Six on Saturday – Seeds and Flowers

It is Saturday yet again and time to join the SOS crew in the UK and beyond. My six items of interest this week are flowers and seeds that are new to the garden. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

My first ever ‘Green Envy’ Zinnia. I started these from seed in September, the plants are quite healthy and I am looking forward to bigger flowers.

Buds on the Dombeya. This is a pink Tropical Hydrangea (Dombeya wallachii) and a sight to behold when in full flower. This is a tree form Hydrangea about 14 feet tall.

Seedheads forming on the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). I left several on the plant as someone always want to try these for fun. The seedhead eventually turns brown and may be ground and used as a coffee substitute. Not trying that, but will collect seed for next year. I cut most of the flowers and am getting a second crop of smaller flowers on some of the plants.

A new shoot on the Dragonfruit. The lawn maintenance guys mangle these every time a new shoot appears; this one wised up and went away from weed eater range. Time will tell if I ever actually harvest a Dragonfruit.

Snow Peas (mangetout in Britspeak, a new name to me) and spinach emerging in grow bag.

First green beans harvested, made me wish I had planted more bags!

The Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia caparillis) in full flower. It seemed it was taking a long time for this to get going.

Oops, make that Seven on Saturday. Oh, well.

Happy Gardening to all.

Six on Saturday – Tea for Two

A couple of weeks ago I posted an image of the first flower on my Blue Pea Vine and mentioned making tea from it. I have also posted my Roselles, the flowers may also be used for tea. I tried both yesterday. I should preface this review by saying I am not a huge fan of herbal teas and prefer Earl Grey or black tea.

Roselle tea tastes like Hibiscus flower tea, which is no surprise considering it is a Hibiscus. The Blue Pea Vine tea tastes like dirt to me. I asked my husband to try and he agreed. I have seen the tea served that is cobalt blue in color, perhaps more steeping is needed or more flowers, the question becomes does it taste like more dirt?

The Roselles were in my freezer from last year. I froze them and promptly forgot all about them. When I harvest the flowers this year I will try making some jam to serve with champagne, which seems like a good holiday project.

The Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternata).

Roselles in their current state. These are about a month out from harvest and are buds. They will flower and form seed heads; the calyx from the seed heads are what is used for tea.

Fall has arrived when the Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia capillaris) starts to flower. The temperatures were in the low 70s this morning. My greyhounds had a long run in the dog yard and I enjoyed a walk around the garden.

Native Senna (Senna ligustrina), another fall flower in bloom. This is a host plant for Sulphur butterflies. If the caterpillars eat the foliage they are green; if they eat the flowers they are yellow. The butterflies are all yellow.

The bag garden is coming along. Currently bagged: bush beans, tomatoes, radishes, criollo peppers, dill, and flowers for cutting – zinnias, sunflowers, nigella and some mixed seeds that will be a surprise. The sticks are to keep rabbits out, the squirrels are only slightly deterred by them. I had a first time experience with a Gopher tortise eating a globe amaranth.

That is my Six for this Saturday. Jon the Propagator hosts this meme at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com. Follow the link to visit other gardens.

Happy Gardening!!

The Bag Garden

October brings the vegetable gardening season to South Florida. I started tomatoes from seed about a month ago and started work on a new concept for growing vegetables. Last year, my most successful vegetables were grown in containers and I decided to build on that. The soil in my garden is beach sand and while it can be amended, it is virtually impossible to get it to retain enough water for good vegetables. And then, there are root knot nematodes (bad nematodes) that love vegetables. They infested my tomato, snow pea and pole beans last year, slowly starving the roots by consuming the nutrients conducted by the roots, eventually destroying the plants.

On to containers!

I used 7 gallon containers to grow tomatoes last year and decided I wanted something a little bigger. I searched and found plastic pots weren’t that cheap and then I had to store them somewhere. While searching on Amazon, I found fabric grow bags, lots of grow bags. I have seen these around – but never tried using them. These are available in pretty colors, I almost succumbed to bright purple, green and orange grow bags then realized filling them with black soil mix would render the colors ugly. Basic black prevailed. I bought 8/10 gallon and 8/5 gallon bags for $25 delivered.

Here they are. Shipped folded – they open into something that looks like a handbag.

