Florida Gardening in April

April gardening:

This month was a month of action in my gardening world. Everything I had organized and prepared happened. And I’m happy to say, it was not only a success, but took me to places I hadn’t anticipated and introduced me to life-long friends.

In this month, I initiated phase two for a school garden; held the first Mommy and Me Gardening Club meeting; on Earth day I became certified in permaculture design; accepted another kids garden design project where I’ll partner with a county park; I was featured as a guest writer on a fellow permaculturist’s blog: Agricrafty.com; and I’m creating a website for my business! The website is in the beginning stages as well as the business end of things, but it’s still very exciting! This blog is connected.

I haven’t been working too much in my own garden, but I did create an herb spiral and I’m designing a shade structure for my raised beds and a bench for my garden shed. I’m waiting for the rainy season and need to weed! But here is what you could have been planting:

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

  • corn
  • melons
  • basil
  • dill
  • oregano
  • chives
  • thyme
  • sweet marjoram
  • Chayote
  • calabaza squashes
  • southern peas
  • okras
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • dasheens
  • sweet potatoes
  • malangas

What is flowering:

My yard is filled with color this time of year! So many things are in bloom. Be sure to water. The rainy season isn’t quite here and the plants are getting a little more heat, which may stress them out.

  • Jamaican strawberry tree (I’m convinced this tree flowers most months! The bees love the little flowers.)
  • plumeria
  • lantana
  • oleander
  • periwinkle
  • perennial peanut
  • jasmine
  • bouganvallia
  • coral bean
  • phalaenopsis
  • desert rose
  • marigolds

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

Florida Gardening in March

March gardening:

This month has been busy! It started by celebrating my birthday and continued with exciting growth in gardening and life. As far as gardening goes:

  • I’m organizing Phase 2 with my school gardening project, which means buying more plants and exploring more local nurseries.
  • I’ve been asked to help design and plant two shade gardens, which means researching and expanding my plant dictionary.
  • A friend and I are launching a Mommy and Me Gardening Club for next month, which is a step to help educate the community about Florida gardening.
  • I’m considering opening a holistic healing and educational center with a community garden. This has been the most fun, but will be the biggest challenge. I found a property that I’m hoping will bring my vision to life.
  • As a tool to open my business, I enrolled in an intensive permaculture class!! I am beyond thrilled and just a tiny bit nervous.
  • You can also now find Learning to Grow in Florida on Instagram where I post fun photos of my yard and plants I experience throughout my day. (I had no idea that app was so popular!)

All of these projects are linked to my love for plants and my own growth. They are exciting, and I’ve learned so much during the month of March. And while all this was happening, I was still caring for my own yard and gardens. You can guarantee I was adding plants while I was exploring all those nurseries.

What is flowering:

SO much!

  • coral bean
  • hibiscus
  • Jamaican strawberry tree
  • lantana
  • orchids – my phalenopsis
  • marigolds
  • sweet potato vine
  • jasmine
  • milkweed
  • desert rose
  • moringa
  • mango
  • dwarf pomegranate

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

  • tomatoes
  • cantaloupes
  • watermelons
  • corn
  • pumpkins

Be sure to water. The temperatures are rising, which can dry the soil quickly.

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

 

 

Florida Gardening in February

February gardening:

This month seemed like the month when I felt my plants started thriving again after experiencing Hurricane Irma and two cold frosts. I have begun to see budding new leaves, fruits and flowers. My plants are growing and happy!

We’re in the heart of the dry season, so watering is a priority for my gardens. I’ve also been cleaning up frost damage, weeding and planting warmer crops in my raised beds because we’ve had some record high temperatures recently.

This month I executed phase one for an elementary school garden. This was an unique learning experience and helped me to discover many new native Florida plants. I purchased a healthy amount of butterfly plants, herbs and veggies to include in the project. I then put my new propagating skills to use in hopes to include some of these new plants into my own garden.

One thing to remember this month: don’t prune too early. Sometimes it’s best to just let the plants move in their natural way. The dead growth can be a blanket of protection for some plants. Removing this blanket too early can cause new growth to bud and if the temperatures drop, it could damage the plant.

What’s flowering:

It feels like spring with the warmer temperatures and all the flowers blooming, including:

  • Jamaician strawberry tree
  • bird of paradise
  • milkweed
  • lantana
  • pentas

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

  • arugula
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • fava beans
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • peas
  • potatoes

Herbs:

  • hyssop
  • burnet
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • garlic
  • lemon balm
  • marjoram
  • oregano
  • sage
  • thyme

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Khalil Gibran

Resources:

Garden help: http://www.jacksonville.com/entertainment/home-and-garden/2015-01-30/story/garden-help-what-do-your-florida-garden-february

 

Florida Gardening in January

 

January Gardening:

Happy New Year! January has been an interesting gardening month. Yes, it has gotten much colder in Florida. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s been so much so that many gardeners are mourning the loss of some of their precious exotics to the two frosts. I’ve been playing the plant dance – moving all my plants indoors or in a more protective area; and then moving them back out to catch some warm sun. It’s still a time to water plenty. I’m starting to accept the current state of my winter garden, which is a little scraggly and dry.

January 19th marked Florida’s Arbor Day to take advantage of bare-root plantings. It’s a good time to add some trees during a low-maintenance time of year.

I’ve spent much of my month planning another garden for an educational garden at my girls’ school. This allowed me to explore some local nurseries and to understand more about a low-maintenance, native Florida garden.

What’s flowering:

Not a lot in my yard. My bird of paradise just sprouted a beautiful display. My mango tree is covered in blooms that to my surprise survived our freezes. Otherwise, things are looking a little more on the brown side.

