Thursday, July 31, 2014

August Florida Gardening - Annuals

O.K....O.K.... I know, it's HOT.  The August heat in Florida is biblical, giving testament to the old adage: "It's so hot you can fry an egg on the sidewalk."  I can personally attest to the hotness of the sidewalk because my foot pads are blistered.

But, that's no excuse not to garden in Florida in August.  If I can manage to pee on each and every fence post of these 10 acres each and every a.m. and p.m., then you can get out there and weed, fertilize, prune and replant.  Just remember to keep hydrated.

Flower Annuals

It's almost time to sow your fall warm-season flowers.  Some good annuals to sow in Florida mid-month:

  • Marigolds
  • Salvia
  • Nicotiana
  • Verbena
  • Ornamental peppers
  • Sunflowers
Right now, though, if you don't have seeds on hand, you won't find any in garden centers.  Florida law requires that all seeds be removed from shelves at garden centers by July 31 (only bulk suppliers still have seeds).    But, guess what?  They will restock shelves after- you guessed it - August 15.  Just in time for your fall flower seed planting.

So, you have plenty of time until then (and you should pace yourself, what with the heat and all), to get those flower beds prepared.
TIP:  If you have a flower bed that is heavily infested with nematodes, plant it entirely with French Marigolds. This annual flower is known to decrease nematode populations. Do it this month ahead of the cool-season planting.

Next..... More Florida August gardening things to do.   I'm so glad I'm just writing about it.
Remember, avoid overheating, keep hydrated, work in early morning and evenings - oh, and watch out for the lightening.

As you're sweating, panting and ducking, just keep remembering how nice it's going to be December-February while the rest of the country is in a deep freeze and snow bound.  A little August heat is a small price for living in paradise.

Florida Annual Flowers Resources

Recharge your flower beds with Pure Black Castings.  This certified organic worm-based fertilizer will not only provide slow-release nutrition for your flowers, it also has water retention qualities.  And, no leaching or run-off.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bamboo Control Methods

There are many methods of controlling bamboo.  To be honest, all of them sound very labor intensive.  And you know me.  I'm allergic to labor intensive.

Controlling Running Bamboo

We've read about digging trenches.  We've read about installing barriers.  There's probably a "nuclear option" out there.  But if your soil is not so rich, like ours, it appears the simplest and (most importantly) effortless (well, maybe not completely effortless) method of controlling running bamboo is to lay down manure or other rich organic material and fertilizers only on the area you want the bamboo to follow. Duh!

As you can see in this photo, the bamboo followed the line of horse manure we laid down all  last summer.  The shoots ran in both directions from the mother plant, east and west.  And get this: There were no shoots beyond the manure!

Bamboo following the manure.

Think about.  Bamboo is pretty darn smart. Either that or it can smell.  Why put out rhizomes over there were there's little to feed upon when there's a thick, smelly run of good old horse manure up and down this way? (Other useful bamboo growing and controlling information can be found here at Bamboo Garden.

Nature's all about taking the easy way and following the path of least resistance.  If you thought running bamboo was too hard to control, maybe you need to give it another try.

If any shoots do appear out beyond our containment area, simply mowing this area should do the trick.  We left a line between the fence so we can do just that and keep the bamboo from invading our neighbor's pasture.  We also plan to dig up any stray shoots and relocate to new groves.

Bamboo Fertilizing Information

Improve the long term health of soil as well as fertilize bamboo: Pure Black Castings™ and VermaPlex®

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bamboo Plants Update


As promised, here are the bamboo plants as they look so far this summer.

Our Giant Bamboo Plants Are A-Growin'

The two  images below are  the bamboo plants from the previous post as they look to date.  You know, the ones we put down by the barn.  That's what the electric fence is about.  Horses LOVE bamboo.  If we want to see the bamboo live to a ripe old age, we'll have to keep the horses away from them.

Growing Running Plants in Florida

And another wide shot....

How to grow and fertilize bamboo plants

Remember, this is the growth from the single plant circled in red and last summer's growth shown here...

Transplanting bamboo plants
Bamboo plant last summer.

So this year,  we have about 40 canes grown out about 30 feet in both directions from the original red-circled bamboo plant.  The bamboo canes are running along the horse manure, castings and liquid fertilizer applications. No canes grow out towards the barn (and that's a good thing, they would be gobbled up!)

The image below are of the bamboo plants we planted in the other pasture as they are to date....

We put in four bamboo plants at this location last summer, so the cane growth is much thicker,  The manure and fertilizer was added to a very large, square area, so the stand is much wider.  The shorter canes shown here came up first and are about 7-8 feet tall.  The newest canes coming up are now reaching 10-11 feet tall.

