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Author Topic: New Gardening in Florida  (Read 4233 times)

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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

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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, belladonna...no, 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

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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!!

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2020, 04:30:56 PM »
I had vacation time not long after my last post. I didn't get to do much for multiple reasons. I did get the canopy put back up, the potting bench moved under it and the large work table moved from the front side yard (where it was quite the eye sore) to under the canopy as well. It's now covered with potted plants - squash, melon, tomatoes and cucumbers mostly. The wood border along the front walk way is almost finished. I think I might need one or two more sections.

We went to a local nursery and bought some ladybugs. I had aphids on the bean plants. They were so cool. I released them at dusk but I think it was just a little too early. They stayed for a short time, ate their way through some of the aphids...and flew off.  The bean plants were moved up along the walkway and some promptly died. I'm in the process of planting more beans because of this. Moved more morning glories, cypress vine and moonflower up front along the walk way as well.

I don't know what happened to the little tomatillo. The husk around it dried and it never got any bigger than a small cherry tomato and remained white. Meh. The plants all have blooms on them. Hopefully something will grow. A few of the roma tomatoes got blossom end rot and ended up being tossed. One of my mystery tomato plants had these cute little brownish-red  tomatoes on them. After a couple of days of rain they both split. We fed them to two of our squirrels. They loved them :)

The sunflowers I moved up to the new flower boxes in front of the fence are getting huge. They all have blossoms growing on them. One is a little more "advanced" than the others and slowly, day-by-day is closer to opening. I have a few more ears of corn growing as well. I grew some potatoes... I've been reading more and more about each of the plants I'm growing and I had actually written off the potato experiment as a failure - until I read that the potatoes are ready...once the plant is dead. Ugh...lol So I went out to my near dead potato plants and yup...I had potatoes!

We were sent a notice by the HOA about our driveway and that we needed to have it pressure cleaned. It was apparently our job, even though we were renting. After looking into renting a pressure washer, I ended up buying a small electric one that omg worked wonders. I've done the driveway, the sidewalk and the fencing. I'll be asking the neighbors if I can do the siding that faces our house. The houses here are kinda odd - one whole side of each house is essentially the next neighbor's yard. They have no access to one side of their house unless they go through our yard. It's just strange to me.  Either way...I think I like pressure washing stuff lol

I did more baking during my vacation time - a Japanese cheesecake, German Beesting Cake, banana whoopie pies, Key Lime cheesecake, soft chocolate chip cookies, French macarons and tiramisu.



« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 02:39:04 PM by JuliettaRossi »

Offline RedPhoenix

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2020, 04:54:02 PM »
That's all lovely but that squirrel is so cute! :)

Offline Aislinn

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Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2020, 10:13:21 PM »
I had vacation time not long after my last post. I didn't get to do much for multiple reasons. I did get the canopy put back up, the potting bench moved under it and the large work table moved from the front side yard (where it was quite the eye sore) to under the canopy as well. It's now covered with potted plants - squash, melon, tomatoes and cucumbers mostly. The wood border along the front walk way is almost finished. I think I might need one or two more sections.

We went to a local nursery and bought some ladybugs. I had aphids on the bean plants. They were so cool. I released them at dusk but I think it was just a little too early. They stayed for a short time, ate their way through some of the aphids...and flew off.  The bean plants were moved up along the walkway and some promptly died. I'm in the process of planting more beans because of this. Moved more morning glories, cypress vine and moonflower up front along the walk way as well.

I don't know what happened to the little tomatillo. The husk around it dried and it never got any bigger than a small cherry tomato and remained white. Meh. The plants all have blooms on them. Hopefully something will grow. A few of the roma tomatoes got blossom end rot and ended up being tossed. One of my mystery tomato plants had these cute little brownish-red  tomatoes on them. After a couple of days of rain they both split. We fed them to two of our squirrels. They loved them :)

The sunflowers I moved up to the new flower boxes in front of the fence are getting huge. They all have blossoms growing on them. One is a little more "advanced" than the others and slowly, day-by-day is closer to opening. I have a few more ears of corn growing as well. I grew some potatoes... I've been reading more and more about each of the plants I'm growing and I had actually written off the potato experiment as a failure - until I read that the potatoes are ready...once the plant is dead. Ugh...lol So I went out to my near dead potato plants and yup...I had potatoes!

