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 – Growing Toads.

Florida, the southern part, is backwards on summer gardening. We do it in the winter. I am trying several new ventures in vegetable gardening this year. Growing toads was not my idea, but I found one sitting on my tomato seedlings this week. I am hoping this is not a Bufo Toad, very poisonous to dogs and mine are always, ears up saying “What’s that” This toad hopped away before I could get a good look at it.

A Riesentraube tomato seedling, I put these in the sun to germinate and the seedlings are much sturdier than the first batch. This is a cherry tomato – from Germany!

San Marzano tomato seedlings, these were leggy, so I read up and followed suggestions to replant the seedlings deeply in new, fluffy seed mix. Seems to be working.

A new seed starting tray, arrived with a dry pellet in each cell that is soaked with water before planting and then self-waters from the bottom. I decided to forgo the plastic roof as the humidity outside should suffice. I put it in on my front porch, a sunny spot with bottom heat from the pavers. The seeds were planted on Monday. Parsley in under the foil, I have Verbena bonariensis, Nasturtiums, Zinnia ‘Zinderella’, Borage, Pink Double Click Cosmos and Apple Blossom Snapdragons. I have had very little luck seeding these directly in the garden. Borage, Zinnias and Cosmos have germinated.

The area for vegetables is currently under solarization to get rid of bad nematodes. Summer vegetables can be planted around September 15 here, the cooler season lettuce, peas, etc a bit later. I will plant bush beans, radishes, snow peas and some lettuce in here. The tomatoes are going into pots this year. The rabbits ate most of my crops last year, so I have a 24″ reed fence to put around the vegetables, I have a bad feeling about putting Borage within rabbit reach.

Another fall chore, pruning the Bougainvillea. While pruning, I spied this native Tillandsia growing on the trunk. The Boug, severely pruned a week ago has already started to put out flowers.

That is my six for this Saturday. To visit more gardens with six items of interest on Saturday, go to http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

In A Vase on Monday – Completely Different

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And now for something completely different! The theme from the past week or so around here. It has been oddly, well, cold. The greyhounds are perplexed, a lovely nap in the backyard sun has turned unpleasant and I have had to rethink my attire.

My personal definition of winter clothes – short sleeve shirts instead of tank tops, shoes, never and God forbid, socks. The middle of last week I found myself in my closet, searching for long pants, sweatshirts and shoes and the detestable socks. I haven’t put coats on the dogs yet, they are somewhat offended by canine jackets.

The good news, warmer weather is returning tomorrow. We had a low temperature of 38, nothing was damaged that I can tell. The garden still has Salvia, Beach Sunflower, and some other sort of regular things flowering – I decided to look for something different.

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I am not sure how much more different one could go. The plants in my different arrangement are in Salmon, a Bromeliad flower, Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala, Yah! a new friend from my garage sale collection-bought a couple of years ago for a few dollars, having no idea what the flower might be..In off white, Sansiveria (Snake Plant, Mother In Laws Tongue, etc),  The burgundy striped foliage is from a Ornamental Pineapple, Striped foliage from a Pandanus spp, fluffy fern Рa volunteer Asparagus Fern.

Another different scene from South Florida, the Winter Vegetable garden, a few people have asked about the Potager, so far, so good. We have from the left potatoes, garlic, radishes, green beans, red peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, papayas. I am planting spinach, arugula and romaine lettuce next week.

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