Category Archives: Winter

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.)

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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!

Alone at Christmas? You’re Not Alone

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-8-35-58-amI’ve written before about how little family I have, and how holidays equal family. I mean, after all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Except for Easter. Which is all about the Easter Bunny. (Just kidding.)

This is what I have done to get ready for Christmas. Nearly nothing. I have not bought one gift. I bought two cards to send to my kids whom I won’t see. I bought a small turkey breast yesterday which my son may smoke on his grill, like he did on Thanksgiving.

For the first time in my life, the only tree I have is the same small one I bought years ago when we had lost our home and everything was packed away.  It was the first year we had no money, and I can’t even remember what I was able to buy for the kids. I liked that little tree and it came with me from house to house as I moved around New Hampshire.

After that first poor year, I was on my own and bought a larger fake tree because of my son. I still tried to make Christmas Christmassy for the sake of my kids, but I have never really been able to feel the same excitement I used to have. And eventually it simply became a dreaded chore. Continue reading Alone at Christmas? You’re Not Alone

container garden

Plant Shrubs in Winter, Readying the Garden Beds

weed fabric
The black fabric beneath the mulch has to go!

Today I did something that I have waited a long time to do.  I began work on my flower garden beds.  I am finally in my new home!   The big move began way back in January, and has taken the whole year.    There is still more to move from storage, and all the boxes need to be unpacked, but having a chance to work in MY yard again is a wonderful feeling.

We have merged two households, and I went from a three story house (including the basement) to a single story, no basement and small attic. So finding space for everyone’s stuff is challenging. There is a GoodWill nearby which I will be visiting often in the months to come.

Last night we bought garden dirt – 4 bags – and this morning I added it to two gardens. These are gardens which already have plants in them and I plan to add flowering shrubs to brighten the landscape.  The raised vegetable gardens are coming soon (fingers crossed).

All three planting beds have black fabric in the bottom, which I hate, and have removed from two beds. I don’t mind pulling weeds, and if a garden is done correctly, the weeds shouldn’t be a huge problem. So first thing I did was pull up the plastic fabric that is used for weed control.

garden bed prep
Front Garden

The garden bed near the front door has one overgrown shrub – which I am pretty sure I used to know the name of – and it needs to be cut way back. If it wasn’t already so large, I would probably take it out completely.  The bushy perennial blocks the breeze from entering my front windows, not to mention it mostly blocks the view out the front!

Since I am still busy with the house, my focus will be on the gardens already in place. Amending the soil and adding nutrients was my focus this morning. I pulled the old mulch out of the way to put the bagged dirt down, then mixed in some blood meal.

azalea shrub
This Azalea needs some help.

I did the same thing to the little area containing a raggedy looking azalea bush. I may cut this thing back and see if it will fill in more.
My plan is to fill in these gardens as I find plants for them. I can’t dig through the black fabric, so it had to go. Since this yard is new to me, I have to watch it for sunny and shady spots and buy plants accordingly. The azalea needs light shade and usually does well under the trees. It also likes acidic soil, which also happens to create blue flowering hydrangeas! I may be able to add some blue-flowering hydrangeas to this garden area, which is an exciting prospect.
While reading my gardening book, I discovered this about Florida planting: *Plant SHRUBS in winter AND *Plant TREES and PALMS in summer. Now (almost November) is the time to begin planning my perennial gardens. After that, it’s on to building the raised vegetable garden beds.