Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 139

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Today we pay another visit to 
Farm School
to see what we've been up to 
on our weekend visits to The Hill.

Last week, we showed you how we worked on sowing
two new crops.
One was pigeon peas,
and the other was Malabar Spinach.
These pots represent some of the hundreds of seeds planted
in anticipation of this addition to the garden.

While germination was good at almost 90%,
we reseeded where a few hadn't come up in the pots.
Since we aren't familiar with this particular crop,
we hedged our bets and decided to reseed every single spot that hadn't come up.

Any small seeds sown are planted using tweezers,
to ensure seed depth is consistent.

I'd be willing to bet that these 15 or so seeds we replanted on Sunday,
come up readily by the end of the week.
What a blast getting to try a new crop.

We also tackled the job of transplanting
a couple of varieties of lettuce to larger pots.
Lynn is working on getting lettuce to grow year-round.
It's a daunting task, considering our high heat and humidity all summer long.
We're presently working on a new variety 
that is said to be able to withstand our harsh conditions.
We hope to have an update on that in the next few weeks.

Our final garden chore of the morning 
was to transplant these lemongrass cuttings into pots.
I have a couple of these plants in my garden at home and absolutely love 'em!
They grow like weeds, have no bug trouble,
and smell fantastic when they get clipped.
I often trim some and leave them on the grass 
just before Big K cuts the lawn.
Aromatherapy in a big way!

lemongrass in our garden

This lil' guy was busy wetting his whistle
while we were occupied with potting up the cuttings.

I'll bet that's some mighty good lemongrass tea he's gettin'.
So many wonders of nature surround us
as we do our work.

Some of the orchids here are savoring the summer weather.
They sure look a lot better than I do
after a full day in the heat!

That's what we've been up to.
What's happening where you are?
HOP to it!



Friday, June 24, 2016

Plant Profile-Tropical Sage

Welcome back to our 
 June series on native plants.
Each Friday, we have profiled a plant
that thrives in our area (zone 9b). 

We conclude our series with 
Tropical Salvia.

This beautiful perennial is native to the Southeastern United States,
and can be found in zones 7-11. 
Its moderate growth habits allow it to be placed
almost anywhere in the garden.
With heights only reaching 2-3 feet tall,
it would be perfect for a tiered effect, 
in front of taller bushes and framed in front 
by low-growing annuals or ground covers.

Although we feature the red variety in our garden,
this beauty also comes in shades of pink and white.
For most zones, the blooming takes place from spring through summer,
but warmer zones can expect blossoms throughout the fall as well.

Native salvia is a boon to the gardener determined to attract
butterflies, wasps, bees and hummingbirds.
The vibrant red blooms signal to pollinators
that there is a steady source of nectar to be found here.

With an easy-growing attitude,
salvia will do well in either part or full sun
and is highly drought tolerant.
In fact, this heat lover will thrive when other plants are fading 
from soaring summer temperatures and oppressive humidity.
Ideal plant spacing is 1 to 2 feet apart,
as powdery mildew can take hold if planted closer.

This low-maintenance garden gem readily self-seeds,
but seeds are easily collected by sliding a hand down the stem for direct sowing
With so many wonderful attributes,
why wouldn't a gardener want to add this alluring native
to a carefree landscape?

It pays to go native!

Other posts in this series:

Coral Bean

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 138

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Today we are going back to Farm School,
so that I can share a bit of an update 
on Faye & Lynn's 7,000-square foot container garden.
(You can see all of our Farm School posts under our header.)

Summer is typically a slow time for the Florida veggie garden.
Lynn grows hundreds of okra plants at this time,
as well as a variety of herbs.
He's working on keeping lettuce going through the summer
by using the shadier parts of the garden,
 and he wants to be able to offer his customers something new.

This is Red Malabar spinach, 
an alternative to lettuce or conventional spinach.
While traditional varieties of spinach do well here in cooler months,
this is the perfect time to start up a batch of this heat-lover.

It germinates within a week,
and given sufficient water, it will continue to grow
with very little help from the gardener.

Lynn seeded his plants every 2 inches apart,
and has them aligned down the center of each pot.
The trellises are already in place,
so that this climber can reach for the sky.

It's so exciting trying new crops.
Knowing that this particular spinach doesn't mind the heat,
gives us something to look forward to.

The other new crop being grown this season is pigeon peas.
We had some growing in our backyard,
and thought that Lynn & Faye might like to try them out.
(They were profiled here.)
They enjoyed the taste when we picked some for them,
and we were happy to share the harvested seeds 
so that they could start their own crop.

At right around a month old,
these babies seem to be doing fine.
For now they are unsupported,
but Lynn may add stakes if need be.

It's fabulous to have another goodie to grow during this season,
when the veggie garden slows down due to heat and humidity.
Looking forward to seeing this crop flourish!

That's what's been happening at Farm School.
What's going on where you are?
Let's HOP!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Plant Profile-Beautyberry

Today we continue our 
 June series on native plants.
Each Friday, we will profile a plant
that thrives in our area (zone 9b).

Today's chosen native is 

Beautyberry is an exquisite example of
 how spectacular the native garden can be.
This head-turner is an asset to any naturalized landscape.
Although it is native to Florida,
it can be grown in zones 7 through 11.

This rather unpretentious slow grower
will soon treat the gardener to quite a show. 
The soft, light green leaves 
resemble foliage of the mint plant.

The berries begin as pea-green clusters
assembled every few inches on the stem.
Then the dramatic change takes place.

Over a few weeks' time,
the berries transform into marvelous, magenta gems.
From spring into the early fall months,
this charmer will take center stage.
Many species of birds, including mockingbirds, savor the fruit.

This was one of the first natives we added to our 
Florida-friendly garden.
Its low maintenance and drought tolerance
makes it one of the best choices for newbie gardeners.
Pest problems are nearly non-existent.

Beautyberry gives so much
and requires so little.
I hope you'll consider adding it to your garden bed.

It pays to go native!

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Other plants in this series:

Coral Bean