Looks like you have a whole lot of full sun where you are...(as sunflowers, veggies and morning glory all love full sun!) The house I'm in right now is all full sun and it's been a challenge to find things that can deal with that. However, I'm selling this house and buying/moving to another in a few weeks that is part shade and all shade....so a whole new scheme to get used to. Lucky for me, it's fully landscaped with enough room for me to plug in some things from here that will probably appreciate the location of the new house better.  ;D

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2020, 03:03:35 PM »
It's been a couple of weeks now. There's a hurricane off the coast. It's just a Cat 1 and we aren't feeling a lot of effect from it outside of some wind and a little rain here and there. I was really hoping for more rain than this - perhaps we'll get a bit more this evening. No need for much prep except to move plants down onto the ground outside. I say that like I wasn't out there yesterday morning sweating my ass off getting everything prepped in fucking horrid humidity, no breeze and omg the fucking mosquitoes are outrageous this year. I blame it on Covid keeping people inside. They are as starved for us as we are for getting back out. The sunflowers are lashed to the fence to keep them from blowing around too much. There's bags of top soil holding down the canopy legs, any plants not on the ground are huddled together under the canopy on the ground now and any raised platforms are on their sides to keep them from falling over during the storm. All loose items have been brought in or placed on the ground up against the house. I really should have waited until this morning to do it so there would at least be some breeze, but I didn't know if the storm would change course at all as it moved northward.

The heat, humidity and mosquitoes here have been intolerable. I haven't done much outside because of it, but the sunflowers are loving it. I've gone out for an hour here and there after work to just get new seedlings planted into larger containers and water everything, but that's about it.


I had not seen bees out in the garden until the sunflowers started opening. Now they are everywhere at the fence line. They love the sunflowers and the heat makes the whole area smell like sunflower seeds/oil. I cut off a couple of the finished blooms to harvest the seeds - it reminded me of picking the seed out of pot! It was sticky, I ended up with 2 piles - one to toss, the other to keep and the pile I was keeping ended up in a bag. Plus there is a smell to dismantling sunflower heads, much like with pot. I brought in a couple of the sunflower heads that were finished but not dried yet and split them between our squirrels. They loved them.


Sunflowers are very strange plants. I didn't realize this until I started to grow them. All the ones I have pictures of currently are Autumn Beauties. I've planted other varieties since these have grown so well, but they are still quite small. If you've never seen the alien-like growth of sunflowers, here you go. I'm fascinated by them. I don't have the very last stage - the dried head with dried seeds yet. I'll be leaving the sunflowers to seed like this instead of cutting them early like in the pictures above, but here are photos from start to flower.


Almost none of the other plants like this heat. Even the peppers and tomatoes aren't producing. It's so hot the pollen is actually sterile and nothing is growing - no little tomatoes, no little peppers. The radishes, beets and the handful of okra that have grown have all been fed to our squirrels. One of my corn stalks died and it had one little ear of corn on it. It didn't get pollinated correctly so there were just a random few corn kernels on the cob, The squirrels loved them anyway. Since moving some of the plants under the canopy it has cut the heat directly on them and I have a couple of tomatoes on the vines and the peppers are starting to bloom again. This impatient gardener is definitely learning the work and time it takes to grow things. I'm also seeing people on Facebook gardening communities in cooler climes who have gardens overwhelming them with food and leaves that are huge. They have pumpkins and baby watermelons and baskets full of cucumbers and zucchini and their tomato vines are heavy with beautiful tomatoes. It's a little discouraging, but I know in part that it's the heat and how quick everything dries out here, not to mention the bugs we have here. I was going out and watering morning, afternoon and evening, but I cut the mid-day watering because I was doing more harm than good with the water actually burning on the plants from the crazy sun we have been experiencing. 


I haven't done much other than work and watch tv, do some genealogy work and read. I'm making another Bee Sting Cake as I type this. I have 30 more minutes for it to rise before putting that lovely almond and honey topping on it and putting it in the oven and I need to finish the from scratch vanilla pudding/custard/filling for the center. I'll be making more sugar cookies later today.

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2020, 03:12:31 PM »
Looks like you have a whole lot of full sun where you are...(as sunflowers, veggies and morning glory all love full sun!) The house I'm in right now is all full sun and it's been a challenge to find things that can deal with that. However, I'm selling this house and buying/moving to another in a few weeks that is part shade and all shade....so a whole new scheme to get used to. Lucky for me, it's fully landscaped with enough room for me to plug in some things from here that will probably appreciate the location of the new house better.  ;D

Hi Aislinn,

Yes, we have an amazing amount of sun for the small side yard we have. It was quite a change from the last place we were at - which had a TON of shade and so much greenery and it was easy to grow things, to here, where things shrivel in just a few hours - they can be fine in the morning and then dead by afternoon. The yard is shaped like an "L" here and the back of the house is mostly shade. I've considered moving things back there, but I can't see anything back there and  the bugs are even worse. When we went back there to clear some debris we found a huge amount of squash bugs and it just squicked me out. The planning of the houses here was horrible.  The only was to really use the yard well and to keep your sanity would be to install a screened patio that wrapped around the house. We are just renting, so yeah, not doing that. If we ever buy a place outside space would certainly be a huge consideration with plenty of space for growing and such.

