Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bunch grapes in Florida

The Florida Grape Grower Association has a short list of some places that sell UF-recommended bunch grapes. I'm probably going to buy a Conquistador vine from the curious Grapes of Kath. But I'm trying to get in touch with Bad Armadillo Vineyards.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Good article on peaches in Central FLA

From the Brevard Rare Fruit Council, a good overview of peach tree culture in Central Florida. Looks like I pruned too early (they recommend January), but I doubt it matters much -- the tree was slipping into dormancy. A lot of spraying, apparently, which I'm not really into, especially inasmuch as my peach tree is near my vegetable garden.

On the upside, the article notes that even without spraying, you can get six or seven years of production from the tree.


A dark purple, almost black dendrobium.
White dendrobium.
Some purple oncidium.

I'm at best a mediocre orchid grower. I buy them cheap (Lowes clearance bin), stick them in pots, put them in a corner that gets hit by the neighbor's irrigations system, remember to fertilize them very rarely... Most die. Some live. On the whole, the bang is worth the buck.
Posted by Picasa

My pea/carrot/chard/radish bed

Here's the intensive, circular bed. Center=radishes, peas around outside of donut, carrots and chard in the moat surrounding the thing. The plastic forks mark the point where the 'Tall Telephone' and the sugar snap peas meet; and the carrots meet the chard.

One week later... The peas, radishes and carrots are all up. We had two inches of rain this week (the last week of November), and today it's quite warm (about 82 degrees). Not really extraordinary weather for this time of the year, though it's call the 'dry and cool' season. Though the Midwesterner in me resents this kind of weather in December, the garden has loved it!

Garden sink

I've wanted to install a laundry sink outdoors for years. I put this right around the side of the house from the kitchen door (the main backyard door), in our 'utility' area where the grills and trash cans live. It's also very close to my potting area. I hooked it up to an existing 1/2" PVC line, and for the moment at least I'm draining it into a five-gallon bucket. I'll use the sink for a variety of chores, including washing up after gardening, washing really messy pots and pans, laundry, potting tasks, and cleaning fruits and veg from the garden. It's amazing how much water you use for even small tasks, and I hope to have the discipline to use the waste water on my veg and flowers.

Our house was built back in the 20s, and then several additions. We ended up with two spigots, both on the far end of the house. I've slowly expanded the system with a network of buried 1/2" PVC pipes, which you can see at the bottom of this picture. I've killed many, many plants by dragging hoses, so putting spigots in convenient spots has been a priority: I have something like six in my yard now.

Anyway, there are a few things I need to do still -- paint the PVC, use some discarded bricks and pavers to pave the stupid cut-out they put around the house for plants, and erect a latice screen to hide the entire service area.
Posted by Picasa

Garden chores...

A kinda humid and warm November day. I spent the morning taking care of my roses, which I've been neglecting the last year or so. Not a good idea. During Noel, I got a bit of blackspot which got much worse than I should have let it. I had some serious defoliation, and I decided to do a major pruning on all my roses -- cutting them back into bounds, removing all the twiggy growth (a tendency in both the Chinas and the Teas), opening up the centers for improved airflow and blooming, and some selective cane pruning to encourage some growth. They were a mess. I feel guilty. I ended up with two huge piles of cuttings. The roses look better, but they'll take a long while to recover. I ended the ordeal with a long, thorough watering and some foliar nutrient spray.

My vegetable garden has now expanded into my old butterfly garden, so I also moved a Russelia rotundifolia and a 'Forsythia Salvia' (Salvia madrensis) out of that bed into pots, in preparation for my new low-water butterfly garden in the front yard. Both of these were still in full bloom, but my garden plans wait for no plant!

Let's see... what else. I moved a 'Hamlin Orange' (on Flying Dragon rootstock). I needed a path to get to the top of my vegetable garden, and the tree was in the way. I was careful, having cut the roots about a month ago, and I don't think it even noticed.

Oh, and I finally brushed dormant (Volck) spray onto my Flordabell peach. It's small enough still to make it easier to brush than spray.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pine Island Nursery Order

Still playing around with wheres and whats... but here's my planned order for Pine Island:
  • 'Lancetilla' mango
  • 'Mallika' mango

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My final order from Willis Orchard

  • Southern Bababerry Raspberry Plant - 2 Year (6 plants)
  • Anna Apple Tree - 2-3' Seedling (2 plants)
  • Dorsett Golden Apple Tree - 2-3' Seedling
  • Hood Pear Tree - 2-3'
  • Seedling Black Beauty Mulberry Tree
  • Grenada Pomegranate Tree - 2-3' (3 year Fruiting Size)
  • FlordaPrince Peach Tree - 3-4'

About $130 total. I like the fact that their shipping is straight-up 25% of the total order. I got small seedlings in case I decide to espalier these... I'm still waffling.

My 3' tall peach tree hit 12' after one season this past year, so I decided to go inexpensive and get seedlings. I might have to wait an additional year, but the small trees will give me the chance to decide on initial pruning schemes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And, finally, Bay Laurel

  • Desert Delight Nectarine (1-200)
  • Apple Pettingill (100)
  • Peaches: Eva's Pride (1-200) & Flordaprince (150)
  • Apricots: Flavor Delight Aprium (200) and & Gold Kist (300) (the outer edge of chill for me)

Willis Orchard Company order...

