Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nothing like a Home Grown Pineapple

This is the second pineapple or ratoon from the parent pineapple that I planted in a container three years ago.  It has been growing in my front yard and has been a conversation piece among myself and neighbors.  This lovely little beauty was as sweet as it looks and the entire family enjoyed eating it.  I did save the top and set it to grow roots for hopefully another pineapple.  I also see what looks to be another top growing from the original plant and there are puppies in the pot that I will need to transplant into their own containers.

I hope you give pineapple a try in your garden.  Be patient and you too will one day be proudly eating a pineapple you've grown.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Growing Apples in South Florida

While the cold winter of 2010 might have damaged tender tropical trees, it seemed to have given new life to my Sentinel Columnar Apple Trees.  This is my second year with these trees which are being grown in containers.  Last it fruited but many fell off and the few that remained matured at a very small size, from what I recall, the flavor of the tiny taste I had was sweet.  This year the apples have already surpassed the size of last year's apple and the tree seems to be doing well and aphids have not bothered it (they enjoy my yard long beans more).

Click here to Learn About Columnar Apple Trees

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zone 10 Start some Seeds

Based on several seed calculation tools and information found in the UF Vegetable Gardening Guide , now in July would be a good time to start seeds for transplants for the fall garden.  Tomatoes and Peppers are good choices with lots of variety to choose from.  Seeds started now will be ready to be transplanted to ground by mid to late September, giving you a headstart on the fall garden and allowing warm weather crops such as tomatoes and peppers to fruit well before out first frost in mid December.  Be sure to transplant your seedlings into 4 or 6 inch pot sizes after they have sprouted so that they can grow until transplant time in September.  Seedlings do require extra care, shelter and nurturing, but it will be worth the effort when you consider the money saved from buying transplants from the box store and the availabilty of choice of variety that you will have. 

When selecting seeds, look at the number of day to harvest and spacing requirements especially if you are container or square foot gardening.  With tomatoes you will want to choose "Determinate" 
varieties.  You can still grow "Indeterminate" varieties in containers, however you will have to provide suitable trellising and support since they can grow over 6 feet tall. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Little Prehistoric Monster in my yard

I'm not sure what the variety or type of lizard is, but he's is big and has been elusive til now.  He's rather prehistoric looking and  runs really fast on hind legs. 
I always catch him scurrying out of the garden, today however he was in a different mood and stayed for this photo opportunity.  I was actually surprised that he didn't rush off and allowed me to go inside get my camera and return to his picture.  If anyone can identify him, I'd love to know who he is and if he's a friend or foe to my garden.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Playing Catch Up

It's been a while since I offered up a post, but maintaining a garden as well as everything else I do sometimes leaves little time for blogging.  Currently the garden is winding down and plans are being made for the fall planting.  During this time of the year in South Florida as daily temperatures stay in the 90's many tender plants cannot handle the heat and humidity.  This year our rainy season has also been slow to start and with our area being in a drought, the plants are suffering. My tomatoes are all but done, there a few stragglers left, not very pretty to look at but still producing a few sparse fruits.  Red Cherry and Yellow Pears are the only ones still fruiting.  Eggplant seems to not mind the heat, but the lack of rain has affected production, many blossoms but very few fruit actually set.  Other than a few peppers still growing and sweet potatoes in one bed, I don't have much else growing in the square foot garden.  Btw, it's Mango Season!!  I've been enjoying a fresh mango almost daily.  My own little tree gave me about 6 mangoes, actually 5, I lost one to a possum, and friends and family have been sharing bags of their harvest every week this month.  I'll try to post more often, but in the meantime, check out my front yard..it's getting a little crowded don't you think?
Plants featured in the above picture are:
Dwarf Pomegranate, Pineapple, Strawberry Guava, Shrimp Plant with Coleus, Hibiscus, Million Bells, Holy Basil, Spearmint, Peppermint, Applemint, more Million Bells, Begonia, Impatiens, Marigolds and a pot of wildflower mix.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Edible Container Gardening

Container gardening is fun and challenging.  Many considerations have to be made, from the choice of container, soil used, and plant selected, all will play a role on how successful your gardening adventure turns out to be.  I have successfully grown and harvested from my container garden for the past three years now and have found that certain varieties of plants do better in containers than others.  Not all tomatoes are equal and not all vegetables can be grown in containers. 

