You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
July 02, 2020, 07:29:55 AM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Platinum Send us your theme!

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: New Gardening in Florida  (Read 3601 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

New Gardening in Florida
« on: July 02, 2018, 02:52:38 AM »
So, I haven't been on here in quite a while but I noticed the Garden Journal from Peri and read through it and thought I could come back at least and do a little bit of writing about my new time occupier - gardening.

We moved into a new place a few months ago - the selling point was the tropical backyard and the Florida room. For those not living here in Florida, a "Florida-room" is just a sunroom or solarium lol. How we claimed it as our own, I don't know. The room is huge though - the length of the house and really wide. It's got windows the entire length that open, but have no screens right now and the mosquitoes are horrible this year, so we haven't been able to keep them open for very long. I have a few working tables, a tv and stand, a few chairs and a couple of shelving units - all fit comfortably in the room with plenty of space for all the plants. 

Now, disclaimer - I've never grown a thing in my life. I've killed anything I've tired to grow or plants brought home. They just never made it, so I stopped trying, until now. It's also hot as HELL here and the humidity is crazy here, so I know there must be plants I can't grow, but I'll figure it out as I go...

I started with pulling out the gardening tools that I had accumulated over the years where we didn't have a backyard, or we did but it was like the surface of the sun with no shade and no real area to work in. I had a few packets of seeds - most that were moldy from being in the garage of the last house we were in. There were three that grew though - the Roma tomatoes, chives, and moonflower. That was the start of essentially my new obsession.

My husband has a shop full of wood working tools. He made me a raised bed planter that I can garden in standing up along with a trellis that I can walk under for the cucumbers, zucchini and other climbing plants. I have a few different types of bean plants (black beans, pinto beans, and lima beans) on the other side at the moment. I'll be adding beans in shortly. He's also stacked a bunch of pallets and we placed a kiddie pool on top and it's filled with different buckets of pumpkin plants.

(raised bed, trellis, zucchini flower, cucumber flower, baby cucumber growing, beans, pumpkin flower)

I scored a huge load of free containers, grow pots and such from someone cleaning out their greenhouse a couple of weeks ago, which has helped tremendously. We are making our own potting soil - a mix of vermiculite, top soil, manure and coconut coir, which has so far been cheaper and better than any of the huge bags of mix from Home Depot or Lowes which seem filled with sticks, rocks and huge chunks of mulch. We have also started a composting container as well, which will hopefully be added into the potting soil in about 2 months. Starbucks and the the people in my office have been helpful with coffee grounds which are also mixed into the potting mix.

I don't know how I'm going to actually get everything growing - if it does grow. I've got over 140 plants growing right now. I've only had trouble with the watermelons, onions and carrots so far.  The grow so far, then fall over and die... I'd be discouraged, but...I have a room full of plants lol. I'll get those right later.

If I even have a fraction of what I'm growing actually produce anything I'm honestly not sure what I'll do. I'm doing this more for the pleasure of growing something than for the need for vegetables. My body doesn't like many of them. The thought is that if I only produce a little it will go to friends. If I product a bit more than that, perhaps donating some of the produce to the shelters/soup kitchens/food pantries in the area, and if more than that- if I get everything growing well...perhaps I can actually sell some of the items! It would certainly help if I had some income from this. The seeds and such have been pretty low cost. As has everything else. My husband eats a ton of yogurt so I get his used containers as perfect little starting containers. Same with any plastic soda bottles, which are then cut in half and used. I start some of the larger seeds (pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, beans) in plastic snack bags with wet paper towels until they sprout, then they are planted.

I've only had a little bit of trouble from caterpillars - one on the bean plants on the trellis that has been eating away at them, They produce blue skipper butterflies so I've been trying to carefully pluck them from the plants and relocate them elsewhere in the backyard. I have a couple plants in the Florida room that had the tops eaten off them before I found the caterpillar culprits and got rid of them. They were to become moths before I found them eating the cauliflower and pepper plants. Since then I haven't had any problems inside. I'm checking and plucking caterpillars every few days from the bean plants outside.

(Morning Glory, Bean plants, Green Pepper)

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2018, 10:17:01 PM »
It's been a little over two weeks since my last post. Things have heated up here in Florida. So bad that over the course of 2 days about a week or so ago, almost everything died :( I've been replanting almost everything that was in the Florida room and starting over.

