Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hope Grows Day: June 2011

Hanni over at  Sweet Bean Gardening
hosts this meme and I always manage to be a bit late with my contribution.

The Frangipani has gotten too tall to photograph with any real evidence of progress. These small 'fleshy' trees root easily if a "limb" is cut off and just planted into the ground. Two years ago, I received a 6" cutting and just stuck it in some potting soil in the garden, it took a year to start growing.

Frangipani May 2011
Cane Orchid May 2011

Amazingly the Cane Orchid is still blooming! To deter the ants (that I believe were beginning to farm aphids) I used some garlic cloves and the "paper" coating from garlic cloves and that seemed to take care of the problem.

Now the temperatures have reached the 90's the Gardenias have done blooming, but we enjoyed their brief visit to our backyard paradise.

We continue to have a severe lack of water in these parts and I don't think the water from the hose is sufficient enough to aid the plants' best growth.

We will soldier on and hope our summer rains begin soon.

Armenian Cuke May 2011
Cuke June 2011
In May's post I reported on the Armenian Cucumber.  Since then this cuke has developed powdery mildew - which I have read is a combination of very hot days and cooler nights. I used a remedy which basically served to fry the cuke's leaves. The cukes still developed though and they taste great!

The peppers and tomats however survived the spray with no ill effects. 

Here is the powdery mildew recipe if you wish to give it a go.
Take a gallon container, put 2 Tablespoons baking soda and 2 Teaspoons dish soap and fill the container to the top with water and then transfer to a spray bottle. Spray leaves upside and underside on a cloudy day.

Moving right along with my June Hopes post...the Boniato (Ipomoea batata) is a member of the morning glory family. 

Boniato May 2011
It loves to climb and climb! It is like a sweet potato that can be baked, roasted, boiled, fried, mashed et al. I tried mine as a baked potato and it was delicious. So I just picked one up from Publix, I cut it in half and kept it in the dark pantry until it had "eyes" (also known as chitting in other parts of the world), then I planted it in the first week of May and 2 weeks later a little stalk popped up. I kid you not when I say that it is currently scrambling up the trellis one inch per day.

Calabaza Seedling
The Calabaza is a Cuban winter squash, and is also known as Seminole Pumpkin. It is my first time growing this and it might be a little early to have started but it takes 4 months to develop. I scooped the seeds out and dried them for 5 days. Then I planted the seeds in a pot and they were up really quick. This pumpkin needs a lot of room to grow.

Last but not least, is the Chayote (Sechium edule). Aka: vegetable pear, mango squash and mirliton this vegetable is good for Florida's hot and humid climate. Plant the whole plant since the fruit is the seed. Leave the crinkled bit (the stem) exposed. They need a trellis or fence to support the 1-2lb squash. They can be creamed, buttered, fried, stuffed or baked. According to a report I read the vines are edible and taste like asparagus. I started mine off as you would a advocado seed. When I transplant it to the garden it will need protection with a cage from our (blank) gang. Fill blank with mouse, raccoon or whatever loves to eat these. When the stalk gets underway it should still be OK. The leaves are a dark green with a vining habit - like peas, beans, cukes and the boniato.

Chayote Squash

Coming soon: Cantaloupe, Fordhook Lima and Corn.

....And then an exciting update on Owl!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shades of Hot, Hotter & Sizzling in Paradise

The temperatures are steadily climbing into the 90F and our backyard in paradise is also beginning to look "hot" with hues of red, yellow and orange!

We will kick off with an unknown plant. It has very attractive flowers, but no scent. It is also a nuisance in that it pops up all over the place, which alas is so often the case here with our tropical weather. The leaves are furry and heart shaped. If anyone can identify it, I would be pleased to know what it is.
Mystery plant
 Below left is Spicy Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima). Jatropha is a genus of approximately 175 succulent plants, trees and shrubs. Blooms continuously and very drought tolerant. Very attractive as a small accent tree.

Spicy Jatropha
Next is Cape Honeysuckle (Tacoma capensis), a scrambling shrub native to Africa. This shrub appears to have runners that can help it "travel" elsewhere in the garden. It's a messy, spindly plant, but the hummingbirds love it - so it stays.

Close Up Cape Honeysuckle
Cape Honeysuckle

Dianthus or Pinks, are grown as annuals here in Florida. They go dormant during the hottest part of summer and I have had them re-emerge like "perennials" in the spring.

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana). A succulent; likes arid conditions and is a wonderful plant to put in front of pinwheel jasmines, or roses. Great groundcover and spreads rapidly.

Bell Pepper, absolutely delicious in a home-made salsa.

Bell Pepper
Native Firebush
Native Firebush (Hamelia patens). Attracts our state butterfly, the Zebra Longwing. Has orange/red flowers and hairy leaves. Tubular flowers give way to red/black, glossy berries that are popular with songbirds and in particular cardinals.

Native Firebush

Squash Flowers

I have various types of Nasturiums cascading over hanging baskets.

The Squash plants are coming along nicely. I put toothpicks around them (sharp end up) to prevent cutworms and other critters nibbling on these edible flowers.

Zinnias are one of my favorites in the garden, they are self seeding and, with regular deadheading, low maintenance.

Not exactly in the garden, but in a large cage on the patio is our little love bird Peaches. She is playing Peek-a-boo with me while I took this picture.
Pretty Peaches
Not in my garden but on the dining room table. Roses for mothers day.  I know elsewhere in the world, it is earlier in the year.

Happy belated mothers day for all moms in the USA, and everywhere in the world!
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