Moving Again, Taking a Time Out

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-32-52-amI began this blog with the hope of sharing my gardening experience, like so many normal people do.  But I am not normal.  Or should I say, my life is not normal.  By this time, I am probably a little off my rocker as well.

After closing on my new home just the other day, (it was delayed because of Hurricane Matthew, which didn’t surprise me a bit) I now have to face moving again.  I am not young.  There is a household of items to move, as well as a storage unit full.  It will be up to me and my two sons to do all the heavy lifting.  On the bright side, this keeps me fit.  I am stronger than the typical sixty-year old woman, for sure.

Recently I counted up the times I had moved in my life and came to the extraordinary number of 14.  I look forward to living in a nice home, and hopefully the last I will ever live in.  It’s not anything fabulous, but it will be comfortable.  Anyone who has moved to a new place knows that it takes time to get settled in, and I hate that I will have to waste more of my life doing that.

Many – no ALL – of my friends (or, past friends, I should say) are settled in life.  People my age own homes that are paid off.  They are not just now signing up for a 30-year mortgage!  They have fun.  Many of them spend time traveling and visiting their kids the grandkids.  They go to weddings, go out to dinner, have parties, and share stories of their fantastic lives on their FaceBook pages.  They live.  They have normal lives.  They live the kind of life I always expected to have in my later years.  For me, it went the other way.  This is mainly why they are “past friends”.  I have nothing in common with my old friends these days.  And I can’t expect them to understand.  I only visit FaceBook because I have a Store Page there, for my business.  Yes, I will be working until I die.  No retirement and slowing down for me.

I accept my lot in life.  What else can I do?  My posts here have become depressing, even for me, so I apologize.  Soon, I hope to have some photos and info about building raised garden beds.  I plan to have a few on my new property.  That will make me feel more normal.  In the meantime, I will be packing.

Ending the Year With a Disaster

I’ve had a bad year. I’m not going further back than that, but these past months have been especially hard. After dealing with a drop in income and buying absolutely nothing extra for nearly three years, I was able to quickly sell my New Hampshire home and move back to Florida. I never wanted to come back here to live, but it’s more affordable. Also my older son is a firefighter here and my younger son is attending college here. It was my only option. Without money, there are few options in life.

I had a big yard sale, gave items away, and called a local shop to pick up lots of my furniture before we packed up the Penske truck and took the three day drive from New England to Florida. All of that was a tremendous effort, not to mention the packing, showing the house, and my sadness at having to leave – move again.

Since June my younger son and I have been living with my older son in his rental house in east central Florida. I dislike the area and hate the heat. But I am sucking it up, and trying to make the best of it. I know it’s foolish of me to hope for a better future, but when that is all there is, it can’t be helped. We began looking for a house to buy together right away. We found one and began the buying process.

Yesterday we were scheduled to close on the house. Everyone has been watching the path of Hurricane Matthew and it seemed to be headed straight for the coast where my new home is located. I wondered at the wisdom of closing on a home the day before a major hurricane hits.

My worries were lessened when one hour before the closing I got a call from the Mortgage company saying there was a moratorium on closings! It had been delayed because of the storm’s approach.

Depending on the damage left behind by this storm, it may be a while before we can close and get ourselves moved in. The house is only a few miles from the beach, so it may get some damage – and then what? The nightmare goes on.

I say ending the year with a disaster, but really there are a few months to go. Time for even more fun to happen in my life.

Fall Vegetable Planting in Florida, What Can I Plant?

garden vegetables
Nothing Beats Fresh Grown Veggies

I’ve been browsing my new Florida Gardening book and finally came upon a page that really tells me all I need to know for now.  It is entitled “Cool Season Vegetables” with planting times – specifically for north, south or central Florida regions.

I will live on the edge of zone 9a and 9b of the cold hardiness zone map. What that means is that my area often gets frosts and sometimes freezes during December, January and February.   Temperatures can get down into the 20’s.  When that happens I will have to protect my crops. I can remember covering my outdoor shrubs and plants that were sensitive to cold when I used to live here. I saved up old sheets and blankets and would cover them over night. Usually temperatures climb nicely during the day, but overnight it can be downright cold!

Anyway, the cool season vegetable planting list contains a lot of vegetables I love to grow.

Growing vegetables in Florida is new to me.  I’m used to having everything pulled up from my gardens by the beginning of October, with the exception of some herbs, parsley and kale.  It’s not a time for beginning to plant anything in New England.  The fall season in the northeast is a time to enjoy the foliage and try not to think about what is coming.

I am delighted to find that many of my favorite veggies can be grown in the upcoming months.   On the planting list for October onward, I see that I can plant carrots, celery, kale, lettuce, onions, parsley, peas and potatoes, to name a few.   A couple of surprises on the list include strawberries and rhubarb!    The rhubarb can be planted at any time of year, but I didn’t even know I would be able to grow it in the south!  And I always thought strawberries were summer fruit.

Also most herbs can be planted this time of year.  Of course I searched for parsley first thing and was astounded when it wasn’t listed in the “herb” section.  After freaking out a bit, I found it listed under cool-season vegetables.  I always thought parsley was a herb, so I researched it and found that it is considered a herb, a spice and a vegetable.  Wow, I didn’t know that.

container garden
My current “garden”

When I first moved down to Florida in June, I went out and bought two green pepper plants.  They grew one funny-looking pepper and then began to die.  I still have one of the plants and it’s beginning to grow new peppers.  (See it in the black pot in my photo.) I am hoping it may still produce a pepper or two for me.

Now that I see the lists of all these vegetables, I am wishing I had a bigger yard.  I haven’t moved into my new home yet, but the lot is normal size.  I’ll have to figure out how to best utilize the space for my gardens.  And then I’ll have to build them.  That will be a lot of work, so I am not exactly sure when I can begin planting.   At least I will have a good idea of what to do once the beds are ready.

Maybe I will continue to do some container gardening in the meantime.

Florida Gardening Tips Month by Month This Book is Just What I Need

florida gardening book
Tom MacCubbin has a lot of gardening books.

I’m learning to garden in Florida and reading this informational book by Tom MacCubbin. The month by month gardening tips are a great help for someone just starting out gardening in this tropical climate. Even though I haven’t moved into my new home yet, I’m getting prepared and beginning to learn what crops to grow in a Florida winter. I need a list of cool season vegetables.

I used to cut articles written by this author from the newspaper years ago. I ended up with a stack of little papers to sift through whenever I needed to find some information on growing plants in my Florida yard. He always had such good advice, and he appeared on television occasionally too, as I recall. That was many years ago, when I first lived in Florida in the early 1980’s. So moving back to the south meant I had to re-learn southern ways of gardening.

It was thrilling to find a book written by someone I trust for gardening information. So far, I’ve only read a bit, but once I plan the planting space, I will have a good idea of what will grow in the winter months. I’d also like to start a compost heap, or buy a compost bin since the soil will need amending constantly. Gardens in Florida don’t get to rest really.

I have read about hydrangeas, and the only fact I must remember here is that they tend to dry out quickly and will need lots of water.  They will bloom in July, like in the north, and then can be deadheaded.  I like to watch the flowers dry on the stem, but I wonder if the humidity here means that won’t work so well?  I’ll have to see what happens.

Other than a few quick mentions, the Month by Month book doesn’t mention much about hydrangeas.