The 10 gallon bags hold 1.5 cubic feet of soil. I used the 10 gallon bags for tomatoes and bigger vegetables, the 5 gallon bags for cut flowers, herbs and smaller vegetables. I decided to try this organic soil mix, which is not recommended for use in containers. Since this is a spun fabric bag that breathes; I opted for the heavier soil mix and added a bit of compost from my pile.

During the course of filling the bags (they are a bit wiggly) it occured to me I was creating a rabbit height smorgasboard. I had leftover sections of rabbit abatement fence from last year and used the reeds like tiger (bunny?) sticks, this has worked on other delectables in my garden.

This week, I planted tomato and zinnia seedlings and seeds for bush beans, criollo peppers, radishes, dill, zinnias, sunflowers and nigella. When the weather cools, I will plant spinach, lettuces and snow peas.

The bags are currently in a half day of sun location, out of the wind, while the seeds sprout and the seedlings acclimatize. I will move these to a full sun location with a hand cart. Tried it and it works! Saves my back and the soil is stable enough to move.

The experiment continues… Hoping for bouquets of zinnias and lovely salads.

Six on Saturday – Fun Stuff

It was a chilling 85 degrees Fahrenheit in my garden this morning, so I worked outside gearing up for the fall gardening season. Taking note of some of the fun stuff that survived summer in South Florida.

The Monarch butterflies finally found the Milkweed in my garden. Here are two caterpillars munching away. Aphids are eating the other plant.

Another vegetable and flower garden experiment is at hand. These are cheap grow bags that breathe. I am certain these would be a disaster in summer so I am trying them in winter – using heavy garden soil (not made from peat!) lightened with 30 % of my oak compost. Planted tomatoes and radishes this morning. Herbs and bush beans are on the agenda next followed by cooler season peas and broccoli in a couple of weeks. I was surprised to read Nigella can be grown here in winter as well as Zinnias. Those seeds are also being planted shortly.

Coral Plant (Jatropha multifida) flowering. This is considered a novelty plant in Florida, it is pretty funky.

Pot o’ Bromeliads in the front garden. Grey varigated foliage is Aechmea fasciata, these have pink flowers like Dahlias. The burgundy with chartreuse spots are Luca Neoregelia, red foliage is Fireball Neoregelia.

Another pot in the front garden with Miniature Pineapples, Flapjack Kalanchoe and a Graptosedum hanging over the side. The pineapple plants flower and bear tiny pineapples. I use them in flower arrangements, I have heard they can be juiced but a field would be necessary to get a full glass.

Another flower to anticipate this winter. The hard cane orchid I mounted in the Gumbo Limbo tree has produced a bud. This should be very interesting.

That is my six for this Saturday. To see more visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening…

Six on Saturday – Fruit, Veg and Flower.

My garden is responding to the change in weather by flowering, growing root vegetables and ripening fruit. I am joining The Propagator’s SOS meme this Saturday. To see more SOS from all over the gardening world, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The Papayas are showing the first hints of yellow, which is ripe. I had Papayas December through February last year. Hopefully the same will happen this year. I can only eat so many Papayas at once!

Red radish shoulders peeking out, I am looking forward to eating these guys.

Bush beans budding. I think these are Blue Lake.

Roselles, nearly ready to pick. These are the flowers of an edible Hibiscus, I have been harvesting and freezing them.

San Marzano tomatoes coming along.

Heliconia psittacorum – Parrotflower, one of my favorite cut flowers, I am wondering if they like shorter day lengths to bloom.

Happy Saturday and Happy Gardening….

Six on Saturday – Roselles and Nematodes

My Roselles started flowering in earnest this week. These are edible Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and grow in tropical areas. I planted the seedlings in April and they flower in late October. These are grown for their cranberry flavored calyx, but the rest of the plant can be eaten.

This one has just finished flowering. The directions I have found dictate waiting two to three weeks after the flower falls off to harvest the calyx. I picked one to try, having no idea when the flower fell off.

Watched a video about Roselles and found out I was going to eat the sepals – when you are supposed to eat the calyx. I had Botany about 40 years ago, I will forgive myself. Here it is cut if half.

These are usually dried but can be eaten raw. I am not sure if it was ripe as it was very sour with the barest hint of cranberry flavor.

