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.

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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 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. 

Update:  I used these pots for a year or two but discovered that they are too hot to use in Florida.  They are great for a northern climate though.

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.

For more information about planting crops in your US Zone, I’ve come across this informative article at Porch.com: Gardening 101: Choosing the Right Plants for Your Zone.

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.

Growing Potatoes in a Fabric Pot

potato plant leaves
Potato Plant

I’ve entered a phase of experimental gardening with fabric pots. Right now I think these things are the greatest idea ever. I’ve wanted raised beds but haven’t had the time to create any so little bags to hold dirt is the closest I’ve come. I planted two pieces of potato in this bag a few weeks ago and as you can see, they are growing nicely.
I am going to admit that I am a dummy when it comes to potato growing. I always thought the potatoes grew off the roots, but I guess they grow from the stem as it shoots upward. I do know that when the tops die, it’s about time to harvest the potatoes. This page at the Food Gardening Guide site has a good explanation of what to expect when growing potatoes.

Next year I will get my potatoes planted earlier as they like the weather cool.  I hope this fabric pot works out because it is certainly an easy way to grow them.

Next to the potatoes I have planted some green beans that haven’t sprouted yet.  On the other side I have one more pot where carrots are sprouting.

Another plus to using these pots, for me anyway, is that my cats stay out of them.  I wondered about that, since they seem to think my gardens are the best place to do their business.  I was hoping they wouldn’t think a pot of dirt was their litter box.  Next you will have to see my large fabric garden.  It’s like this potato holder, but much bigger.