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Weeds, weeds, more weeds, and sore muscles

I weeded a large section of the front yard yesterday - the garden to the right of the driveway. It desperately needed it, because it's hard for me to work outdoors in the summer due to my lupus, so it was horribly overgrown. The next door neighbor is putting his house up for sale, so he asked us to clean it up. The picture was taken months ago. The bags of soil were dumped there by my roommate, and since she isn't about to do any manual labor, they are still there. I'll move those tomorrow, because like I said -- she ain't gonna do it!

I started by digging up a ton of bermuda grass, which will just come up again next year if I don't take some drastic measures to insure it doesn't. I took out some giant cactus that are not what I wanted, and don't have gorgeous, large, red fruit and beautiful flowers like I thought they would. Took out a large perennial hibiscus that was overtaking the driveway. Pulled out some old, dried-up crabgrass and trimmed the dead leaves off of the banana trees, during which time I discovered that someone (probably my brainless roommate) had ripped some banana leaves down, leaving huge wounds into which ants were already climbing intent on killing the plants. I'm probably going to just sell the banana plants. They are MINE, after all; came from my old house. I will sell most of them to someone who will dig them, and move a couple to a place where they are farther away from people who don't know what they are doing (like my roommate).

I still have a ton to do out front. I'm glad the horrid looking back yard (not my responsibility) is hidden by a stockade fence, because trust me, if a prospective buyer saw THAT mess, they would run the other way quickly. The entire back yard needs to be pulled up and started over, but like I said, not my responsibility. I'll do the front, because I like the neighbor and really want him to be able to sell his house. His wife is fighting cancer, so they need the money, I'm sure. Plus, he is just very nice.

Of course, I worked too hard. I was angry at the time, which is when I tend to overdo things trying to work off the energy. I'm sore today, despite having slept on a heating pad last night. I'll survive, though, and the yard looks a lot better.

Stretching Your Food Stamp Dollars: Grow Your Own Microgreens Indoors or Out

Microgreens are something anyone can grow in a sunny window, balcony or outdoors with very little gardening know-how. Microgreens provide nutrition and fiber to your diet that you don't get in cheap, processed foods. To make them even more amazing, they grow to edible size in as little as two weeks! Kids love helping to grow them, and love eating them. You can easily grow many dollars worth of greens for your family quickly, even without a yard or garden.

For more information, read this article I wrote on the Survival Food Gear Blog.

Microgreens, A Fast Food

Divesting Myself of My Plants

By Hans Hillewaert CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
I'm moving to a colder place, so I have to get rid of most of my tropicals. Not all of them, because I would die without some plants in my house, but the ones that grow outdoors at least. I let go of some today, and it broke my heart to part with some of them, but they're going to a good home. A very nice older lady and gentleman came, and like me, they like the small plants. I love growing things from one cutting into a huge plant. In fact, I'm taking cuttings of most of the plants I'm selling that will grow indoors, because I just can't bear to part with them entirely.

When I moved here, my house in North Port hadn't been auctioned off yet, so I went over and dug up some of the remaining plants. One that I was shocked to find any left of was my Heliconia rostrata, or hanging lobster claw. I dug the tiny piece up and put it in a pot, and it has almost died a few times, because it kept falling over. But I kept it alive, and today, I let the nice lady and gentleman have it. I'm sure it will be happy under their pine trees, at least I hope so.

I recently had my old laptop die, and lost my external hard drive, so a lot of my pictures of my blooming plants actually in bloom are gone. That makes it sort of hard to sell some of them, because people want to know what they look like when they are in bloom. Right now, I'm looking for pictures of all of them on Wikimedia Commons so I can put those with the ad. I did that with my queen's tears bromeliad, and sold it for $20 out of bloom.

So far, I've made $40 on plants and traded one for a nice wooden wine box, so closer to $45. I made around $300 selling plants when I left North Port, and ended up giving hundreds of dollars worth away so they wouldn't just sit there and die. I don't have room for much propagation here, but a lot of the plants I brought here have grown so much, I can easily take cuttings and start a nice 6" pot without anyone even noticing. Still, I don't want to keep too many, but a few little pots of this or that will be a nice addition to the apartment, and help keep the air cleaner.

My plants are like my babies. I'm always sad when they have to go, but then I get more and I'm happy again. This time, I'm going for something smaller -- like miniature African violets.  I'm sure in another few years I'll have so many of those, I'll be having another sale.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Photo By Karol M from Arizona, USA CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
I love flowers. I've always loved flowers. I love planting things that bloom in my yard and then waiting patiently (well, sometimes not so patiently) for the blossoms to appear. I cry when flowering plants die -- no, really I do!

