Useful Websites for Florida Gardeners

These are my current Top 10 Florida Gardening Websites. Sites that I have found useful and informative, no other promotion or relationship is involved in these suggestions.  Most are Florida specific but their information can be applied to much of the southern United States, and much of it applies to all of our backyard gardens.

1. University of Florida IFAS Extension: EDIS is my FAVORITE site!!! EDIS is the Electronic Data Information Source of UF/IFAS Extension, and contains a large collection of information on topics relevant to all Florida living!

2. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Great way to research.

3. Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Love the design of this site.

4. Florida Trees. Check this site out before purchasing any trees.

5. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. The council supports the management of invasive exotic plants by providing an online forum for scientific, educational and technical information.

6. PickYourOwn.org I’m not crazy about this website’s layout and ads, but is one of the best places to collectively research u-pick farms and farmers markets in your area.

7. Waterwise Landscaping  by St John’s Water Management District. This site is full of data on how to use water carefully, the quality of our surface water, our aquifer and much more.

8.  Florida Wildflower Foundation. You may think of the license plate, but this a great resource. We love the “What’s in Bloom” section of the site, where you can discover what is currently blooming around the state.

9. Wildlife Foundation of Florida.  This is a great website for young gardeners.

10. Pinterest – really? yes.  It has great collections of gardening ideas by some experienced gardeners. Check out some of these boards for ideas on sustainable garden design, container gardening ideas, and more outdoor living spaces:

Authentic Haven Natural Brew is a soil guru that has great rustic taste.

Follow BGgardeing.com’s boards. Bren does a fabulous job with #gardenchat and has collected an array of ideas.

Follow anyone of Karen Sloan’s gardening boards for some beautiful ideas!

Organically Grown by Upcyclers is a fun collection of ways to upcycle things into your garden.

And here’s our collection on Pinterest: Backyard FL Gardening.

Happy Gardening!

Thanks, Bee

October in the Garden

  

Since we last posted we have lots to report!  I’m so happy Fall gardening has finally started. I was so over the heat and bugs of the summer!  We added a tiny garden box for my littlest gardener. She is very excited for her own personal gardening space. 😉  We also had a school project that involved the classroom mascot doing a little gardening with us.

We have pulled up the sweet potatoes after having a second caterpillar attack. The vines had taken up more space that I wanted them to, so next year I will plant them in a different area. I was able to harvest a half-dozen sweet potatoes for dinner.

We had to start seeds twice this season, partly because I think I started them too early. The second round is going well! Here are pics of our Bibb lettuce, purple dragon carrots, and collard sprouts. Sprouts not shown: celery, green leaf lettuce, and orange carrots.

   

Our mystery plant turned out to be a pumpkin. Still not sure how it came to be, or what type of pumpkin it was!?!  The pumpkins were quickly attacked and eaten during our second caterpillar attack.  So I pulled up it, plus it was not planted in an area where it would have had enough room to grow. 

  

We do have Seminole pumpkins in our backyard, see below. They have recovered well from the caterpillar attacks and we are hoping for Thanksgiving pumpkins!

 

We do have TWO more mystery plants. I let the little gardeners plant wherever they pleased this season, but I didn’t take the time to label them.  The one below on the right is a seedling from some guerilla gardening seed balls, made by Wall Flower Studio.  I have a seed list of what it could be, but I still don’t have a clue at this stage. Current Guess: some kind of herb. My oldest gardener thinks she planted milkweed in the red pot below.  I do not.  Current Guess: ? It isn’t strawberries.

 

Some Gardening Troubles:

Our avocado plant is having problems.  I’m looking into brown spots and wilt. I’m thinking I should get it in a bigger pot or in the ground soon.

I have also lost some thyme that I purchased at the farmers market, and some potted parsley that got too dry! Here is a little ICU section of my garden. These are plants that I need to keep an extra eye on. 😉

Lastly, I am happy to report some garlic that has sprouted, almost forgotten from last season. It will be an additional bonus in this season’s harvest! Yum! 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Thinking about Fall – Garden Update

I am so anxious to get things started this year that I couldn’t wait any longer.  I planted some fall seeds!!!  I know it’s early for our zone 9 gardening. Maybe two – four weeks too early but like I said I couldn’t wait any longer! 🙂

homegrown broccoli seeds

I planted most of the seeds in trays and some in the actual garden beds.  This year I used an old broken trellis to mark some of the seeds.  It will help keep the cat and dog out of the garden until the plants are bigger and established as well!

   

We planted green onions, Bibb lettuce, parsley, leeks and purple dragon carrots in the raised bed.  In the trays we started broccoli, Seminole pumpkin, and marigolds.

