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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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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

Garden Diary - April 5, 2018 - Creating a Pollinator Paradise

I'm determined to attract more pollinators to my garden this year. I had planned to plant a bunch of annuals, but missed my chance in the fall, and now I'm just changing gears on that.

I cut back all my milkweeds during the freeze, but most survived and are growing strong with many more branches. I rooted about 25 cuttings in water

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

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 you can still use starter plants for some, and there are oh so many

Cheapskate Gardening - Lining Wire Baskets, Worm Poop, and Homemade Potting Soil

As most of my gardening friends know, I'm the cheapest of cheapskate gardeners,, and I'm not averse to dumpster diving or curb shopping for gardening supplies. So I decided to do a series on some of my cheapskate gardening methods that let me garden for next to nothing. Enjoy!

Using Available Resources and Buying Cheap

I used to buy bags of compost and mulch, and now I just use what nature gives me by mulching with leaves as well as layering them in potting holes to feed the earthworms, who in turn