Garden Diary 2009

This page was last updated on 11-5-09.

This will be the first season we do monthly succession planting following the new South Forida Edibles to Plant by Month guide.  Click here for a comprehensive chart by crop.  Also, many of the crops will be planted in homemade self-watering containers, for which I will soon be posting directions.

9-09  Finally planted plants behind front wall: Philodendron Congo Rex, 2 Bromeliads, 2 Ti Plants, and Pothos Marble. Built Continuous Flow Worm Bin and another 3 shallow self-watering containers. Took pictures of these and plan to make a page on each of these projects. Cleared SW Potager box and dumped the soil from 2 self-watering containers into it to top it up.  It is clear that the ones made with two storage bins instead of one and its lid work best.  The lids got weighed down by the soil and collapsed into the water below, and the plants in them did not thrive as well.  The plants in the two-bin containers did very well. 


9-22-09  Went to Alexander’s and got: 2 Russian Sage (Perovskia), 1 Goldenrod, 1 Native Green Shrimp (groundcover butterfly plant), 2 short bromeliad-like Sanseveira with striated leaves, 2 Sanseveira with tall rolled-in spear/snake-like leaves, 2 Aristolochia with small leaves (and 7 Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly larvae on them), 1 blue Spiderwort, 1 Basil, 1 Marjoram, 1 Dill, 5 green Tomatillos – took them 2 Malabar Chestnut plants maybe 10” tall grown from sprouted seeds off my tree – left a message for Brian about them, as he was out on a job


9-25-09  Spoke to owner of landscaping company, M, about his helping me with the design of the garden – faxed him some ideas and lists of plants.


9-30-09  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery and got: 7 orange Portulaca, 5 magenta Portulaca, 1 Rose Mrs. B.R. Cant, 1 Aristolochia with large leaves and flowers, 1 Black-Eyed Susan vine with coral flowers, 2 Sensitive Plant (Mimosa).


10-2-09 M had his landscapers plant most of the plants from Alexander’s and Flamingo Road – did not plant the ones that need something moved first – some of these don’t look good – may lose the Goldenrod and Perovskia, which are sitting in their pots in the R/P Court where I want them planted.  The Aristolochias and Black-Eyed Susan Vine will go on the arch over the patio door. The Rose, Spiderwort, Mimosa, Native Green Shrimp and 2 orange Portulaca went in the R/P Court; the Sanseveiras and magenta Portulaca went in the bed between the front windows; and 5 orange Portulacas went around the Magnolia tree.  Marcus will come one morning soon with a worker to move and remove some things, as well as planting those last plants.  He says the Pholodendron Congo Rex is not in a good place and will grow too much behind the wall, so we will move it. Also planning to move the irises between the front windows into the R/P Court because the ground is too dry where they are and they are slowly dying.  There is a yellow walking iris on the Mound that needs to be moved to the R/P Court as well, and a few bromeliads that should be thinned off the Mound and out of the TVA – I will give them to Marcus, since I have already given others away to anyone who would want them.  Also, he will take the yellow-flowered Candlestick Cassia from the S side of the house by the Plumeria. We need to get rid of all or most of the Spiral Ginger to make room for the pot storage area (see below) – maybe a piece can be put on the E side of the fence instead to start a patch there – then again, it is so hard to get rid of and spreads, so maybe we should just take it all out and cover that area with a floor of gravel and bricks. There is an elderberry in the TVA that is one too many, which I hope to get removed.  Can’t wait to one day get rid of the hibiscus hedge in front, on which point Marcus and I are in complete agreement.  But I have to wait until I have the Eleagnus to replace it with, which will come from Excalibur, and that trip is some time off, so for the moment the ugly thing stays.  It really looks horrible now.  The plan is to go area by area and get Marcus’ people to remove, move, and plant things until the garden is looking its best.  He would be happy to redesign and plant the whole thing and do the rock paths like I want, but that would be too expensive, so I am proceeding at a slower pace and at a less grand scale for the moment. A has suggested a low enclosed area by the compost area for coralling the containers that are currently on the porch.  I will get Dad to help me build this along with the potting bench, which can be longer and have more drawer and cabinet space below since we won’t be building the tool armoire.  I think it will be more useful that way (about 70” long and low-profile), and A will be happy that the porch will be cleared and the pots won’t blow around in storms. I think posts and trellis will look good and work well. Went out and pruned the Roses in the R/P Court today.


