Garden Diary 2010

This page was last updated on 11-25-2010.


Year’s Goals:  1) Spend 15 min to 1 hour a day in the garden, usually first thing in the morning.  Set weekly goals to accomplish in that time.  2) Keep the garden looking good all the time: weeded, pruned, fed, and flowering.  3) Grow some food all year, using succession planting and perennials where possible. Expand the edibles grown and work toward being as self-sufficient in food production as possible.  4) Rejuvenate the soil in containers and Potager boxes instead of buying all new.  5) Fill empty spots throughout garden with edibles and colorful plants, including flowers and foliage.  6) Set up a potting bench, pot storage area, worm bins and compost bins on the Back North Side of the garden, removing all the garden paraphernalia from the Patio except for containers that are in use there at any given time.


7-6-10  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery and got 7 one-gallon Milkweed plants for Monarch caterpillars.  These are to give to a friend’s helper C, to raise with her niece, and for raising the larger ones I have now.   Will keep the plants on the Patio until I give the smaller caterpillars to her.  Makes it easy to feed the ones I have – don’t have to leave the Patio.


7-7 to 12-10  Will be working on the garden for 15-30 minutes first thing each morning, with one modest project planned per week.  First project: clean the Potager boxes.  Done!  Hoping to get back garden cleaned up and some flowers established there by the time we leave for California on September 1.  If Dad can get the compost bins and potting table in by the second week of August, I might be able to get the Back North Side finished except for plants, e.g. the gravel and sand down and stepping stones laid.  We come back September 11, and that would be the time to sweep potting soil between the stepping stones and plant groundcovers and/or try to establish some moss.  Planting of vegetables will begin mid-September, and be done at the mid-month mark every month after that.  The first Potager box will be planted in September and the flowers moved out to wherever there is an empty spot, front or back.


7-13-10  Went to Home Depot in Weston.  Bought 4 flats each Portulaca and Periwinkles, one color per flat, for the Potager.  Will be planted rather thickly for instant results, then will move the plants out to thin as needed, and out of each box as it is planted. 


7-14 to 17-10  This week’s project: clean Herb Circle and plant flowers in Potager.  Done!  Now would like more flowers for Herb Circle and Tropical Vegetable Area.  Lawn men trimmed the front pretty well – still some to do, but I can get it.  They also worked on the weed situation out front.  Getting better.  Have decided not to move the self-watering containers from their spots or to empty them, but rather to build soil in them and enrich them with worm castings as they are planted.  Some of the castings will be home-grown.  Also need to add coir to the Potager boxes.  All but the NW box are very dry under the surface, a result of the peat in the potting mix getting dried out and resisting water after that.  Added a fresh O-ring to the watering wand and it leaks a bit less.  Must fix that faucet!  While trimming back Honeysuckle on 7-16, found 9 large Fritillary caterpillars on the Passion Vine that was intertwined with it and also trimmed back.  Brought them in and stripped the leaves from all the Passion Vine I cut so they would have food.  Put these leaves in Ziploc bags with damp paper towels and stored in the refrigerator.  The caterpillars are in a container with 9 Monarch chrysalises, two of which emerged that day, and another the next.  Gave 4 smaller caterpillars to C on 7-16, along with 4 Milkweed plants and the stripped leaves from the other 3.  There is one growing in the SW Potager box near the center, so these 3 were planted in the centers of the other boxes on 7-17, then the Periwinkles in the middle (9 to a box), and the Portulacas around the edges (10 to a box).  After that, looked on the established Milkweed and found 2 fairly large Monarch caterpillars and 22 babies.  Brought these in because there are a lot of orange-red Assassin Bugs out there right now.  Then checked the Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia) on the arch over the Patio door, where I had seen a Polydamas Swallowtail lay her eggs the week before, and sure enough, there were 22 babies there.  Took these and put them in a large salad box with a cardboard divider, along with extra leaves and the Monarchs on the other side.  Then found 11 more Swallowtail caterpillars, just a bit older but still very small, and put them in as well.  There were more on the plant, another batch of around 20 and who knows how many more in other spots, but I have enough now and don’t want to lose more if I do something wrong.  Have only raised one other batch of Polydamas Swallowtails, and they were very large when I got them.  At least there is plenty of food!  As for the Monarchs, we will need more Milkweed before this is over, but Flamingo Road nursery always has them.  Will be picking up a few more caterpillars from J at work on Monday, and will need to separate the two types by then into 2 large salad boxes.  This is all very exciting – the most types I have raised at once!  Have to get more larval plants to expand the kinds available to raise.


