Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chilled But Not Stirred and Hold The Ice, Thanks.

Here's Bobby!

I don’t know about the rest of you South Floridian gardening folks but I was more than relieved when the nighttime temperatures began to climb into the mid 40’s. For a few days the birdbath was frozen solid in the morning and my garden was beginning to look like Halloween again what with all the blankets and sheets covering the tomatoes and peppers. Amazingly enough some 1” in-ground Cherry tomato “sproutlets” did made it through those bitter nights, but then I did cover them with boxes. The 3” Sunmaster tomatoes melted and I gave up covering them but here we are two weeks later and they have reasserted themselves with healthy, new leaf growth! The cabbages also made it through, as did the potted leaf lettuce (which I did bring in onto our screened in patio). As far as the mature tomatoes are concerned other than a little frostbite damage on leaf tips they are thriving. It is interesting to note that the in-ground tomatoes are faring better than those in large pots. Last year I had read that before a really cold spell you need to water tomatoes deeply but at their root base and not the leaves. In case you are wondering, no I don't have a remarkable memory but I do keep a gardening journal.
Since installing our tiny but beloved butterfly garden last November the group of Milkweed plants have many Monarch caterpillars munching away. I was happy to see these black and yellow striped critters also survived, and some are as big as my little finger. They really are quite smart and will attempt to hide under a leaf if you observe them for too long.

Also, luckily for this gardening family of broccoli lovers no plants were affected by the chilly weather. I discovered this tip last year - by accident per most of my learning experiences. When you remove the mature broccoli head don’t then remove the remaining plant, over a few days some tiny broccoli sprouts will appear from the main stem and they are good stir fried or steamed. I let some of the broccoli to go to flower since those little blue-green neon bees seem to love the canary colored flowers.
Our family was amused to see that some enterprising lizards had made their homes in those little, fake bird houses you can get from the grocery store. The main picture shows Bob peeking out from his Log Cabin.

Last but not least the Pileated Woodpecker has made a return visit to the large bird box. I am hopeful that they will have their chicks in there again. More to follow. Happy New Year to you and yours!

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