Garden Diary 2011

This page was last updated on 12-31-2011.


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 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.


Looks like the goals this year are the same as last, which tells me I am more sure of what I want after 20 years in this garden!  And that's a good thing.  The direction is much clearer and more purposeful, more useful, than when we started.


Week of July 11 - 17: B brought me a Yam plant from a cutting off the one at his mother's place.  I envy him a second property to plant trees and other edibles on! We planted it in the westernmost self-watering container in the center of the Herb Circle, and I later panted another Yam I had sprouted on the Patio in the center container. The Malabar Nut has been producing, so I took very fresh ones to FJ at Ellenville so he can see what fresh ones taste like and start some of the seeds for himself.  Also took him some Malanga roots and Water Leaves plants. Am rooting several cuttings of Water Leaves in water on the Patio.  Collected 5 fresh Malabar nuts and planted each on top of the soil in its own 1-gallon pot on the Patio. We eat a lot of nuts, so it makes sense to grow as many as we can for self-sufficiency. Malabar Nuts seem to be the best type we can grow here in terms of space (they are very attractive but take very little space and cast very little shade), production (several crops a year), and ease of care and use (no real work to maintain and they are very easy to shell, unlike all the other tropical nuts I have researched).  I will grow several from seeds this year and tuck them all around the perimeter of the property. It will also be good to grow them where there is no grass, since they are easily lost, and A gets the grass sprayed sometimes. Went with B and A to Rorabeck's and the Oriental market just south of it in Lantana.  Got three types of Malanga roots, a Yam, and a Basil and a Sage in 5-gallon pots at Rorabeck's.  The Oriental market had Mangosteen, which A and I had never tasted before, and we also got Malanga roots there, along with a purple Sweet Potato that was labeled "Japanese Yam". Can't wait for the bed space to open up so we can plant these!


Week of July 18 - 24: Malabar Nuts in pots have all germinated. Ate a few Barbados Cherries from the side of the Mound and planted a dozen I found on the ground under it in four 4" pots, 2 per pot, on the Patio. Want to tuck several of these around as well. M and one of his men came and took out the plants I needed removed.  Have lost two weeks of nice solid rainy weather waiting for him to come, but the rain is what held him up, so that's the way it goes. They did a great job except some of the roots of Elderberry, Firestick and Clerodendrum coccinea were left in the ground, so there will still be trouble from these down the road.  This is expected and we will all just have to keep on top of them.  Decided to leave the largest Elderberry in spite of the trouble it causes since it is a useful and health-giving plant.  Just need vigilance in keeping the suckers it sends all over the property grubbed out.  It has spread to the neighbor's yard in back of us, so would be coming up in mine anyway.  May as well have it in mine so I can use it.  M's helper accidentally ripped out the Guanabana I grew from seed, but we looked for it in the pile I'd had them leave and I found it.  They planted it again and it looks like it will be alright.  I have decided that the four blue Potager beds, while aesthetically pleasing, no longer serve my purpose for growing food.  C's garden has inspired me, and I know the unprotected little beds bake all summer and don't produce well.  So I explained to M that I want the blue boards taken out and left on the back N side, and I want to combine the four beds into two, making them freeform instead of squared off.  Also, the skinny beds in front of the Patio need to be reshaped to be deeper and freeform to hold Blackberry and Raspberry bushes. After that, he can take out the grass there and make a path of River Jacks and stepping stones. I showed him a diagram of the new back garden plan and also emailed him one at his request. The goal is to have as many fruit trees as can reasonably fit, which is quite a lot since they can all be kept small and still produce. These will provide dappled shade for the vegetables to grow under them, and for me to walk and work in. Once the trees are producing, there should be vegetables, fruit, and nuts all year.  Eventually, the entire back garden behind the gates will have rock paths, with no grass left anywhere.  If A wants to keep spraying grass, he shall have as little as possible to spray and poison us with! Two days later, I went to Excalibur with my friend M.  Spent a while getting input from Linda Wilson, and Bob Trask took me around picking out plants. Bought: Atemoya 'Gefner', Avocado 'Wilson's Seedless' and Loquat 'Cherry' ('Sherry'?) in 7-gallon pots, and Carambola 'Bell', Fig 'Texas Everbearing', Jujube Indian-type (thornless), Lychee 'Sweet Heart' and White Sapote 'Sue Bell' in 3-gallon pots. That's everything major on my list for this year. M bought some red-fleshed Dragon Fruit and some ripe Canistels. We tried both, and they were totally amazing! Definitely putting both of these on my list for next time!  Planning a berry run soon, either before or after the next two-week CA trip. Planted the Loquat and Atemoya along the back between the giant Mulberry and the Guanabana, and the Abelmoschus manihot from ECHO between the Guanabana and the Jakfruit. Emptied some of the self-watering containers on the north side for soil to help make mounds for planting the fruit trees in. Left the one with the eggplant and the one with Malabar Spinach.  M said I can go ahead and plant fruit trees in the Potager beds and his men will work around them while reshaping. So I planted the White Sapote in the SW bed, removing the teepee but leaving one pole that the Luffa from Dr. S gave me is growing on.  The Peach went in the center of the NW bed (the teepee was removed), the Carambola in the NE bed, and the Fig in the SE bed. Left teepees in the SE and NE beds for now since we may still use them where they are for beans.  The ones we took out may prove useful in the TVA for things like Yams and Jicama, at least until the trees get bigger. Spoke to M and I will mark the Potager and Patio beds with bricks to show the new dimensions for him.  He is going on vacation for a week and will come after that to work on the reshaping and paths.  I have explained to him that henceforth, his men should leave the prunings on the ground where they fall if they are not large.  Otherwise, bigger pieces need to go in the compost bins once they are built, or laid in the backs of the TVA beds if they are really big.  I will begin feeding the edible intensively next month, mainly with worm castings and seaweed (which I can gather at the beach), plus applying minerals and rock dust as needed in all the beds. So we have made much progress toward our self-sustaining and self-sufficient edible landscape, which we plan to eat from all year long. Moreover, my friend M says I can raise rabbits and our other friend T can do a small aquaponics project on M's property as long as T and I maintain them. Also, once Dad builds the compost bins and the N side is done, we can put worm bins there (a good use for the blue boards from the Potager beds) so we won't have to buy worm castings. I'm hoping by the end of the year to have the structure of the garden finished and a feeding program in place.  All very exciting!


