Repotting the Lime Tree and Corn Plant

With the cooler weather comes the time to do things outdoors.  My winter is like a northern summer.  I’ve been waiting for months for the heat to go away so the days will feel more normal.  It’s just like suffering through a long, frozen winter and waiting for the warmth of Spring.  Except in reverse.

January has brought cool breezes, lots fewer bugs, and breathable air.  It rains less, but the plants are not burning under the sun, so watering is occasional.  I still check on my plants and vegetable garden.  The Lime tree seemed to be in need of help, and the pot it was in needed an upgrade.  I bought a couple pots at Home Depot, but then decided to use one of my larger fabric bags.  The Lemon tree is doing great in a fabric pot.

Lime tree in fabric pot
Lime tree in fabric pot

The Italian Oregano plant was in need of attention and got a new home in a deeper pot. I also added some bone meal for root growth.

Italian oregano
A new pot for the Italian oregano plant
White flower buds on lime tree
Little white buds on the Persian Lime tree!
new growth
New growth beginning on the lime tree in January

The Meyer Lemon has some pink flower buds, and the Persian Lime has little white buds and greenery popping out along the branches.  Although freezing temperatures could hit, both my citrus trees can be brought indoors for the cold weather.

Pink flower buds on the lemon tree
Lemon tree buds

One other plant that was in need of attention was my corn plant. This one came with me down from New Hampshire. I had purchased some houseplants to decorate when my house was up for sale. The corn plant (this is what I call it, but I’m not sure what the real name is) is meant to be an indoor plant in the north, but here in Florida it does fine outside as long as it’s in the shade. The front of my house doesn’t get direct sunlight, so the corn plant is generally happy by the front door. But the pot was ugly and too small, so now it is in a bigger one.   I think it is happy.

corn plant
The corn plant in a new pot

February Yard Work Getting Some Planting Done

This past weekend (mid-February) I did some garden work and planted a few seeds. It was a hot day but I decided it was time to move the lemon tree from the front to the back yard. Thanks to that digging and lifting my back was aching the next day. But I have high hopes that the tree will recover and give me some lemons one day. (Photos below)

The raised bed still needs more soil. While my son was cutting the grass he bagged up some oak leaves (oak leaves are small here, not like the majestic oaks of the north which drop big leaves) and dumped them into the bed.

raised bed garden
Adding oak leaves to the raised bed

Creating good garden dirt takes a lot of adding and mixing, not unlike making a good soup or stew. All the ingredients together will give me some delicious dirt to help my vegetables grow well.
I still have two potted crotons which were cuttings taken from the big croton out front – which is now dead thanks to the cold. I’m not sure what I will do with them.
fabric pots
Filling the fabric pots to be ready for planting

Bone meal and blood meal was added, and I threw in an old tomato (I regularly add kitchen scraps to make compost within the bed. I’ve even seen a couple of big worms in the dirt recently …. yay!
gardening in February
Eggplant coming back after the freeze

During the winter months it’s not a good idea to trim back dead growth, but I made an exception with my eggplant. With all the top brown branches trimmed away I can more easily cover it if cold temperatures come back.

I planted lettuce seeds in one black pot and yellow squash in another. I should have planted the lettuce earlier, but oh well.

The Lemon and Lime Trees

About a year ago I added a Persian lime tree and Lemon tree to my yard. The lime tree has done very well, providing me with loads of limes in the Fall season. I kept it in it’s original pot and it’s in the backyard.

The lemon tree was planted in the ground in my front yard. Right off it began to have problems. When I planted it, I wasn’t used to our new home location yet. I didn’t realize that front yard gets a lot of wind which makes it an inhospitable place for most plants. Even though the new tree bloomed and grew some lemons, it’s leaves fell off and none of the lemons were nice enough to eat.

lemon tree
Moved the Lemon tree – Feb. 2018

This was a lesson in choosing a good spot for my trees and shrubs. I doubt I will try to grow anything out front.

I really thought the tree would be dead by now. Besides the wind, we’ve had a few nights of cold temperatures. I covered the tree, but lots of things died even though I covered them. Still the tree lived on.

Many of it’s branches are bare and it looks like some animal maybe had been chewing on the stems. Plus my son often hits the branches with his weed-eater.

Even after all this, the lemon tree still grows. Below you can see how pretty the Lemon tree was when I planted it. Because it is still trying to live, I feel guilty for leaving it unattended for so long.

I’m hoping that with it’s new spot in a fabric garden bag in my backyard, I can bring this tree back to it’s original beautiful form.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-8-57-26-am
Meyer Lemon Tree – 2017

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.)

A Raised Garden Bed Made of Fabric

large fabric raised garden
The Bigger Fabric Garden

This weekend I ordered more dirt and filled up my larger fabric “pot” to create a raised garden for some tomatoes and basil. The smaller one in my photo is planted with beans, and next to that I have used one for growing potatoes. What I love about a raised bed is the fact that there is plenty of good dirt for the roots of the plants. I guess that is one of the great things about a raised bed. Digging in the ground means creating layers of great dirt, over time – and it can take a while if the dirt under the garden is fill dirt, or something else that is not good for growing.
My house was built on the side of a big hill. Fill dirt was brought in to make the site level, as often happens. Fill dirt, is usually sandy stuff and that is what I find when I dig down a few inches in my back yard.   You can see that there is little growing in the spot of yard where I put this bag.  I used the loam mix that was delivered from Agway along with my own compost and added a little bonemeal, so I know that my plants are in good soil.
This garden has four tomato plants with some basil and one Italian oregano plant. I don’t know if four tomatoes are too many for this space, but I have other tomatoes planted in the ground too. In fact I made another raised bed using cinder-blocks and set that up out front where there is more sun.

That is the great thing about using these fabric pots and gardens – set them up anywhere!  Find a sunny spot and add a little vegetable garden.  They have allowed me the chance to plant more while I continue to expand my gardens in the ground.

If these black pots can be used year after year, the investment will be worth it.  I don’t know much about them at all.  Can they stay up all winter, or will I have to empty it and store it?  If they don’t last, I will stick to the smaller ones only.