolus and society garlic can be planted in July.

Preparing the Garden for Fall Planting

Late July is a good time to start preparing the garden for fall planting, especially if you have solarized, planted a cover crop or left it fallow over the summer. Although the heat is oppressive, I usually work very early in the morning or later in the evening (be sure to wear mosquito repellent) to get things done, sometimes just 10 minutes at a time.

Pull weeds and turn more organic matter into the soil. Check the pH and adjust accordingly with whatever amendments are necessary. If you aren't going to plant right away, it's a good idea to place cardboard over the garden to keep weeds from growing back.

July is a tough, hot month for North Florida gardening, but there are still things to plant and things to do, so don't give up on the garden yet!

Happy Gardening!

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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