Week of July 18 - 24: Toured our friends the T's through the garden after learning they also want to grow food here organically year-round for health. So I will give them some plants and info. Made mounds of topsoil and composted cow manure to the left and right of the giant Mulberry and planted root vegetables in them: Malanga 'White' from Rorabeck's between the Guanabana and Atemoya, Malanga 'Lila' from Rorabeck's between the Atemoya and Loquat, Malanga 'Edo' from the Oriental market between the Loquat and Mulberry, Yam White ņame from Rorabeck's on a teepee behind the Mulberry, Malanga from Publix to the north and a bit behind the Mulberry, and Malanga 'Coco' from the Oriental market just north of the Mulberry (this one may have rotted). Mulched the newly planted fruit trees (except the Avocado and Lychee - ran out of mulch) and the few little empty spots in the TVA.  Still need to empty one last self-watering container and use it to make a mound for the Japanese Sweet Potato labeled 'Purple Yam' at the Oriental market and mulch it and the Avocado and Lychee. Reshaped the beds by the Patio - can't call them the Succulent Beds any longer, though a few Kalanchoes will remain in the south end of the southern one.  Otherwise, that one will hold Blackberries, and the northern one will be for Raspberries and Blueberries.  Deepened and rounded the beds, setting the triple line of bricks in place so now all that has to be done is pulling out the unwanted plants.  Noticed at least one Blackberry plant in the northern bed and a few in the southern, so I may just do this clearing myself since M is on vacation this week, and anyway, he was concerned about the difficulty of preserving the berry plants while ripping everything else out.  Also placed bricks to mark the new dimensions of the Potager beds. Will try to lift the boards myself by levering them up with the large shovel or the pitchfork, and if I succeed, will do the reshaping of these myself as well.  Don't have enough bricks to do a triple row around these, but that's ok - at this point they will still have a double row.  May get more bricks eventually, but it's more important to get at least a double row all around all the final beds first, then take stock of what we have left. Can't forget that there will be a few small beds on the Back North Side when we prepare that area, and they will need brick outlines as well. One day, after all the planting and paths are place, I would like to mosaic many of the stepping stones.  Before that, I will scatter colored glass and stones and broken pottery among the river jacks in the paths. Also, I can stretch the bricks we have at a later date by making and placing quotes using the poetry stones kit.


This week, the plan is to work on the TVA beds: make several mounds and plant root vegetables and tropical pumpkins in them, root lots of cuttings of Katuk to plant along the back fence and Okinawa Spinach to plant in the fronts and middles of the beds, and mulch all empty ground.  After that would come work on the Potager beds, then the new Berry Beds.  I will plant Sweet Potatoes in the Berry Beds to cover any empty ground until we actually get the berries, probably next year, or at least late fall.  Have to call Excalibur to find out the best time to get them and what they will have. Also need to take some of the rooted cuttings on the Patio to friends: M, S's, T's and my acupuncturist, who gave me a Luffa plant and a "Japanese Spinach" Sweet Potato a couple of months ago.  Also we need to get Dad to fix the faucet by the Patio and split it so I can have a hose on the Patio as well.  Right now, I have to carry buckets from the kitchen or that incredibly leaky faucet in order to water anything there, which causes me to neglect things more than I otherwise would.  In fact, all the faucets and hoses need checking.  At the moment, I am hand-watering the new plants in the back garden every morning, and feel very guilty about the water wasted by the faucet.  I am sure that fully half the water coming from it sprays out before it gets into the hose, and the hose itself leaks like crazy, spraying water at either end of the wand and drenching me completely just in doing that ten-minute chore.  A thinks there is actually something wrong with the faucet itself - O-rings do not help.  The wand needs replacing as well - O-rings not being enough there either.


