May 2022 Vegetable Garden Plants Started From Seeds

May in my Florida vegetable and flower gardens. See what is growing well and what is not. Also advice on beginning plants from seeds.

Because there are no farm stands to buy Spring seedlings, I started my vegetables from seeds this year.

This page is an update on how my vegetables, and some flowers are growing. The hydrangea that I planted in the yard a few years ago is still doing well – surprisingly. See photos down the page.

Zucchini, Beans, Tomato, and Eggplant

Zucchini seeds were planted directly into a grow box. One plant is hanging on, the other two died. It is not growing well.

The beans are newly planted and doing very well. More about the beans further down the page.

The Cherry Tomato plants are thriving, and the eggplant (not from seeds) is giving me little eggplants.

Most plants have been in the ground, or transplanted to pots, for a few weeks now. We have not had much rain, so I water every day.

The Cherry Tomato Plants

All of the cherry tomato plants were begun in eggshell pots. Depending on where they went when transplanted, it has really made a big difference in their growth.

the First Transplanting of the tomatoes

The little seedlings that went straight into the garden grow box are still quite small. In fact, one of them died.

The cherry tomato plants that were transplanted into small, individual pots began to thrive. I think I would plant seeds directly into these pots next time.

From the small pots they went into large patio pots where they will stay. Already they have flowers forming.

potting tomato plants in bigger pots
Transplanting into big pots in April

Bigger plants today

My suggestion

Planting the seeds in small pots (eggshells in my case) got the plants off to an early start in March, however… I would skip that next time and put the seeds straight into small 4-6” pots instead. Caring for the little eggshells was time consuming as they needed watering often.

But, it has made all the difference in the way I transplanted them. The plants in the garden box are not growing fast at all. The plants I transplanted twice – into good garden potting soil – are nearly ready to give me tomatoes.!

Jalepeño Pepper Plants

The pepper plants are doing nicely. It seems to be one thing that grows well in Florida, mainly because peppers like it hot. In New Hampshire it took way too long for the plants to grow to a size to begin producing – and by then the frosts came.

These jalepeño peppers are in small clay pots for now.

Jalepeno pepper plants

The Dirt Makes All The Difference

We set up new garden boxes in the yard this year. We mistakenly bought many bags of dirt at the local Home Depot that was not good soil. It was supposed to be added to already established beds. We dumped it into the grow boxes and raised beds. Nothing that has been planted in that soil has done well.

Raised bed made of cedar wood
First plantings in April

All we can do is amend the soil with better dirt, so that is what I am doing. But it is too late for the seeds and seedlings struggling in those boxes.

The Black Gold brand is what I had good luck with – this is an Amazon affiliate link. But the Black Gold is expensive if you need to fill a large box or raised bed. I plan to make my own compost and amend the soil with that. Dirt can be improved, but it might take time. Here in Florida we can plant again in Fall.

Potatoes and Green Beans

The white raised beds had been planted with potatoes. They were doing well until the cutworms arrived.

Most every potato stalk has died, so I am filling those two beds with bean seeds. Beans and potatoes are companion plants.

These are bush beans and do not need staking, but I put the cages in to keep animals from digging around in the dirt. Something climbs up into the beds at night and digs. I’ve already lost a couple bean seedlings.

Beans do okay with heat, so I am hoping they will grow throughout the summer.

growing green beans

Eggplant

I’m having better luck with the Japanese eggplant than I did with the regular eggplant. The old one grew into a small tree and only gave me a few eggplants to eat.

At the end of last year I planted this Japanese eggplant plant. I bought it as a small plant.

It has consistently given me little eggplants to enjoy. It quit producing over winter, but now it is going strong. The eggplants are small but are the perfect size for me.

Japanese eggplant growing
Japanese eggplant

No Luck With These

  • Carrots – they are simply not growing
  • Cucumber – small vines, curling cukes
  • Beets – leaves totally eaten by something

Older Garden Boxes

The eggplant is growing in one box, with peppers in the center box and a scraggly tomato plant in the third. I’m waiting for all the tomatoes to turn red and then the plant will be ripped out. It doesn’t have many leaves and is not doing well. All these plants had to be covered at night all winter, and they did not like those colder temps.

growing vegetables in garden grow boxes

Growing Cosmos From Seeds

Plant the cosmos seeds in good dirt in a larger size pot. I began a few cosmos plants in eggshells, but they didn’t do well at all.

Directly sow seeds into big pots and they will create a pretty display.

In my photo here I have two pots and one is doing a lot better. It’s the dirt. The smaller plant was recently transplanted into good dirt and now I’m hopeful it will flourish.

The raccoons got into the other pot and dug up part of the seedlings. The ones left are blooming and look good.

The Hydrangea Plant in May

New leaves have grown on my one hydrangea plant and today I noticed there are about five tiny buds. The plant looks nice and healthy.

Hydrangea plant in Florida garden

Keep Reading

Loading…

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Cutworms in the Garden

Cutworms can quickly defoliate a plant and ruin garden crops. How do you know if it’s cutworms chewing on the leaves and stems?

