Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Showers

The past few weeks have been nothing but rain and more rain.  Sometimes it's a downpour while other times it's just a constant drizzle.  The main problem with all this rain is that the sun barely comes out to dry it up.  I haven't watered anything in over a week and I'm afraid my seedlings aren't growing very much without any sunlight.

I bought a small greenhouse that I'm going to set up on our back porch for starting seeds so that the rain doesn't wash away the seeds and soil.  I'll probably have it set up where I want it by my next post.  Speaking about my next post, our son, Branson, is going to be born within the next week so times are going to get busy but I'm going to make sure and keep posting as we move into fall.

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From around the yard:

In the garden we have black-eyed peas, watermelon, basil, and newly planted okra.  I also have overgrown tomato plants and sweet potatoes in another garden.

I'm working on stopping the grass from growing with cardboard and adding pine mulch to the walkway.  That's our new automatic hose reel, pretty cool how it works.

Amaryllis seedlings, I'm surprised at how many sprouted.  Now I need to wait for the bulbs to form.

Yellow and Purple Coneflower seedlings.  

Blue Victoria Salvia, Marigold, and Black-eyed Susan seedlings.  The marigolds are from seed saved from a parent plant in our butterfly garden.

Butterflyweed seedlings.  Having a hard time dealing with aphids on these guys.

Our drift roses are starting to fill out the front garden and looking nice.

I planted these two hibiscus next to our rain gutter and they are blooming very frequently.  

The monarchs have found our Tropical Milkweed!  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Seeds

With the heat and afternoon thunderstorms, it's hard to get outside and stay long enough to get some work done.  I have slowly been working on our front rose gardens and adding new roses by cuttings.  I also planted a yellow hibiscus and large flower Luna hibiscus right by a gutter.. they are doing great!  I've been re-potting a lot of trees and shrubs to larger pots and expanding the nursery area.  I'm trying to see if large pieces of cardboard will help keep the weeds down but so far the rain is causing the cardboard to fall apart.

When it's decent enough to go outside, I've been planting a lot of seeds, taking a few cuttings, and clipping flowers for seed saving.  Of all the seeds I've planted only basil, butterfly milkweed, and marigolds have started to sprout.  I've also planted beautyberry, okra, Japanese maple, goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, parsley, cilantro, coneflowers, amaryllis, honeydew, garlic, and wildflowers.  Something cool also sprouted unexpectedly, multiple sabal palm seeds came up after being in the same pot with seedlings for almost a year.  That goes to show you that some seeds sprout quickly while others can take a long time but are still good!

My organized seed starting bench.  

Organizing seeds in larger containers.  

After watching videos on how to save seeds, I found how easy it is to save marigold seeds!  Look how many are on two dried flowers!!!

Around the yard:

Expanding nursery area.  Firespikes and crape myrtles added to the angel trumpets.

This hydrangea was dug up from a larger plant and I thought it died, but after a week of neglect, it has new growth!

Tomatoes from our garden.  The Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes grew from the side of our compost bin.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wet and Hot as Firespike

It's definitely summertime in North Florida.  Last week was extremely hot and dry while this week we've had thunderstorms every afternoon.  On Sunday, I still was able to get a lot of work done between storms.  I've been re-potting many cuttings that have taken root and also started some seeds for summer crops and flowering plants.  One of the coolest plants that I have growing from cuttings are Firespike (Odontonema cuspidatum).  These plants bloom in late summer and fall with tall red spike flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  I plan on growing these all along our back porch and selling the cuttings once they grow larger.

Here are many firespike, red maple, and spiderwort.

This is a picture of a firespike from last fall.  They are a lot taller this year!

Marlin enjoying the Firespike blooms last fall.

Crape Myrtle from cuttings.  Probably a third of the original cuttings took root but still very cool!

This Gardenia cutting was taken for the flower and while in the vase it grew this roots!

Seeds and Seedlings:
Over the last month or so I've made some seeds purchases through eBay and Botanical Interests.  Sharon's Florida Milkweed post I wrote about in a previous post guided me to her eBay store and I ordered seeds for some native plants from her... beautyberry, sabal palm, blueberry, and some wildflowers.  Through Botanical Interests I ordered many more flowers and some vegetables:  yellow squash, butternut squash, cone flowers, marigolds (although I'm learning to save seeds from some I have blooming), sunflowers, and more.

Here are the seed packets from Botanical Interests.

Newly planted seeds such as black eyed peas, herbs, beautyberry, okra, and butterfly milkweed.

Rose cuttings, amaryllis, sweet potato vine, goldenrod, and garberia.  

I have lots more to plant and need more space!

Elsewhere around the yard:

The orange cherry tomatoes are growing out of our compost bin.  

Beautiful Bleeding Heart Vine.

Ox-Eye Sunflower

Friday, June 17, 2016

Angel Trumpets Everywhere!

