Friday, August 22, 2014

Planting Pineapple

One of the easiest fruits to grow here in Central Florida
is pineapple.
The flavor of these homegrown beauties is unlike anything
you'll find in a can at the grocery store.
I've grown these myself, so you know it has to be easy.

This is a pineapple patch at Faye & Lynn's homestead.
They use the metal trash cans to cover the plant when it gets near pickin' time,
so that the raccoons don't get to it first.

Here is Lynn's method of assuring a healthy, productive plant.
The top of the pineapple is saved.
It can be dried for a couple of days in the shade outside,
but it's not necessary.

Lynn uses  needle nosed pliers to remove the bottom-most leaves
from the crown of the plant.
Gloves help protect hands from thorny leaves.

You can see the ones closest to the neck are the most dried out.

By just removing a small handful of leaves,
the pineapple has a better chance at becoming productive.

The small brown patch you see here is the beginning of roots.
By eliminating the outer leaves, the roots have more opportunity to attach to the soil
and thus, start growing.

See how many more roots there are now?
Lynn whittles down until a small knob is formed.
That's what gets planted.
Pineapple plants like full sun and are surprisingly drought-tolerant.
Give them space, 
because many times, they will quadruple in size.
They can also be grown in containers.

This tropical wonder loves the heat!
The plant produces one fruit at a time,
but will continue to produce,
treating the gardener to sweet, juicy pineapple over and over.

When the base of the fruit turns from green to mostly brownish-orange,
it's ready to harvest.
Simply twist at the base and it will come right off.
You're set to enjoy one of the most delectable and refreshing tidbits
that ever came across your plate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Maple Hill Hop 44

Maple Hill Hop

Summer is movin' right along here in Central Florida.
The gloriosa daisies don't seem to be fazed by the soaring thermometer.

They keep on blooming day after day,
regardless of the relenting sun.

Others are providing seeds to ensure future blooms.

 The bright magenta jewels on the native beautyberry
are appealing to birds.

fading zinnia

 Lantana adds a pop of yellow to the back bed
and pollinators just love it!

 More yellow can be found on this thryallis located in the east side bed.

 This Florida-friendly plant just thrives in the scorching temperatures.

 Underneath, the sweet potato vine fills in as a ground cover.

The morning glory vine edges the square-foot bed.

This bed is being turned into an herb garden,
and the vine adds a soft border.

The pumpkin vine decided to jump the trellis and take over the square-foot bed.
This thyme in the middle is not giving up its coveted spot.

The birdbath provides ample shade for our feathered friends.
The ferns are filled with anole lizards and baby frogs.


It was great to discover the monarchs taking up residence
on the native milkweed again.

 There has been a noticeable decline in the number present this summer.
Hopefully, they are only behind schedule, 
and we'll have a few more months to enjoy hosting them.

What's going on outside where you are?

HOP to it!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Making a Home for Pollinators

About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators
and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators.
Bats, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are some of the creatures who perform this amazing feat.

Without pollinators, many of our food crops would perish.
This includes blueberries, melons, coffee, almonds,
and one I don't wanna live without, chocolate.

Pollinators are fascinating to observe.
I encourage you to stroll your property
 or any nearby natural area,
and enjoy discovering how many pollinators share the space.

Ensuring that these helpful critters have ample nectar sources is important.
One way to accomplish this is to use plants that flower at various times of the year.
Using natives is the best option.

Avoiding pesticides is paramount to the health and well-being of pollinators.
If they're not healthy, they won't survive,
and we will diminish the array of delicious food choices we have to relish.

Providing a safe haven for pollinators allows them to go about their work
as well as allowing them a space to reproduce.
This ensures future generations of these magical creatures,
which in turn, benefits us all.

One thing that we do is host caterpillars.
We furnish nectar and host plants for the monarch, Gulf Fritillary
and Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies.
It's not only easy to do,
but will foster a sense of appreciation for this place we call home.
We also share this experience with others,
by giving away the caterpillars on Craig's List,
so that others can allow the cycle to continue in their own gardens.

Lest you be worried that your yard will become unsafe due to all the stinging insects about,
rest assured that most bees will not sting.
Once they sting, they die,
and as August Boatwright said in the movie
"The Secret Life of Bees",

"No life-lovin' bee wants to sting you".
I find wasps to be a bit more aggressive,
but I offer them a wide berth.
There is plentiful room for us all to share.

I hope you are savoring the last remnants of summer
and unearthing the wonders of our world
right in your own backyard.
 For more information, read this.

More posts on hosting butterflies:

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