2/28/08

Difference Between Frost and Freeze

South Florida had a Freeze in January and many gardeners lost plants. I didn't lose anything that I cried over. Here's the run-down.

Yesterday and today, we had a wind chill warning, freeze warning, and red flag warning. It was 51 degrees on my porch at 8am. At around 6am, it was 47 degrees.

I took this little tomato/basil pot inside. I also moved the new miracle plant inside the garage. I wasn't really that concerned, but these are the two plants I've been putting a lot of energy into lately and I didn't want to take the chance.

So, what is the difference between a frost, freeze, wind chill, and frost/freeze warning, and what is a red flag warning? Are four warning levels of cold really needed? Is this system like the hurricane system...do we need to remember the difference between a watch and a warning?

Considering, Florida's agriculture industry's total economic impact is $59 billion ('08 UF study), I think we really do need a sophisticated weather warnng system.

I've just searched for 30 minutes to find actual definitions of what these warnings mean. I found the definitions on the nat weather service website, but they are not specific and don't contain degrees. They also say to check with individual states because terms vary by state. I'll look it up again later. How frustrating. Here are a few pieces of info I found:

A freeze warning is issued for 3 or more hours of temperatures between 27 and 32 over a widespread area. Residents should cover or move indoors any cold sensitive plants...and bring pets indoors.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now...or will shortly.

A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and gusty winds will combine to generate low wind chills.

A definition: http://www.weather.gov/glossary/index.php?word=freeze
A good table: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-705.html
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2/22/08

10 Free Plants After 1 Year

The other day, I was inspired by a posting about separating ground orchids. Since Rusty at the DragonFly Garden blog thought it was time to separate his, I figured now is the time to separate mine. It's called Grapette because it smells like grape juice.
I bought this ground orchid about a year ago in a 3 gallon pot for $9 on sale. It's bloomed twice, most recently from Sep 07 until Jan 08. It's thrived outside the pool on a sunny corner that gets sun most of the day.

above: Spathoglottis 'Grapette' in sep 07


above: I dug up the ground orchid and shook out the dirt.

above: a close-up of the root system. You can even see all the new stalks that are only a few inches tall.


I began untangling the roots until I had divided the plant into 11 separate plants. I potted 9 of them and replanted two where the original had been. It took about 10 mintues to detangle the 11 pups. After I separated each one, I put them in a bucket of water so the roots wouldn't dry out (even though they were only exposed to the air for 10 miunutes).

E Pluribus Unum (In the Garden)

E Pluribus Unum ....... "from many, one"

Read below for what this phrase means. Today must be opposite day for me because I dug up this small variegated liriope and discovered it has multiplied in only six months! Now I have 3 liriopes.

From one, many!!!

above left: small variegated liriope


above: same liriope after I dug it up and began gently separating.

above: the three final small plants that came from the one liriope.


On the back of the dollar bill, we have a latin quote which alludes to our country's unification..."from many" states, our forefathers formed "one" country.
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2/12/08

A Foggy Cememtary


So, here's another shot of the cemetary at 8am in late January. I snapped the cemetary spider web this same morning. The ducks are fake, but no would know that unless I said it. This is such a pretty place and right in my backyard...literally.
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Nature's Got a PhD in Math


So, I love this shot of a cemetary spiderweb. Just look for a moment at how this web is constructed. Now, imagine you had to make a web like this from string to win a million dollars...I couldn't do it. This little spider with a brain half the size of a sesame seed, made this. He knew which blades of grass to use......he knew how many rays to spin.....he knew how many segemnts needed to connect each of the rays...... He knew the middle had to be different (for reason I don't know) from the outer part.

This web is pretty small...no larger than a salad plate. So, to get this shot, I walked over to the cemetary behind my house. It was early in the morning and the dew was obviously still all over the ground. I saw all these cool webs covering the grass. So, I got down on the ground and started snapping photos. Of course, then a funeral home guy decided to get to work early that day. He probably thought I am a quack walking through a cemetary at 6 in the morning. I've been caught there before taking photos. Oh well.
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Noon Light in February

I've been trying to pay attention to how my garden is lighted (...sunlight that is...) during different times of the season at different times of day.

Here is a long view of my tiny edible garden at 12:00pm in early February. You can see the shadow of the house on the grass does not interfere all with the garden. This is the north fence of my home and you can see my neighbor's yellow house on the right. The poor frizzle top palm tree is up by our driveway. Off in a distance, you can see our hurricane shutters stored above my garden bench.
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Rosebud in my Backyard

Remember that beautiful rose I posted a few days ago? Well, a few days before it bloomed, it looked like this.

