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

Starting New Crotons From Old Plants

It’s easy to start new croton plants from cuttings.

Finding plants that will propagate easily has always been a goal of mine. Starting new crotons from old plants is easy. In fact it’s easier than propagating most things I’ve tried.  Cut the stem, put cuttings in water and wait a few weeks.  More detailed explanation below.

It is possible to propagate hydrangeas, but that takes time. It’s worth it, because in the end you have a new, lovely hydrangea bush. In fact my baby hydrangeas grew quite large before I had to move.

But back to the crotons. These plants love sun and heat and can live through a draught. The wilted leaves come back after getting some water. Crotons like well-drained soil, and the sandy soil of Florida helps this plant to love it outdoors. It can even survive the cold nights we sometimes get here in Central Florida.

This first photo below was taken over the winter months, when the leaves are duller in color with more green and dark purple colors.  Or maybe this one just needed better care.

crotons and birdhouse
Winter Croton

In this second photo, you can see that this plant’s leaves have turned stunning red, orange, yellow and pink from the bright Florida summer sun.  I’ve also given it fertilizer and cleaned out the pot a bit.  It was full of ferns.

croton
Summer Croton

So, to propagate this croton, I waited until Spring when it began to grow some new leaves. Then I cut off the top of a longer stem, also making the stem long enough to drink from a vase of water. Remove the lower leaves of that cutting, and put it in water.

croton
Bright Orange Leaves of the Croton

You will want the stem to not be touching the bottom of the vase, so find one that leaves it hanging. The new roots will grow out of the bottom of the cut stem.
Wait a few weeks and the roots will emerge. Be sure to change the water in the vase daily! Once you see roots, it won’t be long before they are long enough and you can plant the new croton in a pot or the ground.  Don’t plant until the roots are at least an inch long.

propagated croton plants
Three New Croton Plants

These are my three new croton plants. Their leaves are not as bright because I took the cuttings before the mother plant’s leaves turned so pretty. But once these new plants are in the ground, in a sunny location, they will turn just as bright.

As you can see below, the baby croton is turning color.  I need to fertilize these plants for better result, but even without much attention, crotons will grow beautifully.

croton

The Endless Summer in Spring

hydrangea leaves in spring
Spring Growth on my Endless Summer Hydrangea
It’s May and while the black flies swarm and temperatures are on a roller coaster the hydrangeas in my yard are growing new leaves. My Endless Summer plant has lots of new growth. I’ve left the bare stems just in case something pops out along them. In general, I don’t prune this plant. It’s relatively small anyway so there is no need. I am not adding any new perennials to my yard this year, other than the ones I will propagate, but this is a good time to buy and plant hydrangeas in the landscape.

I added some bonemeal around the base and will eventually add new dirt too. Right now I am busy readying my vegetable gardens for planting – hopefully this weekend. Once the fabric pot raised beds have all the dirt they need, I will add what’s left to the flowers. My Pinky Winky and Limelight hydrangeas all look fine too. In a couple months I’ll see some flowers. Can’t wait!

Hydrangeas and The Rainy, Cold Summer

Hydrangea bud
End of June Hydrangea Bud

It’s the end of June and in southwestern New Hampshire the hydrangea in my yard is full of buds. The bush is very full this year since I didn’t do any cutting back, but the overall color is not the dark green of the leaves you see in this photo. In fact the bush seems to be divided with part of the stems showing off dark greenery and the rest showing a lighter, less healthy looking green.

The disadvantage I have where I live is that this yard is not mine. I live in a duplex and the owner lives next to me. She goes out and fertilizes with something – seaweed I think – and so I have to be careful of what I add to the plant. I usually just keep it watered and see what happens. Last year the blooms were not as nicely colored as the year before and the flowers were also smaller.

This year is also the first time I have seen browning of the leaves. You can see it in my photo below. So I had to check on diseases of hydrangeas and found that they can get spots on the leaves.  However, that site didn’t say why or what to do about them. The leaves in some places, look like something is eating them.

As I have said, it’s not my yard and not my plant, so I’m not worrying too much about it. My landlady is not much of a gardener so I doubt that she even notices or cares. I’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens, but it might have something to do with the fact that we are having a rainy and cold spring and summer season this year. In fact, I have hardly been outside!

I’m looking out for the flowers. I hope they open before I move in July.

hydrangea shrub with light and dark leaves
Dark and Light Leaves and Brown Spots