Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Brief Update

I got a shot of this garden helper.

I'm not sure yet what he is, but I see them on my mango all of the time. I always like seeing them, as I believe that they are working hard getting the bad guys and keeping my mango healthy and happy.

Unfortunately I have not been able to spot my Gulf Fritillary caterpillar for a couple of days. I'm concerned that a bird may have gotten him. But I did spot this little guy.
Baby Gulf Fritillary

Looks like a new GF on the passion vine. I need to move the passion vine to a more sheltered location, to try to give this little guy a better chance at survival.

I have a number of flowers about to bloom on the passion flower vine.

My loquat is showing signs of freeze damage from our last freeze.
Loquat freeze burned

I think it'll be okay, though.

I spotted one of the lizard eggs from a couple of months ago. It seems maybe a lizard actually hatched from it.
Lizard Egg

The other three are still intact.

I found these seeds on my deck the other day. I don't know what they are from.
Seeds on deck


That's a quick update for today. No time in the garden today, aside from watering the potted plants.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sunflowers (plural)


Two sunflowers now, standing tall under the ficus.

Bee and sunflower

A bee came by to visit them today, while I was visiting with them. We had a little tea party. The bee brought the honey.

bee and sunflower

My First Harvest

Well, here it is: My first real harvest.

First harvest

Three little patio tomatoes. I haven't eaten them yet, as they still need a couple of days to ripen. But they appear in good condition.

Woo hoo! I'm a gardener!

Charlotte's Web

After I got home from work, Woodrow was showing me what he'd done out in the garden today (more cleaning up behind the shed and weed-pulling). Then he was looking in the shade garden at the dragon plant, and he saw this...
Baby spider nest

What's that?
Baby spiders

A nest of spiders! Now THAT'S what I need to see, having arachnophobia as I do. Knowing that all of those spiders are growing up to be BIG spiders, and in my yard! But I need to hope that they are of benefit to my yard, and they stay well-hidden and out of sight of me in the future.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Garden Progress

Aside from working behind the shed, as I mentioned earlier, we've gotten some other work done in the garden.

I finally planted the hibiscus that I got on clearance for $5.
Hibiscus planted

This is monumental, because it is the first thing that I have planted in my garden, and it is one of the only things that I have ever planted in my life.

Woodrow also helped me by pruning the dead debris from the banana trees and the freeze-damaged chenille plant.
Pile of debris

We got most of the raised garden bed cleared out.
Raised bed now

Just as a reminder, this is what it looked like when I moved in.

I also split the cauliflower between two pots.
Cauliflower split

It's probably still way too many cauliflower in a pot, but I will probably transplant some into the garden bed once it's ready.

My mangoes are still growing.

To give some perspective, this was the same mango a week before.

My sweet yellow pepper has bloomed.
Sweet Pepper blooms

It appears that my eggplant is about to bloom.
Eggplant bloom

My tomatoes are beginning to turn red.

The lemon still has tons of beautiful blooms waiting to open, and lots of fruit ripening.
Lemon blooms

The blackberry bush still has fruit growing and ripening.


So the gardening goes on...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Secret Place

Since I bought this house, there has been a spot behind the shed that has remained something of a mystery. Sunday Woodrow and I spent some time working on this area, and I got my first close-up view of some of the areas. A few of the discoveries made:
  • What I thought were concrete stones under all of the dead grass back here turned out to be old carpeting.

    Green carpet

  • There is indeed an outdoor sink back here...

    ...and it has hoses connected to it.
    Hose to sink

    Now what's really weird is that one of these hoses disappears under the carpet on the ground, and seems buried or embedded in the ground.
    Hose in ground

    I tried to pull it out, and it didn't want to budge. We will have to lift up the carpet and see what it going on there. It seems that there is supposed to be a water supply to the sink, but it is not currently working.

    However I also spotted this in the sink:
    Submersible Pump Cable

    Insulated Submersible Pump Cable. Hmmmm. I wonder if they could have installed a well pump back here to provide water to the sink? We need to lift up all of this carpet and see what's going on. Then I can make a concrete patio back here in it's place.

  • There is a big slab of faux marble.
    Marble top

    You know-- like the stuff used to make windowsills in houses?

  • The most interesting area is this work area.
    Work area

    What exactly is this for? What is that table for, that has the wooden rods? What is the little overhang for?

  • Also I finally got to see the wooden bin up close, and found that it is a compost bin.
    Compost bin

    I found that the bin is already full of junk, and it is not the "right stuff". It needs to be emptied out.
    Compost bin

  • And, last but not least, I finally found my pipes!


    As I've driven around my neighborhood, I have noticed that everyone seems to have these white pipes located at the back corner of their property. I've been going crazy wondering where MY pipes are! Well I finally found them. I still don't know what they are for, but at least I know WHERE they are!