7-20 to 25-10  Collected two more Monarch caterpillars and got two from J, so the grand total is now 35.  The Gulf Fritillaries went into their chrysalises, along with the four large Monarchs – the others are all pretty small.  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery and got 5 three-gallon Milkweed plants to feed them.  Also noticed there is a rogue  Milkweed on the front of the Mound, so stripped this for its large, untouched leaves.  In addition, there are a few nice ones like that in Mom’s driveway circle, so I can pilfer those if needed.  Planted the 2 of the large Milkweeds in the Herb Circle and the other three in the Tropical Vegetable Area.  Went to Home Depot in Delray and got 12 more Portulaca.  Planted all the Periwinkles and Portulaca in the Herb Circle and Tropical Vegetable Area, except for three coral Portulaca, which filled empty spots in the bed under the Magnolia in the front garden.  So the plant count for the week was 57.


7-26 to 8-1  Went to Home Depot in Weston and got 12 more bags of mulch, so the total is 32 bags.  Put this on the N side of the house behind the gate.  Mulched Potager and Herb Circle, plus the S side of the Tropical Vegetable Area up to the level of the N end of the Herb Circle.   So far, 13 bags have been used, so there are 19 bags left.  The first two Gulf Fritillary butterflies came out on 7-28, and the last of the eight large caterpillars went into chrysalises, leaving one baby, but I collected three more over the next few days, so now there are four.  Monarchs have been coming out every day.  A few chrysalises have fallen in the crowded cage, and been tied up in the fritillary cage.  All seem alright.  By the end of the week, there were only a few Monarch caterpillars in the cage, all the rest having gone into chrysalises, so the work of caring for them has become much easier.  This was the crunch week, but we got through it fine because of having planted so many Milkweed plants.  Every day or so, there has been another Monarch caterpillar to bring in from the garden.


8-2 to 8-10  Collecting more caterpillars every day, but not still too many.  Have put the Swallowtails on the Patio and am caring for them there – they seem happier and not as many are dying.  There were 15 as of 8-2.  Several Monarchs butterflies have hatched out and been let go every day.  Half a dozen on 8-2, ten on 8-3, and a peak of 14 on 8-4!  Took some pics of the Jatropha with maybe 9 on it.  The rest had flown away by then.  Three fell that day, but all were saved.  Only one deformed butterfly so far.


8-21 to 23-10  Still bringing in Monarch caterpillars – two are the tiniest I’ve ever seen.  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery and got a Passion Vine for the Zebras and Gulf Fritillaries.  Found out Polydamas caterpillars will eat each other when crowded!  So best not to raise them inside, or just one or two at a time, in separate cages.


8-26-10  Helped A clear sand out from around leaking sprinkler pipe by recycle bins.  He repaired it with a saddle.


8-31 to 9-11-10  Went to California.  Put rest of the caterpillars and chrysalises outside.


9-12 to 18-10 picked some Papayas & did some little weeding.  Picked the last Mangoes, but shorter Papaya trees with rounded fruits are producing now, as well as the taller ones by the back fence.  Lots of fruit flies infesting fallen fruits on the latter, so am keeping all of them picked, and spraying and bagging any fallen fruits I find with the flies in them.  Also putting peels, etc. down the disposal instead of in the trash or the worm bin.  Have been collecting fruits that are starting to show color and scoring them promote even ripening.  Before that, some would ripen at one end, while still very green at the other, and fruit flies would start holes in the fruits and infest them.  Through this vigilance, the flies seem to be mostly gone now, or at least under control.  A third, smaller Jackfruit has begun to get large on the tree.  The other two are around a foot long and maybe 8” in diameter.  All three are greenish-yellow.


