Monday, June 13, 2011
Mid June reportWe've still hardly had any rain, but it hasn't been too darn hot...we still have great breezes in the late afternoon and are able to sit out on our swing and enjoy the sunset. The mosquitoes are bad this year and I even had to call the county and get a spray truck out here, which on line says they came by last week. But we still have mosquitoes biting me each and every single day. But I endure them for the most part, they only itch for about an hour and then go away. They are the worst in the early morning at sunrise when there isn't much of a breeze, but after the winds pick up they aren't so noticeable.
The baby Cardinal disappeared the first day of June, we had a very heavy rain storm with wind and thunder, we even lost power for an hour...it was the only rain we've had this month so far. That day we were sitting on the front porch with our son and watching the rain come down and could hear the cardinals really squawking unusually loud in the oak tree. We figured it was because of the rainstorm. But that was the day the nest was empty and never saw the baby again. I don't feel it was old enough yet to fly away, but did see some wing flapping only days prior. According to research on the net the baby can actually fly off in less than a month. So we are hoping that is what happened. A few days ago I was out front saying good bye to my son and grandson and saw three cardinals fly into the little oak tree. We only had two so we are staying positive that the baby is now living on its own with her parents.
My jalapeņo peppers are really doing wonderful and I have about eight good sized peppers some are three inches now, and many tiny ones and lots of blossoms. That 11 cent tomato plant I got on clearance at Wally World is doing fantastic and has four tomatoes on it now. It is a better bush and doesn't need a lot of staking. Then my cherry and grape tomatoes are popping out tons of tomatoes, they are very tasty and I've been making lots of salads with them. I got four good sized bell peppers off my plant and they were kind of chewy but still had great flavor. The last one had a hole in it from something eating the seeds. I have moved the plant to a filtered sun location under the turkey oak and it started some new peppers, but the other day the largest pepper was eaten up by something, more than likely a bird, it was a good two and half inches.
I don't know what is going on with my crepe myrtles this year. The ones out front are doing fine and budded out normally. But the ones in the back yard are not doing so well. It is like the three in the far back went dormant for a bit. Then last week they started some new growth again, but still no buds even starting and now the leaves are turning orange like they do in the fall. I am figuring it is due to the drought and hoping they will take off when we finally...hopefully...get some regular afternoon showers. I am watering them often, but the humidity has been low for Florida...around upper thirty and low forties during the mid day and of course temperature in the low to mid nineties. Even the white Natchez are not budding yet, the older trees that is...the two younger ones along the fence are flowering, but they do get more water. I didn't trim back the large ones this year and next year will have to climb a ladder and trim them back. Even some little crepes I had are getting dried looking ends on the leaves.
Our well has been sounding stressed which it does when the water table is getting low. I guess I need to start doing a rain dance each night. We see some storms around us but all we get is a few drops and they fizzle out before getting to us. The rain chance is picking up and pop up storms are happening each day, so we just keep crossing our fingers...a really nice tropical storm with a good all day soaking is what we need. Fires are all over the state now....reminds me of when I lived in California. The smell of smoke in the air.
I have been real good at checking plants for pest, but let my guard down and had some marigolds from Lukas Gardens and didn't check them. Put them in my huge pot with a penta and the Lobelia. After only a week all the plants were severely covered with fuzzy white mealy bugs. I tried to organically remove them but I went through this last year with a night jasmine plant giving my garden mealy bugs. So I ripped all the plants out and threw them in the garbage can. Now a nearby frost proof gardenia has them. So even though I'm a strong believer in organic....I'm not going through what I did last year and going to get some BATS and nip this in the bud. I did learn my lesson and will check plants much better again.