Good luck with your new place! Post pictures of your garden so we get to see!

Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2020, 10:49:38 AM »
In the past two weeks we've had some bad storms, which is the norm for summer in Florida. Don't ever be fooled by the "Sunshine State" motto. We may have wicked sun and heat, but we also have a monsoon every afternoon. You can almost set your watch by it. It smells different before the rain too. If you aren't from here you might have heard at least one Floridian or seen a meme about our craziness about the smell of the rain. It's apparently got a name - petrichor - the smell of the first rain drops hitting the ground, interacting with the bacteria there that create this smell. I choose to think of this as one of Florida Man's super powers. It serves no purpose (because Florida Man isn't gonna get out of the rain anyway and he doesn't own an umbrella, so...) but it's like an internal alarm for Florida Man/Woman and by law, they are required to say something along the lines of:


Now, you may be asking yourself, does this person really have to announce the rain each time they smell it? Yes. Like Monk, this is a gift, and a curse and each gift has it's yin and yang.

Now, as for growing stuff...Yeah, not a lot here for that. More sunflowers. Another huge harvest of sunflower seeds (that's one of my industrial sized sheet pans btw...). The two green tomatoes from the earlier post are now red and off the vine and sitting in my kitchen.  The eggplant is actually growing. I dunno what I'll do if I actually grow an eggplant. If you haven't caught on, I don't eat much out of a garden. I just like growing things. I mostly feed anything I grow to our three squirrels. The flowers I've been anxiously awaiting out front have started blooming. They are morning glories, but they are doubles called Sunrise Serenade. I think they are really pretty. The cicadas have been abnormally loud - like all day loud. I found a shed exoskeleton of one clinging to the side of the house. I left it. I'm not messing with it. I hate cicadas. I'm sure some of the damage to my plants has been from these nasty things. Not bad enough with the aphids, mealybugs, snails and cutworms? At least it's not grasshoppers. I'd burn it all down if there were grasshoppers...(this is what you can call trauma....summers in Florida and grasshoppers ugh...)



So, if I haven't dissuaded you from coming to Florida (let alone those wanting to move here)...We can talk later. I've got more. And yes, I love my state. I'm a native. (Not many can claim that!) I have never seen snow outside of on tv or in pictures. I'll take a hurricane over a tornado, earthquake, fires, etc any day. I wear flip-flops or go barefoot - I abhor closed-toed shoes but they are sometimes a necessity. During this pandemic I have rarely worn shoes and only worn flip-flops to go out. I love the swamps and gators and palm trees and oranges and beaches filled with shells. You can keep your snow shovels and chains on tires and winter wardrobe(?) and no sea breeze.

If the weather holds I'll be planting more morning glory seedlings up front along the walk way today. I transplanted some pepper and tomato seedlings after a rain storm earlier this week. I'm going to try to add more soil to the sunflower boxes and transplant some more sunflowers up there as well. I think I have some dwarf teddy bear and one other variety ready to be planted in the ground. I still need to find some old dressers people are giving away in order to make my herb garden. "What do old dressers have to do with an herb garden?" Well you see, I'm planning on using the drawers in a stair step fashion (held up by stairway banisters and flat wood at the bottom to give it a structural base) and sectioned into well, sections, to plant my herb garden. Right now I've got herbs, in pots, sitting in my raised bed planter where I could actually you know, try grow things like carrots and onions and chives and beans instead of it just being a place where pots are sitting. Pinterest and I have a love-hate relationship...Here are some of the "I want to do this ideas" I have going right now:

Herb garden using dresser drawers, clay garden markers, seed storage, a bee watering station, and a place for my gardening tools using an old rake affixed to the side of my potting bench.

I had some visitors to the garden over the past two weeks. There was a little lizard who was watching me take pictures of the sunflowers (our yard is overrun with the little dinosaurs), a spotted oleander moth, more sweat bees, a huge mason bee who is making a little bee in our bee house (yay!!), a variety of dragonfly called a Halloween Pennant, and of course more bees!



