Category Archives: Winter

ice in birdbath

Ice In Florida is Not So Common

We have had some cold weather here in Florida recently and I guess it’s so we don’t feel left out this winter.  With temps in the minus 20’s back in New England, I won’t get any pity for the cold I deal with in Florida.  But for us here in the south, ice is not so common.

It felt like 22 degrees overnight for three nights in a row and that has done some damage to plantings.

My eggplant stalks are now dead at the top and it looks like the poinsettia is totally dead.  I could have gone out and covered the plants each night, but I just didn’t care enough to do so.

frozen eggplant plant
Frozen top of eggplant

This plant has grown like mad but given me only one eggplant to eat. I am not so sure I want this plant taking over my tiny garden area without giving me any vegetables to eat.

Winter is only beginning and if I want to save my outdoor plants they will have to be covered every time the temps drop below freezing. I have sheets and towels ready to use for covering, but I don’t have anything that important to save. Only my lime tree is worth the trouble and I can bring it indoors on cold nights, which I did.
The birdbath iced over for three nights and my cat, Skittle, was confused as to why she couldn’t drink from it.  I took a short video with my iPhone which you can see below.

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ladybug macro

In the Yard End of December 2017

Yesterday, December 30th I decided to get some photos of happenings in the backyard. Because much of the northern part of the country is suffering with snow, ice and unbelievably cold temperatures (you have my sympathy), I felt lucky to be outside in the warm sunshine and 60 degree temps.

Today I wanted to write this short post to share what it’s like to be able to avoid winter and watch a garden grow literally year round. This is new for me and I am not trying to brag. I miss New England even though you must suffer through the bad winters. It’s beautiful there and quite boring and dull here in Florida – until the monotony is interrupted by a hurricane.

curly poinsettia in the ground
Poinsettia 2017 leftover from 2016

I know that my poinsettia is not looking all that good, but who knew a poinsettia could grow in the ground and live from year to year? I discovered this by walking around my new neighborhood and checking out the plants in yards I passed. People were growing poinsettias. So after last Christmas, when I bought this odd looking one, I put it out back in the pot and continued to water it. Finally, just a few weeks ago, I planted it in the ground next to the hibiscus. I was able to bring it in last year when the coldest weather hit, so we’ll see how it fares in the ground. Because it’s next to the house I think it will do fine.

ladybug macro
Ladybug on Eggplant Flower

I caught this pretty little ladybug crawling over an eggplant flower and decided to try to capture it on my iPhone. The blinding sun made it difficult to see as I took pictures, but finally I got into a good position where the shade wasn’t a problem. Then I took a bunch of photos as the sweet little bug crawled around the backside of this purple flower.
Ladybugs are the best. They are a gardener’s friend. But don’t try to eat them, they don’t taste good at all. I accidentally had one in my mouth once – and yuk.

eggplant tall tree
December 30th – My eggplant tree

The Eggplant plant is still going strong. I’ve eaten one eggplant from it. The leaves are truly gorgeous and I photographed them in hopes of doing a drawing one day soon.

December garden pepper plant
Green pepper plant in December

Never in my life have I been able to grow my own green peppers. But this fall I have eaten many from this plant. I also have a smaller plant which currently has white flowers on it (below). And I’ve used some hot jalapeño peppers occasionally too. I’m used to pulling up my vegetable plants by fall, but now I guess I will just let them keep growing and see what happens.

white buds on pepper plant
December – buds on the green pepper plant

Here in central Florida we are expecting some cold weather next week. I know, I know… I’ll get no sympathy for temps in the 30’s when many people don’t see anything above single digits, with wind chills well below zero. BUT… this is Florida and our plants are still growing and not accustomed to freezing.
We will have to bring inside what we can and cover the rest.

Lime tree in December
Lime tree – buds and new growth in December

One tree I will be moving indoors is my Persian Lime. I’ve eaten limes for weeks now – in October and November – and now I see there is new growth and buds on the tree!

