Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Roses

I added some new roses to the garden this Spring. This really shouldn't be too surprising to anyone who knows me. I know I'm not supposed to get any more roses, but ah well you know how it is for addicts. The first came from Home Depot in a bare root bag. This was my first bare root bag since moving to Florida. I would never be so cruel as to plant a bare root plant in my sandy soil, so it's now in a large planter.  This is Comte De Chambord taken a few weeks ago. It smelled so nice!

Next accquisitions were also bare root plants from Big Lots and cost $2.50 each. I bought what was labeled as Reine des Violettes, but it quickly became apparent that it was not Reine des Violettes because Reine des Violette is thornless or at least has minimal thorns and mine had many big thorns. It was a lovely light pink hybrid tea. I really wanted a Reine des Violettes so I got another one and hoped for the best. The new one hasn't bloomed yet, but it is different from the other rose.

The next rose was an Easy Does It potted rose on Dr. Huey rootstock I got it at Home Depot. Dr. Huey is a big no no in Florida and I'm afraid the rose police will come and get me, but I, gasp, planted it in the ground! I agree that Fortuniana rootstock is the best for my area, but sadly no one sells it anymore in my area. I do have a rose that has lived on Dr. Huey for about 7 years so it is possible to get years of enjoyment out of them. I'm certainly getting plenty of enjoyment out of Easy Does It right now.

Bermuda Anna Olivier

Next I needed something to plant along the property line. Well, of course I thought of roses! I decided to get some more Old Garden roses. Since the only thing available locally was Knockouts, I had to mail order them. I got them from Rose Petals Nursery here in Florida. They arrived in good condition. I ordered a Bermuda's Anna Olivier, a yellow shrub rose, and a climbing Clothide Soupert. I just planted these last week and they're already growing. Clothide is already blooming!


Clothide-Smells nice!

Veggie Update 4/26/11

I thought it may be a good time to devote a post to update the status of my edibles. Sure they're not as pretty in photos as the flowers, but they serve the important purpose of feeding me and keeping me entertained. I pulled out the tomato in the Earthbox that obviously had TSWV (RIP KBX). It was declining fairly quickly and may have even died eventually. I never let my plants get to the point of death. I pull them well before their demise.  I left the other tomato, JD Special C-Tex,  in the Earthbox because it was too late to start over. It still has some ruffled leaves, but it's setting a ton of tomatoes. I haven't had too many bug problems with it.
The other tomato Earthbox is frustrating me. The Goosecreek and Brandywine OTV are in this one and it also looks like they have a virus. One is actively declining and getting yellow leaves. The other, much like JD's is ruffled,  but otherwise doing ok. Over 50% of my tomatoes in this box have been lost to armyworms or blossom end rot. I will be instituting some changes for the Fall crop, but I've decided to let nature take its course for this pair.

The traditional containers are doing well. They don't look even 1/4 as big and lush as the Earthbox tomatoes and they are suffering some afflictions as well now. Big silver lining in that cloud is they have no blossom end rot or bug problems and they are loaded with big heirloom tomatoes. Brandywine Suddith's is pictured on the right. I also have Aunt Ruby' Green, Great White, Lucky Cross,  and Calf's Heart. In the Topsy Turvy I am finishing up a nice crop of Eva's Purple Ball and Gardener's Delight.

I have one pepper. Five pepper plants, but one pepper. It's either a Jimmy Nardello or Beaver Dam pepper. I can't remember which one.
The other peppers may have the dreaded tomato/squash virus. Maybe I'll just fertilize them and see if it's a nutrient deficiency.

I bought some sweet potatoes at Home depot. It's my first time growing sweet potatoes, so I am experimenting a little. I need to plant them in nematode free soil. Yeah right, I have lots of nematodes free soil in my yard that is sitting empty. I put them in the brick raised bed. I've been growing the anti-nematode marigolds in that bed for a while so that will have to be good enough. I have no more giant pots available.

I finally got a Diva cucumber growing in my Earthbox. Hurray! Only one of the four cucumbers in the Earthbox have produce anything up till now. The Diamante cuke produced about 11 cucumbers though. I think the cucumbers are nitrogen hungry because the leaves are a pale green. I used organic fertilizer in this box and it doesn't seem to be enough. I'm not really sure how to add more in an Earthbox. I've also been getting a lot of male flowers on the Diva which according to the internet experts is a sign of stress.