In addition to that, I found little green caterpillars on the cucumber plant...That in combination with the mildew that attacked it and the zucchini plant have left me with this... I have one off-shoot of the cucumber plant that seemed to know trouble was coming and tried to steer itself to the left - broke away from everything but the roots and seems to be doing fine. The birds came out and helped clean up the caterpillars after I cut off most of the leaves that were left.

Most of the following pictures are from in between the last post and this one. The purple flower is the flower on the black bean plants.

The one cucumber that made it was later turned into Greek Pasta Salad - cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, Feta cheese and sour cream along with the best Greek seasoning out there!

The pepper plants I have been growing are doing well for the most part - I'm transitioning everything that didn't die in the Florida room outside and I've transplanted everything from inside the raised bed into individual containers - Jalapeno, Pinata and Serrano Chile Peppers, Garlic Chives, and the lettuces, but they don't seem to have survived the transplant well... I've replanted a lot of in-ground types into the raised bed - like rutabaga and turnips and such, along with more peppers and some okra. The corn I have growing is doing ok as well. I need to do more transplanting into the trellis bed - some more bean plants, a couple more cucumber plants. Depending on how the zucchini and the cucumber that is there now looks by the weekend will determine whether or not I cut it completely out/down and start over. I have plants ready to put into the ground there. I'm just worried that the same thing will happen - the caterpillars and the mildew. Time will tell though. I'll also be dealing with whether or not I give up on the pumpkins - they haven't done well since I moved them from the Florida Room, outside.

Offline Cailleach

  • Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we will never cease to be amused!
  • Lady
  • Bacchae
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2018
  • Location: looking over the shoulders of giants
  • Gender: Female
  • Crone ~ Momma Bear ~ Goddess of Winter
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 12:22:47 PM »
Hi JuliettaRossi,

I feel your pain with regards the heat and the caterpillars. I live in the South of Ireland and we've been experiencing a very unusual heat wave the last few weeks. All our plants that normally do well in our climate have either perished or grown too fast and we can't keep up with the produce so it becomes mush. The heat has meant a lot more slugs and caterpillars too than normal but we've started drying out egg shells and crumbling them into our coffee grains to spread around the bases of our plants and so far it's working at keeping them off.

We never sell really, we blanch it, cool it and then freeze them for eating during the winter months. I do a lot of gardening with my family but have only really been doing it for the past three years. Keeping a journal is good, writing in what worked and what didn't, best time to plant, sew etc.

Best of luck with your produce.

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2018, 10:24:03 PM »
Thank you Cailleach for the words of encouragement and your experience!

The caterpillars and the mildew fungus won the first battle with the cucumbers. I've gotten rid of all of them plus the zucchini plant. That whole side of the lattice is empty right now. I've also changed up my potting soil mix because of all the fungus gnats  (now it's coconut coir, coffee grounds and I'll be adding vermiculite and some fertilizer - no "soil" to see what happens. Right now I've got 3 flats of seeds growing in the coir/coffee mixture and most of the 1st flat I planted (a couple days before the other flats), have emerged from the mix. The cypress vine is taking off and I've got the Amish Pie pumpkins pushing through as well as two new tomato varieties - Aunt Ruby's German Greens and Mortgage Lifter, which I bought because of the name lol. I've also got Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Carnival Blend sweet peppers, Luffa Gourd (yup the same luffa from the shower is grown in a gourd!!!), green and red bell peppers and I'm replanting some of the ones that didn't do well earlier in the hot weather including a couple of lettuces.

I've been cutting the beans from the plant as they dry on the vines. I've never had so much respect for a can of black beans or bag of lima beans in my life. It takes a TON of these to make anything!! This city girl is getting a bit of education while doing this... Don't laugh. Most city kids don't understand where their food comes from because they've never been exposed to the part before they or their parents buy it. When I was a kid and I watched my aunt make REAL pumpkin pie for the first time I was blown away. Pumpkin came in a can...not from that huge ass orange thing you got out the garden, chunked up and roasted in the oven!! Yes, I've grown since then - and now I'm leaning to respect a farmer a bit more too... I've got 4 or 5 little stalks of corn growing right now and that is my biggest accomplishment yet I think. They have corn growing on them!! I'm excited. I don't know if they will make is - I just found some gnarly looking little squash bugs on them today, which I got rid of, but I'm sure there are more. I can't even imagine trying to grow fields of anything and the problems you have with that!

