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

Fall Vegetable Planting in Florida, What Can I Plant?

garden vegetables
Nothing Beats Fresh Grown Veggies

I’ve been browsing my new Florida Gardening book and finally came upon a page that really tells me all I need to know for now.  It is entitled “Cool Season Vegetables” with planting times – specifically for north, south or central Florida regions.

I will live on the edge of zone 9a and 9b of the cold hardiness zone map. What that means is that my area often gets frosts and sometimes freezes during December, January and February.   Temperatures can get down into the 20’s.  When that happens I will have to protect my crops. I can remember covering my outdoor shrubs and plants that were sensitive to cold when I lived in Florida before.  I saved up old sheets and blankets and would cover them over night. Usually temperatures climb nicely during the day, but overnight it can be downright cold!

Anyway, the cool season vegetable planting list contains a lot of vegetables I love to grow.

Growing vegetables in Florida is new to me.  I’m used to having everything pulled up from my gardens by the beginning of October, with the exception of some herbs, parsley and kale.  It’s not a time for beginning to plant anything in New England.  The fall season in the northeast is a time to enjoy the foliage and try not to think about what is coming.

I am delighted to find that many of my favorite veggies can be grown in the upcoming months.   On the planting list for October onward, I see that I can plant carrots, celery, kale, lettuce, onions, parsley, peas and potatoes, to name a few.   A couple of surprises on the list include strawberries and rhubarb!    The rhubarb can be planted at any time of year, but I didn’t even know I would be able to grow it in the south!  And I always thought strawberries were summer fruit.

Also most herbs can be planted this time of year.  Of course I searched for parsley first thing and was astounded when it wasn’t listed in the “herb” section.  After freaking out a bit, I found it listed under cool-season vegetables.  I always thought parsley was a herb, so I researched it and found that it is considered a herb, a spice and a vegetable.  Wow, I didn’t know that.

container garden
My current “garden”

When I first moved down to Florida in June, I went out and bought two green pepper plants.  They grew one funny-looking pepper and then began to die.  I still have one of the plants and it’s beginning to grow new peppers.  (See it in the black pot in my photo.) I am hoping it may still produce a pepper or two for me.

Now that I see the lists of all these vegetables, I am wishing I had a bigger yard.  I haven’t moved into my new home yet, but the lot is normal size.  I’ll have to figure out how to best utilize the space for my gardens.  (Update:  I plant in a raised bed.)   This gardening research will give me a good idea of what to do once the garden beds are ready.

Maybe I will continue to do some container gardening in the meantime.

Florida Gardening Tips Month by Month This Book is Just What I Need

florida gardening book
Tom MacCubbin has a lot of gardening books.

I’m learning to garden in Florida and reading this informational book by Tom MacCubbin. The month by month gardening tips are a great help for someone just starting out gardening in this tropical climate. Even though I haven’t moved into my new home yet, I’m getting prepared and beginning to learn what crops to grow in a Florida winter. I need a list of cool season vegetables.

I used to cut articles written by this author from the newspaper years ago. I ended up with a stack of little papers to sift through whenever I needed to find some information on growing plants in my Florida yard. He always had such good advice, and he appeared on television occasionally too, as I recall. That was many years ago, when I first lived in Florida in the early 1980’s. So moving back to the south meant I had to re-learn southern ways of gardening.

It was thrilling to find a book written by someone I trust for gardening information. So far, I’ve only read a bit, but once I plan the planting space, I will have a good idea of what will grow in the winter months. I’d also like to start a compost heap, or buy a compost bin since the soil will need amending constantly. Gardens in Florida don’t get to rest really.

I have read about hydrangeas, and the only fact I must remember here is that they tend to dry out quickly and will need lots of water.  They will bloom in July, like in the north, and then can be deadheaded.  I like to watch the flowers dry on the stem, but I wonder if the humidity here means that won’t work so well?  I’ll have to see what happens.

Other than a few quick mentions, the Month by Month book doesn’t mention much about hydrangeas.

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