Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blooms this week

I have a few more blooms this week than last week, although I'm still waiting on the Crape Jasmine to bloom.

My poor Angel's Trumpet has now bloomed.
Angel's Trumpet

Angel's Trumpet

That poor thing needs some fertilizer. It has been neglected far too long.

My snake plants are blooming. I didn't even know that those things bloom!
Snake plant spike

Snake plant flower spikes

And the Moringa and Mango are still blooming, and the Bougainvillea look gorgeous!

New Plants

Well, I've been eager to grow some veggies, and worried that I had missed the season for starting from seed (something I've never done with veggies and wanted to try). So today I decided to buy some plants at Lowe's instead of starting from seed. Plus I don't have any beds ready (everything is still weedy), so I have to grow in containers for the time being.

First I planted a Patio Tomato plant, which already has a couple of fruit and a number of blooms.


Then I planted an Eggplant.

I also bought cauliflower, but didn't have enough soil to plant it yet.

I did start some seeds, too, even though I'm not sure if it might be too late in the season. I have carrots, lettuce, leeks, cilantro, and rosemary. The beans are soaking tonight to be planted tomorrow. I don't know how any of them will do, since I've never tried growing from seed before.


I also potted a small seedling that had sprouted in the bag of potting soil that I bought at Lowe's. I was curious to see what became of it-- whether it is a weed or something else.

I already have a patio orange tree that I have had for a few years now. It has been growing on my condo balcony until now. Since moving here, I have repotted it in a larger pot.
Patio Orange

I also potted a ficus seedling that sprang up under my ficus tree. The ficus is left front. Behind it is a little hibiscus that I bought as I was moving in here, and it was neglected for awhile. One branch of it appears to have died, but the other one has come back with some attention, and now has a flower bud on it.
Hibiscus and Ficus

We'll see how these things do, and hopefully I won't commit mass murder. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Composting 101

Since embarking on taming my garden, I decided that I would have need of a compost bin of some sort. Money is tight right now due to the new home purchase, and the back corner where I plan on putting a compost bin eventually is currently inaccessible. So I considered my options before settling on a compost bin design that is both inexpensive, easy to assemble and movable.

Compost bin

Compost bin

It is made from plastic hardware cloth staple-gunned to wooden stakes. I lined it with cardboard for further stability, and filled it with yard debris and kitchen scraps.

After studying up on composting, I tried to limit the amount of woody material. It is mostly ficus and olive tree leaves and palm fronds, plus all of the fruit and veggie scraps and coffee left over from Christmas.

I hope to have lots of beautiful compost in the not-to-distant future for use in this crazy garden!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mystery Plants Identified

After moving in to my place, I was encountered with a number of unidentified plants. I posted the plants on the FL GardenWeb, and with their help I was able to identify the plants. This is what we've come up with so far (some are definite, and some aren't):

The forum confirmed that this is a Surinam Cherry. It is supposed to be edible, but too sour for most adults.

Everyone has voted on this one being Crape Myrtle, which I know is supposed to be somewhere in this yard (when I moved in to the house, I found some gardening notes in a book that explained how to care for some of the plants, and it mentioned Crape Myrtle).

Mystery plant

This one has been identified as Clerodendrum or "Starburst". I'm not a fan of it, but I haven't seen it in bloom yet, and it is supposed to have remarkable blooms. The one in this photo is practically dead at this point from lack of water, but there are two more over by the shed doing just fine (I wants plants that can do well on little water, so I am purposefully not watering the plants too much. Obviously the sunny location that this one is in is not a good one if it dies within a couple weeks without water.)
Clerodendrum quadriloculare

The consensus on this one is that it is some sort of gardenia. Again I have seen no blooms yet, so I can't confirm this. But the leaves do look like a gardenia, and the home gardening notes did mention a gardenia plant.

I have a couple of these trees by the lanai, and someone has suggested that they are Shady Lady olive trees. I haven't seen any fruit yet to help identify them, but I am thinking that they are right about their assessment.
Shady Lady olive tree?

Shady Lady olive trees?

Shady Lady olive trees?