10-4 to 5-10  Went to Home Depot in Weston and got 14 bags of gravel, three kinds: 10 bags Pea Pebbles, 3 bags Pond Pebbles, and 1 bag Mexican Beach Pebbles.  Pea Pebbles are what will go on the Back North Side under the potting bench and pot storage area, but the others will be decorative between stepping stones there or in other areas of the garden.


10-21-10  Went with A & B to take a tour of the garden at Sundy House with the guide, Har Mahdeem.  Very knowledgeable guy!  Took lots of notes.  Spent two hours and only went through about half of the garden.  The usual tour lasts an hour!  We’ll com back again soon to see the rest.  Gave me a wicked migraine, but it was worth it!  Can’t wait to go to Excalibur again for more fruit trees!


11-5 to 6-10  Went to Home Depot in Delray and got 20 bags (2 trips) of  Pea Pebbles for the Back North Side.  This should be all the gravel needed.  Gave my garden website address to a lady who was buying Ruellias and had a British accent.  She obviously didn’t know anything about gardening here – hope she finds it helpful!  The checkout clerk asked for the address as well and I gave it to her.  Also bought all the different kinds of herbs they had, one each in 4” pots: Catnip, Sage, Thyme, Stevia, Cinnamon Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, Sweet Marjoram, Fernleaf Dill, Lemon Balm, Mint (not specified, small lightweight leaves), Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, and Culantro.  And they had small onion starts in bunches, not potted – picked up a bunch.  Had trouble finding the Lambert potting mix – the package was different (colorful and now says “Organic Potting Mix”, but it’s the same stuff) and they had moved it to the row by the inside store entrance.  Got two of the biggest size bags 12.97, but larger than the ones I usually get, so I think the proce hasn’t really changed.  Just have to look for the smaller bag because these are too heavy!  Used the hand truck to wheel them through the house – put the soil on the Patio and the gravel on the Back North Side.  Planted the herbs (except for the ones to be potted) in the Herb Circle, most in the SW quadrant.


11-7-10  Planted Onion starts around edges of SE Potager bed.  Left flowers where they were and pulled back mulch to do patches.  Potted Stevia and Catnip and put them on Patio (in blue dragonfly pots!), and Sage and Thyme together in a round, cracked pot from Mom, which went in the center of the Herb Circle.  It is still intact and has excellent drainage – should last at least another season.


11-8-10  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery and got 1-gallon pots of: White Alder, Yellow Alder, Magenta Double Impatiens, 3 Orange/Yellow Lantana, 3 Yellow Lantana, 9 Dwarf Chenille, 6 Sunshine Mimosa (pink), 6 Gaillardia (3” tall type with orange/red flowers), Eggplant ‘Twinkle’, and Oregano.  In 3-gallon pots: Rose ‘All American Magic’ (yellow/pink striped, cluster-flowered, on ‘Fortuneana’ rootstock, from Nelson’s Florida Roses), King’s Mantle (Thunbergia erecta, purple).  In 4” pots: Peppermint, Spearmint, Fennel, Dill, Thyme, Savory, Sage, ‘Berggarten’ Sage, Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley, ‘Purple Ruffles’ Basil, 2 Pepper ‘Big Boy’, 2 Pepper ‘Cubanelle’, and 2 Pepper ‘Sweet Banana’.


11-12-10  Spent two hours in morning and another half hour in evening planting all the plants for the front (see plants bought on 11-8-10, except herbs and vegetables).  Planted the King’s Mantle almost in the same spot as the old one, since it did well there for a long time.  Pulled out Blue Ruellias along the east (sidewalk) side of the R/P Court, then planted Gaillardias, 1 Yellow and 3 Orange/Yellow Lantanas, 2 Alders, and Rose there.  Planted 2 Dwarf Chenille in empty spots on the north edge of the R/P Court, and the other 7 around the east and north sides of the Mound.  Need more to finish the job.  Planted Sunshine Mimosas along the edge of the bed between the front windows – need a few more here as well.  Also planted 2 Yellow Lantanas there, but then made a new plan for that bed, which involves relocating the Lantanas to the R/P Court.  Will get the lawn men to pull out all of the Blue Ruellias in the R/P Court (if I don’t do it first in order to plant new acquisitions) and most of them on the Mound.  The plant is too much of a thug.  It has completely overrun both beds.  Made a plant list for the R/P Court, not quite a plan – will see what the nurseries have and bring all home and design on the fly.  My beloved Rose ‘Belinda’s Dream’ has disappeared under a sea of Blue Ruellias, and is actually gone for good this time, so I will be getting another one.  The Cannas and Blood Lilies can be divided.  The Goldenrods are gone and will be replaced.  Total plants planted today = 29.  Spread 2 bags of mulch that had been sitting on the Back North Side – need more mulch.