Observations and plans: Still looking for some of the edible perennials listed on ECHO's site, and hoping to get them there.  Need to call and ask about the following, requesting them to take cuttings a couple of weeks in advance and letting them know it is a two-and-a-half hour drive for us to get there (maybe they will take pity on me): Alternanthera sissoo (Sissoo Spinach or Samba Lettuce), Arrowroot, Basket Vine and Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus. Also still looking for Vetiver Grass and Water Spinach (Ipomoea aquatica).


As for the front garden, the bed Between the Front Windows needs empty spaces filled again, since the Wrightias and Alternantheras did not survive.  This is probably due to a lack of water.  This bed is very dry to begin with, and the Sweet Almond Verbena by the front door blocks the sprinkler from hitting the bed the way it should.  So we need to move the sprinkler over a bit.  We really should re-do the entire irrigation system.  It was designed for all-over lawn and nothing else.  How short-sighted!  But that's the usual way.  Just like the house itself, which has very little insulation and no decent cross-breeze.  Designed in the shamefully wasteful 1980s, with no consideration to saving energy whatsoever.  Bleh!  It's what we have, so we work with it.  I still want Wrightias, but will put them somewhere else.  It would be nice to have a pretty pot with a Desert Rose in it on the way to the front door, replacing or forming a backdrop for the strawberry pot of small Kalanchoes. It would be great to eventually put river jacks and stepping stones in the front garden as well, east of the sidewalk.  Might be able to talk A into it after the back is done and all looks nice there. There isn't really much grass left in front now anyway, at least not on the north side.  The bed with the Magnolia on the south side could be expanded so there would be only a path left.  Someday!


We need to make a few sprinklers higher in front and back.  The Gaillardias in the SE corner of the R/P Court are on their last legs and there is a sprinkler there that is a bit too short.  Meanwhile, a native blue Porterweed has sprung up there unbidden, and will be too tall for that spot, but it looks good and the butterflies, sphinx moths, and hummingbirds do love them, so I will leave it until it truly gets too big, make the sprinkler taller, and plant another short flower at its feet.  Otherwise, the things planted in the R/P Court last year have grown in and filled out lushly, though the new Roses have been crowded a bit and one has died, but it must be survival of the fittest here, and the bed looks great! 


Most, though not all, of the things planted on the Mound have also survived and filled in, so that there is only a little empty space at the back. There is still some usable area in the middle, which can hold a fruit bush or two (see below). Some unwanted Bridal Veil Clerodendrums have sprung up again in the shade and must be taken out, and some Malabar Nuts have made small seedlings there and need to be transplanted, but otherwise the Mound is in very good shape.  The Beautyberry needs a hard pruning as it has become large and unruly - must speak to M about that.  I am hoping to put a few Camellia plants in the shady part next season: one a striped ornamental, and another one or two will be C. sinensis, the official Tea plant.  This should work fine, as a red-flowered ornamental one grows and blooms there already - it was planted many years ago and has done just fine. 


The Mango has finished producing for the year - we harvested the last one in the first week of July. Next year, we would like to add just a few more fruit trees: Abiu and Canistel (which can be kept small and tucked perhaps on the south side of the house and driveway west of the sidewalk), and Coconut (which will cast little shade and can be planted in the swale on the south side of the driveway).  Shrubby plants: Allspice, Bay Laurel and Cinnamon (which can be kept small and tucked into the perimeter of the TVA), Hog Plum (on the Mound in sun), Kumquat 'Nagami' (which can go by the Lemon tree), Star Anise (which can go between the Abiu and Canistel), Tea (on the Mound in shade) and Wax Jambu (on the Mound in sun).  Climbers: Black Pepper Vine (growing up a shady fruit tree in the TVA), red-fleshed Dragon Fruit (on the west post in the Herb Circle), a few Monstera deliciosa in shady spots on the fence, and Vanilla Orchids (growing up a shady fruit tree in the TVA - probably the Jackfruit).  Smaller plants: Wrightia religiosa (back side of the Mound), and lots of herbs, including Garlic Chives, in empty spaces along the edges of the entire back garden. Will wait until the garden is better established and shadier and the Patio ready before ordering herbs and flowers from Richter's and Logee's, maybe next year or the year after that.