(Mushroom growing in lattice bed, Pepper plant flower, little red bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, corn growing, flower and bee)

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 10:39:44 PM »
Oh! And I got back to a little bit of baking (thank you Martha Stewart...). I made Nutella French Meringues!!

Offline Anouk Daae

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2018, 08:11:53 AM »
Another Florida girlie here!

Your garden looks amazing and so inspiring. As a baker by profession, your meringues looks exquisite too!
This is so awesome, thanks for sharing!

Offline RedRose

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2018, 07:50:52 AM »
This is gorgeous. I'm considering getting some plants again, though I'm not gifted at gardening! That's inspiring.

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2018, 11:30:37 PM »
Update...and not a good one.

Because of all the garden pests I've been encountering, we bought a bottle of Sevin. I sprayed down the beans, and peppers because of seeing a multitude of aphids along with squash bugs, caterpillars and other insects. Everything is dying now. They went from health, productive plants to dying, rust-covered, leaves falling off stalks. I'm disappointed, but I have new seedlings started in the Florida room. I had hoped to get more planted this weekend, but the weather here is atrocious, even for August. My back and hip have been giving me problems as well. Those two things combined don't allow me to sit out in the Florida room for any amount of time.

I've got a few other pictures of stuff around the garden - the pumpkin blossom that surprised me (one of two little bits of pumpkin tendrils still surviving after the heat of this summer), some small jalapenos, a small green pepper and a balsam pear (bitter melon), which I jut discovered growing over in the corner of the yard. I found those along with a patch of what looks like nightshade being devoured by squash bugs, which didn't make much sense because they don't eat anything in that family of plants. They weren't on the balsam pear, which was some thing I would have thought they would be on, since it's in the melon family.

More meringues were made today. I was testing out different flavors. I did a couple plain ones, plus coconut cream, chocolate coconut, raspberry, lemon curd, sea salt caramel, and nutella cheesecake. They came out pretty well I think!

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2018, 01:25:00 AM »
Been away for a little while - vacation time. Only a couple pics from the garden. We left friends in charge of the new seedlings I had planted just the week previous. Almost everything was dead when we got back, I was extremely upset. Not just the time and effort, but the fact that everything was GROWING when I left. I was apprehensive even having them watch over our place, but what can you do when you leave for 4 days? Ugh. Back to replanting. I'll restart all those plants again next weekend hopefully.

The pictures I have are from the morning glories that opened on the fence where I planted them. I did transplant 2 more morning glory plants, a moonflower pot and a pot of passionflower to the fence yesterday as well. The heat is just horrible right now though. I could only stay outside for a short time. Saw a black racer at the fence as I knelt down to plant the flowers as well...

The beds where I sprays the insecticide are actually starting to come back. There are new lima bean pods and the leaves are coming back nice and green. Apparently I didn't kill *everything* with the spray.

Some pictures from vacation...If you know where I was, don't name it please! Keep it a secret!

Offline RedPhoenix

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2018, 01:32:38 AM »
Your garden is beautiful thank you for sharing it. :)

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2018, 12:27:46 AM »
Thank you Red Phoenix :)

I spent some time transplanting most of the plants to larger containers over the past couple of weekends and I still have more to do. I changed up the mix I use to plant them in. Instead of the original mix I was using - top soil, manure, coffee grounds, coconut coir and perlite, I've taken out the top soil and manure, added vermiculite, bone meal and fertilizer. With the previous mixture I was having a problem with hydrophobic soil - soil afraid of water... Yes, it's a thing. The soil turns hard as a rock and won't soak up any water, thus killing the plant. I lost quite a few plants to hydrophobic soil so far which didn't make me happy. So far, the new mixture seems to be working well and the plants like it. I'm finally seeing more growth and the plants actually starting the produce.

I was able to cut the jalapenos below off and give them to a coworker who makes pepper sauces. In turn he will be giving me seeds to plant more pepper plants - win win. I have more jalapenos almost ready on the plants as well as two little serranos growing on one plant. One of the okra plants is starting to flower - it should be open tomorrow.

I picked up an almost dead discounted plant from Lowes a number of weeks ago. It's now doing much better and produced pretty pink flowers. Also had a tree frog make it's way into the Florida Room and stick around on the sliding glass doors for a while. I've also had a little bird who comes to visit while I work along with some squirrels out on the palm tree eating out of the suet feeder. I noticed a female squirrel hanging out on the planter I was growing the corn in, earlier this past week. I knew that babies were either coming soon or had already been born. Today I got to see her with one of the babies - it's bigger than I thought it would be, so there may actually be more babies.

