Why You Should Plant Zinnias

Here in Florida we can plant and grow Zinnias. I never knew this, but the Urban Harvest sells seeds and they sell things that will grow in Florida. Sure enough, Zinnias are heat tolerant and should grow all summer long.

Zinnias attract bees and butterflies and they come in beautiful colors. This is why you should plant them.

A few days ago I placed my third seed packet order from The Urban Harvest, a Florida based grower. Within a few days my seeds arrived. I planted the Zinnia seeds into small pots on May 19th. The next day – May 20th – all seeds had sprouted!

Zinnia seeds after one day!

I don’t believe I have ever in my life seen seeds sprout in one day’s time. To say I am amazed is an understatement. I have great results growing seeds from The Urban Harvest.

Currently I have Okra growing that was planted directly into a raised bed and it came up in four days. Of the 15 seeds planted, there are 12 growing. But, what is eating my okra?

Much of what is growing in my gardens have come from seeds bought at The Urban Harvest.

Zinnia Seeds Sown Directly Into the Garden

It also works to sow zinnia seeds right into the dirt. I did this around the edge of my small garden space – which is quickly being overrun by watermelon vines.

The seeds sprouted within a couple of days.

Zinnia seeds

More About Zinnias at UF / IFAS site.

Pictures of Zinnias

These photos come from Pixabay. I’ll have my own photos when my flowers grow.

Keep reading about Florida gardening

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Art Class: Simple Pencil Drawings

Sharing some photos of my nature pencil drawings done through an online course.

My grown daughter lives in New Hampshire and I live in Florida. She had an idea of how we could share some time together. She signed us up for an online drawing class! The class was offered through a local nature conservancy called The Harris Center. (Link at bottom of page.)

We had four weeks of lessons and drew something different each week. Our homework was to find the item to draw.

Each lesson was an hour long and we did Zoom meetings. This was a bit of a learning curve for me, as I had never done a Zoom meeting! But it was fun.

Our first lesson was practicing shadows and gradient color using a pencil. Also, we had to draw a rock.

Florida is not known for having rocks, but I did have a coquina rock, which I chose to draw. Class was at 7:00pm so lighting was not good in my house.

For each lesson we would begin drawing along with the teacher. This took about half the class time. The rock on the left above was done with her, and then I had about 30 minutes to draw my coquina.

Lesson #2: Drawing a Stick

We were drawing from nature, so our second lesson was about drawing a simple stick and showing the shadow. Both sticks, in image 1 were done with the teacher in the first part of the class. The second photo is my stick drawing which is pretty awful….!!

At the start of the lessons we were told to have a good eraser, and I didn’t have one. She used the eraser to create white spaces on the image. I couldn’t do that, so my stick was just dark. And the end looks like a dog head…. haha…!

Lesson #3 Draw a Leaf

The class was full of New Hampshire residents. I was the only outsider. While they were bundled up in sweaters, I was sitting on my porch in a sleeveless shirt with the fan blowing.

It also meant that my gathering of subject materials would be different from theirs.

When it came to drawing a leaf, since it was February and the dead of winter in the north, they had to either draw a dead leaf, or a Beech leaf (I think). They tend to hang onto the trees longer.

Being in Florida, I had loads of leaves to choose from, but I figured I’d draw a dried leaf also. I’m not sure what kind of leaf I collected, but it ended up being my favorite finished drawing of the class.

Lesson #4, and Last Lesson: Draw an Animal

When the teacher mentioned that our last lesson would be drawing an animal, I was not too happy. I’ve never been good at drawing wildlife, and I really don’t enjoy it.

But she had us draw a little hummingbird for starters, and I think mine ended up looking okay.

For my own animal I chose the Sandhill Crane because I had a good photo of one that had come into our yard. It really needed a lot of detail, and I ran out of time.

After each lesson we could share our drawing if we chose. I shared the Crane drawing and explained I was not in New Hampshire and this is why I chose this for my animal.

Once the Zoom meeting was over my daughter and I would share our drawings with each other. We had a lot of fun and it was a good way to do something together while living so far apart.

Read more about the Harris Center for Conservation Education based in Hancock, NH.


Why You Should Plant Zinnias

Here in Florida we can plant and grow Zinnias. I never knew this, but the Urban Harvest sells seeds and they sell things that will grow in Florida. Sure enough, Zinnias are heat tolerant and should grow all summer long. Zinnias attract bees and butterflies and they come in beautiful colors. This is why you…

A Vegetable Garden Begun From Seeds

Planting a garden, year two, from saved seeds. Everything growing in my small backyard vegetable garden was begun from my own seeds and seedlings.