Learning to garden and grow fruit in Florida is new to me, but I am open to learning new things. This blog is a journal of sorts to reference because I forget quickly what was blooming and when.

Happy New Year!

Florida Gardening in February Cool Weather Crop Planting

I am new to this Florida vegetable growing thing, but today I decided to plant some cool weather crops.  Because my “garden” is made up of soil-filled fabric bags, I don’t have much space for planting.  But I will do what I can.  I’ve only lived here for a few months, so garden building is an ongoing process.

My son made me a raised garden bed a few weeks ago. Because I had used fabric pots when gardening in New Hampshire, I filled what I had with organic soil and placed them inside the wooden frame.
raised garden
Today I looked through my Florida Gardening book to see which crops could be planted in February. Cool weather crops are still cool weather crops, no matter where I live. But down here in the south, winter is the cool time instead of early spring and fall.

So I bought some seeds and today I planted carrots, potatoes, and bib lettuce. The carrots came in seed tape form, which I had never used. The potatoes came from my kitchen. I’ve been eating lettuce from the backyard but it’s getting old and tasting bitter, so I need a new batch.

Now potatoes are easy to grow, but I can never remember exactly how to do it. I should buy “seed potatoes” but I only have what came from the store. So I’m growing them. On the website Rodale’s Organic Life, I found an interesting paragraph about growing potatoes in a bag, like I am doing.

He says to put just a little soil in the bottom and then plant the potatoes. Cover with 3 inches of soil, and continually cover the growing potatoes with soil until the bag is full. I cut the sprouting potatoes I have, and put them near the bottom of my largest pot and covered them with organic soil. As they grow I guess I will cover them, leaving just a bit showing. I never grew potatoes this way, so it’s an experiment.

black fabric pots
7 Gallon Grow Pots Filled with Organic Soil

The pots I recently purchased are 7-Gallon size. I believe the ones I have from before must be 10-Gallon. The 7-Gallon bags have handles which is very handy if you plan to move your pots around. They were very affordable at $12.95 for 5 bags at Amazon. FYI: They can be reused, and will last for years. I left mine outside filled with dirt over the winter and they held up fine!

At the time I bought them, other sizes were also available. The 7-Gallon size was a little small for me, but it’s manageable when filled with dirt. Plants grow really well in this type of pot because air can get through to the roots from all sides, whereas in a plastic pot it cannot.

(Disclaimer: If you click the link to the bags and buy them, I will make a percentage through the Amazon affiliate link.  I only link to items I use and recommend.)

basil plant

A Little Salad From My Backyard Winter Garden

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-3-38-01-pmJust made myself a salad with ingredients from my (very) small backyard garden. In fact it’s really just a few pots with lettuce, parsley and scallions / green onions.  I added some flaxseed meal and a side of potato salad, but the greens came from the yard!

When there is fresh food growing just outside the door, it’s hard to choose NOT to eat it.  After all, it took work to plant it and care for it, so why not enjoy it as often as possible?  Plus I am lucky enough to still have food growing in January!  I am in Florida now, and I have to constantly remind myself that it IS winter…. in other places.

Floridians believe it is winter here.  When the temps plummet to 60 degrees they put on their heavy hoodies, tied tightly around their heads as they head out to walk the dogs.  What?  I wave to them as I stand there in my capris and t-shirt and then I turn and laugh.  My blood will thin out again too, and one day I will think 60 is cold… I guess.  For now, the icy cold of a January day in New Hampshire is still fresh in my mind.

Back to garden talk.  I know that planting season is coming soon down here in Florida, and I am stressing a bit because my raised bed is not filled with dirt.  BUT, a friend made a suggestion, which I may do because it seems easier than trying to buy a load of dirt and move it into the container.  I also have a sprinkler system to worry about crushing.  If I decide to try the “new way of gardening” I’ll share it in a soon-to-come post.

For now I am enjoying my greens.  I can’t wait for the citrus (lemons and limes) to grow.  Fresh lemonade would go well with this meal!