11-13 to 14-10  Spent most of both days in the garden.  Pruned Roses, Golden Dewdrop, pink Jatropha and Mango (just the part hanging over the sidewalk).  Emptied a long planter in the NW corner of the TVA, rejuvenated the soil in it (re-moistening it and adding worm castings and soil conditioner with mychorrhizae) using the extra-large plastic pot on the Patio as a soil bin.  Emptied a self-watering container in the NW corner of the TVA and re-filled it with the rejuvenated soil, since its soil had become stagnant and too wet because of sitting on a slant with the overflow hole too high.  This was corrected, and the soil was put into the bin on the Patio, which also held some old dry potting soil and that from a bag that had been left on the Back North Side under the mulch.  All was rejuvenated and left overnight to become evenly moist.  Stagnant smell was gone next day.  Weeded and rejuvenated the soil in all the other self-watering containers in the NW corner of the TVA, in the center of the Herb Circle, and on the Patio.  Potted the Double Impatiens in a medoim-sized blue pot on the Patio and took cuttings to put in a glass quart jar in water to root.  Also took cuttings of Okinawa Spinach to root the same way.  Frustrating to only be able to find three small shoots of it – maybe lawn men are cutting it back too much or think it’s a weed.  I want to make a lot of it to plant all through the TVA, especially in the SW corner, where it is now.  Planted all the herbs in the Herb Circle, potting all three Sages together and the two Thymes together, and planting the large Oregano next to the small one.  The Fennel is in the SE quadrant, the Culantro and Sweet Marjoram in the NE quadrant, the Savory and Oregano in the NW quadrant, and all others in the SW quadrant, where I also planted the Passion Vine bought before we went to California.  It will climb up the west post.  Planted Eggplant and Peppers in a self-watering container in the NW corner of the TVA, as well as some vegetable seeds in two of the others:  One had two Pepper plants from last year still going, so I left them there and planted some Pak Choi around them, adding worm castings and a little more soil to the top.  Planted greens in two others (Chinese Kale, Red Mustard, Pai Tsai and Fragrant Lettuce in one; Arugula, Japanese Chard, Dandelion & Cilantro in the other).  There are still two self-watering containers there with nothing but rejuvenated soil in them.  Also, there is another long planter with a Garden Huckleberry at one end that is producing fruits, so I left it and added worm castings to it as well.  Pruned the Mulberry but could not cut the largest two branches.  Planted Bachelor’s Button flowers around the edges of the west self-watering container in the center of the Herb Circle, and blue Borage in all four corners, leaving the center free for a Tomato plant or two (oversowing because I’m not sure what will actually come up).  Panted purple Tomatillos and red Bunching Onions in the middle one.  The east one still has garlic from last year – not separate cloves, but they seem to be giant single cloves.  Leaving this one alone except for adding worm castings to it – will plant tomatoes there later.  Sowed Amaranth seeds in northernmost self-watering container on the Patio – there was already some growing there, so just added worm castings.  Emptied all pots on Patio that were not really being used (all had weeds in them) and rejuvenated the soil in them.  Planted southernmost se;f-watering container with a no-pollinator Zucchini, the next north one with no-pollinator Cucumbers and Shallots, and the third with ‘Tigger’ Melons and Leeks.  Planted both Parsleys and both Dills in the corners of the SE Potager bed.  Pulled out much of the mulch in the NW Potager bed and sowed Flowering Pak Choi, Broccoli, Tatsoi, and Mustard Greens, with a sprinkling of Onions and Lovage, and Nasturtiums in the four corners.  Sprinkled all new plantings in the ground with worm castings. (Spread that removed mulch on the sidewalk side of the R/P Court.)  Cleaned up all the plastic plant markers I could find and matched them to seed packets, keeping each letter together with rubberbands and reusing markers that no longer have matching seeds.  We are out of Celery Leaf and Lemon Basil, but Lovage and the other Basils will do.  Trying not to buy seeds this year – still have so many!  Would be good to use most of them up with all the succession planting that is planned.  Amazed at how much I have been able to get done!  Sore, nauseated in the evenings, and head has been not too good all three days, but this is the most I have been able to get done in the garden in that space of time in I don’t know how long.  I have pushed the limits and found new ones!  Have a migraine now, but it may not get as bad as expected, and it was definitely worth it!  Hoping to finish the front garden re-do in the next couple of weeks and also to fill in some empty spots in the back with color in preparation for a possible party in December or January.  Would also be wonderful if Back North Side could be done by then.  We will see, but right now I am happy just to be where I am!