First choose your container carefully, size matters here. Bigger is not always better and overcrowding can also be detriment. Do not use garden soil, always use a potting mix for your containers or you can get creative and learn about soiless potting mixes.  Here is a list of varieties that I have successfully grown in containers with source and size of container recommended.  When selecting seeds look for varities that say "determinate", "bush", "compact" and "container culture" on the labels.  You can find seeds suitable for container culture at Burpees, Gurney, Territorial Seed Company, Pinetree Nursery, Totally Tomatoes, and Park Seed.

For window boxes, shallow containers:
Lettuce - All leaf varieties are suitable for container culture, try Little Gem for head lettuce
Spinach - Baby Spinach
Carrots - Short & Sweet, Scarlet Nantes, Thumbelina

Most herbs can be grown in 6 to 8 inch pots or window boxes, just trim and use in your cooking to maintain size of plant throughout the growing season.  Try Flat leaf or Curly Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Mints, Sage, Basil, Marjoram, Chives, and Cilantro.  Herbs are also great for the square foot garden, but be careful of spreading herbs like Oregano and Mints that can become invasive and better suited for containers.

Large Containers 12-14 inches in diameter, half barrels and 3 to 5 gallon containers
Winter Squash - Bush Delicata
Eggplant - Fairytale, Twinkle, Black Beauty
Tomato - Patio Princess, Totem, Tumbling Tom, Bush Boy, Better Bush
Cucumber - Salad Bush, SpaceMaster, Bush Pickle
Okra - Baby Bubba

For additional resources on container gardening, please visit these links:
Container Vegetable Gardening
Suggested Vegetable Varieties for Container Gardening
Vegetable Container Garden

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Container Cucumbers

I have been busy doing many things and my garden has been busy growing. Here is a picture of one month's growth on my container bush variety of cucumbers started from seed in late February.  When I checked this morning there were two baby cucumbers forming.   Now I have never been successful at getting cucumbers to this stage of growth or actually getting frui.t and that is due to me mainly planting at the wrong time and planting the wrong variety.  Cucumbers are naturally vining plants and most varieties will benefit from trellising, but being that I do not have the room so I searched out bush varieties suited for container culture.  If I get two or three fruits from this pair of plants I will be very happy.

Pictures Taken March 2nd and April 4th

Monday, March 28, 2011

What a Brilliant Idea! Hanging Gutter Garden!

In my general perusing of the web I came to find this wonderful garden and home site 
ahahomeandgarden.com.  On it I saw a brilliant idea that I simply have to try in my own home garden.  Check it out and let me know if you think it's a great way to get more space to grow things.  I think this type of set up would be great for strawberries or lettuce and hope to have it set up for this fall's garden.
How to Make a Hanging Gutter Garden

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Annuals Can be Perennials in South Florida

Back from the dead, this lovely group of Impatiens was planted in the spring of 2010.  By the end of August the heat was too much for them and they pretty much wilted away.  Forgotten and neglected during the rest of the summer and the occassional cold spells we had during our winter, I thought  I would find a plant when I went to clean out the container. However this little beauty thrived and has returned to life this spring. 

And I thought Impatiens were annuals... lol!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Last of the Broccoli

In South Florida, you can plant Broccoli from September to Jan.  Broccoli enjoys cool weather and is quick to bolt (flower) as soon as temperatures warm up.  Depending on the variety, you can harvest 75 to 90 days from planting.  After the first main head is harvested you can expect the plant to continue to produce smaller side shoots.

Planted last fall, my broccoli grown in my square foot garden was ready to harvest from around Christmas till present.  From six plants I was able to get four full sized heads and a few side shoots.  However due to my holiday travels two heads were not able to be harvested before they went to flower.  I noticed that the bees loved the broccoli flowers and since my citrus were in bloom I allowed the pretty flowers to stay until this past weekend when I finally pulled them all up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yellow Bougainvillea

I love the way Bougainvillea looks with weeping drapes of colorful paper like blossoms.  It gives me the sense of warmth and temperate climates like the West Indies and the Mediterranean. Common in South Florida landscapes, I decided to give it a try and planted one last year.  While I love the gorgeous yellow blossoms, I must say I didn't quite take into consideration the thorns on the plant when I envisioned that the not so brilliant plan of training it towards my fence over the Mexican Petunias.