This little beauty grows across the shed, and has been identified as Rubber Vine.
Rubber Vine

Rubber Vine

This one has been identified as a Crape Jasmine, and I think that someone said that it is also known as a Florida Gardenia.
Crape Jasmine

Crape Jasmine

This one I'm really concerned about, as it appears to be a live oak planted right next to my fence and home, so will likely have to be cut down.
Mystery tree or shrub

This is one of my favorite plants in the yard, and someone has suggested that it may be Rojo Congo. Since cleaning up the area behind the deck bench a little to get a little more light back there, this guy has really grown up over the last couple of months (this photo was taken a couple of months ago).
Rojo Congo?

This guy was finally identified by someone as a Moringa or Drumstick Tree. It is a great "famine" tree, as every part of it is edible. I like the flowers.


Someone identified this as a Little Gem Magnolia. Again I have seen no blooms yet to help in the confirmation.
Little Gem Magnolia

This guy is still a mystery. It was a huge shrub when I bought the home in October.


Within weeks it seemed to be taken down by some pest, as I saw the leaves quickly disappear, but now I see new leaves sprouting all over it.


Many thanks to all who helped identify my mysteries!


Well, I didn't have time to work in the yard today, but I did buy a shovel and a rake. Those were two things that I really needed. I also got a few plants on clearance for 50% off: A gorgeous hibiscus, a hybrid lily, a plumbago, and something that I can't remember the name of right now, but it looks like some sort of houseplant. For the time being, they'll join the other potted hibiscus, snowbush, oriental orchid tree, poinsettia, bougainvillea and bird-of-paradise that await new spots in the yard.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Not much is going on in my yard right now, but I do have a few things blooming or nearing bloom.

My Moringa is in bloom. Woodrow likes the contrast in the photos of the white flowers against the darkening sky:



Also all of the bougainvillea are in bloom. This one has some great potential, I think. It's pretty rangy right now, but I think with some trimming and training, it can be a really nice specimen along the back fence.


Bougie blooms

My favorite view right now is of the Moringa with the bougie in the background.


And then there is my mango tree, which I am very excited to see blooming.

Mango Blooms

Mango Blooms

Blooming Mango with Bougainvillea

Having just moved to this home, I've never dealt with a blooming mango tree before! I'm very excited to see what becomes of it, whether I get a bunch of mangoes come summer, and if so whether they will be delicious!

The Cape Jasmine is just about to bloom, which is nice to see since a few weeks ago it was really yellowing from drought.
Cape Jasmine buds

My poor little Angel's Trumpet is making a valiant effort, and getting set to let loose with a barrage of blooms.
Trumpet blooms

And the Chenille Plant is always blooming with furry tendrils.
Chenille Plant

Also my purple basil that I have in a pot by the screen door is in bloom.
Purple Sage

And there are always weeds in bloom around here. Does that count? :)


We'll see how it looks in a few months after I can get some fertilizing and pruning done.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Little By Little

Well, Woodrow and I found a few moments to work on the yard a little yesterday, before company came over for Christmas.

We finally created a compost bin, using inexpensive wooden stakes, hardware cloth and a staple gun and lined with cardboard. It may not be the prettiest thing, but it should do the job, and it is "portable", which is important. I don't know where I may want to relocate it in the future.

Compost bin
Compost bin

I've already filled it with some debris from the yard work that we've done since I moved in, and I've been collecting kitchen scraps from the preparation of Christmas dinner (we did a Mexican-themed Christmas this year).


Woodrow and I also cleaned up some of the debris piled up in the yard. Some of it went into the compost, but a lot of the pile consists of tree branches and other woody material to fibrous to go into the compost bin. So we piled that debris onto a tarp and dragged it around to the front of the house for horticulture pickup. Now I have to get a shovel, so that we can get up the last of the leaves in the debris pile.


Speaking of the tarp: Last Sunday I decided to use a tarp to help get debris around to the street for pickup, and remembered having seen one on a shelf in the shed, apparently left behind by the last tenant. I pulled it out of the shed and tossed it onto the lawn. A little while later, I decided to open up the tarp to check for creepy crawlies (I get a little freaked out over just about all bugs, but am trying to get over it). When I tossed it open, I found what looked like little white balls. Upon closer inspection I realized that I was looking at eggs-- lizard eggs presumably. After a thorough accounting of the eggs in front of me, I found that I had three broken eggs and four unbroken eggs.

Eggs in hand

I felt bad about having disturbed the eggs and that some had been broken in the process. So I decided to try to place them in a new sheltered nest site, so they will at least have a chance.

Four eggs Covered eggs

We'll see what happens with them, if anything.

Lots more work to do!