Wow, I do grow a lot of plants in my tiny yard! There are several more I could mention, but I'm tired now. I really need to show you my watermelon though. I have two watermelons now, one in an Earthbox and one in the ground. This is the Earthbox one, Ice cream watermelon. Isn't it pretty? It was dangling down from the center of the arbor I built until today. It was very cool looking on that extra long stem. Some lady stopped her car and asked me about it. Today I was worried about the weight on the vine so I made a pantyhose sling for it to hang in. I worried about damaging it with that too, but I worry a lot about everything anyway.

The Garden

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

There are plenty of life lessons to be learned from a garden. Maybe that's why gardens are mentioned so often in the Bible. A garden is a little micro version of the world. You start off not having the vaguest idea of what you are doing, but knowing that you want to do something wonderful and create something you can be proud of. Over the years you learn from your mistakes and get better and better at what you are doing. You understand how things work in the garden and how you can influence them. You get to know the players in the garden and can tell friend from foe even when they look very much alike. A lady bug resembles a dangerous predator in its larval stage, but you know to leave it in peace. You know when to get aggressive with the bug spray and when to leave things be. A cost benefit analysis is always running in your mind when you stare out at your garden domain.

Amos 4:9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

You never really master the garden though. It is something you tend not something you control. Sometimes despite your best preparations a plague of worms, viruses, disease, rain, cold. heat, etc... comes along and seemingly destroys all your big plans and dreams. On occasion you can do something about these things but often you cannot. You gripe and are sad and maybe even throw things.  You absolutely believe the whole thing is ruined, but the garden never dies and can never be destroyed so long as there is someone to tend it. It regenerates and everything is beautiful and magical again in time. Sometime it takes a long time and a lot of patience, but if you tend it it will happen. It's a life lesson indeed.

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

John 20:15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On a Brighter Note

Ok, the last post was distressing, but it isn't all terrible in the garden. Today I harvested a tiny white Gretel eggplant, a small pattypan squash, some cherry tomatoes, and more german chamomile for my tea. Many of the edible are doing well, but this is just that stressful hot time of year when the bugs and diseases show up and it isn't as easy or perfect anymore. Life in the garden goes on.

One of my wisteria vines is blooming! A couple of years ago I sent away for two native wisteria vines because I'd heard Chinese or Japanese wisteria would eat me alive. I couldn't decide which I wanted so I got both Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls'  and Wisteria macrostachya 'Blue Moon.' I planted them in the same spot on the same trellis. To my delight they have both survived. One of them is in bloom right now. I think it is Amethyst Fall. It doesn't smell nice like Chinese wisteria, but its bloom is very pretty. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Tis a sad day in the garden. My tomato plants are starting to show the signs of TSWV.  This is a terrible virus that ruins tomato production. It can kill the plant, but usually stunts growth and seriously slows production. There is also a chance the fruit it does produce will have ugly yellow patterns on the skin although it will still be edible.

It started with curly leaves. I had hoped it was any number of other conditions that weren't as serious, but now one of the plants has little brown spots on the leaves. I've seen this before so I am pretty sure what it is now. Nothing can be done to cure or treat this disease. Since there isn't time to start over I am just going to keep the plants. I know this could cause the disease to spread to my few asymptomatic plants, but they probably have it already or will soon get it since I grow tons of ornamental plants that also carry the virus.

I did learn one thing researching this affliction. It is worse in the Spring crop. I grew a TSWV resistant tomato, Bella Rosa, in the Fall, but it turns out I didn't need it. I had no disease at all in the Fall. The thrips that spread the disease from plant to plant are most active in April-June. My new plan is to grow heirloom varieties in the Fall and grow resistant hybrids in the Spring. Here is the link to the article for the curious. TSWV fact sheet

I just hope get a few good fruit for all my considerable efforts.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How does your garden grow?

It's an interesting time in the garden right now. I am enjoying all the flowers from the seeds I planted in the Fall. The tall purple flower in the photo is larkspur. I was surprised I was able to grow it here in Florida. It is all about the timing in Florida. You have to fit things in between the hot summers and the unusually cold winters we've been having lately. 

The edibles are starting to produce. I've have so many cucumbers from the Earthbox, I gave a few away. I had a few ripe cherry tomatoes, but the big ones are continuing to grow. The bugs and diseases are starting to arrive so I have to start being careful to spray regularly.

In case anyone in curious, I am spraying Bt to kill the the various caterpillars that attack tomatoes, cucumber, melons, and watermelons. When the cucumber worms arrive I may also spray a Spinosad product occasionally. I have guilt pangs whenever I use Spinosad because, although it is organic and OMRI listed, it is very bad for my friends the honey bees. I also use  the organic products Actinovate and Serenade to help with the diseases. Occasionally I also use milk (regular old diluted milk) and baking soda. In the cooler times of the year I use cooper and sulfur sprays, but it may be too hot for that now.