The shoots emerged in very early spring (actually, in February) as soon as it warmed up.  We got a couple of frosts, but we covered up the tender young shoots to prevent damage.  Even though this bamboo variety, Moso, is cold hardy, the young shoots are susceptible to frost until they harden off.  

Because we get late frosts in the spring and early frosts in the fall, followed and preceded by warm temperatures, we must vigilantly keep these early and late shoots protected.

Next...Our Bamboo Plant Fertilizing Regime

Bamboo Plant Fertilizers

Grow Bamboo with organic worm castings fertilizer
  • Pure Black Castings™:  Certified Organic, OMRI listed worm castings. Slow release fertilizer for bamboo.
  • VermPlex®:  Certified Organic liquid soil inoculant made from these worm castings.  Foliar feed for instant nutrition, drench for root growth and health.

Together, they take care of your soil.

Click here for information on these results using organic bamboo fertilizers.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blueberries and Strawberries


A-ww. It looks too good to eat.  But I'll eat it anyway.

Eating Color

Colors in nature are always harmonious.
Just had to share my breakfast with you.  Well, at least an image of it.  I never share my food.

Enjoy! I know I did.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Growing Running Bamboo

Well, we finally did it.  We overcame our prejudice against (cringe) "running" bamboo and  planted ourselves some.  Turns out, we live in bamboo growing heaven.

Bamboo: A Magical Plant

This country is slowly waking up to something the rest of the world has know for centuries: Bamboo is a truly magical plant. What's the magic?  Oh, only the potential to save our sorry behinds from deforestation, soil erosion and scarce, expensive building supplies.  

More on what makes bamboo so wonderful later.  For now, let me update you on our beginning bamboo grove.

Planting Running Moso Bamboo

This picture is the one of the "moso" bamboo plants (a giant timber bamboo) we planted down by the barn last spring.  The original potted plant  is circled in red. The remainder of those bamboo canes came up over the summer.

Growing Moso Bamboo
Young Moso Bamboo Plants
A good friend brought us the moso bamboo culms from North Carolina late in the summer the year before. We planted the bamboo into pots and held them over the winter on our sun porch.

We planted these potted bamboos early last spring, one by the barn and three in another pasture.  The one pictured above developed a long root in the pot.  So we stretched it out down the fence.  These culms came up from that root pretty quickly.

We prepared the planting hole and out away from the hole and down a trench for the long root by mixing several cups of Pure Black Castings™ and watered it in with VermaPlex® mixed 20:1. A foliar spray of VermaPlex® was applied throughout the summer as well as alternating drenches of VermaPlex® and VermaMax LE® (a higher nitrogen and calcium liquid available soon).

Preparation Of The Bamboo Planting Area

Throughout last summer, Kayce dumped all the manure and wet shavings from the horse stalls and paddocks around the bamboo and out, following the area where we wanted the bamboo to grow.  We read (or Ol' Bill read 'cause I don't) that bamboo roots will grow towards the nutrition and moisture. We mulched the manure with old hay and kept the whole thing moist throughout the year.

Bamboo sends up new culms in the spring-summer. After the culms come up, all the action is going on out of sight below the surface. Over winter, the root system is doing it's thing. .  Because of the winter root growing aspect, we did a final VermaPlex® drench application in the fall to benefit winter root production.

Then, this spring, the shoots started emerging.  It was a little scary.  Check back later for current pictures, if you dare.

Bamboo Growing Fertilizers

Grow Bamboo with organic worm castings fertilizer
  • Pure Black Castings™:  Certified Organic, OMRI listed worm castings. Slow release fertilizer for bamboo.
  • VermPlex®:  Certified Organic liquid soil inoculant made from these worm castings.  Foliar feed for instant nutrition, drench for root growth and health.

Together, they take care of your soil.

More information on these organic bamboo fertilizers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blueberry Harvest Time

Blueberry harvest is late this year.  Late but abundant. After what happen last year, we were so thankful.

Certified Organic OMRI Listed Worm Castings and VermaPlex®

Here Come The Blueberries

Blueberries almost ready to harvest
Blueberries a-ripening.
Because of the cloudy weather we had this spring, our blueberries are rather late coming in.  We've been harvesting a few for the last couple of weeks, but they are just now truly starting to ripen in earnest.

A late harvest is better than no harvest at all.  Last season, because Ol' Bill got a l-i-t-t-l-e too enthusiastic with the pruning shears the previous fall, for the first time we missed a harvest. 