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

  • herbs
  • lettuce
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

Plant from seed as transplants:

  • tomato
  • pepper

 

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.      – Andrew Wyeth

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

 

Florida Gardening in December

December Gardening:

It’s been a busy month, but, unfortunately, I haven’t gotten into the garden as much as I would have liked. The weather is perfect for spending all day in the garden too. Lucky for me, my garden is growing wonderfully without my help. This month I haven’t planted any new vegetables. I’ve just tried to keep everything I have alive in this dry, dry weather. Rain is a blessing in the summer and non-existent in the winter months. My drip irrigation seems to be working pretty well, but I still have to water some areas every other day. I don’t mind because it’s a good way to check the state of all my plants.

What’s flowering:

  • mango tree
  • Jamaican strawberry tree
  • moringa tree
  • milkweed
  • bougainvillea
  • poinsettias
  • cranberry hibiscus
  • calla lilies

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

I haven’t had time this month to plant any new seeds or plants, but this is the time to start planting more cooler weather plants.

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • lettuce
  • beets
  • spinach
  • radishes
  • onions
  • English peas
  • Brussels sprouts

End of the year:

December marks the end of the year, but it’s only the beginning for vegetable gardening. I love watching the seeds grow into something I can eat. That is what my girls love most about gardening. They know all the edible plants and create mint, moringa and hibiscus teas or munch on fresh lettuce. To me it’s a beautiful thing to teach my children where our food comes from. I hope you can find the beauty in tasting all your hard work this year.

All gardening is landscape painting. ~ Alexander Pope

P.S. In the new year I will be spending a great deal of time reorganizing my blog and will be absent for a few weeks as I move toward a more seamless process. Until then, I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a wicked New Year!! Thank you for supporting my dream! This blog is so much more than plants for me, and I appreciate you joining me on this journey.

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

Florida Gardening in November

November Gardening:

It’s the month of cooler weather, turkeys and family. In my garden, it’s been the month of mulch and lime rock. At the beginning of this month I had a delivery from Green Dreams. It was like receiving an early Christmas present. I’m certain my neighbors think I’m insane, but that insanity has transformed my back yard and will be a huge payoff as we enter the dry season. I used the lime rock to create a path and seating area. The mulch is filling in my gardens and creating more of a distinct spacing. It’s made me realize I have so much more room to plant edibles. I’m planning to exercise my food forest knowledge, which is minimal at this point. (But that’s what all these gardening books are for that sit on my desk.)

I’ve been observing my drip irrigation as the rains have just about stopped. My gardens seem a little thirsty, but I’m trying to decide how much water I need. Last fall, I watered daily. I’d like to extend my watering to once a day or even once a week. I finally removed my watermelon and cleared up an entire raised bed. To my surprise, I found a handful of small watermelon buds. My children enjoyed playing with these. I planted snow peas and bok choy in this open bed.

What I planted in my vegetable garden:

  • spearmint
  • oregano
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • strawberries
  • snow peas
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • peppers

What’s flowering:

  • cranberry hibiscus
  • moringa tree
  • Jamaican strawberry tree
  • lantana
  • poinsettias
  • marigolds
  • periwinkle

November marks one year of planting in my yard. I can’t believe how much it’s changed! I went from one live oak and a queen palm to more plants than I can count and far more garden than grass. It feels good when some of the neighbors stop by and say, “You’ve really changed this house.” Most often they are only referring to the front yard; they have no idea what hides behind that white fence. It’s my jungle sanctuary, and it’s only the beginning.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in this year:

  • propagating and seed saving are much easier than I had imagined
  • mulch is magic when it comes to transforming sand into dirt
  • composting is the next best thing to buying plants when it comes to gardening
  • gardening friends are better than any book
  • Florida can grow some exotic edibles – many I had never heard (e.g., Barbados cherry, Jamaican strawberry, moringa tree, etc.)
  • there are so many vegetables that you should just never try to grow in Florida; they may work in the north, but the moisture and drastic rainy and dry season give those edibles a run for their money

Keep experimenting in your garden! Experiments may fail, but the lessons will be your success.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

~ Meister Eckhart

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

Florida Gardening in October

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

October Gardening:

It’s been a busy month. I’ve been doing my regularly maintenance of watering and weeding along with cleaning up some dried up plants. I also planted some lettuce, beans, squash, and tomatoes. I want to plant more, but my watermelon plant is relentless, and I decided to just let it grow. It will free up an entire raised bed when the time is right. I discovered three watermelons hiding among the vines. The vines are still producing flowers and tiny melons are budding.

An entire dump truck of mulch will be delivered next week. I would like to add to the mulch I had put down in spring and also prepare for the dry season. The mulch will help hold more moisture when I have to water. My husband is installing irrigation in the main beds, which will also ease the need to water every day. We chose drip irrigation. I have also continued to play with propagating and pretty much take cuttings from every plant, stick it in soil and see what happens. So far, I’ve been pretty successful. My goal: free plants to pass onto friends for Christmas presents.

What to plant:

Time to continue adding to your vegetable garden!

From seed:

  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Turnips

From seedling:

  • Herbs
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Onions

What you may be harvesting:

My Jamaican strawberry tree is producing berries daily. The small red berries taste like cotton candy – a favorite with the kids.

  • Some citrus
  • Barbados cherry
  • Carambola
  • Guava
  • Passion fruit
  • Papaya
  • Persimmon

The above quote may paint the picture of newly fallen leaves to newly sprouted flowers, but perhaps in Florida October is like spring in the actual growth of all those new vegetable seedlings! Get out there and start planting!

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.