Starting Vegetable and Flower Seeds in Big Pots

With attention and lots of watering, the seeds I started in larger pots are doing well.

After caring for my seedlings in eggshell pots for weeks, I decided to start some seeds in big pots. They won’t dry out as quickly and are able to stay outside overnight.

I gathered up pots of all sizes that had been lying around and cleaned them out. for drainage I used yard debris, which was a mix of oak leaves, catkins (those long brown things) and Spanish moss. That mixture was pushed into the bottom of each pot before adding dirt.

I’ve planted basil, dill, cherry tomatoes, marigolds and cosmos. I used freezer tape to label the pots with the date they were planted.

basil and other seedlings in pots

Growing Basil

Basil can be difficult to grow in Florida, or so I’ve heard. I had some basil plants in the garden that lasted a couple of years, but then they died. Basil does self-sow if you let seeds form. I now have two pots of basil.

The basil seedlings became so crowded that I removed some of the plants by cutting them off. You should cut and not pull when thinning so as not to disturb the roots.

I kept the cuttings to use when cooking! So far, everything looks good and I hope to have nice big basil plants to pull from year round.

basil grown from seeds
Basil one month later – end of May

Cosmos and Marigolds

I chose two types of flower packets to grow from seeds. Marigolds are so wonderful for gardens, because they repel certain bugs that could be destructive. They should be dead-headed (pull off the old flowers) and I rip the flower head apart and scatter it among the vegetables. Every gardener probably includes marigolds when planting. I think certain varieties are better than others, but I didn’t have a lot to choose from at the store.

I bought two flowering marigold plants – see the orange one below – and will see what happens with the seeds.

little cosmos flower blooming
Flowering cosmos in a grow box

The cosmos seedlings are looking pretty good. A little purple cosmos flower has bloomed in my grow box. That plant was begun in an eggshell pot.

This is certainly a different looking cosmos from what I am used to growing in New Hampshire. Or maybe the plant needs to mature to grow larger.

Actually, the secret is to plant seeds in real good dirt.

The cosmos in the larger pot is looking nice and blooming regularly

Growing Dill

I always grew dill in my northern garden, but have not had luck growing it here in Florida. I do have a few small seedlings in the grow boxes, and now have dill sprouting in this terra cotta pot.

Because I don’t have much luck growing dill, I have chosen to grow fennel. It is similar in that it also grows tall and feathery and has flowers that attract beneficial bugs. Also the Swallowtail butterfly will leave her eggs on fennel, just like parsley and dill.

Dill seeds sprouting in a pot
Dill seedlings

I needed up putting the dill into the potato garden and planted more dill seeds in a large pot.

Dill plant

Cherry Tomatoes

My cherry tomato seedlings were not doing much at first, but now in May they are large plants. I’ve transplanted them a few times and they have little tomatoes on the vine.

Plants by the end of May

May Vegetable Garden in My Florida Backyard

May is here and my backyard vegetable garden is off to an okay start. I’m still getting used to growing veggies in this climate, but I’m happy to have big, luscious green peppers to use already!

My garden area is very small and the plants are divided between a raised bed, fabric bags, and an old grow box. All my Florida gardening is still in the experimental stages! I’m learning, but at least I have the raised bed filled with good dirt.

May garden
The backyard garden in May

This pepper plant has been around since last Spring! This amazes me. I always thought pepper plants liked the warmth, but this one survived winter. And, yes, it’s Florida, so “winter” is a dirty word here, but the temperatures were truly cold for a few days. I assumed the pepper plant would die, but it did not.

And once Spring arrived (February… hahaha) buds appeared and the peppers began to grow.  I was picking them by April.

green peppers
Picking green peppers this year by April

The yellow / summer squash is something that I am having trouble with. The plants (from seeds) grew nicely and then flowered and grew little squash. But then they began to pucker up and rot on the ends.

This can be caused by too much water, so I have been watering them less. Also I added some ground egg shells to the dirt because I read that a lack of calcium can be the culprit for blossom end rot.

I’ve picked two small squash so far and have had to throw many rotten ones away. The ones I ate were delicious!!! So I am hoping for more. Last year I tried to grow them also and had bugs and mold take over before I got squash to eat.

yellow squash
Yellow Squash

The cucumbers have just started to take off. Some are growing in fabric garden bags, and a few are planted at the edges of the raised bed.

I’m hoping for cukes to eat soon, but I’ve also read that the raccoons don’t like the feel of the fuzzy stems on cucumbers. If I have strands of cucumber vines all around my garden, will the raccoons leave my vegetables alone?  Please work……

cucumber plants
Cukes in fabric bag and inside bed

For the heck of it I threw a couple pieces of old sweet potato into my mostly empty garden back in February (?). Now the vines are long and pretty. When they start to die I will dig down and see if I find potatoes.  I’ve grown regular potatoes, but never sweet potatoes.

sweet potato
Sweet potato vines and leaves

My little red pepper plant is growing lots of peppers and I’ve already used a couple red ones. They are very hot. I really wanted jalapeños but there were no plants when I was shopping. I dislike having to buy all my plants at the Home Depot, but there are no farm stands around.

chili red hot peppers
Chili red hot peppers

I found a couple of parsley worms on my fennel. Dill plants were nowhere to be found, so I settled for fennel, which I have never grown. Ladybugs and apparently parsley worms enjoy it and I’ve been chopping it up to add to food I cook.

parsley worm on fennel
Parsley worm on fennel

One tomato plant has 8 green tomatoes and the other has 6. I’m counting them to make sure the raccoons are not stealing any during the night. I’ll bring the plants inside if raccoons begin bothering them.

green tomatoes
Tomatoes are coming along

My little Navel orange tree lost a lot of it’s small fruit, but a few oranges are still growing.

navel oranges growing
A few oranges are growing on the new Navel Orange tree

The eggplant is still not giving me any eggplants, but it’s a good home for ladybugs. I’ve seen them in many forms (eggs, larvae, and beetle) crawling on the leaves. The aphid problem is no longer a problem. I can’t find a single aphid on anything! Don’t you love those ladybugs?

The weather will continue to get hotter and I may have to stop gardening within a month or so. I’ll see what lives and what doesn’t and go from there.

May garden in florida
May garden view

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.

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