Transplanting Eggshell Seedlings to Grow Boxes

It is now mid-March and my grow boxes have been readied for vegetable seedlings. Just as I was thinking that the cold was behind us here in central Florida, we had a night in the 40’s. That will be rare from here on out.

I wouldn’t be in a huge hurry, but I know that the heat is coming. Yes, vegetables need sun and heat, but not the kind of heat Florida throws at us. I’m not even planting peas until September because I am sure it will get too hot for them now.

So here it was, a cloudy, somewhat cool, morning and I decided to get the seedlings into the grow beds.

Gardening table in the backyard, with seedlings and seed packets ready to plant.

I was a little tired of setting the eggshells outside and having to check on them. Something was eating some of the plants too. The seedlings were mostly large enough for the ground. Rain was in the forecast, so it was a good day to plant.

You can see my three new garden boxes in the background. I also have an old grow box to make four total in the group. My old raised bed is in the background. The wood has rotted and it is no long usable. We’ve switched to using smaller garden boxes.

The grow boxes I used were similar to the one below (which is an affiliate link to Amazon), but I bought mine at Home Depot. I bought them early before the growing season really began, just in case they were hard to find.

The box is called self-watering because you pour the water into a tube which sticks up in one corner. A mesh layer keeps the dirt up and away from the bottom and the idea is for the water to soak up through into the dirt. I also water from the top because anything with shallow roots will need that.

Really, I treat the box as a regular garden and don’t count on the self-watering part. Florida gardening is very different from other places.

Transplanting the Seedlings

I spent some time researching and studying where my little seedlings would go. Each box is quite small and will not hold a lot of plants. Things can’t be too crowded.

My tomato seedlings (2 only) went into the old box in the back. Planting tomatoes is easy because they can be planted deep. Some people plant them on their sides too. What this does is cause more roots to grow from the stem to create a (hopefully) better plant.

Cherry Tomatoes

I planted both cherry tomatoes deep in dirt up to the top leaves. I added cosmos plants, basil and a marigold.

Two cherry tomato plants
Cherry tomato plants in grow bed

Zucchini

One garden bed has zucchini seeds. I put three seeds in a mound in the center. I will probably keep only the best one. I planted little marigolds and cosmos on one side. The red onion plants were put in a few weeks ago when the dirt was added.

Zucchini seeds planted
Will be zucchini

Cucumbers

Two cucumber plants are the main items in this bed. Parsley, cosmos and dill are also in this garden. I don’t have much luck with dill and the plants don’t look all that great. More onions line one edge.

Cucumber garden

Carrots and Beets

This garden has four rows of seeds. Two rows of carrots – which I never have much luck with, and two rows of beets, which I’ve never grown. This is a bit of a trial and error box for me. One little parsley plant was also added and there are onions along one side.

Like the zucchini, I decided to use seeds here and not try to start root vegetables in eggshells. There is no reason to.

Carrot and beet seeds planted in grow box

Transplanting from Eggshells

I wrote a previous post about growing seeds in eggshells. This year was the first time I attempted this. Some plants did better than others and altogether I believe it was a good thing to do. I was able to keep a close eye on the little plants making sure they had sun and water and could be indoors during the cold.

As far as transplanting goes, I carefully broke most of the eggshell away from the roots and then set the plant into the dirt. The broken shell can stay in the garden, but I wanted to be sure the little roots would be able to spread.

This was pretty easy to do. You can see all the roots on this cucumber – he was ready to be set free!

Cucumber seedlings going into the ground.

The Garden is Planted! March 15th

Once all my little seedlings had a new outdoor home, I put up some posts (also bought at Home Depot) and wrapped the whole thing with some mesh I had. I only did this to keep my cats out of the garden! When they see fresh dirt, they think it’s an outdoor litter box.

I draped some Spanish moss, picked up in the yard, all around the mesh so hopefully birds won’t get entangled.

Four planting boxes with seedlings

I will take down this mesh fence once the plants get larger and the cats are no longer interested. It’s a good way to keep the raccoons out too, I hope.

Update on Garden Hydrangea, Surviving Summer

Now my little hydrangea is in the ground and here is what I’ve learned. Deadheading Florida hydrangeas is a good idea. I found new growth and new flowers hidden beneath those huge, dying blooms.

blue flowers turning green
Blooms turning green and dying

Until a few weeks ago I had not tried to grow a hydrangea in my Florida yard. I kept thinking there was no way it would do well in all this heat. So the fact that my little hydrangea plant is doing so well is a nice surprise. If it has been growing in a greenhouse it would adapt well to warmth, and it does seem to be thriving this summer.

Continue reading “Update on Garden Hydrangea, Surviving Summer”

Building a Garden is Slow and Steady Work

Building a garden is slow and steady work, but once the ground is prepared, the fun begins. This may take days, weeks, months or years depending on the size of the garden and how much help you have in doing it.  Cats not included.

As a new gardener you may think that growing things is pretty straightforward. Buy the plants, dig a hole and put them in the ground. A little water here and there and soon you’ll see flowers or vegetables emerge.

Experienced gardeners know it is far from being that simple.

