Thursday, May 26, 2011

I carried a watermelon....

Finally the watermelon is ready! I had a lot anxiety about picking it at the wrong time, so I got tired of worrying and just picked it. The melon was indeed ripe and sweet and weighed about 9lbs.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Melon Update

The melons are getting ripe now. I've tasted my first Rich Sweetness 132 and sadly it just isn't sweet at all. Ah well, it is very pretty and productive and I am going to add some sugar or honey to it somehow. I have nine more fruit coming off of the single vine. The vine itself is mostly dead, but the fruit are in the ripening stage so it's ok. The light yellow fruit in the picture is a Great White tomato, not a melon.

My Black Seeded Ice Cream watermelon vine has produced just one watermelon, but it is heavy and full sized. It may already be ripe for all I know, but I'm afraid to pick it early. The tendril nearest the fruit has turned brown, a sign of ripeness I'm told. I've been thumping it daily trying to listen for the distinctive plonck of ripeness instead of a ping. I'm not very good at that part. It is pictured in its "protective" pantyhose.

The Wrangler melon is an Italian type cantaloupe/muskmelon. It is the only melon vine still going strong with new green growth because it is a hybrid with a full package of disease resistance. There are three good sized melons on it and one smaller fruit.

RIP Honey Orange vine. I didn't get any fruit off the Honey Orange and the vine is dead. I think I will try again though. It  might do well in the fall/winter if we could have a normal warm winter again.

This isn't a melon, but one of my last couple of cucumbers.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Abraham Darby

This is one of my new roses I wrote about before, Abraham Darby. I am so happy I decided to get Mr. Darby! I removed and reconfigured a whole planting bed to make room for it and I must say the bed looks a lot prettier with Abraham Darby. This bed is directly in front of my back porch so I can just sit there and look at it and eventually, I hope, smell the delightful scent through the screen. The plant to the left is a citrus/rose scented geranium and I have another rose scented geranium on the right.

This is a David Austin English rose. According to my research it's named after a man who help start the industrial revolution in England. It makes me think more of Mr. Darby from Pride and Prejudice, but that's just me.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I thought I'd do a post about Hydrangeas. I love the lovely old Southern charm they exude. I have two Endless Summer hydrangeas and a Blushing Bride hydrangea. I wasn't certain they'd grow in central Florida when I sent away for my first Endless Summer three years ago. I've never seen them in any other yard around here. You have to take some risks though right?

The Endless Summer series are special hydrangeas that bloom on old and new growth. This allows them, in theory, to rebloom and to bloom in harsh Northern climates. Surprisingly they are really easy to care for if you give them part sun in the morning only and keep them watered. They don't get any pests at all in my yard. They are much easier than say roses and veggies in my yard. A hydrangea bloom lasts months, literally. When they get old they turn a pretty reddish shade and hold their form. Since we have such a long season I think they'd probably rebloom if I cut off the old blooms, but I like them so much I haven't tried yet.

I've been using an acid fertilizer and slowly adding sulfur to the soil around the hydrangeas to change their bloom color. In case you are unaware, many hydrangeas will change colors based on the pH of the soil they are growing in. A low ph turns the flowers blue and a high pH turns the flowers pink. A more neutral pH makes the flowers purple. The Endless Summers are one of these types of hydrangeas that will be blue, pink, or purple depending on the pH. The Blushing Bride is a nice pure white and as it ages it develops a pink blush or a blue blush depending on the pH. The first year my hydrangeas were all pink. Last year they were all purple. This year, joy, they are blue! Blue is my favorite.

More Roses

I have a slight rose addiction as you can tell. I know I shouldn't plant anymore, but they're so pretty. I attended the annual Green Thumb festival in St. Petersburg and I picked up a Heritage rose from Cool Roses. I mean really it was a David Austin rose in full bloom and on Fortuniana rootstock of all things. I couldn't pass it up. The Austin roses really do have the most glorious smell.

So, today I happened to be in a funk and went to a local nursery that had just received a fresh shipment of roses on Fortuniana rootstock.  There before me was a Abraham Darby Austin rose. I'd always wanted to try this one, but my sensible side had always stoppped me from taking this potential disease monster home with me. Well, my sensible side had the day off apparently because I got this one too.

Now I have to tend to two less than easy care Austin roses. The only other Austin I've tried was Teasing Georgia which though very beautiful is now dead. This time will be different, right?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Fruits of my Labor

I'm more of a fruit person than a veggie person which is sad because my yard produces very little fruit. Ah well, at least I get some fruit. My Valencia orange tree still has about 4 oranges left on it. My Sunshine Blue blueberry is producing a little. The invasion of the green oak worms destroyed about 50% of the berries, but it still has some left. I've been picking them when they get ripe. This year I discovered that alpine strawberries will produce fruit in Florida. In fact the one I planted from seed in the fall is still making berries and looks pretty healthy. The fruit is tasty but about the size of a blueberry.

My melon plants love being in the Earthbox. In the same box I planted a Black Seeded Ice Cream watermelon, a Rich Sweetness 132 melon, a Wrangler melon, and a Honey Orange melon. The watermelon was the first to set fruit. I have one huge bowling ball sized watermelon and a small melon that seems to be waiting for the first one to vacate the vine before developing further. I have about maybe 9? Rich Sweetness melons that have set fruit. I have about four Wranglers that have set fruit and no Honey Oranges yet. I am concerned because one of the vines has redeveloped that stem fungus that it acquired last time it rained and vine is starting to turn to mush. It hasn't gotten to the healthy fruit yet, but I'm afraid it is just a matter of time. I hope I get some fruit at least.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Fairytale-Lavender and White stripe

At any given time in the garden certain plants seem to due better than others. My most successful edible plants at the moment seem to be the eggplants and melons. I will post an update on the melons next time.

I have three eggplant varieties in the garden: Fairytale, Hansel, and Gretel. I believe they were developed by the same grower as a part of a series, but I may be wrong about that. All three are compact plants with smaller sized fruit. I think the small size works for the home gardener because it takes up less room in the garden and produces about the right amount of fruits to eat. Fairytale and Hansel I grew from seeds given to me by a very nice Gardenwebber during the Christmas Santa seed exchange. Fairytale I grew last year and this is my first year with Hansel and Gretel. You can see that they have started producing a lot of flowers and fruit. While I don't really like to eat eggplant myself, I think they are especially beautiful garden vegetables. Gretel (not pictured) is a white eggplant that I purchased as a transplant at Lowes.
Hansel-Dark Purple