Some of the seeds have already sprouted! From left to right: radishes, celery & a mystery sprout. I think it is cauliflower or broccoli that the little gardeners planted a few weeks ago. It was not marked though, so I guess we will see. 🙂

   

What is left of the summer gardening is still doing well.  The aloe, grasses, sweet potatoes & herbs are loving the humidity & heat.

Aloe Vera
dwarf red fountain grass
sweet potatoes
   
sweet basil bloom
rosemary

 I love going to the garden to check on things and finding evidence that the little gardeners have been there. Here they had created a fairy bridge out of old palm bark and toad castle out of an empty pot. 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Late August in the Garden

We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat!  Ugh!

Cymbopogon (lemongrass)

We may be tired of the heat but the grasses are loving it!!! I love cooking with fresh lemon grass in the late summer. When combined with garlic & other spices it is has some fabulous health benefits.

Caladiums are one of the easiest things to grow.  I love the color they give my flowerbeds, this time of year. Be careful though they are poisonous to pets.

   

We are already thinking about fall gardening!  From left to right: leeks, marigolds & celery sprouts will be transplanted into the garden beds soon!  Radishes & sweet potatoes are in the ground already!  By October we are hoping lettuce, broccoli & carrots will be growing in abundance as well! 🙂

Lantana

Happy Gardening!

Eggplants!

Eggplants! Or as my littlest gardener would say, “Egg-ants!”

Our eggplant crop was the largest & most sucessful of our late summer gardening efforts this year.  The littlest gardener really enjoyed the purple veggies.

We chatted about ways to cook them on our Facebook Page this month & our followers came up with some wonderful recipes for me to try! Here’s two delicious suggestions:

Greek Moussaka (submitted by Mastergardening)

Eggplant, Flower and Haloumi stack (submitted by Caroline Webster, who is also fun to follow on Twitter)

 

My littlest gardener found she liked to draw with chalk on the egg-ants we harvested each week.

 

She also enjoyed kissing them! 🙂

And she even picked some of their flowers & counted to three for me one morning!!!

We are down to just a few eggplants left growing this season. I plan on making my families’ favorite Eggplant Parmesan (with fresh basil) one last time. 

Happy Gardening!

Sweet Potatoes

We are attempting to grow sweet potatoes in our garden for the first time this summer!  Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes like it hot!  They are native to Central and South America. Their vines need room to grow so after our tomatoes, okra and other veggies cleared out of the garden, we planted two sweet potatoes that had gotten old in our pantry.  We first started them in a glass full of water on the kitchen counter.  Much like an avocado, they simply sprouted leaves and roots.

I realized that I started them a bit late. It is recommended they are started in April and May in Florida because they have a 95-120 day harvest.  We started ours in June.  However, they are doing well in the garden and myself and the little gardeners are looking forward to this experience.  

The next step is mulching.  They love mulch to help promote new vines & growth. Here are some other tips I found for planting, growing & harvesting sweet potatoes:

  • Plant sweet potatoes about 12 inches apart, and allow 3 feet between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run.
  • Good root development depends on aerated soil (that’s why they like mulch). They are the ideal crop for areas with sandy soil.
  • About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a balanced organic fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label).
  • Sweet potatoes are not very sweet when first dug, but they are fine for sweetened pies or casseroles. They need a period to sit and “cure” to bring out their sweetness. Don’t wash before curing.
  • In late summer, sweet potatoes often produce flowers that resemble those of morning glory, a close botanical cousin.  
  • Taken from various online sources, including: http://www.bonnieplants.com/LearnGrowLibrary/HowtoGrowBonnieVarieties/tabid/128/ID/220/How-to-Grow-Sweet-Potatoes.aspx

We are looking forward to vines, flowers & curing potatoes later this summer! Fingers crossed!

Happy Gardening!

July’s Garden Outlook

Summer in our Florida garden is full of humidity, heat, bugs & thunderstorms.  Our sunflowers have completed their growing cycles, but they were still beautiful on their way to seed.

   

There is still an abundance of eggplant in the garden. I’ve been chatting on our facebook page about how to cook them & my followers have given me some awesome recipe suggestions!

Our tomatoes, green peppers, okra & squash have all either been defeated by disease & bugs or have completed their growing cycles.   However, the parsley, sage, oregano & comfy herbs are doing quite well. Here is some potted Italian parsley that has been delicious to cook with this summer.

Pineapple mint is also on its way out.  The blooms are beautiful though. I will need to dry some for my winter teas soon. 

Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent now. My avocado plants are loving this tropical weather pattern!

Can’t have too many thunderstorms without seeing a rainbow!

The swamp lilies are next in line to bloom in the backyard. I love their white blooms in the summertime!

Happy Gardening!