Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Raised Vegetable Beds

Here are my three beautiful vegetable beds!  I'm almost as proud of them as I am of my children.  Is that wrong?  I used pressure treated 2x6s and 4x4 posts I bought last summer for a project I never even started.  Some of the boards were pretty warped, but whatevs.  Good enough for flower beds. 

I totally use my kids' wagon to haul 40 lb bags of dirt from the driveway to my back yard.  Someday I'll buy a yard cart or wheelbarrow or something.  The bed on the left is ready (except I added 3 more bags of soil this afternoon).  I made the posts a few inches deeper than the 2x6s so I could set them in the ground a bit.  The two beds on the right haven't been set in yet. 

3 4/8' beds may seem a bit excessive for my first real veggie garden, but my boys helped me pick out seeds, and they include ground-gobblers like corn, cantaloupe, and watermelon.  Yeah.  We'll see how that goes.

Here you can see how little my new-suburban-development backyard is, although my pie-shaped lot gives me a big side yard on the other side, which is mostly full of a swingset and sandbox.  That corner of a wall on the left is part of my house.  I'm all about making the most of the yard you've got... and being grateful there's no more of it to mow and water.

Here is my little rose garden.  I have big plans for enlargeing it, of course.  :-)  Doesn't everyone have a rose garden right next to their A/C unit?  The little plant on the left is a Milkweed, loved by Monarchs.  I'm waiting for it to grow a bit more before planting it in the ground.  As for the roses, I pruned them back for spring except the Don Juan on the left.

How could I hack off these two glorious buds??  I'll prune it all after they open enough to cut and put in a vase.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vegetable Garden planning

Ok.  Today's obsession is preparing for my vegetable garden.  I made a half-a... attempt last spring with my boys, planting seeds for peas and carrots in our sandy beach of a backyard, which were quickly gobbled up by some sort of critter. 

This spring, I'm gonna be on my game! 

I've been studying this textbook of an article on the University of Florida website.  Since our soil in the site of my veggie garden is pretty much sand, I'm planning to work in lots of garden soil from a garden center.  I originally planned to make raised beds with just garden soil, but I think I may go to route of improving the soil I have. 

I made a big Excel chart of all the vegetables I may someday like to grow, using the helpful charts in the article.  I'm excited to go cut some 2x4s and outline my beds!

This article also reminded me I need to get moving on making a compost bin.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cut Flowers

My 4-year-old took this photo this morning (2-year-old's arm is trying to find a snack in the pantry at right) because, well, I don't know why.  He just wanted to take a picture. 

This photo shows the reason I really started trying to garden.  I LOVE having flowers in the house.  They make me happy when I look at them, and I know I keep the kitchen cleaner when they are around.  I'd quickly go broke buying all the cut flowers I want, though, so I figured I could grow them.  I'm not there yet, getting all the flowers I want from my garden - these beauties are courtesy of the grocery store - but I'm getting there!  I had a pretty constant stream of roses in the house over the summer, and I've learned that bleeding hearts last fairly well as cut flowers.  This summer, I plan to have a house full of cut flowers!  A girl can dream.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Pretties

I'm getting this in under the wire and 11 pm on Friday.  Here's the scoop:  I took photos of a corner of my side yard with lovely flowers, but... no memory card in my camera.  Ugh.  Such a rookie mistake!  Anyway, it's pitch dark now, so I'm going to um, borrow some photos of a lovely flower I doubt I'll ever have here... the peony.  Sigh...

Most information I've read says peonies only grow well up to zone 7.  I'm on the border of 9 and 10.  This site says it's possible to grow "fine peonies almost anywhere", so maybe it's worth a try.  They would be so pretty in a vase in my dining room!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Many thanks Mary and Rose for commenting on my new blog. :-)  It's very encouraging. 

I really try to support local garden nurseries, but I do fall off the wagon and get flowers at big home improvement stores.  My most recent garden purchase was at Sam's Club.  I always wind up with the strangest things when I go there to get food.

These beauties are now in the ground.  I go check on them daily, waiting for some little green sprouts to poke through the earth. 

I'm still learning the seasons here and am not sure when to expect their grand entrance.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Orange and Black Catterpillars

Here is a small section of my backyard.  From left to right, I've planted a Hibiscus, a Passion Flower Vine, and nice healthy little lime tree...
 and a yellow Mandevilla.
Last summer, all were flourishing, but now only the lime tree remains.  I thought back to this summer and remembered lots of orange and black catterpillars, so this morning, I did a little Google search on them.  Nothing like trying to save your plants after they're already dead, right?

I read in this article that I really should have washed them off the plants when they were still eggs.  I'll keep a sharp eye out next summer.  I also read that they shouldn't have killed the plants, even if they ate all the leaves.  Someone should tell that to the dried out twigs in my yard.  I'll leave them in place for a while and see if they show any signs of life, but I'm not holding out much hope.  :-(

Friday, January 6, 2012


Welcome to my new blog!  I'm starting this blog to focus on my gardening attempts in the Tampa bay area.  I have visions of a tropical oasis in my little corner of suburbia, but I have no experience gardening in Florida and very little experience gardening anywhere else, hence the blog title.  I am the Florida Garden Grasshopper, trying to learn and become a master while creating a beautiful garden along the way.

I moved to Florida almost 18 months ago and excitedly plopped down some rose bushes and wildflower seeds.  Then I realized my "soil" is almost all sand and I'd better do a little research before spending money on plants that won't work or I don't know how to care for.  Two of my rose bushes are doing well, but that was about all that survived the year.

Not long after I started gardening here, I hunted for some Florida garden blogs to give me ideas, and I had trouble finding ones that are updated more than monthly.  So here is my humble contribution.  I'm hoping my failures and successes will give a little info and entertainment to fellow southern gardeners. 

For about a year now, I've very sporatically posted some flower photos on my other blog, Knitting Jenny.  The first thing I'm implementing here is Friday Pretties, just some pretty and interesting photos from around the yard.  Here's the first installment:

So I forget what this is called.  I just picked it up at Home Depot about a month ago to fill a hole, but it's going strong!  It survived two frosty nights in a row.

This is milkweed, which is supposedly a great plant for monarch butterflies and much needed in this area.  The dutiful wildlife conservationist that I am, I went to my local nursery looking for some, and they threw this little offshoot in for free when I bought a bunch of other stuff).  The nursery owner told me to leave it in the pot until it's a bit bigger, and it will spread quickly, so I'm still tryinig to decide where to put it.

 A pretty pink rose... in January... two nights after a frost.  :-)  Ahhh I love roses.

This is one of my two hydrangea bushes.  I LOVE hydrangeas but know nothing about growing them, save what my friendly nursery owner taught me.  I'm leaving these bushes alone because I understand they set their buds in the fall and then flower in the spring, so if you go pruning them in the fall or winter, you'll cut off the buds.  I was surprised this week to see some flowers starting to emerge.  I hope the frost didn't damage them.  I probably should have covered them.