I just couldn't let this photo sit in my folder without posting. A rose is indeed beautiful, but how cool is it to see where all those petals are growing. What energy it must take to pry them from a bud like this!
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From Strawberries to Tomatoes

Remember my recent posting about all the plants in my garden that didn't do so well? Here's another one that didn't make it. I cut off long runners from a strawberry plant from the side garden, and planted them in the strawberry pot near the front door. It took them three days, but they shrivvled up and died. I have no idea why...I did everything right. Oh well.

The new "Patio Tomato" plant is from Home Depot. I planted it pretty deeply because you are always supposed to plant some of the stem in the ground so the plant forms better roots. I had lots of success growing them like this last year.

Oh wait, they got Leaf Curl and died. But they were doing great for a while.

I've been away for four days to celebrate my 2nd wedding anniversary. I have some great photos and am excited to make my second posting to my new travel blog! I'm also excited to get back and see what's gone on in the yard. I have a feeling there are a dozen roses all in bloom on the two bushes. I bet the beans are 4 inches tall, and I hope to God the miracle fruit received enough water under the garden bench where I put him.
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2/11/08

The Sweetest Rose


This rose photo was taken six days ago in the early morning. The dew droplets covered the rose in the most perfect pattern. If you click on the photo, you can see the large version...it's worth it. The rest of the rose photos have been to my flickr account under my Nature category.

I wish the settings I used for this shot weren't accidental. These are some of my favorite shots with the new camera.

I cut this rose along with two others and they were the sweetest smelling roses I've grown. The two bushes were from Walmart believe it or not. They were under $10 each and produce like crazy.

2/9/08

The Beans Have Sprouted!

I grew these beans last year and had a lot of fun with them. They required no work, and just vined right up the fence. I’d love to grow them to cover the (eventual) blackberry fence in the backyard by the pool.

Here's how fast they grow:

Jan 31: I planted the seeds.
Feb 7: They sprouted! I was lucky enough to catch this shot (below) a few hours before the leaves popped out of the ground.

On the 8th day, the bean seedlings broke the surface.

Feb 9: the small seedling is about two inches tall (below). You can still see the bean under the two leaves. The bean split in half and sprouted the plant.

I bet the seed packet I bought is over a year old. I store the seeds in the garage in a small Rubbermaid box. I’m supposed to store seeds in a cool, dry, dark environment. These definitely don’t stay cool, but they do stay dark and dry. I’d like to take a look at the seed packet to see what the company says about the time it should take to sprout, then set fruit.
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Brugmansia Pests

The small brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) has another problem. Last year it was aphids on the leaves. This year it’s some kind of small caterpillar. Here’s a photo of the damage they’ve done over the past two weeks.

I am on my way home (after a 4-day mini vacation in Orlando) to see if they are gone. I sprayed the plant with Sevin before I left. I only use this heavy-duty, toxic, totally non-organic insect control once or twice per year. It’s severe, but I don’t want to lose the plant.

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2/7/08

Star fruit tree

This tree is unbelievable!

It’s in my neighborhood too! It’s a star fruit and I’m sure it’s pretty old. I can’t believe how many fruits this tree yields. I need to talk to the owner and see what he does with all the fruit. I’d love to get some seeds. There are a lot of fruit on the ground.

A lot of S. Florida residents have fruit trees that yield too many fruit and they would LOOOVE for someone to come over and take some fruit off their hands. Perhaps he falls into this category and I could do him the favor of cleaning out the tree every couple days.

I’d love to throw these fruits into my daily fruit and veggie juices. How about kiwi + star fruit + orange!? Or, kiwi + strawberry + star!?
I had forgotten I germinated some star fruit seeds last year. They obviously didn't grow once they got out into the yard though. Here's the link to the photo.

Miracle Fruit Purchase


I received my order from the online tropical plant company. I was extremely happy with the whole process.

Synsepalum dulcificum - 1 gal pot - a.k.a. "Miracle Fruit"
Opuntia cochenillifera - 4 in pot - a.k.a. "Warm hand, Velvet Opuntia, Wooly Joint Prickly Pear, Nopales opuntia, Nopal cactus, Nopalea Grande"

The cactus was their "special of the day." I guess this company will send you anything they have too many of for one penny when you place an order online. The plant I was supposed to get was a pink hibiscus. I'm happy with this cactus. This will be my 4th type of succulent. Last year, I planted a trio based upon a nice planting I saw at a hotel in Orlando. My potted arrangement is thriving on my kitchen counter where it gets filtered light each day.
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What's NOT Doing so Well - Time to Fess Up

So, for every couple dozen plants that thrive in my garden, there's at least one that....well...doesn't thrive.