We got some more patio stepping stones like our pathway and I'm going to lay them from the porch walkway around the back of Mitzi's garden to the other pathway. We were laying in the hammock one night and noticed how we are wearing the grass down there from walking on it so much, so more stone and less grass...works for me! I hate grass. Speaking of grass the front yard lawn is barely staying green due to the drought and water restrictions. The one day during half the year and now this drought is taking its toll on the lawn...but what can you do? Everyone else's looks just as bad or even worse, many people don't water at all and have totally brown lawns. No sense in laying new sod when you're not allowed to water it once established...it'll just die out again and again.
Well this is more than likely my last entry for Spring 2011, we will be heading to the beach, just us two and the boys and cats stay home...and by the time we are back it will be summer...even though it has felt like summer already for a couple months.
Monday, May 30, 2011
The Heat is on....I know it isn't summer for another three weeks but you can't tell that to my garden. My poor plants are so desperately in need of a good all day soaking from the sky...heck they'd be happy with an hour of soaking. We had one day that there was a chance of rain and were lucky if we saw ten drops, not enough to get the hanging pots under the trees wet. Now the outlook for the next ten days shows hardly a chance of rain at all. What is happening to the weather in Florida? Memorial day weekend usually marked the end of a dry spell and the afternoon chance of rain finally kicks back in for a few months. But last year we saw record high and dry days in June and I fear the same thing is going to happen this year once again. Our 29th wedding anniversary is the fifth of June and most every year including the day we got married it has rained and rained good and hard. Last year it did not, and the prediction in none for this year.
As far as the garden it is too hot to plant any new plants in the ground or transplanting, for now all I can do is water everything. Wilting in the hot afternoon sun and even some leaf scorching is going on. The mosquitoes are lurking in any wet soil under bushes they can find and are eating my legs up as I go around in the early morning and late evenings checking out the garden. I've put my complaint call into the county but so far still tons of mosquitoes around. What does love this dry heat is the spiders and I have more than ever this year making their pesky webs all over the yard. Each morning I'm clearing webs out of my hair as I walk around, what is it with those darn spiders, no matter how many times you knock their web down they build it right back across the path again? I have one huge spider that is getting bigger everyday, he stays in his spot and doesn't interfere with my pathway, but that guy is getting a bit too big for comfort and I'm not sure what to do with him, so far I'm just keeping my eye on him.
Last night I saw the Cardinals baby reaching up its little wide open beak to pa pa for dinner. I only saw one baby reaching up, so I think that is all they have. A hawk has swooped down twice that I've seen so it might have succeeded in snatching a baby...I hope not. The cardinals don't seem to mind me walking around their nest, heck it is right smack in the middle of my backyard in the smallest of tree and only a foot above my head, so it is hard not to walk around it. I actually think they did it on purpose, since that pesky hawk won't fly down too low when I'm out here and I'm almost always out here. But I have to say I have quite enjoyed watching this pair of cardinals make a nest and care for their young.
Monarchs are here and fluttering around constantly, a few black swallowtails and some Gulf Frits. Two kinds of hummingbirds are abundant each and everyday and love the black and blue salvias the most of all the flowers, and of course the hummingbird feeder. I keep trying to get a picture of the Ruby throated one, but it moves so fast they are always blurred.
The drought has been so bad that the birds are rejoicing in my birdbath, there are some birds I've never seen and have no idea what kind they are. I have to fill the bird bath each day since the water evaporates or gets splashed out by the birds. The squirrels drink their water from it also. One thing I haven't seen is my garden snake in about a month, I sure hope one of the neighbors didn't kill it.
I don't like using any pesticides in the yard but those horrible ants were taking over my swing and so I doused it with Demon real good, and so far haven't seen any ants on it since I did it two days ago. Ants and mosquitoes all part of living in Florida.
The lantana has been blooming early this year and I've already been trimming it back, but my crepe myrtles aren't budding out yet, just the pink ones out front are, but in the back even my white ones still aren't blooming. I do see some buds on the younger Natchez's but not the two older ones....very strange. Even the red dynamite and hardy lavender aren't showing any buds yet. I guess it is the heat, then again it is only the end of May, guess the heat so early makes me think it is later in the season. One area in the garden that is loving this heat is the succulent garden, never seen my cactus look so good....lol
My orange tree is dropping the oranges and so it just confirms that it is dying. It makes me sad to lose this tree, it has given us so many wonderful years of great oranges and I am really going to miss it, especially this coming winter when I have to actually go to a store and buy oranges. Phil is going to put his smoker over there that we got at a garage sale last week once he's done refurbishing it.