My yard is being taken over by Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia).  When we moved in a year ago, these were little sticks in the ground with some leaves.  They grew large during the fall but died back to dead sticks in the winter and then I cut all the sticks back to the ground.  Once Spring came, these Trumpets started their crazy growing cycle.

Here's a picture of how big the plants were when we moved in:

Now look below to see these same bushes...

Almost as tall at our screen porch.  

The flowers on these Angel Trumpets are massive with some yellow, some white, and some white with yellow lines.  I'm not sure if these are all the same variety or different.  They were planted in 3 different areas of the yard when we moved in so they very well could be different varieties.

In the picture below we have two large clumps growing back after I recently cut them back to the grown.  As you can see, these are right next to our double gate, so I accidentally drove over them with my boat trailer.  Angel Trumpets grow back like champs but I definitely need to move these to another part of the yard or sell the established clumps to clear up this area.  We actually had 3 large clumps but I pulled one up so the fence could be installed.  That clump lasted a month or two above ground before I replanted it by our butterfly garden... that was a mistake, it's so tall now that I can't see our bluebird's nesting.

Angel Trumpets are extremely easy to propagate from cuttings.  Basically, just cut a stem into 8-12" or bigger lengths and put them in dirt.  They root quickly and the roots grow through the bottom of the pot, so it's best to put a barrier separating the pots from the ground.

Look at those roots!

Large pots getting ready to be sold.

Around the yard:

The drift roses are starting to fill out.  The pale green one is going through some shock and hope is recovers.  We also have hydrangea and plumbago planted on the end.  

These roses are growing very quickly.  I need to take more cuttings and grow more of these along our garage.  We've also decided to plant a yellow hibiscus on the other end to go along with the red hibiscus.

My new cutting bench.  Right now I'm working on fire spike, spiderwort, and obviously angel trumpets...

A few weeks ago I posted how all the milkweed I had blooming were yellow.  Apparently this is the same species but different variety of scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).  I plan on starting native butterfly milkweed seeds soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

June Garden Update - It's Hot Outside...

It's been a busy couple weeks with school getting out and some traveling.  We had to deal with Tropical Storm Colin's flash flooding and now we are back to 90+ degree heat.  The following pictures are what's going on around our yard.

Tomatoes growing everywhere.  The seeds came from overripe fruit that I sliced and placed in the garden.  I thinned out the seedlings once they began growing.

These tomatoes grew out from our compost bin.

Beautiful sunflowers that grew from spilled bird seed.

Our hibiscus flowers are big and plentiful.  

Before and after pictures of removing the boxwood hedge and planting peach drift roses.  As you can see, the boxwood bushes were dying back.  My hope is for the roses to fill out and cover the ground.

The squash died back because of the heat, so I planted some watermelon seedlings in the big garden.  The carrots and pole beans are still growing well.

Our first oranges!  The lemon tree keeps blooming but the fruit fall off before getting any size.

I sold my first angel trumpets!  Now it's time to expand the nursery!

Ox Eye Sunflower blooming tall.

These orange day lilies are the prettiest in our garden.

Any idea what this is that grew from birdseed???

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Do we have Florida Native Milkweed?

In the fall, someone gave us a couple milkweed plants with monarch caterpillars already on them, so we planted these in our flower garden.  The caterpillars ended up eating every leaf on the plants and then disappeared.  I'm not sure if they were eaten by predators or the caterpillars just left to find a place to create their chrysalis.  Since then, the milkweed survived the winter and has grown back very strong.  Yellow blooms have filled our garden and now seed pods are hanging from the milkweed.  These are very healthy and pretty plants but I haven't seen a caterpillar since the fall.  Do we have the right milkweed species?

Which species of milkweed do we have?

Here are some pictures of the milkweed growing in our garden:

Older picture showing off the leaves

Yellowish orange blooms

Notice the seed pods

My first thought was that these plants were Asclepias tuberosa or commonly called butterfly milkweed, but after some research I found that the flowers and leaves were very different.

Then I saw a milkweed for sale at Lowes that looked very similar to what I have growing. Asclepias curassavica, or scarlet milkweed, which is native to South America but has become naturalized in Florida.  While looking up scarlet milkweed, most pictures show the flowers being a red color, but I have found out that there is a yellow flowering variety that looks very much like the type of milkweed I have growing.

Well, I found that the milkweed in my garden isn't a native and is in fact, Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).  These plants will still attract pollinators and look nice, so I plan on keeping them around, although I won't be worried if they are killed off by a frost.

While researching, I did find an excellent website by Sharon LaPlante called Milkweeds Native to Florida.  She lists 21 native milkweeds growing in Florida.  You can read her website here:   Milkweeds Native to Florida

Butterfly Heroes

About a month ago, Olivia submitted the picture below on the Butterfly Heroes website and we recently received a butterfly packet in the mail that included seeds for Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)!!!  Now we can start growing our native milkweed!

She made the butterfly pledge!

This is only the beginning of growing different native milkweed species in my yard!