10-3-09 Had a migraine so decided to go on out and do what I could.  Ended up working in the garden from around 10am to 3pm, and after a late lunch (having snacked at 12:15) and a two-hour rest in bed in the dark, my head was no worse than it had been when I got up this morning! Having just as many headaches, but they are less severe and I have more energy, so am getting more done in spite of them. Cleared the Herb Circle, as well as the rest of the Potager (leaving some Water Leaves in all of the boxes, and a self-seeded tomatillo in the NW box, which got pruned and tied up). Dumped the soil from most of the self-watering and Cucumber containers into the Potager boxes, and traded soil in different containers for different crop families.  NW Potager box still needs to be enriched. The only soil from a bag is in the long planter, plus some in one of the deep self-watering containers for solanums, which was not quite filled from the others.  Added worm castings to the containers planted today a couple inches from the top of each.  Did not feed the Potager boxes – not sure what is still in them – will feed them later, once things are up.  The SW Potager box was also watered with the water from those containers dumped into it, but the water was left in the others, as they are very heavy to move with the water in them.  Figured out it is best to lift the top bin out and dump it first, using the dolly to move it, then the bottom can be moved and emptied if desired.  This seems a good plan from here on out – trade bins/soils from one crop family to another within bins and enrich the Potager boxes with the container soil as well, and keep adding worm castings to all these for fertility. This should cut down on the amount of new potting soil I buy, keep down disease, and build fertility in containers and the Potager. With the worm castings produced in the new worm bin, we can cut down on fertilizer bought as well.  B is going to obtain the worms when the weather breaks and we will split a shipment of three pounds of mixed types, some shallow types and some burrowing types, perfect for a continuous flow bin that is atleast two feet deep. Planted herbs from Alexander’s in Herb Circle. Planted parthenocarpic Cucumbers and Zucchini seeds in deep self-watering containers on the porch. In NW corner of TVA, planted seeds of Radishes in the long planter and Salad Greens in a shallow self-watering container, and 6 Orange Bell Pepper plants from Home Depot in a deep self-watering container (the best-preserved of the single-bin types, so I hope it works out ok – planted all deep and placed a short stake by each but do not need to tie yet), and set up two deep self-watering containers there for solanums yet to be planted. In SW Potager box, planted Tomatillos from Alexander’s and Marigolds grown from seed last year and still flowering (put short stakes around these and tied towel strips to enclose them all), along with seeds of Pak Choi and Mustard Greens, and seeds saved from last year: Rattlesnake Pole Beans, Flowering Pak Choi, Broccoli, and Kale.  Also panted the 2 Gloriosa Lily roots, which had produced only a poor stem of leaves each on the porch that hd just died down, but had at least gotten bigger underground (the bigger one became three!), under the teepee in that box.  Should probably move these to a better spot later, maybe the Herb Circle by the posts.  Already in that box were some Milkweed and the Turmeric, in very good condition.  The Turmeric in the SW corner of the TVA is also doing well now, along with 2 Katuk bushes and Okinawa Spinach from Barney, and 2 seed-grown Moringa trees (ECHO seed, PK1 variety). Not many herbs left in the Herb Circle: Mexican Tarragon, Fennel, Jamaican Mint Bush, a few False Roselle, Aloe, and the Garlic Chives. There are still Dragonfruit, Prosperity and Claire Matin Roses, Honeysuckle, Four o’Clocks, and Blackberries. Very excited about how much got done today – will move on to planting Carrots, Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Garden Berries next, maybe tomorrow, then Onions, Garlic and Leeks, and then herbs. Hope to go to Palm Beach on a garden tour with L and T as soon as the weather breaks, and am thrilled that my garden will be presentable when they see it!


10-4-09  Planted vegetables and herbs in 4” pots (34 total) on patio, Carrots in a medium pot by N fence, and Nasturtiums in SW Potager box.


10-7-09  Planted Violet Cress (Orychopragmus violaceus) in SE corner of NW Potager box – have high hopes about this one!  Planted Leeks, Onions & Garlic in a shallow self-watering container by N fence, three flats of herbs and flowers on patio, and Spearmint and Oregano plants in Herb Circle.


10-9-09  Planted Lemon Desert Marigold in Herb Circle.


10-10-09  Planted Cuban Oregano cuttings (non-rooted) in NW Potager box to root.


10-11-09  Planted Lemon Balm, Stevia, Bee Balm in HC, Culinary Sage & Thyme in pots in center of Herb Circle, and two more seeds of Zucchini Cavili in sw container on patio (first ones did not come up).


10-14-09  Planted sprouted new Potatoes in bottom of large pot on patio (12 red, 6 purple), and moved flats and seeded pots to Potager boxes for better light and protection.


10-15-09  Presprouted seeds on refrigerator and prechilled others in freezer, and placed some older prechilled Alpine Strawberry seeds from freezer on top of refrigerator to presprout.  Planted flat of Marigolds and one of Milkweed, and some 4” pots of Celery (not prechilled or presprouted as an experiment) and Sunfowers. Placed potted seedlings in trays in Potager beds for more sun.