Still thinking through the wheres and the whats... Willis is inexpensive and has a great selection -- they have stuff in stock that Just Fruits doesn't.

It bugs me that there's no indication of the rootstock they use on their apple and pear trees... I've written them. I guess I prefer a M111, since its been well-tested.
  • Anna Apple Tree
  • Dorsett Golden Apple Tree
  • Conadria Fig Tree
  • Hood Pear Tree
  • Black Beauty Mulberry Tree
  • Sweet Pomegranate Tree

Fruit garden schematic

Trying to figure out what to do with the roughly forty foot by forty foot space at the top of my garden. Here's what I've come up with. (Click on the pic for a PDF where you can see the detail.)

I've based my planting densities on this very useful site on high-density backyard orchards and some conversations I've had with Brandy, the owner of Just Fruits and Tropicals.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My order from Jene's

My planned order from Jene's Tropical Fruit:
  • Wurtz (Dwarf) Avocado - GRAFTED
  • Carrie Semi-Dwarf Mango
  • Ice Cream Dwarf Mango
  • Mysore Raspberry - Trellised

St. Johns River - The River Returns

St. Johns River - The River Returns: "The St. Johns River is born in marshes, then winds northward for 310 languid miles before flowing through Jacksonville. Florida's greatest waterway, a haven for manatees and mecca for bass fishing, is under siege by a burgeoning human population. Its challenges are many, but there is great hope. This is the story of a river returning."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Acipenser gueldenstaedtii

We visited a different kind of farm today -- the Evans Fish Farm in Pierson, just south of the Flagler county line. It's a progressive, forward-thinking place with a profound respect for environmental issues. I left really impressed. It's clearly a capital-intensive eneterprise, but it will, in the next decade, make a heck of a lot of money in sales of sturgeon meat (very tasty stuff), sturgeon leather, and, of course, caviar.

Right now, caviar is running a couple hundred dollars an ounce... figure that each of these Russian Sturgeons (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii), when it reaches maturity, will have sixty pounds of caviar when harvested... the mind reels! In this tank alone there were at least forty huge fish. They have hundreds of specimens of (I think) four different species, including the Atlantic and Beluga.
Posted by Picasa

Training and Pruning Florida Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums

Training and Pruning Florida Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums: "Training and Pruning Florida Peaches"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thinking of fruit... Pears and apples

I'm planning to drop a BUNCH of dough on fruit trees from Just Fruits & Exotics... Here's my list of contenders...
  • Flordahome
  • Pineapple
  • TropicSweet

DWN: Homegarden: Backyard Orchard Culture

DWN: Homegarden: Backyard Orchard Culture: "What Is Backyard Orchard Culture?"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fruit in the fall...

A FlordaBell peach tree (from the always excellent Just Fruits). I planted in December as a three-foot long stick... I keep expecting it to lose its leaves and go dormant, but it continues to grow and seems happy enough.
Trunk of the peach tree. It was hardly thicker than my thumb when I planted it.
A dwarf, weeping mulberry (NOID) that I got from Tony K on GardenWeb.

Blueberry SharpBlue.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Begonia heracleifolia

I've been looking for the scientific name of this begonia for a long long time...

B. heracleifolia (Sunderbruchii)
Origin -
Species 1830 Mexico by Deppe-Schiede
Description -Rhizomatous - Large bright green star shaped leaves with a hint of burgundy. A must in the South Florida landscape.
Flowers - Profuse light pink flowers on tall spikes that bloom late winter to spring.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The dry season is upon us...

Noel's finally blown out of here, though even this afternoon, when I made a run by Flagler Pier, the winds were fierce and the waves topped fifteen feet at times. Baby sea turtles everywhere on the beach, blown in with the Sargasso seaweed mats.

On my way to Flagler, I stopped by the Edible Nursery in Holly Hill. Nice selection of temperate/tropical trees, including avocados, mangoes, Barbados Cherries, loquat, kumquat, loads of citrus, guava, persimmon, and figs.

I got a beautiful seven-gallon Barbados Cherry and a five-gallon Fuyu non-astringent persimmon.

None too subtle political commentary...

Effort to Save Everglades Falters as Funds Drop - New York Times: "Nathaniel P. Reed, a conservationist who was an assistant interior secretary in the Nixon and Ford administrations, said that Karl Rove, President Bush’s former political strategist, supported the restoration because he thought it was good politics — “the Bush brothers saving a dying ecosystem,” Mr. Reed said.

With Mr. Rove gone and the clock running down on the president’s tenure, he said, the Everglades are more vulnerable than ever. “Everything now depends on 2008,” Mr. Reed said. “Everglades restoration depends on electing a president who can reignite the national consciousness that this great program should not fail.”

So far, though, most presidential candidates have yet to utter the word “Everglades.” In the only mention that has made news, Fred D. Thompson, a Republican, suggested he might allow oil drilling there."