Six on Saturday – Food Dreaming

It is another windy, overcast day in South Florida. We seem to be attracting cold fronts every Friday night, they pass through with rain or not, then leave clouds and wind in their wake. The fruits and vegetables in the garden are ambling along towards creating edibles, just not quite fast enough for me.

Mexican Papayas grown from seed harvested from fruit I bought. These are almost big enough to transplant into the garden. I have three because Papayas can be male, female or hermaphrodite. Obviously, you hope for hermaphrodite. I have no idea what variety the fruit was, and I don’t think Papayas are true to seed. We shall soon see. Papayas don’t live long and are considered herbs rather than trees. They are known to produce fruit within 9 months of planting. I think the last one I had produced fruit for 2 or 3 years.

Cherry tomatoes taunting me. I think these are the Lost Marbles variety as they look pretty stripey. I never label vegetables as the labels tend to fail and I only grow cherry tomatoes.

Red Bell Peppers just setting fruit. These are the classic thick walled Bell Peppers. I had thin walled heirloom peppers last year, good but weird. I am looking forward to these.

Tiny mangoes have formed on the Glenn and Nam Doc Mai Mango trees. Supposedly it takes 100 days from formation to harvest. I hope these make it. I have been cutting powdery mildew infested flowers off the Glenn and that will ruin the flowers and fruit.

My favorite, Genovese Basil, grown from seed. I am trying not to eat too much of this.

Another herb I love, Giant of Italy Parsley. It has an intense parsley flavor and lasts for two years here. I grow it from seed every two years or when necessary, sometimes the Swallowtail butterflies eat it. My favorite use of this is a Marcella Hazan inspired celery salad with fresh celery, Parmesan strips, olive oil and pepper. Mmmm.

Thanks to Jim at gardenruminations.uk.co for hosting SOS. Follow the link to see what is going on in gardens from the world over.

Happy Gardening!!

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Six on Saturday – Future Fruits & Feathered Friends

It is an overcast, cool and breezy Saturday in South Florida. The raptors (Hawks, Eagles or Turkey Vultures) are flying lazy circles over my garden. I can’t tell which one unless they slow down. The Eagles are usually solitary, but the Vultures and Hawks will fly with friends. There were two overhead this morning. They are difficult to catch with the camera and the quality of the image reflects that, but it also captures the mood of the day here.

I am finally seeing some flower action in the garden. My first Zinnia bloomed this week. Surprisingly pink. Cactus Zinnias are my favorite.

Cherry tomatoes started flowering this week. I think this must be the Lost Marbles variety, which is new to me and seems to be the first to flower in both groups of tomatoes. I am a lazy labeler, waiting for the fruits to tell what kind of tomato they are. Hopefully it will set fruit. It has been cool enough for tomatoes not to set fruit this week.

Two out of three of the Mango trees sent up buds this week. They look promising, although I have found with these trees looks can be deceiving. Last year, a bit earlier, the trees started to flower and as soon the flowers were open it became very windy and only one fruit was produced from all those flowers. Mangoes are wind pollinated and if it is too windy all the pollen gets blown away and there is little fruit. God is in the details, as always. Below is a Condo Mango “Pickering”. This is a type of Mango selected to be grown on the porch of a Condo and kept under six feet tall in a container. The fruit is yummy, I am hoping for a good harvest this year.

This is a Glenn Mango, a bigger tree topping out at 30 feet. Another tasty one. And I have had two whole fruits! We bought this in honor of my late Father in Law, Glenn, who would have loved the fruit. The flowers do look very different. My third Mango tree is a Nam Doc Mai, a Thai variety known for flowering up to four times a year. This one is not flowering at all!

Another far away bird picture, but typical of my garden. I looked out the window and thought “who put a white pillowcase in the front yard?” Then realized it was a White Heron. These are spectacular birds, about four feet tall, they pass through fairly regularly eating insects and grubs. Fiona the greyhound does not know what to think of them as they are taller than she is.

That completes my Six from South Florida this Saturday. To visit more gardens via SOS follow the link http://gardenruminations.uk.com and say hello to our host, Jim.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Some Success

A brilliant blue sky awaited this morning as I trundled out to view my seedlings. Despite a cold setback in December, things are coming along nicely at long last. A few successes and a few losses greeted the gardener. Situation – back to whatever passes for normal in South Florida.

Meet my only surviving rooted cutting of Mystic Blue Salvia. I am very proud and happy to have one more. I started with two plants, one passed on last year and the other has been flowering nearly non-stop since March 2021. I took six cuttings and only one took. I would love to know why?

I moved the Zinnia seedlings to a bigger pot to allow them to grow cut flowers. During all the jostling around plants with the freeze all the tags were lost, so I have to wait for the flowers to see what colors are left. About half of the Zinnias succumbed to the cold, dying at the base of the stem.

All the Dwarf “Sunspot” Sunflower seedlings made it through the cold. I covered them with a pillow case for two days. I am not sure what the other seedlings are though I am suspecting weeds.