We did get out of the house for a little while one afternoon after the rain and went to a local lake area. It was beautiful right before sunset, but the mosquitoes, humidity and body aches didn't allow for much time out.


Onto some more pictures. I did of course, finish the Bee Sting Cake. It turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. I didn't finish it, so the left overs were turned into bread pudding.


Offline JuliettaRossiTopic starter

Re: New Gardening in Florida
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2020, 04:09:10 PM »
So not much has happened in the past few weeks. Quarantine has almost become like Groundhog Day. My mother came up for another visit. We made more yummy things including homemade strawberry jam and homemade pineapple jam and pineapple upside down cake made with fresh pineapple. We sent half of it home with my mother for her to share with my uncle. I also had my first order for French macarons since the start of the pandemic - Rose macarons with rose buttercream, coconut macarons with my homemade pineapple jam in the center, and vanilla almond macarons with strawberry buttercream. Not having made them in months showed. I ruined the first batch by hurrying and completely forgetting to add the granulated sugar. One of the batch of coconut macarons I overwhipped trying to get the coloring right and I knew it before even baking them. They came out of the oven almost flat. They still tasted good, but I had to make another batch for my client.  (Insert woe-is-me look here.)

As far as gardening, it's been too fucking hot out. There are no other words for it. July and August are the worst months in Florida hands-down. It's so nasty out. The tropics have been heating up and the bowling balls of storms are rolling in. We've been spared much of it thankfully. It's raining out again - there is some tropical wave or storm or something shearing across the state. It will strengthen once it hits the gulf and likely cause more trouble for Louisiana, as if they needed more rain. Nothing concerning for us at the moment. Two hurricanes are spinning out in the open waters, they don't seem to pose a threat to anyone. Just awaiting the news of the storms coming off Africa and if they will form.

I did get out and plant more morning glory, moonflower and cypress vine seed out front. I also got the raised bed filled and planted. I planted 4 marigolds down the center line (they help keep some of the problem bugs away), transplanted some of the bunching onion and spring onions into the bed along with some beets. I planted more black beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas there as well. My pumpkin plant is roaming the garden. It is currently climbing up the side of my canopy and along the side of the other raised bed, twining tendrils around my okra and pepper plants I have in pots at the base of the raised bed.


The eggplant in the raised bed actually has a baby eggplant growing and one of my poblano peppers are growing a little baby as well. The pictures below are a flower (same family as tomatoes, so the flowers look like tomato flowers, but larger and a light purple) on Aug 26 to baby on Sept 9, and growth as of today for the eggplant. My baby bubba okra is producing now as well (flower on Aug 19, half grown okra pod on Sept 9, almost full grown today). I had one okra grow on the regular (spineless) plant and fed it to the squirrels after harvesting the seeds from within. My tomato plants and tomatillo plants are starting to produce flowers again as well. If the rain and heat let up a bit I'll be planting some cucumber along the front walkway. I did put out a bee drinking area down at the base of the sunflowers. The sunflowers are actually not doing well with all the rain. One bed of them is practically dead. The other has something akin to rust spots and damn mealy bugs are taking over, farmed by stupid fucking red ants. Yes, I said farmed...the ants farm the mealy bugs because as they feed on the plant they secrete a sweet liquid the ants drink, so they move them and protect them on the plant - essentially looking after their food source...


While spending time inside I changed up how I'm keeping my seeds. I now have a (more) compact container for them - a 3-ring binder that is completely filled with seeds. I spent a few nights cutting the old seed packets I kept - knowing I would eventually use them somehow - to fit into baseball card sheet protectors, 9 to a sheet, the seed packets I made fit between the front and back portions of the seed pack paper. I've gotten just about everything into the binder. Anything I had too much of (beans mostly, but also plastic bags filled with pepper seeds I've taken from the inside of various peppers) was put into a zippered pencil pouch at the start of the binder.

I'm planning on getting outside to plant a fall garden as well - which is a summer garden up north... ::) I'm hoping my tomatoes I have seedlings of and maybe some more peppers will take off. I think I'm going to plant more corn and sunflowers after I rip out the dying sunflowers in front of the garden fence as well. I have more room in the raised bed where the eggplant is. Maybe some kale, lettuces, etc will go there for fall/winter. I'm still planning on doing the herb garden made out of old dresser drawers or possibly wine crates if I can get them free, since I don't drink wine...

We got a new crate/house for one of our squirrels. He seems to be enjoying it. We also had a hawk who was quite pissed looking after he couldn't attack the squirrels inside. I think he was more than a bit confused by the sliding glass door.


We will see what the next few weeks hold...