The tomato plants are growing quickly and I just saw a flower peeking out on one today. Hopefully tomatoes will be in the near future. I'll also be planting the "fall/winter" plants. The weather is getting nicer here...but I'm sure that won't last.

Online CrownedSun

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2018, 10:28:26 AM »
Oooh, this is beautiful. XD

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2020, 11:22:51 AM »
So a lot has happened since I last posted. I became ill not long after my last post. I was possibly the closest to death I'd ever been by January. I was in the hospital receiving transfusions to keep me alive. I had treatment in February. I changed jobs in March. We moved in April. We've been in the new place a little over a year now. I haven't stopped gardening - in fact the last I think 3 or 4 trips were moving gardening items from the last house and we still ended up leaving a few things. I have a new potting bench and new raised bed built for me (in addition to the one I already had at the last place). Instead of the bed with trellis for the cucumbers, which I've had very little luck with here, the front walkway of our home follows the curve of the house with a gardening area. I've put up trellis netting from the ground to the roof where there were already nails, just waiting for me to use them. I have morning glories, moonflower and cypress vine growing there so far. We are still putting up the wood border on the edge of the walkway to build up the raised bed, so that project is not done. When it is done, I will have cucumbers and beans planted along the walkway, growing up the trellis as well. I received new seeds yesterday and I've got a bunch of seeds soaking for planting. I have a ton already growing and plans for the side yard that will hopefully get completed within the next couple months - putting the gazebo back up, building planter boxes for in front of the fence on either side of the gate to transplant the sunflowers and corn to, with an arched trellis in front of the gate for training the birdhouse and luffa gourds, raised stands for two of the corners of the gazebo for the multitude of tomato plants, and some repurposed dresser drawers turned raised bed planters for the herbs and peppers.

Black Beans and Zucchini growing and my new potting bench

Acombo of peppers harvested, tomatoes growing and belladonna (yes,, not intentionally planted)

A baby tomatillo growing, corn growing, morning glory on the front trellis, okra flower, black bean flower
« Last Edit: June 20, 2020, 11:28:36 AM by JuliettaRossi »

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2020, 12:08:01 PM »
The last update was gardening... I really should rename this blog. Here's some of the baking I've been doing as well over the last year or so.

Zucchini bread, Vanilla bean scones with homemade rosemary apricot jam, making marshmallows, toasted coconut marshmallows

Making macarons, macarons for a friend's wedding, eggnog macarons from Christmas

Pineapple cupcakes complete with little chocolate pineapples on top, Italian Wedding Cookies

Eggnog Cheesecake and soft pretzels with homemade cheese sauce

Offline RedPhoenix

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2020, 01:16:09 PM »
I'm glad you recovered!! Your new garden looks amazing and those peppers.....yum!

Glad to see posts from you again! :)

Online CrownedSun

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2020, 04:33:14 PM »
Seriously, that looks like an AMAZING garden. XD

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2020, 11:34:17 PM »
Thank you both. I've not been doing much here outside of the storytellers cafe. I'm going to try to post more often.

I got the boxes done for in front of the fence today so the sunflowers and corn were relocated there before the mosquitoes got too horrible. I'll get pictures up soon. Hopefully the corn and sunflowers like it better there. One step closer to having the gazebo put back up.

The wood border along the walkway to the front door is a little more than halfway done as of today too. I can get more stuff transplanted there tomorrow (beans more than likely), but this will require another trip to home depot for soil. Looking for free dressers and such to repurpose for a tiered raised bed planter and I'll be a bit closer to getting the yard to where I want it. This will also depend on if we are changing the brakes on our car tomorrow or not.

Offline Aislinn

  • Enchantress of √Čire, Local Avatarmonger & Leprechaun Ninja Extraordinaire
  • Dame
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2013
  • Location: "second star to the right, and straight on till morning"
  • Gender: Female
  • Principessa del Drago
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2020, 10:50:21 PM »
You have a beautiful garden! You are posting two of my favorite things in the world - baking and gardening! I hope once I move into my new house I'll be able to do something similar.

And that dark purple morning glory is gorgeous!!