This is a new variety of big red bell pepper, I have a couple of plants that are doing well. Last year I had heirloom South American peppers, designed for the heat. They were a bit weird, so this year I am trying the classic bell pepper. Hopefully, getting enough water on them.

Tomatoes, finally back in the garden. These are all cherry tomatoes. Lost Marbles, Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear, I think. Started from seed about a month ago. I have downsized to six plants this year. Last year I had nine and was overrun with tomatoes for a long time. The containers are all grow bags, reused from last year. The bamboo sticks are squirrel abatement. I have an idiot neighbor who feeds the squirrels peanuts – this gives them a maniacal urge to dig up any nearby container with nice soil and plants. This guy is obviously not a gardener and set to poison the universe in the name of lawn. Sigh.

The massive (bahahaha) culinary Ginger harvest. I watered this plant all summer and got two roots. The cost of the water probably exceeded the value of the Ginger at the supermarket. Unless these are phenomenally delicious, I won’t bother again.

That is my Six update. To see more SOS posts from the world over visit Jim at http://www.gardenruminations.co.uk.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Recovering for the New Year

I did not post last week as, for the first time in my blogging history, it was too cold to go outside. Most of Florida experienced the coldest Christmas in 30 years. On the Treasure Coast we had temperatures in the mid 30s (close to 0 C) with a cold north wind coming off the Atlantic. Ordinarily our average low is 40 F (4.4 C).

Above is a Mammey Croton, these are notoriously cold sensitive and true to form, it is dropping leaves. Advice on this is to leave it alone and they will grow back with warmer weather. It had not occurred to me to cover it. The orchids I thought about covering, but didn’t are fine as is another Croton. This one may get a bit more wind.

Below is Miss Alice Bougainvillea, burned by the cold, and currently ‘snowing’ white bracts. This is already coming back nicely.

I am fortunate to have gotten off to a late start on planting seeds. Earlier in December, I planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, sunflowers, papayas, Chinese forget me nots and a few types of zinnias. The plants were just getting big enough to pot up when the cold hit. They spent a few days in the bathtub of our guest bathroom. I was surprised to see some cold damage on the zinnia seedlings and grew some pink slime mold on the surface of the potting mix. This pink stuff had me scratching my head for a bit, did I lose a Pepto Bismol tablet somehow? An internet search revealed the pink slime mold, I have only seen the dog vomit version of this in shades of yellow.

The seedlings. I have Lost Marbles, Black Cherry and Sweet 100 tomatoes and two red bell pepper plants. I gave up on big tomatoes a few years ago and usually have bumper crops of cherry tomatoes. Lost Marbles is a good name for this past year! I am letting these recover a bit before potting them up, hoping for Valentine’s tomatoes.

More seedlings. The zinnias seem to be recovering, though I lost several. I think a cast iron bathtub on the north wall might be colder that I thought it would be. The three seedlings in the second row are papayas grown from two Mexican Papayas we ate this fall. (I have been making Papaya Coconut cupcakes). It takes about a year to get fruit from a seedling if you get a hermaphrodite plant (with self pollinating flowers) Time will tell on these papaya seedlings; they can be male, female or hermaphrodite.

An unusual sight, but not around here. I took my dog to the vet (a neighbor’s Rottweiler bit her! she is doing well). Near the vet’s office is the former estate of Frances Langford, a movie star from fifty years ago. She kept a flock of peacocks and their descendants are still around today. There were about twenty of them, hens and peacocks. Not a great picture, but I always enjoy seeing them. Fiona the greyhound was puzzled.

That is my six from warmer South Florida. It is 84 F (28 C) today and I am grateful for the warmth. To see more posts, visit our host, Jim at gardenruminations.co.uk

Happy New Year and Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Coming and Going

Time to join the SOS crowd again and share the going ons in my South Florida garden. The first few months of the year much of the tropical fruit flowers and many of the reseeding perennials set seed. The winter veg crops are also starting to produce.

The first tiny mangoes to appear on our Glenn Mango tree. I am happy to see the fruit, some years it is so windy the pollen gets blown away and no mangoes. The saying goes 100 days from flower to fruit, so we will see how that works out. The mangoes are early this year by about two months. Fingers crossed.

These are heirloom peppers from Nicaragua, Criollos. They will be wrinkled and red when ripe and are a standard in Ecudoran cuisine. I am very excited to try one.

Snow Peas grown from seed are climbing and flowering. I love the French version of the name for this vegetable, mange-tout. That translates to eat all in English as the whole pod is eaten. I will eat them all.

Papayas are bravely producing more buds. The Versa Moths have been around (they lay eggs in the fruit) Hopefully, they know something I don’t – and I will beat them to the fruit.

Currently eating – tomatoes, green beans and herbs.

Tropical Milkweed sharing its seed to the wind. I collected some seed and let the rest fly. Next, I will cut them to the ground to create some fresh growth to feed Monarch butterflies.

That is my Six for this Saturday. To visit other gardens via blog follow this link: http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

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….