Bougainvilleas are relatively easy to grow.  They prefer well draining soil however once established they do tolerate dry conditions and underwatering.  It is recommended to fertilize three times a year, however this plant even tolerates forgetful me, who honestly can't remember the last time she fertilized this beauty.  It makes a great security barrier near windows with it's thorny branches.  It can easily handled with a heavy pair of gloves though, so don't let this beauty deter you, it's worth having in your garden.

Bouganvillea comes in a wide variety of colors, pinks, crimson, peach, purple, white and of course yellow.  I think this year I will add another color but instead of planting it in the ground I think I will try in containers against the wall.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

A single white tea rose has bloomed just in time to wish you all a Very Happy Valentine's day.  May your love be pure, strong and everlasting!

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Hear the Trumpets

It's February and the trumpets are blowing in the breeze.  Started from a cutting taken from my aunt's yard, this very beautiful Angel Trumpet Flower (Brugmansia) is in full bloom.  This gorgeous plant starts out with yellow pod like flowers that open up to become a gorgeous shade of peach.  I fertilize it once or twice a year, when I remember to and really don't give any extra care or attention, other than to remove hornworms which ravages the leaves during the summer.  It's a stunning plant and one I will keep in my collection.  I'm think if I found a hot pink or red brugmansia, I'll need to add it to my collection.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gardening in February

It's February 1st and South Florida gardeners should be planning and starting their spring gardens this month.
I will be cleaning up the winter garden after successful harvests of tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant and peppers between November and January. I plan to keep the eggplant and peppers going into the summer while adding new varieties.  Carrots and Parsley started in late December are slowly growing.  The citrus plants, Key Lime, Persian Lime and Meyer Lemon are all blooming.  If you didn't fertilize your citrus last month, do so now.

With the chance of a significant frost lessening it also time to plant pretty cool weather flowers before our temperatures get too hot.  Impatiens, Begonias, Verbena, Snapdragon are great for transplanting now for instant color and gratification.  If you are starting from seeds, try Marigold, Zinnias and Alyssum.  Try groupings of several or more varieties for a lovely cottage look.  There are many bulbing varieties of flowers however the majority of them do not stand up to the South Florida summers, I have only had success with caladiums and gladiolas and this is what I'll be preparing to plant again for summer blooms.

In the vegetable garden, you should start seeds now if you haven't already for tomatoes and peppers or you could always get transplants from Home Depot, Lowes or your favorite plant nursery.  Many vegetables can be sown directly into the ground at this time here in South Florida.  Carrots, Cucumbers, Canteloupes, Eggplant, Summer Squash, Collards, Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes, peppers and tomatoes could all be started or planted now. Ideally if starting from seeds, you would started mid January for transplanting into the garden from mid February to mid March, but it's still not too late to do it now either, so don't procrastinate or you'll be paying at least $3 per transplant.

For more information visit University of Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tomatoes in January

This weekend I picked the last of my tomatoes planted this past fall. I've been harvesting ripe and delicious throughout December and all of January. Here is this week's harvest:

In the bowl are Park Whoppers, Solar Flare, Mortgage Lifter and Celebrity and Totem varieties. In December Early Girl and Better Boy varieties were harvested. Some of these were seeded in September of 2010 indoors and others like the Park Whopper and Solar Flare were bought from Home Depot as transplants. All were placed in the garden in their final pots early to mid October of last year. The plants are all done for now with just a few small green tomatoes left. Our December and January chills effectively killed off any chances of the plants overwintering and producing again so they will be removed from the garden this week in preparation for spring planting.

A Bit of Background

Welcome to my blog about a South Florida Square Foot and Container Garden. I love to garden and wished I had an acre or more of land to plant away on, however since I don't I make do with two 3x6 square foot beds and several, well maybe a few dozen containers. Here are earlier posts about my garden. This blog will be dedicated to my gardening adventures and hopefully will feature some tips you can use.

A South Florida Square Foot and Container Garden

More Garden Pictures

Gardening in December

Roses Are Blooming

Apples, Potatoes & Carrots

Container Pineapple

Barbados Cherries

Shrimp Plant

April Flowers

Winter Aftermath