11-15-10  Went to Alexander Landscape at lunchtime and filled car with 41 plants (!), most for the front garden.  Took a digital picture of the bed between the front windows to take to Living Color tomorrow.


11-16-10  Went to Living Color Nursery at lunchtime and filled car with 30 plants, most for the front garden, but some for shade.  This is the best nursery I know for plant selection.  Marcus helped me - I think he is the one L likes there.  Reminds me of another L - same mannerisms and way of speaking.  He's super nice and also fairly knowledgeable, having worked at Tradewinds before this (they specialize in exotics like Desert Rose and its relatives).


11-18-10  Pulled Ruellias from SW corner of Mound around roses to keep the lawn men from harming the roses as they weed.  They came and cleared about a third of the Bromeliad patch and some Ruellias from the Mound, but seemed not to understand how much I wanted, since they didn't do all I asked for, leaving without weeding anything from the R/P Ct.  Called M and he will come on Saturday with a helper and finish the job.


11-19-10  Finally went to Johnny Mango's today - always wanted to go there because the Mexican pottery draws me with all its wonderful bright color.  It turns out to be quite expensive, but someday I would love to get a small piece.  At the very least, I will use it as an inspiration for some of my pottery pieces.  Thought about asking about broen pieces for mosaic (there were lots of broken pieces, which tells me this stuff is easily broken), but saw some msaic pieces using it, so someone there already does that.  Still it would be nice to get some to use in my garden - maybe they could be induced to sell some for a steep discount...  Also saw several metal wall art pieces that gave me a new idea for technique - they have designs sawn into a flat sheet, with some parts lifted outward and supported away from the piece by an inch or so of matching rod.  Cool!  Got 5 plants: a Red Grape Tomato, a Pineapple Mint, a small Heart Fern for shade, and two Sedums with tiny blue-green, cream-variegated leaves - one with needle-shaped leaves, the other with round leaves that have a slight pink tinge - these will be good for containers.  The tomato is already producing and on a medium sized red cage - it was the only small-fruited plant they had, so I couldn't get a smaller one, but it was nice snacking on ripe fruits on the way home in the car - so sweet! 


11-20-10  Met lawn man M in front garden first thing this morning and he and his helper finished clearing the Ruellias from the Mound and R/P Ct, but will leave the rest of the Bromeliads for the crew to do next time they come, since M didn't have the big truck for taking them away.  He quoted a pallet of sod for the south side and outside the Patio.  We discussed ideas for landscaping the back garden, and he and I agree that grass will not grow in the paths in the Herb Circle, Potager, and Back North Side, and that decorative rocks and stepping stones would look really great there instead.  Just have to get Andy on board now!  After he left, I planted most of the waiting plants, 70 total, including moving the two yellow Lantanas from the bed between the front windows to the back side of the Mound.  The bed between the front windows now has Sweet Almond Verbenas (already there) and Wrightias, both white-flowered and sweetly fragrant, with Alternanthera 'Party Time' (perennial pink foliage) in the mid-ground, and edged with pink powderpuff-flowered Sunshine Mimosa.  There are still unusual Sanseiverias along the back, which will gro slowly in the dry sand there, a couple of pink Pentas that have survived (which I will pull and not replace if and when they die), and a 'Margarita' Sweet Potato spilling out over the bricks at the south end (which I will leave as long as it seems to want to stay, since it doesn't really spoil the color scheme, but adds a random, surprising element that I rather like).  The shade plants did not get planted - they are to stay on the Patio.  The area in front of where the Bromeliads need pulling needs to remain clear until the men do that, after which I will plant some of the waiting plants there.  They have already been placed there in their pots so we can know what they will look like.  Pruned roses and Alternanthera.  Planted Brazillian Potato Vine and Everbearing Mulberry along back fence in TVA between Elderberry and Sugarcane.  Planted seeds of Peperomia pellucida in five 4" pots in part shade on Patio.  Planted seeds of small-fruited Papaya in three 1-gallon pots in sun on Patio.  Was in garden five hours this morning, then went in, showered, had a big lunch, and took pills.  This strategy worked fairly well.  My head was better than my back for most of the day afterward.  Talked with Andy about garden design and he agreed to put rocks in paths!  Yay!


