Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April Orchids

This cutie just opened up earlier this week. It's a blend of soft spring colors. See that little white packet in the pot. That's slow-release fertilizer wrapped up in a small piece of netting fabric. So, everytime I water the orchid it gets a little fertilizer. This is one of my "mom's ideas" (sorry for mentioning that mom!). And, since she told me about it our orchids look better than ever.
And, this orchid's name should be "faithful" because it blooms about every other month 'year round. I've had it for 20+ years, and I still get excited when I see new blooms on it.

The rest of the orchids are carryovers from March. They're still in bloom and still looking good. You can't beat phaleonopsis for their lasting blooms.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

"The Earth Laughs in Flowers"
-E.E. Cummings

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some Like it Shady

If you've got shade, plant bromeliads (although, there are some varieties that like the full sun). This variety is one of my favorites. The bright red center just grabs my eye everytime I walk past them. They are a great groundcover, don't need fertilizer or pruning. Once in a while I have to thin them out and beg a neighbor to take a few. But other than that they're pretty maintenance free!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Capturing the Rain

As you can see, I've got my ducks (I mean buckets) in a row to capture some rainwater for my potted plants - 4 on the patio and 2 more on the side of the house.

Drought conditions have meant more expensive water in our area, so I've been saving two buckets of water - that would have gone down the drain - a day from the indoor shower and kitchen sink to water my plants on the patio. My buckets fill up so fast that I end up with more water than I need for my potted plants - somewhere around 54, yes 54 potted plants (and that's not counting our orchids). Somehow, they just seem to multiply like rabbits!

Before I started doing this I had no conception of how much water I was wasting. It's a real eye opener -I wish I could save all the gray water that leaves our home.
When I heard the weatherman say 80% chance of rain I squealed in delight, quickly gathered up all the empty containers I could find and put them in position. I didn't know I could get so excited over a little rainfall - something I usually take for granted.
Fortunately, it rained from 10:00 to 4:00 yesterday giving our plants and grass a good soaking and filling up my 6 containers and upside down garbage can lid (thanks to the garbageman). When I poured the contents into one bucket I was pleasanty surprised to see how much rain I had actually captured - almost a full container.

At the end of the day my bedraggled plants were drooping from the weight of the water hanging from their tender branches, but they were all refreshed and smiling. You just can't beat or duplicate the results of a good rainshower.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Spring Veggies

This photo contains the remnants from my winter vegetable garden. A Georgia collard plant (right of the palm) is still going strong, while the yellow Jelly Bean tomato (left of the palm) has sprung back to life with the warmer days and has been producing yummy little cherry tomatoes for a month now. The collard plant is a cool season vegetable that will soon be finished producing once the days get too warm.

My yard is shaded by oak trees, so I grow most of my veggies in containers. As the trees take on their new springtime canopy of leaves I have to move the containers around in order to catch more sunlight. It becomes like a game of Hide and Seek with the sun.
One of my favorite veggies to grow is salad greens. They are so easy and they keep on producing even after you cut leaves off. Plus it's nice to have fresh salad greens at hand. These two photos contain a couple of bibb lettuce but mostly a mixture of leaf lettuces.

Not pictured are my tomato plants - two in pots and four in the ground. Let's see there's two yellow jelly bean, black cherry, lemon boy, beefsteak, and a volunteer that we're hoping is pink brandywine.
This is the first year I've grown snow peas and it has been extremely fun. The vine is so delicate and I have it climbing up a small palm tree that lost its leaves to the winter frost. Out of each tiny white flower that blooms a small peapod emerges and grows very fast. With the sunlight in the background you can count the number of peas in each pod. I can hardly wait to pop these in my mouth.

The blue-green color of broccoli is a very pretty accent among the green plants in the garden. So far the plants are doing well but they'll need to hurry up and produce the edible stalks before it gets too warm.

The bush beans have tiny little beans on them but I discovered a squirrel atop my daughter's swingset munching on one of them. YIKES! I hope he doesn't eat them all. There are 3 beds of beans planted around the house - 2 in the front yard and 1 in the side yard. Hopefully, I'll at least get some out of the front yard. By the way, my neighbor came over to see what kind of veggies I was planting in the front yard this time. Last year he made fun of my tomato plant that was smack dab in the center of the bed alongside of the walkway to the front door. I told him, "That it's very European to plant vegetables in the frontyard." Somehow, he didn't seem too impressed by that. But hey, in my yard I've got to plant where the sunlight is!

Another new vegetable for me this year is summer squash. The plants took off right away and I was worried they'd be all leaves and no veggie, but if you look through the leaves you'll see an adorable baby squash. It's fun to go out every day and check the progress of the plants and watch the veggies grow bigger.

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