After that, I may turn my attention to the little garden Behind the Wall, thinning the Oyster Plants and Bromeliads, replacing them with more colorful Bromeliads and adding some height in the back.  Jacobean and Eucharist Lilies can be tucked in to surprise us with flowers.  Of course, we still need to replace the diseased Hibiscus hedge along the front wall with edible Eleagnus from Excalibur, or failing that, Surinam Cherry. Both should provide berries even when clipped regularly.


Plant combinations under consideration for color wherever needed are: Variegated Talinum with Persian Shield and Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', Crossandra 'Orange Marmalade' with Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', and Rose Fountain Salvia.


For the Back North Side, various Gingers will be good in the shade, such as smooth- and velvet-leaved Costus radiata and Globba winittii, along with a Stromanthe tricolor, and maybe some Red Flame Ivy and Sedums for edging.  Jacobean and Eucharist Lilies may provide spots of color as well.  East of the fence, we could have a Tree Fern with native Inland Leatherleaf Ferns underneath and possibly a Philodendron gloriosum 'Andre' and/or a giant Elephant Ear.


The Candlestick Cassia by the garage window is too large and unruly, but the Sulfur butterflies like these, so we can replace it with a Popcorn Cassia, which would be smaller and prettier.  Also, the white-flowered Plumeria is too plain and has no scent, so it should go in favor of a fragrant, pink-flowered one.  This work would necessitate moving the large Bromeliads here, which we have more of on the Mound and in the TVA, so maybe a different type of Bromeliad would be good. Or perhaps the Wrightias could go here instead.  With the new arrangement, we might just be able to see out the garage window again!


The Patio is a mess right now, with loads of plastic pots, tools and other garden paraphernalia and four self-watering containers of Malabar Spinach, Stevia and velvet-leaved Costus radiata filling the entire north half, plus the unused worm bin sitting by the family room door.  The south half is filled with rooting cuttings and potted seedlings. This will all be moved out into the Back North Side once it is finished, which will make A ecstatic.  We want to put a twin-size four-poster iron bed frame at the north end, with an outdoor mattress and pillows and perhaps some gauzy fabric draped around the top. We need a set of covers in white, plus one in bright gypsy colors so we can change it up for a party.  A few strings of tiny LEDs would dress it up for evening, and a small metal table with a mosaic top and matching chairs for dining al fresco would be nice as well. There could be as many as six chairs, four around the dining table and two tucked in other spots so they can be drawn together anywhere for conversation.  A matching taller, skinnier table by the wall can hold overflow, and two more tiny round ones could be used by people sitting in the two chairs and on the bed. Once we have this seating, the bench can go in its planned spot behind the Herb Circle.  I would like some ornamentals: Bat Flowers, Heart Vine, Climbing Begonia, Marble Pothos, Pink Arrowhead Vine, fragrant Hoyas, double Impatiens, Gesneriads and Violets.  Some of these could actually be in unobtrusively wicking self-watering containers tucked into larger, pretty pots, some of which could hide a larger self-watering container holding Sweet Potatoes.  Maybe next year I will order special herbs to go with them. The ornamentals would also be integrated among other edibles (Amaranth, Katuk, Malabar Spinach, New Zealand Spinach, Okinawa Spinach and Water Leaves, as well as Arugula, Basils, Cilantro and Lettuces in the cool season) to add color and variety so no one would suspect this is mainly a garden planted so I don't have to leave the Patio to make a salad!


I need to find a way to make sturdier, better-looking self-watering containers.  Have considered covering them with hypertufa to make them more attractive and protect them from the sun - in a way, this is actually lining hypertufa containers with plastic bins. If the outside of the bin is roughed up a bit, the hypertufa would adhere better. No idea if it will be possible to get to this project this year, but we shall see. Also, the weight necessitates a pump to get the water out without damaging the container by dumping it - have to get one. Meanwhile, I have trashed the first self-watering container I made because it didn't drain well, and the others are getting brittle from constant sun exposure (though in partial shade), but they work fine and should last several months yet.


Another project to get to sooner rather than later is markers for the fruit trees and other perennial edibles.  Some would be "planted" in the ground, and others hung as "jewelry", letting visitors and lawn men know what they are looking at.  I can paint a bunch of small purchased ceramic tiles (or make my own) and fire them in my kiln, or work a deal with B at the shop to fire them there at a discount.  Glass tiles could also be used this way and fired in my home oven.


