All posts by Dustytoes

About Dustytoes

I grew up in New England but spent most of my life living in central Florida and blog about seashells, beaches, gardening, boating, fishing, hiking, photography, PKD, and my work as a designer for Zazzle. I move around a lot and try to discover the best in all places I live. Life may be tough, but it's not boring.

empty lawn chairs

One Year Since the Big Move

My daughter gave me a calendar for last Christmas.  She had gone through and written some things on each of the months and in June she wrote, “One year since you moved”.  At first, it doesn’t seem like a year has gone by since we packed up the Penske truck and took the 3-day (hellish) drive from New Hampshire to Florida.  But if I give it more thought, I can see all that I did within that year, and yes, it is believable.  In fact, I did pack a lot into the past 12 months.

pampas grass
Pampas Grass grew in my northern yard, but it died over one extremely cold winter.

I had hoped to find a house to buy with a good size yard and plenty of place for gardens.  But money, or lack of it, always seems to give so few options in reality.  Florida is no longer the super cheap place to live that it used to be.  Without money, you don’t have many options, and you have to end up settling for the best you can do.

One thing I am very grateful for is that I don’t have to move in the near future.  Hopefully I will never have to move again, but I know better than to plan on that.  At least the house is in good shape.  Aside from replacing the AC unit, there isn’t much to do until the fridge stops working, or something like that.  No major repairs needed (fingers crossed).

In Florida, summer is like my winter was in the North.  Winter was a time to rest (except for shoveling snow and lugging wood for the wood stove).  There was no yard work to be done (unless you count snowplowing the driveway).  And most winters it was manageable. (2015 was a bad one.)  It’s too cold to do much outdoors, and I simply sat at my desk and worked day after day.  I was much busier in summer with my gardens and yard work.

street sweeper
Street Sweeper in May

Summer in Florida is the time to stay inside.  It is NOT the time to garden, unless you want heat-stroke.  Believe it or not, it can even be too hot to go to the beach!  I’d love to have a pool, but since I don’t, I stay inside and sit at my desk and work day after day.  Now, I look forward to Fall, the way I used to look forward to Spring.  That is when I can get back outside and do some gardening / yard work.

Hydrangeas are beginning to bloom in the north.  Next month all my hydrangeas at my old house (none of it is mine any more, but I like to pretend it is) will be blooming.  One day I will go back and take a ride (or walk) past my previous home, just to look at how much the plants have grown.  They were my babies.  I planted them, and wish I could have stuck around to see them grow year after year.  Wishes mean nothing.

Robin in birdbath
An Evening Ritual, Robins Bathing

If I ever have hydrangeas here, they will have to be in pots.  No hydrangeas can possibly withstand the heat of these summers.  They would be wilted all the time.  I’m sticking with citrus trees and tropical plants.  The vegetable garden is still in it’s experimental stage, with netting over it to block the raccoons’ escapades.

So in a year I have done a lot.  (All photos are mine, and were taken while I lived in New Hampshire.)

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alpine home Switzerland alps

Fairytale Places I’d Like to Live

Not much is happening in my garden these days, so I thought I’d share some interesting photos I came across at the Free photo sharing site, Pixabay.

These fairytale places contain elements I would require to be truly happy and at peace.

1. I would need a beautiful view, preferably with mountains and / or water.
2. Lots of land, with room to roam and explore.

That’s about it, except maybe fertile land with room for a nice vegetable and flower garden. With room for animals, I’d probably have a lot of those too.

I prefer a small house, but maybe not quite as small as this little red house in the Alps. I wonder where those outdoor steps are leading?  And quite honestly, I’d like to have a window or two in my house!

alpine home Switzerland alps
Alpine Home in Switzerland, Photo shared at Pixabay by Fotoworkshop4You

I like the idea of having to cross a cool bridge to get to my house. I’m not sure that little building is a house or a barn, but this bridge is awesome, and the river looks interesting.
Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 3.52.29 PM
Okay, in this shot you can’t see my home (haha) but this is the view out my front window. I can watch my sheep graze in the meadow.

English countryside England
England, landscape – contributed to Pixabay by tpsdave

Now this little wood home, or cabin, is right up my ally. Looks to be the perfect size, with a porch and mountain view.  Could those be fruit trees of some kind in the backyard?

small house cabin with porch
Wood Cabin, contributed to Pixabay by Tappancs

And below, a picture of my horse!