10-28-09  The Celery seeds planted without prechilling or presrouting have come up, so we will soon see how they turn out in the garden.  They will be planted in a Potager box as part of the November succession planting.  The landscapers came and planted waiting potted plants: 3 pink Pentas in bed between front windows; 1 red-striped Canna, 1 Goldenrod, & 2 Perovskia in R/P Ct E end; 2 small-leaved Aristolochia vine & 1 apricot Thunbergia vine (Black-eyed Susan) on S side & 1 large Aristolochia vine on N side of white plastic arch over patio door.  Moved Irises from bed between front windows to R/P Ct inside S edge.  Some of the potted plants had been waiting a while and didn’t look too good, and the Irises were iffy, but if all get enough water, they should be alright.  Spoke to M, who owns the landscaping company, about taking out extra Elderberries, Firestick & Clerodendron in back, thinning Bromeliads on Mound & in TVA, and giving an estimate for drainfield gravel for new potting & storage area on N side of house. 


10-29-09  Planted seedlings in their final locations: Sweet Alyssum, Basil ‘Dark Opal’ and Borage in Herb Circle, Eggplant and Garden Berry ‘Litchi’ & ‘Wonderberry’ in deep self-watering containers by N fence, Sunflowers ‘Mammoth’ in front of Sugarcane and ‘Evening Sun’ two in center of each Potager box.  Transplanted Tomatoes into 1-gallon pots.  Thinned Broccoli, then fed everything in SW Potager bed with worm castings & covered w/bird netting, weighting it down with the surrounding bricks.  Can’t leave this on long, as it will stunt the plants or they will grow through it, causing more problems.  Hoping to keep outthe raccoons for just a little while.  Planted Monstera deliciosa from Claude O’Neal in TVA behind Jackfruit tree for shade.  Measured distance from N gate to end of house where patio begins (28’) and decided on final size of potting/storage area. A 6’ x 2’ potting table made of 2” x 4” pressure-treated wood and heavy galvanized wire will sit in the NE corner, with a 2’ wide pad of brick in fornt of it.  To the W of that will be a 10’ x 4’ area of gravel for pots and potting mix and mulch, etc.  W of that will be two compoost bins made of 4” x 4” pressure-treated posts with heavy galvanized wire to their insides to hold in the materials so they don’t touch the posts much, or the fence at all.  They will be about 3’ high and each will be 3’ 4” square on the inside.  To the W of these will be the extra concrete roof tiles, neatly stacked for easy access.  Dad will build the table and bins and install them with concrete poured around all the posts so they will not blow around in a storm.  The current pile of compostable debris is in the way, as are the tiles and some gravel and sand in deteriorating bags, but the landscapers will move these. After Dad installs the table and bins, I will construct the brick pads (one in front of the table and one across from it, around and under the water main and pipes there), then the landscapers will install the gravel.  I am so excited about this!  The area has ready access to water, unlike the patio, and the table area is always in shade and cool, while the patio is often sunny and hot.  I can spray water right through the table when washing pots, and not have to worry about standing water.  The plastic trays and small pots will go under the table to keep them from flying around or looking messy, and Andy will be thrilled to get all that clutter off the patio.  A winning situation all around!


10-30-09  Potted sprouted seeds in flats and small pots.  Received plants and tubers from Oikos – gave one Groundnut Nutty tuber to B, who came to visit tonight.


10-31-09  Planted plants from Oikos: Groundnut Nutty (1 tuber in large green glazed pot on patio – to share trellis with Cucumbers & Malabar Spinach), Strawberry Intensity (3 plants in 1-gallon blue glazed dragonfly pots on patio), Mallow Green Gumbo (1 plant in medium blue glazed pot on patio), Nettle (2 sprouting crowns in medium blue glazed pot on patio), Chinese Mountain Yam (1 tuber in large green glazed pot on patio – to share trellis with Cucumbers & Malabar Spinach – not sure if this one is alive).  Later this evening I went to Home Depot for 8 bags of potting mix, then Target for worm castings & Nasturtium seeds, then to H’s to plant her vegetable garden with her grandchildren, T & D, who were very involved and in fact, did most of the planting once I showed them how.  We put in an entire but a month or two’s succession planting in 2-1/2 hours, using one shallow self-watering container for salad greens, one pot with a teepee for Beans, three pots with stakes and string for Tomatoes, and grow bags for everything else (just the bags of Lambert potting mix, with holes poked in bottoms and squares or long rectangles in tops for plants or seeds). It is so fast and easy planting this way!  Not to mention cheap.  No pots to buy, no digging, no filling pots with soil, and it is a simple matter to drag a bag anywhere you want it, even after it is planted.  The hardest part is getting the soil thouroughy wet down before planting.  After coming home, I made a detailed list of what we planted and an instruction sheet so they will know how to care for everything.  And I have gotten a lot of things off the patio that I would not have used and would have had to move to the new potting area. Yay!