How do you know if your garden problem is cutworms?

The short answer to that question is that whole stems will be cut off at the base. This is how the cutworm gets it’s name. The other part to that answer would be you won’t spot anything that could be doing the damage. It will seem to be a mystery.

Unlike many insects and worms that show up in a garden, the cutworm hides. When inspecting damaged leaves, you’ll likely see nothing. Cutworms sleep in the dirt during the day and feeds at night. Sneaky little buggers!

I noticed that something was eating my potato leaves. I was thinking “potato beetle” or slugs, and kept inspecting the plants and leaves closely. I saw nothing. Each day more leaves were eaten, and then the stalks began to fall – chewed off at the base. That clicked, because I know I’ve dealt with this before. Cutworms! Now, what is it they do? And how do I deal with them?

Organic Spray Did Not Help

I got my handy organic spray and sprayed the heck out of the plants. That didn’t seem to stop the problem one bit. I have two raised beds of potatoes and one was doing very poorly and then it began to show up in the other bed.

It was time for drastic measures. This meant researching online. Sure enough, it seemed the culprit was cutworms. I read that they overwinter in the soil and emerge in spring.

My Mistake

I believe I brought the cutworms into the raised beds when I added leaves from the yard as mulch. The potatoes were planted in dirt – new this year – from bags purchased at the local Home Depot, so I think the only way they could have been introduced was through the leaves and Spanish moss I added.

While researching the problem, I read that slugs will also eat potato leaves and mounding the soil around the plant will help. ( This page about slugs and potatoes is a good one for advice if you have that problem.)

I began scraping away all the leaves I had on top of the gardens and throwing it in the woods. Then I began digging up hills to mound around each of the plants. And that is when I saw it – a big cutworm! Altogether I found about 6 worms, large and small. One was greenish, one was pink and the small ones were black.

The pupae stage is when the worm / caterpillar has become a cocoon. The adult moth will emerge from this reddish orange shell to fly around and lay eggs that become more worms. But the worms are the worst in Spring – just in time for planting.

This hard orange-red thing in the dirt is cutworm pupa.
Cutworm pupa is reddish-orange

Getting Rid of Cutworms

My potato gardens are small. I have two raised beds with a total of 10 plants growing. I simply continued to dig around in the dirt searching for the worms.

Hand-picking

The cutworms I found were placed into my tray bird feeder and within a couple of minutes a cardinal was having the worms for a meal! This is a very simple way to get rid of the worms while helping out the birds. If you don’t have a tray feeder, just set them on a board or rock in the yard where birds visit. The birds come fast for the juicy meal.

I also went out at night to inspect the plants and found one more worm which I hand picked off. I continue to check for worms but haven’t found any more.

Eggshells and Coffee Grounds

Lots of online sites have advice about getting rid of these destructive worms, but I like to do so as naturally as possible. I had a few eggshells leftover from my eggshell seed starters project, so I crunched them up and sprinkled them around the base of the remaining potato plants. The only problem with this is that the shells get moved around when watering.

Also, the worms do not like coffee grounds so you could do the same thing with leftover grounds.

Eggshells sprinkled around the base of potato plants

Make a Collar

After checking on my potatoes, I came over to the other raised bed and one of the bean plants was totally chewed off! Just in case the cutworm was to blame, I made tin foil collars for the other plants. They have to be pushed down into the dirt and must surround the stalk.

This is best done when the plants are very young so the roots will not be disturbed. I used foil, but other things work. Think toilet paper and paper towel cardboard. Plastic cups, plastic bottles, and anything round and open will work.

Now my potato plants (in garden number 2) look like bare stalks. I’ll continue to check for worms and watch to see if the stalks come back.

Ways to Prevent Cutworm Problems

The worms emerge from eggs in Spring and they have been existing underground. Till the garden or dig down a few inches to search for the worms and remove them before planting. Take precautions by using the collars mentioned above – this is not that difficult to do if the garden is small.

Please visit this page at The Real Dirt Blog which is full of excellent information and advice about the cutworm.

How to know if you have cutworms in the garden, and what to do about them.

Read more here about cutworm stages: adult larvae and pupa drawings.



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.

Getting Ready to Grow Veggies in Florida

gardening
Enter a caption

I’m not there yet, but soon I will be learning to grow veggies in Florida.  I’m quite aware of the central Florida climate, as I lived there for over twenty years.  I didn’t have much time to grow my own vegetables but I plan to do a lot of that once I move back.

I’m wondering how well certain things will grow, and if there is no point in even trying to grow crops that prefer it cool.  I have a good, informative gardening book, but it doesn’t say too much about choosing crops for Florida.

So I searched for Florida vegetable gardening blogs.  A well-written blog can be better than a book.  Personal experience with local gardening can be extremely helpful.  I’m coming across a lot of blogs that prefer to show off their tropical shrubbery and well-manicured landscapes and fancy backyards, but have little in the way of helpful information about choosing and growing vegetables.

I think there are a couple of reasons for this.   Continue reading “Getting Ready to Grow Veggies in Florida”

%d bloggers like this: