Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Plant Delights Nursery

I've come to really like salvias...

From Plant Delights Nursery, which carries a remarkable collection of sages:

Salvia chamaedryoides
Salvia greggii 'Big Pink'
Salvia greggii 'Pink Preference'
Salvia farinacea 'Augusta Duelberg'


TS Noel is sitting off the coast, sending bands of squally rain and sometimes stiff winds across the eastern half of the peninsula. It's been raining here since Friday -- not huge accumulations (around one and a half inches so far). Intermittent, light and brief. The dewpoint and humidity are in the upper 60s, which is very high for this time of the year. Really awful weather, not just for us bipeds but for the garden, too. I need to get out and trim back some roses, before the fertilizer I applied last week kicks in. Plus, the weeds are popping up everywhere. I just cannot bring myself to work in a very wet and windy garden.

Anyway, this weekend, I did manage to transplant the geraniums and herbs that I started as seeds a few weeks ago. I also planted more radish, more chard, some chervil and 'Red Sails' leaf lettuce. The kids' chard ('Bright Lights') is getting chewed up by (I think) flea beetles, though the 'Sea Foam' chard and lettuces that are nearby are untouched.

Cukes continue to produce, though the fruit is often infested with the damn pickleworm. Tomatoes are maybe just now setting fruit. The fig tree has lost its leaves. The citrus is ripening.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The vine started growing at the end of August. We'd eaten a ton of watermelon in the previous weeks, and I figured that the seeds had sneaked into some finished compost I added to the bed, readying it for the abysmal failure that was to be my corn experiment. It set fruit during a cool spell at the beginning of September. I figured it must be watermelon -- the leaves looked like watermelon, the rind looked like watermelon... The shape was not exactly watermelon, but I figured it was a chance cross from the grower's field.

Got tired of waiting today, and since the fruit had stopped growing and sounded hollow when I thumped it, I cut it open... Looks like Seminole Pumpkin/Squash, from seeds that must have lain there for six months, last time I bought some from Pauline's garden. Given the legendary toughness of the Seminole, it's totally possible that this is the fruit of squash we ate in the spring.

I have a bunch of small fruit now set. And lots of seeds.

I haven't cooked any of it yet. Even though the vine is trying to take over my garden, I think I'll put up with it for a while, especially if it tastes any good.

Update: We fixed it finally... more acorn squash than butternut. Very tasty. And, apparently, totally bug proof, as the vine continues its conquering of my vegetable bed. It's an ill-behaved vine, but a sharp knife keeps it in line... The vine roots readily.

Dream tree order...


Li Jujube Tree $59.95

4-5' (Shipping January 2008)

Pakistan Mulberry Tree $79.95

7 Gallon (5-6' Tall) (Shipping January 2008)

Pineapple Guava Tree $24.95

3 Gallon

Hong Kong Guava Tree $24.95

3 Gallon

Total Items: 4 Total: $189.80

Shipping: $47.45

Final Total: $237.25

Monday, October 22, 2007

Let's see here...

Busy weekend. But I managed to do some basic maintenance & plant... Cherry Bomb Radish, Detroit Red Beets, and Upland Cress. About a square foot of each. This coming weekend, I'll need to find the time to transplant the geraniums & herbs that I planted last week.

Busy week, and forecast to continue in the doldrums with hot & wet days. This Friday I hope to cut out of work (gotta get rid of that pesky job!) and do some fishing in Mosquito Lagoon. But Saturday should be devoted to work in the garden and yard, including mowing and weeding. Gads, I hate mowing in late October!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


My corn. Abject. Failure. I have pictures, but I'm too ashamed to post them.

Seminole Springs

Some of us GardenWebbers from the Florida Forum spent the morning at Seminole Springs Antique Rose & Herbs, an organic grower not far from Mt. Dora, Florida. Tracy, the owner, was kind enough to open her shop on Sunday for us to hang out. We hung out for an hour or so there, exploring the scores of herbs she has. We then swapped some of our own plants before heading for a nice lunch in Sanford.
Dutch Lavender. Tracy tells me it doesn't bloom much, but it's a pretty silver and has all the fragrance of regular (French) lavender... and it survives our summers!
Tracy, owner & engine of Seminole Springs Nursery, talking about getting certified as an organic grower.

My friend Bill, exploring the greenhouse.

I bought a couple thymes (French and a variegated one), marjoram, a bay tree, cilantro, prostrate rosemary, Dutch Lavender. At the swap, I got some more Rudbeckia triloba, some flowering vines for the gazebo, and cuttings from salvias and Buddleias.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chandler strawberries

These Chandlers are doing a bit better than the "Strawberry Festival" and "Winter Dawn." I've lost a few of each of those latter plants, but I planted extra. It's been so blasted hot here (we broke a record at 90 degrees yesterday). I've run the microsprinklers on these berries a couple times a day for twenty minutes. It's kept them alive.
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Papalo blooms!