It took until mid season last summer before any leaves appeared.  I, an eternal pessimist,  feared the bushes were dead.  But by summer's end,  there was healthy new cane growth.

Then, this summer, after  castings/VermaPlex® applications last fall and again this spring, the bushes exploded.  Ol' Bill was so shell-shocked from his pruning debacle, he dared not touch the bushes (lest I remove several of his fingers) and let the bushes go wild.

Bountiful Blueberry Harvest

We even have fruit stems coming out of the ground!  Never had that before.  I can take care of the  "low hanging fruit" harvesting and I wont even need a bucket or anything.  I just eat them as I go.

There's going to be plenty for us, the neighbors, and the birds.  Kayce's making room in the freezer for our blueberry harvest and Ol' Bill's feverishly studying responsible blueberry pruning.  Pruning is going to get a thorough review between now and harvest's end. I'll see to that.

Pruning Blueberry Bushes

Some removal of the flower stems would have been beneficial and made for easier harvesting, but the missed harvest of last year made cowards of us all. We just wanted some blueberries.

More on blueberry bush pruning next time

Blueberry Organic Fertilizer Resources

Certified organic worm castings and VermaPlex for blueberies
  • Certified Organic Worm Castings:
    Natural, slow release - just what blueberries need. For more and bigger berries with better taste, broadcast twice a year.
  • Certified Organic Liquid Fertilizer:
    VermaPlex® is made from these worm castings.  For stunning results, apply to blueberry bushes  in Spring and Fall after applying worm castings. Adds microbes and promotes plant and soil health. 

All about worm castings and VermaPlex®:  Prepare to be amazed!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Add Worms To Your Garden and Lawn

Earthworms are good for your soil (I also like them as snacks, but that's just me). Here's how and why...

Add earthworms to your garden and build soil
Earthworms in your garden.

Build and Improve Your Soil With Earthworms

You remember Charles Darwin, don't you?  He was a very smart man who was very interested in earthworms.  In fact, he studied them until his death. Another very smart man, Aristotle, had such a high regard for the importance of theses lowly creatures, he called them "the intestines of the earth"

Now that may sound like an insult to you, but think about what that means for a moment. This description pretty much sums up the important role earthworms play in our world and these two giant thinkers of old recognized it, as well as scientists, horticulturist and soil conservationist of today.  It's time all we gardeners jumped on the "earthworms rule" bandwagon, too.  Here's why.

Earthworms Make Soil

Our esteemed Mr. Darwin said of the earthworm:
"When we behold a wide, turf-covered expanse, we should remember that its smoothness, on which so much of its beauty depends, is mainly due to all the inequalities having been slowly leveled by worms.  It is a marvelous reflection that the whole of the superficial mould (topsoil) over any such expanse has passed, and will again pass every few years through the bodies of earthworms.  It may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly creatures."
To paraphrase Mr. Darwin in Digger speech:
"Earthworms have created and are creating now, even as we speak,  the very rich topsoil from which all plants, trees, and vegetation grow."
And the earthworms aren't just processing all the organic matter they run across in their wondering's.  They leave behind valuable, highly fertile, slow release, worm "castings" (or "worm poop" if you prefer) in their wake.

But wait.  That's not all.  Earthworms, particularly night crawlers,  improve the soil in another important way. All this burrowing and crawling about improves soil drainage and aerates the soil. Hard packed soil that prevents rain water from sinking in can be improved dramatically with the addition of earthworms.

How To Add Earthworms To Your Garden And Soil

The use (and might I say, over-use) of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has had a devastating effect on the worm population in our soils.  But you can help overcome this population reduction by introducing earthworms to your garden, lawn and pasture.  Here's how.

After making sure there's a supply of organic material (like leaves, manures, grass clippings, compost), introduce earthworms at a rate of 10-12 worms per square foot. Prevent the area from drying out, if possible, and let the worms work their magic. (Summer is the best time to add earthworms.)

Now you can say you're of a kindred spirit with the likes of Charles Darwin and Aristotle as you build top soil and improve soil drainage with the mighty earthworm.

Summary of Soil Benefits From Earthworms:

  • Break down of organic material
  • Deposit of fertile worm castings
  • Aeration of the soil and improved drainage
  • Add 8-10 worms per square foot

Earthworm Resources:

Earthworms are good for your garden.  Add some today.
European Nightcrawlers: Sensational fishing worms and spectacular soil builders. So, when you're not gardening, you can go fishin'!

Red Worms: These earthworms create a staggering amount of vermicompost.  Add them to your garden or put in a compost bin.

Earthworm Information:  Care and feeding of earthworms.