11-1-09  Gave 2 large plastic pots and the last 6 stakes to H for planting Cucumbers and Zucchini on her screened patio.  Also gave her some seeds for these, along with the instruction sheet.  She is so happy – we have been planning this for months and she has been eagerly anticipating it.  I hope it will be successful, but judging by the neatness of her garden – hardly a weed in sight – she will probably do better than I do!  Several people have heard about the grow bags from H already, and are asking how to do some for themselves.  News travels fast!


11-3-09  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery on the way home and bought plants to fill out the front beds.  Also got 4 flamingo-pink tomato cages, which are made of heavy-gauge wire (not quite as big or heavy as the ones from Target, but bigger and heavier than the usual ones available in previous years at most garden centers – someone is finally wising up about these), and can pass well enough for purple.  These should be fun!


11-4-09  Ordered seeds off eBay: You Mai Choi Fragrant Lettuce, Peperomia pellucida, and Clitoria ternatea double.  The first is an Oriental Lettuce, the second a common edible weed that I don’t have, and the third a gorgeous edible flower with a sweet taste and the most amazing deep cobalt color!  Have been looking for the latter two for a while, so will be very excited to get them.


11-5-09  Felt lousy this morning, but planted the new plants anyway, making good wells/dams to hold the water for them. Purple Portulaca (5) and pink Pentas (1) got planted in the bed between the front windows.  Everything else went in the R/P Ct after I pulled some purple Ruellia to make room for them: pink Cleome (3) inside the E side, double red Blanket Flower (3) outside the E side and in the SE corner, a pink Mimosa by the sprinkler in the NW corner (to protect it from anything tall growing too close, and to cover the sandy ground there), and red Dwarf Chenille (5) on the W side.  Need to take most or all the purple Ruellia out of this bed, but will leave some on the Mound.  It is just too much of a thug to mix well with the othet things I want to grow in the R/P Ct.  Better to get the color from ‘Indigo Spires’ or a similar Salvia – have seen some nice ‘Mystic Spires’ at Target that would be perfect.  Took cuttings of Okinawa Spinach and Katuk (both kinds) to root in water – will see how that goes.  Went to Home Depot and got 12 bags of Lambert potting mix, 2 ten-foot lengths of 1-1/2” schedule 40 pipe, and 4 half concrete blocks.  Got bins at Target for making more self-watering containers: 10-gallon (2) and 18-gallon (2) Rubbermaid Roughnecks (for 2 shallow containers), and 18-gallon (3) and 20-gallon (3) Sterlite bins (for 3 deep containers).  Since the self-watering containers that had been made with lids as their inside bottoms didn’t work, two bins that were formerly used this way will be combined to make one deep container.  I already had bins for 4 deep sontainers, so now I can make 8 deep and 2 shallow ones.  Now I can make the bins at my leisure, sitting on the couch in my air-conditioned family room.  Yes!  Just have to get the November succession planting done now.  Checking on the patio plants, everything is doing fine except the Chinese Mountain Yam, which I am sure was DOA.  Need to call Oikos tomorrow for credit or a replacement.  The Nettle is srouting up nicely now and the other plants are standing up happily.  The presprouted seedlings are still tiny and some are iffy, but that is to be expected.  Added more dried leaves to the pot of sprouted potatoes – some are higher than the top of the pot now.  The landscapers came and moved the compost pile and roof tiles and gravel to the house side, so I can give Dad the go-ahead on building the bins and table now.  Have to wait for the table before making the brick pad for it, but could start the pad by the water main anytime.  Seed planting and self-watering containers are more important, though, so will do them first.  The Verbena bonariensis I planted in a flat has never come up – maybe it needed light instead of darkness to germinate?  Only two Johnny Jump-Ups came up.  Will get more of both of these, and plant some of both in flats in a black plastic bag.  Also will try the Verbena simply scattered in the Potager boxes in case they want light.  I would really like some of these there, one way or another, and am not ready to give up yet.  Maybe it’s just too hot right now.  The Violet Cress is finally getting a little size and true leaves, so now I can better tell it from a very similar weed that was coming up with it.  The true leaves look a bit like mallow leaves, but much more delicate in texture.  Quite pretty.  Can’t wait to see these full grown and in flower!  Will definitely send pics and a nice note to my new friend in Ireland!  Fended off soreness and worst of my headache with combination of aspirin, ibuprofen and caffiene.







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