M wants a Persimmon tree and a Canistel and several other perennial edibles in her garden, some of which I will be supplying, and I will also be helping her put in a cool season garden this year. It will be very exciting if T actually does her aquaponic project - if it works, I may do one with pink Tilapia.  If I feel I can fit the time in, I will try some rabbits.  Would need to work out a schedule with whoever works for M, or her son S, to help when I go out of town.  Or I could just leave them with B if he's willing.  Mom may even do it - they are cute and fuzzy after all. It would be great to start with two or three young ones in a sheltered colony setup, a small shed-like deal in the shade under some trees if M is agreeable to it.  Either way, I don't want to keep them on wire because it hurts their feet.  And worms might be good underneath...


A long wooden hutch lined outside with hardware cloth/wire and attached to the fence under the fruit trees or on the Back North Side would be great for my own colony once A gets over his thing about having pets outside.  Another way-future someday project!  Not to mention that we could have ducks roaming the garden in the day and going into a small shaded, fortress-like poultry house at night, and a small kiddie pool for them to splash in that I could hose out over the root vegetables every few days for fertilizer. That could be tucked in almost anywhere, right? And what about a couple of top-bar bee hives in an undisturbed sunny corner somewhere, or maybe on top of the poultry house?  A does love his honey...


Week of July 25 - 31: Toured B and his wife through the garden to see the new fruit trees.  Took two sessions to pull all unwanted plants out of the new Blackberry Bed (formerly the south Succulent Bed).  Left only some Kalanchoes on the far southern end and any Blackberry plants I could find.  Also pulled the only Blackberry plant out of the north Succulent Bed and planted it in the new Blackberry Bed.  Several Aloe plants were moved to the Herb Circle, and two Amaryllis bulbs to under the Jackfruit tree.  Left all the plants that got pulled as a mound of mulch spread across the bed, with the Blackberries pruned to sticks pointing out of it.  Will keep the bed mulched and weeded, and eventually the Blackberry plants will leaf out and cover all.  Now the north Succulent Bed can be cleared completely, and the vegetation left as mulch there.  This should happen within the next couple of weeks.  Also, A actually decided on his own to call an irrigation company to completely re-do the sprinkler system!  They came and looked over the property and we discussed our needs with them.  They should be here and knock the entire job out one day this coming week!  I will be here to make sure it is done as we discussed and that each entire bed is fully covered.  They will be installing all Rainbird pop-ups, most 12” tall, which are much better than the cheap 2” ones we have now from Home Depot.  That height should also provide better coverage.  They will add a few more heads than we currently have, and also move several out into the paths so they are not blocked by the plants.


Week of August 1 - 7: Mapped my friend M's back garden and designed an edible landscape for the whole area, similar to ours.  Will go with her next week to buy several of the fruit trees she wants, and her son S will plant them according to the new plan.  Irrigation company came and re-worked our entire sprinkler system!  They put on all new Rainbird heads, most of them 12" pop-ups, and moved nearly all that were inside beds out into the paths so they would not be blocked by plants.  The couplings were all re-done with "funny" pipe, which should prevent the pipes from breaking if stressed by being driven over or pushed.  Everything is placed so there is complete and overlapping coverage.  We are very pleased with the job they did.  Gave the owner rooted cuttings of Chaya, Katuk, Okinawa Spinach, and Water Leaves, and seedlings of Malabar Chestnut and Malabar Spinach.  His helper has no space to grow anything, but we gave him and the owner each a bag of Malabar Chestnuts that had fallen that day.  Toured the owner through and had him try the plants and gave him a paper with info on all of them.   Now M wants them to re-do her system as well, so I will meet the owner there next week for a walk-through and estimate.  Malabar Chestnut tree has given over two quarts of nuts in the past three weeks or so and there are still pods on the tree! Tropical storm came through, but did not affect us much except for blowing some of those pods down for me.  Taking more cuttings of Okinawa Spinach and Water Leaves to give away and to expand our stock.  Planted two hills of Seminole Pumpkin among the root vegetables at the north end of the TVA, and two of a locally-grown yellow watermelon (saved these seeds several months ago from a CSA delivery) between the Atemoya and Loquat trees.  Planted two large Cassava roots, one near the Grumichama and one just south of the Katuk at the north end of the TVA.  Hope the wax won't keep them from growing!  Don't like the flavor of the roots, but the leaves are good cooked.  If they don't grow, I can get some that will from C.  Dad came home this week and I hope to get him to do the Back North Side projects as soon as possible: compost bins, potting table, and worm bin.  Then M can come with his crew and finish that area!  Can't wait!


