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Author Topic: New Gardening in Florida  (Read 130 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.

Online Cailleach

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.