Well even though it is hot and summer weather is here to stay for awhile, I'd still rather be in Florida than any other state, with the strong tropical breezes that blow off the ocean each night keeping my wind chimes just lightly clinking away and the beautiful blue skies and puffy white clouds makes our ninety degree days much more bearable.
So for now I'll just keep watering and waiting for the days when I hear the distant rumbling of thunder coming and rejoice the afternoon rains.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Being a Gardener is good for your healthThe other day I had someone comment on how nice and muscular my arms are and they asked if I lift weights. I laughed and said, yes I lift heavy pots, shovel compost, dig holes...I'm a gardener. There is no doubt that gardening improves your physique, but now I have been reading how great it is for you mental health also. Gardeners are generally happier with life than non gardeners, it has been proven in scientific studies of elderly people that those that spend time in a garden have a greater satisfaction of life. Heck it is hard to not enjoy life when you're surrounded by flowers, vegetables and all the wildlife they attract. The use of Prozac goes up quite a bit for people over 65, so gardening could easily be a wonderful aid in getting rid of the blues.
Another surprising study by the University of Arkansas found the women who garden had a lower rate of Osteoporosis than women who were joggers, swimmers, and did aerobics. Let's face it you are bending and pulling weeds, digging holes, raking, and carry big bags of compost around...all beneficial weight bearing exercise.
Active gardeners get the required 150 hours a week of exercise that lowers the risk of Diabetes also, plus if you grow your own fresh produce you have even a greater management of Diabetes.
But here's the kicker, there is actually a field of medicine called horticultural therapy, it is mainly for those with Dementia or psychiatric disorders that cause sleep disorders. Researchers from the International Society for Horticultural Science found that gardening was a coping strategy for stressful life situations. The less we're all stressed out, the better we'll sleep.
So there you go, working in the garden is not only good for you physically but mentally. My father is 80 and still works in the garden daily and really is pretty healthy. My aunt is 93 and she still gets out in the garden daily and will trim a hedge or cut back some flowers. So I sure wouldn't doubt that gardening leads to longevity of life.
If you have a garden your are rich. The best fertilizer is the shadow of the gardener.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Finally RAIN!It is past noon and we've been getting some well welcomed rain all morning. One bad thing is I planted an Agave angustifolia in one of those huge pots from Home Depot and the gutter must be plugged up, so the whole pot is filling with gobs of water. It has lots of babies that were inside the pot, it was very root bound. That pot is huge so it has lots of room to grow now...just got to clean out that blockage in the gutter.
Phil worked on putting bubbler sprinkler hose along the front flower bed, this way we can get water right to those plants without the main sprinkler system spraying the house more than the plants. Of course we haven't been able to put it to the test since it is raining today, but hopefully those little drips of water do the trick...I'm skeptical about it.
I do hope I've raked the last of the leave out front, I swear I rake more dirt than leaves. The one day a week watering is finally back to two days, but we had a pretty windy and warm February and March and I'm afraid many lawns have suffered from the lack of water. Again this rain is a good thing!
I've transplanted some plants to new locations that I felt weren't doing as well as they could. I moved two soap aloes to the middle garden from the east tropical side so they will get more sun. I had to put the Moonshine snake plant into a larger clay pot, boy was that baby rootbound. I moved some pots around also.... those pots are sure heavy when full of dirt. I cleaned out more leaves again from the gardens, mostly the east side of porch. Phil also put some dripper and small sprayers in that garden.
Today I guess I better do some housework...thank goodness God give gardeners rainy days so we can get housework done. :)
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