Week of August 8 - 14: Inventoried seeds for the coming season, planning to use what we have first.  Ordered what we still need and all should be here in a few days.  Meanwhile, started what I had: Yard-Long Beans, Broccoli, Eggplant, Garden Berries (solanums), Gherkins, Kale, Melons, Mustard, Nasturtiums, Okra, Pak Choi, Peppers, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, and Watermelons – multiple varieties, all sown in 4” pots on the Patio, enough for me and for M to get started for the season.  There are nine trays, one with 15 pots, and the others with ten each.  Will have a month to get it all going, then will take babies to M's to be cared for.  If she can't manage it, we'll only be out a little work, and if anything survives I'll be better off for having done it.  Some items are being direct-seeded and will be established by the time we leave anyway.  Just can't do anything in the newly redesigned Potager beds because they haven't been completed yet.  Will always grow Amaranth and gynoecious Cucumbers on Patio because of pests and disease anyway.  Planted Ginger root in one of the self-watering containers on the Patio with the Velvet-Leaved Costus already there.  Must check to see what Turmeric roots are doing underground - both plants are doing very well above, but don't know if the roots are getting bigger.  Bought a yellow yam – the others we already have are white.  Apparently, there are also purples.  The “Japanese Yams” (Sweet Potatoes, really) from the Oriental Market seem not to want to sprout, so I have put toothpicks in one and set it over a jar of water to see what will happen.  B says you grow Cassava from cuttings rather than roots, and I think I do remember reading that, so will just have to ask C for some after all.


Week of August 15 - 21: The “Japanese Yam” refuses to sprout – it either got too dry before I bought it, or was treated with a sprout inhibitor for market.  Thinking of going back to the Oriental Market for more and trying again, as the other two look less promising than that one.  Went out and pruned everything in the TVA that needed it, as well as some in the Herb Circle, though that one needs a bit more.  The M and his men came and dug out everything in the North Succulent Bed, which will now be the Raspberry and Blueberry bed.  They left the plants, all Four o’ Clocks and Japanese Lanterns, laid down as mulch over the bed as instructed.  They took out the last unwanted plants in the TVA: the Bromeliads under the Elderberry, and the Boston Ferns under them and under the Moringa.  Don’t see the Katuk from B that was under the Moringa anymore, but that was true when I pruned, so they didn’t take it out.  They also pulled up the blue boards in the Potager and moved them to the Back North Side.  They should be back soon to reshape the beds, then put down the next section of rocks.  Dad thinks he may be able to work on bins and table next week.  I hope so!  Took all the flats of seedlings out to sit in the sun since they were beginning to get leggy.  Was hoping to be able to wait until M and his people had finished, but that would be way too long.  Now if they could just avoid trampling, I will be happy.  Also set out a flat plus one of the rooted Water Leaves.  Need to take a set of plants to my acupuncturist, Dr. Z, who gave me a “Japanese Spinach” (Sweet Potato – wonder if this is the same as the “Japanese Yam” – it’s doing great) and a Luffa Gourd plant (also doing very well).  Just need some Malabar Spinach to give her, so I potted up a couple of small seedlings from the potting soil bin.  Planted Jicama seeds in a hill under a teepee in the midst of the Malanga hills – not sure when to plant it here, so will try a few different times over the next year and see what happens.  The Malanga are beginning to come up, though not in all the hills.  Once I see which are not going to come up, I will make another trip to Rorabeck’s and the Oriental Market to replace the ones that didn’t.  Planted Quinoa seeds in a few pots and they sprang up almost instantly!  Of the seeds planted last week, only the Peppers, Garden Huckleberries, most of the Tomatillos, one of two Tomato Black Cherry, and a few Nasturtiums haven’t come up yet.  The Wonderberries and three pots of Purple Tomatillos are up.  The Canistel seeds have germinated and are growing taproots, though they haven’t broken the surface of the soil yet.  Taking more cuttings of Okinawa Spinach and the Sweet Potato from Dr. Z.  Pulled up a Malabar Chestnut seedling from the grass and transplanted it into a gallon-sized pot.  The Barbados Cherry seeds seem not to have done anything, but everything else is thriving!


Week of August 22 - 28: Planted seeds of Tomato 'Black Cherry' to replace the one pot that had none come up.  All the Malanga roots that were planted between the Guanabana and north of the Mulberry are up except for the 'Coco'.  Planted the purple "Japanese Yam" Sweet Potatoes in self-watering containers on the Patio, two with the Malabar Spinach and one with the Costus, but I don't really expect them to sprout.  Went to Excalibur, Rorabeck's and the Oriental Market with M this week and got four more, but am not sure if they will work either.  Realized we still don't have any Prickly Pear Cactus, but they should have some at Excalibur by spring.  It should do well in the far south corner of the now Blackberry Bed.  I will move the bowl of Kalanchoes a bit north to make room for it.  Took three cuttings each of Chaya and Abelmoschus manihot to give away - they are rooting on the Patio.  One of the Abelmoschus cuttings taken earlier has rooted, but the other probably won't make it.  Now have enough material to give Dr. Z., so will contact her this week.


