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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
Sprouts
Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chinese
Cabbage
Collards Cucumbers* Eggplant*Endive/
Escarole
Kale
Mustard Onions,
bunching
Peppers* Summer
Squash
Winter
Squash
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.

VincaGaillardiaBulbineColeus

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

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


April is the last planting month for many vegetables in North Florida before the heat of summer comes. There are actually very few vegetables you can still start from seed, but there are oh so many

Month-by-Month in North Florida: What to Plant in March (UPDATED FOR 2017)



This is one of our prime planting times in North Florida, the time when we plant most of what people consider summer annuals and vegetables. There are still a few hardier winter crops you can plant, but

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


ArugulaBeets*Broccoli*Brussels
Sprouts*
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.

DahliaCrinumAgapanthus

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