11-21-10  Pruned Periwinkles in the Potager, and used the prunings to mulch the King's Mantle, Everbearing Mulberry, and Brazillian Potato Vine.  Cut Campsis off the back fence by the Sugarcane to make room for the new Mulberry. 


11-22 to 23-10  Took Jackfruit to Depot to give people a taste - all loved it!  All Brassica and Bean seeds have germinated, as well as some Chard.  Visited Bushel Stop to choose decorative rocks and stepping stones.  Went to Flamingo Gardens and discovered they no longer have a nursery shop!  Bummer!  Got 14 plants from Alexander Landscape for our garden, plus 3 Tomatoes for J.  Went to Flamingo Road Nursery and finished filling car, mainly with annuals for the Potager.


11-24-10  Decided on River Jacks as the decorative rocks, and 18" square concrete stepping stones in the typical gray.  Planted all the plants bought yesterday: 2 red and 2 yellow Bell Peppers in a self-watering container in the NW corner of the TVA and 4 Celery plants in another, 3-gallon Savory and Marjoram in the SE quadrant of the Herb Circle, a 4" Culantro in the NW quadrant, a 4" cream-variegated Thyme in the pot with the others already there, 2 1-gallon yellow-orange Cosmos and 6 4" orange-red Zinnias in the NE Potager box, 6 4" pink and white and deep pink Cosmos in the SW box, 6 4" blue Browallias in the SE box, 4 1-gallon purple Beach Verbenas around the 'Little Gem' Magnolia tree (along with the 3 already planted there last week), 3 1-gallon Sunshine Mimosas to fill out the edges of the bed between the front windows, 3 1-gallon 'Blackie' Sweet Potatoes on E side of Mound, and Cilantro in a dragonfly pot on the Patio.  Left the 3-gallon perennial groundcover with small leaves and blue flowers on the back side of the Mound in its pot for now, to plant when lawn men take out extra Bromeliads.  Transplanted a large-fruited Papaya seedling in mulch from TVA to a 1-gallon pot in the center of the Herb Circle, and 4 rooted cuttings of magenta Double Impatiens and 3 rooted cuttings of Okinawa Spinach individually to 4" pots on the Patio.  Total planted today: 43.  Still need entire front mulched, plus about a bag's worth in the back.  Will get lawn men to do this.  Also need to divide and replant Cannas and Blood Lilies in R/P Ct.


11-25-10  Cut one of the Bridal Veils (Clerodendrum wallichii) from the N side of the Mound, where it was crowding the Barbados Cherry.  Still need to label fruit trees and roses.  Finalized design for Back North Side, with the pea gravel only in the storage area and under the potting table, then river jacks for the path, surrounding 18" square concrete stepping stones.  There will be two stepping stones side by side and touching just inside the gate, then a single line after that, one foot from the storage area and 6" apart.  Those two that will act as the threshhold can be decorated with mosaic later, as can any others that get placed throughout the garden.  There will be a bed of shade plants along the wall under the windows, and the roof tiles will be stored there also instead of by the compost bins.  This is the place to grow a deeper blue-purple Florida Primrose, right over the tiles to hide them.

Continue to Garden Diary 2011


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