Week of August 29 - September 4: Planted seeds of Garden Huckleberry (2 pots), Nasturtium ‘Caribbean Cocktail’ (1 pot), Nasturtium ‘King Theodore’ (1 pot), Nasturtium ‘Out Of Africa’ (2 pots), Pepper ‘Charleston Belle’ (1 pot), Pepper ‘Doe Hill Golden Bell’ (2 pots), Pepper ‘Tequila Sunrise’ (2 pots), and Tomatillo Purple (1 pot) to replace the ones that didn’t sprout yet.  Placed outside along with all other 4” pots, secure in their trays.  M came with a couple of helpers and re-shaped the Potager beds – yay!  Dumped topsoil and cow manure and planted seeds in the empty spaces: In the west bed, on the east side, Broccolis, from south to north: ‘Di Rapa Novantina’ (used all), ‘Di Ciccio’ (home-saved seed – pretty much in the middle of the bed), ‘Everest’ (from ECHO – used all), and ‘Early Purple Sprouting’ (used all).  In the middle, Kales: ‘Ethiopian’, and ‘Dark Green Gailan Chinese’.  On the west side, Pak Choi: ‘Canton Bok’ and Bok Choy from ECHO (used all), and in the middle, a patch of ‘Flowering Yu Choy Sum’.  In the east bed, a mixture of Mustards: ‘Jiu Tou Niao’, Red (home-saved seed), and Thai.  In both, around the south ends, Nasturtium ‘Empress Of India’, and around the north ends, Nasturtium ‘Jewel Peach Melba’.  The Nasturtiums haven’t been quick to come up, but I think this is because of the heat.  We will see what happens next month. Spread all the horse manure/mulch mixture from J under all the new and some of the older fruit trees, and all of the worm castings and most of the rock dust he gave me on all the back beds as evenly as possible. Saving some rock dust for front beds.  Planted the four new ‘Japanese Yams’ from the Oriental Market along the front edge of the TVA, from the Jackfruit to the Chaya north of the Guanabana.  Not sure if they will take, but I have to try. Meanwhile, the first one planted in the self-watering container on the Patio has thrown out a long vine! So I have hope. Also planted two MalangaCoco’ roots in same hill as the ones that didn’t sprout – one already starting to get soft – don’t know if they will do well either. Took pots of Canistel (still haven’t broken ground yet) and latest Malabar Chestnuts to germinate out and placed them in the TVA for sun.  Now all that’s left there are: three cuttings of Abelmoschus manihot in gallon pots (which are looking good, but the one I thought was rooted was not and has rotted), two cuttings of Chaya and one rooted plant in gallon pots, one Basil plant in a 3-gallon pot, six rooted Katuk plants in 4” pots, and one rooted Okinawa Spinach plant in 4” pots.  Dumped everything else that hadn’t sprouted or rooted yet. Once I give away most of the rooted cuttings to M, Dr. Z and C, and the Basil to M, there will be only the Nepenthes to put out in the TVA in the shade.  The Ponytail Palm, Costus and patch of Malabar Spinach can stay in their spots, since they will get enough water where they are. That way, no one will have to worry about my Patio plants while we are gone to CA. Just have to make sure to fill the self-watering containers before we go. Went to Delray Garden Center with M and got a pot of variegated Cassava, which is prettier than the regular green kind. It’s the high-protein leaves we are after, since we don’t like the roots so much.  There are two plants in the pot, so they were planted separately to become two large clumps, one near the NW corner of the TVA, and one by the Lychee. Also got a lovely braided Shrimp Plant standard, which I planted in a large pot and placed in the center of the north side of the Herb Circle. It has red bracts and white flowers. M will water it and my seedlings while we are away.  Placed several very fresh Malabar Chestnut seeds on/in the ground along the west side of the TVA between the Katuk by the Mulberry tree and the Guanabana.  Moved ten Malabar Chestnut seedlings from under the Azaleas on the Mound to along the west fence in the TVA.  Between these and the seeds I planted, we will see what survives.  Have five potted ones to give away, and there are more on the Mound.  Would like to end up with at least five trees in back eventually, and more would be fine.  Bought a water wand to replace the crazy leaky one that won’t be fixed by O-rings, so M should not be drenched when she waters the garden.  Pruned the Herb Circle and the bed between the trellises.  Set up a shallow self-watering container on the Patio with the trellis from C (my friend who moved and left me the 'Little Gem' Magnolia) - much prettier than the plastic stakes and bird netting!  Planted Cucumbers in it: 4 seeds each of Cornichon 'Cool Breeze' and 'Diva'.  Moved an older (2 years?) deep self-watering container from the north side and set it up on top of mulch in the Raspberry Bed.  Planted three Tomato seedlings there: Wild Cherry, Bicolor Cherry, and Black Cherry.  Also set all the trays of seedlings there, even though the mulching is not complete. That should give them more sun and protect them when M comes to put down rocks. Set up one of the copper teepees in the center of the west Potager bed and planted Pole Beans: two seeds each of 'Rattlesnake' and 'Trionfo Violetto' around each of the five poles.  Most of the Brassicas are up now in the Potager, but still quite small.  Some empty patches, so will re-sow sparsely in a few days to fill them in. Will need to thin them all heavily at this point, as usual. :)  Gave K some ‘Rattlesnake’ Pole Bean seeds to sow now on her teepee so she has a head start while we are away.  Will go do another grow bag garden with her and her grandchildren right after we get back.  Also planning to take her and M to a few local gardens to get them out of their respective houses for a while.