Sometimes We Should Keep The Weeds

Flowering weeds can attract lots of beneficial bugs to the yard.

Florida homeowners are more likely than most to hire a lawn care service. The extreme heat is one of the main reasons, but the weeds and bugs are also at the top of the list, I’m sure.

Because we never get an actual winter here in the Sunshine State, things grow and grow. Some plants die back when the weather is colder than normal, but for the most part everything comes back quickly.

When I say “lawn care” I mean not only the brave souls who mow and weed-eat in this hot and humid climate, but the ones who spray insecticides to kill everything unwanted. Everyone needs to keep the growth down, but many homeowners also have their yards sprayed with chemicals to kill the bugs and weeds.

Daisy Fleabane – attracts pollinators

This tiny flower is growing in my lawn which hasn’t been cut in a while. I might dig it up and transplant it to the backyard garden.

Daisy fleabane flowers are light lavender with big yellow centers, or can be white
Daisy Fleabane

Weeds For the Bees and Butterflies

Often weeds are something that have been around for a long time in the area where we live. They are native and should not be totally eradicated, in my opinion.

The purple flowering Spiderwort is considered a nuisance, and for good reason – it spreads like mad. It has pretty flowers, but grows in clumps that are nearly impossible to pull up from the lawn. It springs up all over, if the grass is not cut often. That means in the winter months when growth is slower gives this weed time to find places in the lawn to sprout. By March, the Spiderwort is blooming everywhere in the morning, but closes up as the day wears on. It attracts many honey bees.

Spiderwort

Spiderwort grows all along the edge of my yard. I do find it in the lawn as well and it is difficult to remove once it has rooted. If left to grow, it will become big clusters of flowers with long, grass-like leaves.

Although it is a nuisance to anyone trying to keep a pristine landscape, the flowers attract beneficial honeybees and other “good” bugs.

Spiderwort weed grows along edge of yard

White Flowering Spanish Needle

I never knew the name of this white flowering weed. It grew all along the property edge and began springing up in my old raised vegetable bed. I let it grow and it got large. When I decided to remove it, I had to dig it out.

There were plenty more Spanish Needle plants and I have left a few around the garden edges. Now that I can recognize the leaves, I can pull the plant up when it is small. Otherwise, it will take a shovel to get the roots.

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Air Potato Plants Are Good For Nothing

Come to find out, Florida is full of invasive species of animals and plants. One such plant is known as the “air potato”. The name fits because the “potatoes” hang from vines that can climb. Of course many fall to earth where they commence growing new vines to choke all other growth and trees in the vicinity.

They are not edible, and are good for nothing, as far as I know. I read that they were brought in as medicinal plants from Africa and Asia. Now they threaten Florida’s native plants.

Potato vines smothering vegetation
The empty lot next to my yard has many potato vines crawling all over the vegetation

Potato vines grow rampantly here in Florida and climb over all sorts of vegetation from shrubs to trees. They will pull branches to the ground and smother plants by blocking the sun and distorting growth.

potato vines
Vines growing over vegetation

Getting Rid of Potatoes

I live in a very large neighborhood but beside me is a rare, uncleared lot. One day it will be sold and a house will go in, but for now there is a lot of wild growth in this small area. Because potato vines are growing like mad over there, the potatoes fall into my yard.

Potatoes dropped along the edge of my yard
Potatoes at the edge of my yard

The potatoes can be large or tiny. They cover the ground and hang from the vines. If they sit on the ground long enough they will root and send out vines to climb whatever is nearby.

large air potato in Florida
Air potato, large size

As I was picking up the many potatoes around my yard, I wondered what was the best way to dispose of them. All I found was this information on A Guide to Air Potato which says to put them in a black plastic bag (I only had white) and let them deteriorate then throw them out with the regular trash – not lawn debris – pick up.

I let these bags of potatoes sit around for months but nothing happened. Finally I threw them in with the regular trash.

bags of air potatoes
I filled these bags with potatoes
Florida air potatoes
Potatoes and vine under roots of the Brazilian pepper tree

Potato vines are just one of many invasive plants that threaten Florida habitats. In the photo above many potatoes litter the ground beneath Brazilian Pepper tree roots. That is an invasive tree.

Yup, here in the jungle invasive species are flourishing and choking out the local nature. But they are not half as dangerous as the influx of people who keep clearing land and ruining the ecology.

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