Hope you enjoyed my journey through dreamland.  I did get some work done today too.  This was just a quick escape … which we all need now and then.

black horse with long white mane
Iceland Horse, by contributor Blaer at Pixabay

All of these photos can be found at Pixabay.com

pink desert rose flower

How to Care For a Desert Rose Plant

desert rose pink flowers
Desert Rose in Garden

When I was given this flowering plant as a gift I was told it was a Plumeria. After seeing this same plant at the local Home Depot store, I discovered it was a Desert Rose. But before I knew what it was, I had taken it out of the original pot and put it into a sunny location in the backyard.

Sun is exactly what this flowering plant craves. The only problem was that it doesn’t need a lot of water. In fact, the less water the better – like a succulent, because that is really what it is.

At the time I planted it, we were have a long dry spell here in Florida. The Desert Rose did well. I avoided watering it when I watered the hibiscus next to it, and the plant even sent out new buds, which you can see blooming at the bottom of the stalk.

But, Florida is a tropical place, and I knew the rains would be coming. The Desert Rose also can’t handle cold temperatures (below 40 degrees F), and it does get cold in central Florida in winter.

pink desert rose in orange pot
Dug up and potted

I finally decided the Desert Rose needed to be in a pot. That way I could leave it outside for the sun, but bring it in during rainstorms and for the cold winter nights.  When I potted it, I had to give it water, but I haven’t watered it since.

It seems to be a very hardy plant, as I’ve dug it up and put it back into a pot. I think the key here is to NOT GIVE IT WATER. And I haven’t.

I’ve killed some really nice succulents by over-watering.  It can be tough to not water something when in general plants need plenty of water.  And, it seems to me that the Desert Rose (adenium) is not native to Florida.  Florida has no deserts.   This one will have to stay a houseplant if I hope for it to survive.

These plants develop a very thick “stem” or caudex (see them in the photo below).  This is the part that holds in the water to keep the plant thriving in drought conditions.  It is a succulent shrub and can grow quite large outdoors.

thick caudex stem of desert rose
The thick “stems” of the Desert Rose plant (photo credit: Pixabay)

The Desert Rose can be called by other names.   It is similar in appearance to the plumeria / frangipani tree and Oleander.  The plant is often easy to recognize because of it’s extremely thick stem.

Be aware that this plant contains poisonous sap.   It may not be a good choice as a houseplant for families with young kids for this reason.

I found a lot of articles about this plant at the TipsPlants.com site.  I will reference these articles if I ever get seed pods and maybe I will try to propagate it.

tiny watermelon on the vine

Here’s What’s Happening in My Florida Yard in May

Aside from the fact that the raccoons are helping themselves to all my tomatoes… red and green… I am still attempting to grow a garden.  The raised bed is filling slowly with dirt and compost, and right now I have cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bell peppers, and eggplant growing.

So far I am eating tomatoes and cukes.  Still waiting for the peppers, squash and eggplant.

raised bed gardening
New Plants in My Raised Bed Garden

None of my vegetable plants were doing very well.  They had plenty of sun and water.  The problem was the soil.  I have been buying bags of organic dirt, but I don’t think it had any type of compost in it.  So I  bought a few bags of compost, and that has helped. I had started my own compost in a pail on my porch and I added that to the raised bed.  What I really need is a composter.

Now my older eggplant is flowering again.  I have some green peppers and can see little cucumbers beginning to grow. But I need more dirt and compost.

eggplant flower growing
Maybe I’ll Get an Eggplant
cucumber blossom on vine
Tiny Cuke

The Rose bush is blooming, with small, but beautiful roses.

I must go outside and check them every day, because the flowers don’t last. Just the other day I got a pure white rose on this bush! But I waited too long and lost the opportunity to get a photo.  Roses are difficult to grow and with the humidity here, I’m afraid of black spot – or whatever they get.

pink rose
Pink Rose with Peach Center

Down toward the back of my house the watermelon vine is getting longer, and baby watermelons are popping out along the stem.

tiny watermelon on the vine
Baby Watermelon

Since I’ve amended the soil with compost, the peppers are doing better. The bells are not very large yet, but I’m afraid the raccoons will pick them before I get to.

green bell peppers growing
Finally, my peppers are growing!

It’s been so dry here in Florida for months. This tropical location is in need of rain. We’ve had very few rainy days, and there have been fires all over the place.

Because of this, I decided to add a cheap bird bath to the corner of my garden. Using a big plastic pot saucer, I added some broken bricks left over from the building of our patio, and filled it with water.   It sits on the corner of the raised bed.  Each day I spray it out and refill while I’m watering the garden.

I do get birds who drink and bathe in the thing. A female cardinal especially seems to like it, and a Cowbird (I think) had a nice long bath the other day. Of course my cats drink from it as well!

bird bath
My Cheap Bird Bath

I know that if I was still living in New Hampshire, gardening would hopefully begin this Memorial Day weekend. Their garden veggies won’t be coming in for a couple more months.