Week of September 5 - 11: Bought 12 bags of mulch and 2 of leveling sand (for sprinkler donuts) and finished mulching the Berry Beds. Dad has hurt his back, so I don’t expect he’ll be able to do anything for us until we get back from CA. Poor Daddy! He’s in a lot of pain.  Not sure if the blue boards are worth using or not – some are a bit soft where they rested on the ground all those years, but all are pretty hard for at least half their height.  Wrestling with whether to put them out for bulk pickup or not.  Since that happens every week, there’s no real rush. Will wait until Dad comes to work on the Back North Side and get his opinion, since he’s the one who would be working with them.  Probably won’t do a worm bin with them – don’t generate enough kitchen scraps to need more than the continuous flow one we already have. Went to a session with Master Gardeners at the WPB Library on Clematis St. Nice, but the MG program seems to center on a pared-down version of industrial farming for the home gardener, with emphasis on chemical gardening and almost no mention of organics.  At least, they seem to regard organic practices as grudgingly practical, yet inferior, though the man did discourage pesticides. The most useful thing we heard was about a place called Uncle Ben’s on Belvedere Rd, just E of I-95.  They say it’s an old-time garden center with a knowledgeable staff and some amendments one can’t get elsewhere locally, so B and I are plotting a trip as soon as we get back from CA. Gave my website address out to a couple of people after the program and recommended “Florida’s Best Fruiting Plants” to a man who was particularly into growing fruit.  He was very happy about that.  All in all, it was a bit of a disappointment because the program was supposed to be about preparing the soil and composting, but the MGs had decided to make it a Q&A. Our feeling was shared by a woman who is connecting with her young granddaughter by starting a vegetable garden with her.  So I gave her the web address and told her where to find the info on it.  She may email me.  Happened to see FJ at a shopping center afterward.  Told him about the Abelmoschus manihot.  Will bring him a rooted cutting or two.  I can take more for others when the plant grows some.  Other than B, no one was looking to get it from me.


Week of September 12 - 18: Delivered plants to H & I, along with printouts.  Gave each a Chaya, a Malabar Nut tree, Malabar Spinach seedling (H) or seeds (I), a Katuk, and two Water Leaves (Ceylon Spinach).  Hoping to get two Abelmoschus cuttings to J before we leave as well.  The extra Chaya and two Katuks will go to M.  Also want to give C the two Canistel seedlings.  Maybe he can visit before we leave – otherwise soon after we get back.  Will be busy then, doing grow-bag gardens for H and R, and possibly T’s and I as well.  Can’t wait!  Gave T’s 3 packets of mixed seeds: Mustards, Pak Chois, and Broccoli ‘Di Ciccio’, along with the monthly charts of vegetables for planting.


Week of October 3 - 9: Back from CA!  Seedlings did not do well, and most got tossed.  Went to Excalibur and Rorabeck’s with M. Also went to Home Depot and got some Tomatillo, Tomato and Pepper plants, which I planted in self-watering containers set in front of the Patio.  Working on pruning and feeding front garden. Gave M a Jackfruit from my tree.


October 10-20: M the lawn man came with a crew and put rocks and stepping stones in the area in front of the Patio.  Still waiting for Dad to build compost bins and potting table – after that M can finish the utility area on the back north side.  Can’t wait! 


October 27 - 9: Gave C a Jackfruit, some Elderberries, and some Griffin Oranges. Picked an unripe Jackfruit that had a big crack in it before it got filled with bugs.  Prepared it and baked it in a huge pan (restaurant stock) that just fits the oven.  Very good!  Tastes just like Jackfruit, but the texture is different, a bit denser.  Good substitute for squash and there’s tons of it!  Also, the seeds were baked inside it and turned out very nice, though I would separate them out and boil them, as even after baking a long time, some were still a little crunchy.  Had Mom and Dad for dinner and served it – they liked it!


November 26 – December 31: Dad and I built the potting table and compost bins!  Ok, he built them, but I helped.  They look great!  So excited! 

Continue to Garden Diary 2012


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