A Little Back Story

The first house I bought in New Hampshire had ready-made, lovely garden areas. I enjoyed picking asparagus from the perennial asparagus bed. Stunning tulips popped up in Springtime all over the yard, and the large perennials included wisteria, dogwood, and hydrangea trees! I enjoyed that yard for only two years, then moved on, through no fault of my own.

tulips and daffodils
My old New Hampshire Garden in Spring

The nice thing was the fact that the gardens were ready for planting. I could go buy pretty plants, or vegetables and put them into the ground and they grew nicely alongside already established additions. Prepared beds and established perennials are a wonderful treat for a homeowner.

After that, I have never lived in a ready-made gardening landscape. This means planning the site, tilling the soil, adding amendments, and finally buying the plants which will hopefully grow happily in their designated spots.

Without the extra finances (or help in the yard) to put toward all this, it can take years to accomplish a garden plan. Really.

In New Hampshire I had loam delivered each year. I moved wheelbarrows full of the dirt to various areas in my yard over the course of weeks. I’m an older lady and can’t do a lot in any one day, so I had to pace myself. Within five years time I had some pretty nice gardens in my yard – then I moved away.

The Here and Now

I moved into my Florida home in Fall 2016. My son built me a raised bed and I’ve been working on filling it since then. At the time this writing it is April 2018 and finally the bed is full of good soil which is ready for planting.

raised bed garden dirt
The raised bed is ready for planting

I’ve been using the raised bed as a mixing station. One end is free of plantings so I can dump bags of dirt and compost in and mix it up. After adding blood meal, bone meal, and fertilizer, I mix it up like a big stew and fill black pots to grow individual plants.  (By the way, as I was writing this, I discovered that not all “organic” labeled fertilizer is really organic.  Read my post about identifying real organic fertilizer and even bags of dirt.)

I also had to re-plant a big bucket in the yard where everything froze over the winter.  This pot used to hold a huge croton.  Now you can see what’s left in the background.

bucket of flowering plants
Big pot re-planted with crotons and flowering plants

Now that I’ve used that good dirt mix everywhere it was needed, I will plant more vegetables in the raised bed. From here on out, all that is needed is to amend the dirt with compost every so often and re-plant when needed. The hard work is complete.

Yahoo! Yippee! Hallelujah!

Spring Again, March in the Backyard Garden

Planting some vegetables in the March garden in central Florida.

Here in Central Florida we are still having “cool” weather which I love. The neighbors are wearing winter clothing (seriously?) and complaining. When I say “I love this weather”, they tell me to go back to Vermont (I’m from New Hampshire).

I guess Floridians get grumpy when it’s cold.

The weather is perfect for planting the garden, and truly I should have begun sooner. Unfortunately I still have the lack-of-dirt problem. I’ve continued to add leaves, grass, and kitchen compost to the raised bed, but need to buy bags of dirt.

Now I have the money, but need the help lugging all those bags of soil and fertilizer / compost from the store and to the backyard.

For now I am using a few fabric bags where I have planted zucchini (or summer squash, I can’t remember which), lettuce and potatoes.  All are doing very well and growing fast.

Check out my other posts to see how things are going: May in the Garden.

squash plant
Zucchini or yellow squash (can’t remember which)

Tonight I will snip off the tops of this bib lettuce for supper. It will continue to grow back unless the hot weather moves in. Lettuce likes it cool.

lettuce growing in a fabric pot
The lettuce is loving the cooler weather

Yesterday I searched the Home Depot for some decent vegetable plants. I came away with a Celebrity tomato, and something called a Bonnie Original. One is a determinate and one an indetermanent, and as I stood there in the garden center I couldn’t remember what that meant. I thought one was grown within a cage and the other was sprawling. I think I was sort of right. Read more here about the difference between the two types.

tomato plants
Little tomato plants

I have tomato-stealing raccoons, so I’m not going nuts with the tomato plants. I also have a limited amount of space to grow things. The tomatoes may end up in bags with handles so I can easily move them inside at night away from tiny raccoon paws.

Potatoes growing in fabric pot
Potato vines

I planted some red potatoes, from my kitchen, with big “eyes” and that is what is growing in one of the fabric bags. I have good luck with potatoes. Although they are usually quite small, they are delicious.

I am so excited to see this little “volunteer” pepper plant! Glad I didn’t weed it out before I recognized it. My original pepper plant is still living and growing from last Spring! Even with all the cold weather over the winter, it survived (although it has a few aphids) and is flowering now. Amazing. I trimmed off the curling leaves and will see what it does. Apparently a seed was dropped, and now a new pepper plant is growing. I’d never heard of a “volunteer” plant until I lived in New Hampshire. My preferred word for them is “free”!

little pepper plant
“Volunteer” pepper plant

On my latest trip to Pell’s Nursery in Osteen I picked up this little Navel orange tree. I have left it in it’s original pot for now, but bought that ceramic one for later use. It has a few little oranges growing which I hope don’t fall off. Sometime between October and March I should be picking an orange or two from my yard.

little navel orange tree in pot
My new Navel orange tree

I’ve had good luck with growing the Persian Lime, so thought I’d add more citrus to the yard.

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