I posted about nematodes and worms to help combat them a couple of weeks ago. One of the Roselle plants was killed by root knot nematodes. Here is the body, I bagged the roots to prevent spreading the bugs. Root knot nematodes destroy the xylem and phloem leaving the plant unable to feed itself. This Roselle was 4 feet tall.

Here are the roots.

Ugh, I watered the area with food grade diatomaceous earth in hopes of getting rid of the nematodes. Though I will probably start another worm bed as they are pretty close to a Mango and Lime tree.

That’s my six for this Saturday. To see more posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening…

Six on Saturday – Veg and Vermiculture

The humidity in finally diminishing and I had my first celebratory glass of Chardonnay in the garden yesterday afternoon. Celebrating the solarization, addition of a vermiculture bed and rabbit fence installation in the vegetable garden.

We have bad nematodes in South Florida – I have root knot nematodes in the vegetable garden. These are microscopic worms that feed on the roots of tomatoes and other vegetables eventually killing the plants. They are common in sandy soils and I was interested to learn recently adding compost and worms to the soil deters the nematodes. Solarization also helps. I solarized the bed during August and September, covering the bed with clear plastic held down with all kinds of junk.

This week I took the plastic off and figured out how to add a worm bed – digging a trench in the middle of the bed, then adding chopped paper, raiding my refrigerator for rotting vegetables (there are always a few) and sending my husband to the bait store for red wigglers.

The red wigglers come in containers and are kept refrigerated. I let them warm up and then put them in the garden to devour the yummy rotting vegetables. They dug right in.

The red wigglers enjoying old Romaine lettuce.

The next thing to do is add seeds and plants and water in with food grade diatomaceous (4 tablespoons to the gallon). The DE also deters nematodes. There is some conflicting info on how it affects the good worms so time will tell. The rabbit fence is made of reeds and is 24″ high. The rabbits ate what the nematodes didn’t get last year.

Cheers to the veg and red wigglers!

Happy Gardening.

To see more Six on Saturday posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Six on Saturday – Pole Beans and Papayas

It’s time for Six on Saturday. A garden meme based in the UK; hosted by The Propagator. The concept is to post photos of six items of interest from your garden. Follow this link to see more:THE LINK.

I have flowers, fruits and vegetables coming along in my garden. Today I had a papaya for breakfast and picked pole beans. I may make a Papaya Seed dressing for the beans later, this papaya had especially peppery seeds.

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The Mango trees are busy making fruit and they are big enough to see the difference in varieties. This is a Nam Doc Mai, a fiberless Thai dessert Mango.

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This is a Pickering, a condo Mango – dwarf varieties that bear fruit early.

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A pineapple flower, just starting.

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Buds on the Lotusleaf Begonia

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And  buds on the Leonitis, I love these spiky ball buds and flowers. I am proud of these, started from seed in September.

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That’s my six from South Florida.

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Winter Veg

This is not actually Winter Veg, it’s Muhly Grass growing next to the Winter Veg and hard to resist.

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Here is the Winter Vegetable Garden, the first half just coming up. It is too hot in South Florida in summer for many vegetables to pollinate. I have Tomatoes, Snow Peas, Radishes, Carrots, Green Beans and Cilantro.

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Papayas. I have Avocado and Lime trees in the garden, if they were old enough they would have fruit at this time of year. Two years to go on those trees, it takes five years from seed.

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The Pineapple patch, no pineapples yet. And the feature dead solar pathway light.

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More seeds coming up, Cactus Zinnias, Winter Flowers not Veg.

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The seeds. The most irksome thing, the Cosmos seeds didn’t come up.

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Go to the Propagators blog on WordPress for more of Six on Saturday.

The First Sign of Fall

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Fall is greatly anticipated in South Florida. Humidity and temperatures um, fall. And we love it.

Here is the first sign. Berries on the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). The butterflies have been enjoying these flowers and now I will enjoy the fruit. Floridians (not me) make jelly from the berries (usually described as astringent). If I find some jelly, I will buy it – having recently learned about Jamtinis, you guessed it fruity cocktails –Jamtini ideas. 

73 Days until October 15. The usual date for our first cold front.

It’s time to plant vegetable seeds! And have a Jamtini.