Here are the citrus trees that have dropped half their leaves. I don't know why the leaves dropped, but they appear to be doing relatively okay. The far left is a variegated pink lemon that has budded and set fruit for the first time. The middle two are myer lemon and key lime.
Here's a brusmansia (Angel's Trumpet) that I grew from seed. It's been transplanted a few times. Way back in March 2007, it was infested with aphids and bounced back nicely. We'll see how it does in the ground with only one day of sprinkler water per week. The yellowing is due to the change in watering schedule (the water mgmt district recently mandated that we can only water once per week).

Here's a white hibiscus. It caught something anf dropped all its leaves. I cut it back by half and am waiting for it to (hopefully) bounce back.

Here's a queen palm that has frizzle top. I've treated it with manganese sulfate, but it doesn't look like it's working.

2/4/08

Bougainvillea Planter Progress

The planters are not looking their best right now. Here is the left planter which was hit the hardest by the freeze we had a few weeks ago.

I’m excited about the next few months though. I noticed that under each large thorn, there are little nubbies. I think they’re actually called nodes. The white spots are from the organic bug spray I use on the plants. It turns to white powder once it dries on the plants.

Each of the nubbies grows into a big cluster of new leaves and flowers. The plant has hundreds of nubbies that look like they’re ready to burst!

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2/3/08

The Well-Travelled Tomato - Part 1

This is the story of a very, very, VERY special tomato seed. (sounds like the beginning to a kids book)


The Background: I have grown 4 seasons of tomatoes. They all do beautifully for the first few months, then die due to disease. I've tried a half dozen solutions ranging from switching garden locations, to topical disease control, to hanging baskets, to upside down baskets.

The Story
: I ended up at a website that provides experimental, geneticically modified plants/seeds to farmers, scientists, and home growers. Everything is free while supplies last. The catch is that you need to provide them with a report about how they fair while under your care. There are lots of other rules and procedures because these seeds (in my case) came from Taiwan and had to pass through all kinds of clearance due to the organic matter of the package.

I ordered several varieties of tomato seeds that are supposed to be resistent to all the diseases to which my garden has fallen victim. I'd normally be 100% opposed participating in genetically modified seeds, but I'm kind of desperate to grow some tomatoes. Plus, as much as I don't want to admit it, most of the fruit from the grocery store is genetically modified and most of our seeds are modified as well.

So, this first seed I planted does not have a name other than CLN2768A. I don't know if it's determinate or indeterminate...doon't know if it's vining or clustering, don't know if it's red, green, or yellow. It's kind of fun not to know anything about this little seed.

Progress: The good news is that it sprouted in three days. I planted it Jan 28, and noticed that lastnight, it broke through the soil with two baby leaves.

2/1/08

New Plantings

I planted some bulbs and seeds today in the front and south yards. I got them at Walmart.

Tigridia – Mexican Shellflower: 12 bulbs for $3.34
Dutch Iris – Miss Saigon: 12 bulbs for $3.34
Sunflower – Red Sun: planted a small handful that a friend gave me
Wildflowers – Sunny Meadow Mixture from Ferry Morse: a packet for $1.99

So, the grand total for today’s plantings is $8.67 + tax.
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Every Plant in my Garden


I'm going to name every plant in my yard. This is one of the first mystery plants from the previous homeowner. I've posted over at gardenweb...hopefully, between here and there, someone will know what this is. It's fairly common here in S. Florida...we'll see......

Great News!......it's a Dracaena marginata. I got my answer from oldned at gardenweb.

Croton Propagation

We have lots of crotons in our yard. I love them because of the enormous amount of color they add to the yard without flowering. So, I recently propagated some rubber plants via taking cuttings and decided to see what else in my yard can be propagated using the same methods.

Yesterday, I walked around the yard and took cuttings of a dozen plants. I don't know if all of them will sprout roots, but I'll certainly try. Seen here, are cuttings of the following plants from my yard:

croton (two types)
a pretty variegated mystery plant (funny story)
oregano
poinsettia
rubber plant
dracaena marginata
alamanda (given to me by a neighbor)
clerodendrum (given to me by a neighbor)

I dipped the stems in rooting hormone and put them in a glass of water.
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