So this is the first pile of debris hauled out from behind the shed.
Debris from behind shed

There is still a LOT of work to do back there, but at least we've made some headway.


Tonight I harvested some more ripe blackberries from the new bush. I got 6 little berries off of it. I added them to some store-bought blackberries and vanilla yogurt for a healthy dessert. Can you tell the difference between my blackberries and the store-bought ones?

These are the store-bought berries...
Store blackberries

...and these are mine.
My blackberries

Talk about David and Goliath.

Birds in the Garden

Everyday this bird sits out on the wire and sings and sings.

It chatters non-stop. I look forward to its visits these days.

The other day I spotted this dove on the fence, with nesting material it its beak.
Dove with grass

I sneaked into the lanai with my camera and watched, in hopes that it would show me where it was building its nest. Alas, no such luck. It sneaked off on me, and I am still unaware of where the nest is secluded.

You know that sleepy feeling you get after eating a big meal?

Caterpillar takes a break from eating

The Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar that is living on my Passion Flower vine has been eating up a storm. However this morning when I found him on the vine, he seemed to be taking a break from eating. I guess even a caterpillar gets full.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Storm Wise Planting

First let me mention that I wrote an article about Florida Friendly Yards on my Freedom Gardening blog. It is about the nine principles to having an environmentally friendly yard.

One of the things that is currently occupying my thoughts are a few trees that are in my yard that are not "storm wise". Storm Wise trees have a reputation for being able to withstand winds, as we can often encounter in Florida. I have several trees that are known for blowing over in winds.

My biggest concern is my ficus (Ficus benjamina) aka "Weeping Fig".

Ficus all trimmed up

It is said about this tree:
One of the most damaging trees in southern Florida. Dense canopies act like sails in high winds and pull the large trees over, exposing large root balls and doing extensive damage to sidewalks, roads, fences, structures and utilities. Invasive exotic.

I love the look of this tree, but it has an extensive root structure, and many of the roots are close to the surface and not deep.


This means that they can stretch out 15 or 20 feet and break any foundations or concrete slabs that they meet, or can create a tripping hazard. Add to that the fact that the dense canopy makes it a wind hazard, the heavy maintenance requiring continual pruning to control it's growth, and the caterpillars that love the ficus and then proceed to make cocoons all over the side of my home.

I hate to lose the shade that the ficus lends the lanai, and the birds LOVE the ficus, but I am thinking that maybe it needs to go. I am considering cutting down the ficus and leaving a stump a couple of feet tall. Perhaps attaching a saucer to the top of it as a bird feeder or bird bath, and maybe attaching bromeliads to it or something. Then I could plant a different tree near the stump, which in a few years could lend the same shade to the porch that the ficus currently does.

Another concern is what I think might be Shady Lady Olive trees.

Shady Lady olive trees?

I don't know whether or not these are Shady Lady, and if so I don't know whether or not they are like Black Olives. Black Olives often break apart in moderate to high winds. So do I leave them up, or take them down?

Then there are the two Mahogany trees. I think that one definitely needs to come down, as it appears unhealthy and is too close to the shed.

Mohagany in front of shed

The other one I haven't decided on yet.


It isn't currently causing any trouble. But it is located close to my large mango.

Big mango

I don't have a large yard and worry about making it too shady to grow too many other plants. Plus it is not known for being very wind-resistant.

I have other trees that aren't very wind-resistant. My mango and loquat are both sensitive to wind damage. Some other trees that are on the "concern" list for wind-resistance:
  • Australian Pine
  • Yellow Tabebuia
  • Norfolk Island Pine
  • Black Olive
  • Queen Palm
  • Carrotwood
  • Royal Poinciana
  • Silk Oak
  • Java Plum
  • Hong Kong Orchid
  • Jacaranda
  • Earleaf Acacia
  • Eucalyptus
  • Javanese Bishopwood
  • Washington Fan Palm

Now for some good choices for trees known to have medium to high wind resistance:
  • Paurotis Palm
  • Florida Thatch Palm
  • Coconut Palm
  • Cypress
  • Live Oak
  • Gumbo Limbo
  • Sea Grape
  • Strangler Fig
  • Cocoplum
  • Mastic
  • Cabbage Palm
  • Dahoon Holly
  • Pond Apple
  • Black Ironwood
  • Stoppers spp.
  • Buttonwood
  • Red Bay
  • Royal Palm
  • Jamaican Caper
  • Paradise Tree
  • Wild Tamarind
  • Fiddlewood
  • Geiger Tree
  • Wax Myrtle

There's a good book called Stormscaping that can help you determine what you want to do if you are hoping to "stormscape" your yard.

I have lots of thinking to do...

Friday, February 20, 2009


Last night I picked the 8 fresh blackberries off of the blackberry bush that I bought last weekend.

Oh they were good!

Please, please, please don't let me kill this bush! I want more blackberries!