Aren't they weird? The plant is about eight feet tall. Growing in a smallish pot, in a good deal of sun, without much water. It's TOUGH. I just wish its flavor and growth were a bit tamer...
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A garden update in pictures

My first 'Miniature White' cucumber... I planted these at the end of August... They're supposed to bear in forty-nine days. Not too far off. Healthy, low, bushing plant. Plenty of vigor. Lots of blossoms, though it took weeks of male flowers before it started to fruit.
Forsythia Sage. Very striking & attractive to hummers and butterflies.

The kids' salad garden continues to grow.

Salvia 'Anthony Parker', a (presumed) cross between S. leucantha 'Midnight' x S. elegans (Pineapple sage). I'm told it gets to be three feet by four feet farther north, which likely means a good bit larger down here. I hope it's a less unruly than 'Indigo Spires'.

I need to get this portulaca

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

A quick update...

I had a Thursday an Friday off, and spent them fishing in Canaveral National Seashore and at Flagler Pier. I had only fair success, but enough to eat red drum and bluefish all weekend...

I found time to plant carrots and beets, run to Volusia Shed for half a cubic yard of potting soil, and do a bunch of garden clean-up. The weather has been unseasonably warm an dry, which from a gardener's perspective is ideal October weather.

My plants are going crazy...

Broccoli Rabe & geraniums from last week are up. Still waiting on the cilantro, dill & celery.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Five-Lined Southeastern Skink

My wife caught this blue-tailed beauty on film... The kids, predictably, went nuts over this guy.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Weekend bustling 'bout the garden...

I came home on Friday night to find (somewhat mysteriously) a box of strawberry plants on my doorstep -- three-hundred of them to be exact. I had contacted Ruby Mountain Nursery last week with an inquiry about their berries. It sounds like a great idea -- grow the berries at high altitude, far away from other strawberry plants (thus reducing the chances for viruses). Use minimal fungicides and almost no herbicides. Since it's so cold in La Jara, the plants have already had a good amount of winter chilling and flower bud development; they should produce earlier and grow more vigorously than plants grown in milder areas. Plus, he had commercial varieties that are hard for a home gardener to get. (I got Chandler (an old favorite), Strawberry Festival, and Winter Dawn.)

Anyway, I had contacted the grower last week, expressing interest and asking for ordering instructions. Next thing I know, the box is on by doorstep... (Two-hundred fifty of the plants went to Nize, my local sustainable grower. Fifty should be enough for my family.)

(For the Yankees reading this blog, in FLA we grow strawberries as annuals.)

I still don't know how I'm supposed to pay for the plants, but I guess the guy will send me an invoice. No complaints here, the plants were very nice, and I'm delighted to have plants this early in the season.

Anyway, lucky thing the weather on the coast was too bad for me to fish for reds. Instead, I spent a VERY HOT and humid day yesterday quickly preparing my beds (lots of mushroom compost, a two-inch layer of live-oak leaves, lots of cottonseed meal). I'll need to run the microsprinklers in the bed a bunch this week, with the hot weather we're predicted to have. I'm a bit worried about the plants, but they looked fine this morning. (Though by late afternoon they were again very wilty...)

I took the time, while I was hot and very sweaty, to go ahead and clean out my perennial bed. I pulled a diseased rosebush, ripped out a bunch of overgrown Alternanthera and weeded the backs of the beds. We had another inch of rain on Friday and Saturday. It's crazy how quickly weeds and mushrooms can grow here when the sun's a bit less intense and the ground's sodden.

Some relief is around the corner: This coming weekend the National Weather Service is predicting our first big "back-door front" pushing down from the Great Lakes. That should drop the temperature down to the low-eighties during the day and upper fifties at night... There will be much rejoicing in this household.

Tonight, while cooking my wife her birthday supper, I managed to plant geraniums ('Summer Showers' ivy mix and 'Ringo Deep Scarlet', both from Swallowtail), cilantro ('Delphino'), dill ('Dukat'), parsley ('Rezzemolo Gigante d'Italia'), cutting celery, and some Broccoli di Rapa.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Tuscan Sun" Rose

I loved the color of this rose -- it's defined as an apricot/orange blend, but really, it's copper, plain and simple. It fades pretty quickly to a pale pink. You can see a blown blossom in the background of this photo. It's been a consistent bloomer, and trouble-free. Growing on Fortuniana. Purchased from the (now-defunct) Merry Gro rose company.
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The accidental watermelon...

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It never rains...

Three inches of rain on Monday night/Tuesday morning alone. I emptied the rain gauge at 7 this morning, and by the time I went to work around 9:30, it had already rained another half an inch... and by the time I got to work, it had started REALLY raining.

Arugula, lettuce and chard in my garden are all up. I'll be surprised if they don't have some fungal issues, though.

Burpee Seeds

Burpee was very prompt in delivering their seeds. I needed some cool-season veg seeds:
  • Carrot Sweet Treat Hybrid (recommended on GW Florida Forum)
  • Snap Pea Super Sugar Snap V.P.
  • Radish Cherry Bomb II
  • Detroit Dark Red, Medium Top
I'll plant the carrots and beets out tomorrow -- some in the kids' garden, some in a sunny spot in my main bed. I need to wait a few weeks for the peas and the radish: Our forecast is for the mid- to high-80s for the next couple of weeks.