So imagine how disappointed I feel now. People are literally ripping out their flower beds to grow vegetables. I have nothing against vegetables, mind you. I am all for self-sufficiency and fighting Monsanto and eating healthy. It's just that I love talking about flowers, and now all anyone wants to talk about is tomatoes.

My portable external hard drive disappeared the other day, out of a nice, safe place in my bedroom. On it were dozens of pictures of flowers from this yard and my old yard. I'm praying with all my might that it will show up. Otherwise, all those pictures are just gone, because they aren't stored anywhere else. Well, a few of the are on this blog and a few are stored online, but most of them will just be gone forever if I don't find that hard drive. I also lost copies of every article I ever wrote, but those are online somewhere if I ever wanted to look them all up and copy them down again, which I don't. There was other important stuff on there too, but what I was most upset about was the pictures of the flowers.

To top it off, I just got a new computer. My other computer crashed completely, and everything on the old computer is trapped on the old hard drive. I am hoping that at some point, I can get that old computer fixed or at least get that information off the hard drive, but who knows? More flower pictures gone.

I don't grow vegetables anymore. I'm not saying I never will again, because I probably will, but in and amongst the vegetables, there will always be flowers for the bees and butterflies.  I will never tire of having beautiful things around me that burst forth with blooms.

So all you veggie gardeners, more power to you, but plant a few geraniums somewhere. They will make you feel better, even if you can't eat them.

Pestilence and Ecological Lunacy

My roommate is insane about not killing ants, even in the house. I'm in the "If I see an ant in my room, it's dead" majority of house dwellers. She's already started on me about all these natural ways to repel the ghost ants that take over this house every spring. I just bought some ant spray. What she doesn't know won't hurt her. The way I figure it, there are plenty more ants where those came from, and they are good communicators. Once they find out they're dying when they come inside, they'll stop -- or at least that's how it's always worked for me. I am not worried at all about ghost ants becoming extinct in FL.

This is also why the fleas have taken over the back yard so badly that I won't go out there. Unbeknownst to her, I have been killing fire ants and fleas in the front yard, and will continue to do so. I'm allergic to fire ants. My cat used to only need flea treatment twice a year, now she needs it once a  month, even in the winter, because I can't use anything to control the fleas and ticks in the yard. It's insane!

Sorry, but fire ants and fleas are pestilence. They came right out of Pandora's box. I'm all for being kind to nature, but there are extremes which, IMHO, are unhealthy and harmful to me and my poor cat, who has to put up with all the worms and fleas around here (which she never had before).  Giving her all these chemicals to kill them is completely unhealthy for her -- much unhealthier than a little Sevin dust on the lawn.

I can hardly wait to be free of this place so I can be free to keep my environment pest free without having to have an ecological diatribe aimed at me. 

South Florida Gardening Month by Month: What to Plant In February

Photo credit: Michael Wolf CCSA 3.0 / Wikimedia
February gardening in South Florida is generally a time of preparation, cleaning and replanting. Temperatures are warming, and there is generally no chance of a hard freeze. Now is the time to plant that vegetable garden you didn't get around to in September, or second vegetable crop can now be planted in order to get in a harvest before the summer heat hits. February is also a perfect time to refurbish those freeze damaged beds, or start a new one.

There is still time in February to plant most of what you didn't get planted in January. What most of our northern transplants consider summer vegetables still have time to bear before hot weather. February is a great month in the South Florida garden, and with the wonderful cool weather, one of the most productive months of the year.

Annuals to plant in February in South Florida:

Ageratum Hollyhock BegoniaPetunia Candytuft
AlyssumDianthus Celosia SalviaVinca
Marigold Nasturtiums Cosmos Portulaca Impatiens

Vegetables to plant in South Florida in February:


Bulbs to be planted in February in South Florida:

CaladiumBlood LilyLiliesDaylily

Moving to My Own Place and PICTURES

To those of you who read my other blog Maxing the Minimal, this won't be news. I'm moving into a new place of my own (finally) on March 1. I will have a nice yard to work with, albeit not much sun, but mostly pines, so not so bad. I'll finally be getting back to this blog. I should have posted more here,  but the gardening situation here has been horrific, so I didn't even want to talk about it. Needless to say, it's been mostly just trying to keep my plants alive, but I did get a couple of beds done, so I'll post those before I leave.

For now, here are a few plants I am growing here. I'll be posting many more pictures now that I have a better camera -- maybe even a video or two.

Stay tuned! and check out the new blog. It's outlining my purge of material possession and the move into my new home.

Silver Queen Sansevieria and Bromeliad Just Starting to Bloom

Neoregelia Bromeliad

Yellow Thai Crown of Thorns
Double Purple Datura