Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Maple Hill Hop 28

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop,
where we share what's going on outside our doors
whatever the season.

A few years ago, we put in this curved bed.
Flax lily was the Florida-friendly choice here,
as it needs no supplemental watering
and can take the full sun on this side of the house.

Especially near the garage, it was getting pretty thick.
Flax lily is so easily divided, this task was completed in no time.

A cart full of transplants await a new home.

Here's how it looked after the thinning.
Now the native petunias in front can enjoy the sunshine.

Whenever a plant is relocated,
time is taken to trim the roots just a bit.
This allows the plant a "fresh start" and new growth is imminent.

The back bed on the west side of the yard needed a little 
somethin' somethin'.  
This is the shadiest part of our yard 
and the curve looked like it could use a bit of pizzazz.

Fortunately, flax lily doesn't mind a little bit of shade
and will do fine right here next to the ferns.
This is also a favorite hangout of our aviary friends.
More nooks and crannies in which to hide.

It feels great to be able to recycle plants to different parts of the garden.
They should be quite content in their new home.

What do you do with plants that need thinning out?

 Let's HOP!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Farm School Spring Series Week Six

Welcome back to
Farm School.
It's springtime, but it feels more like summer.
Temps today reached 91 in the shade.

Our status check found the garden slowing down
with the rise in temperature.

In the past few weeks, the five varieties of lettuce had bolted.
Lynn has a couple of new heat-resistant varieties started in seed trays.
These are the Red Sails and Red Fire seeds germinating.

An almost perfect germination rate on the eggplant
ensures that we'll be enjoying the fruit of the delicious Epic crops soon.

Elsewhere in the garden, some crops are done for the season.
This Red Russian kale has been devoured by aphids.
The plants will be pulled out of their pots
and then replanted with okra.

The Dinosaur kale is faring a bit better,
but this cool weather lover will probably not be producing much longer.

The good news is that Tomato Town is as happy as
a bumblebee in a sunflower patch.
The plants are loaded with fruit,
and so far, not much sign of bug trouble.
Can't wait for that first grilled cheese and tomato sandwich!

The okra is also diggin' the heat.
Lynn shared that once these get going,
they sometimes must be harvested twice a day,
as they grow so prolifically.
If you've never tried pickled okra, trust me, you need to.

The black-eyed peas continue to amaze.
The germination rate was stellar
and they just look better each week.

Lynn thinned the established crops out a bit this past week,
from 8 plants to a pot down to five or six.
This is a new crop on The Hill
and Lynn isn't afraid to experiment with his methods.

The parsley plants are lush and vibrant.
This versatile herb is used in so many dishes
for added flavor and a pop of color.
At our house, it's usually washed, chopped 
and placed in a glass jar in the freezer for frequent use.

The last sowing of sugar snap peas is thus far looking good.
We aren't sure how well they will do with the summer-like weather,
but keeping them in the shade should help.

The cucumbers were reseeded recently,
as the first sowing didn't do much.
Lynn adheres to the old adage,
"try, try again".

Here's how the lettuce transplants we worked on last weekend looked.

In just a week, the Red Salad Bowl variety is making progress.
Lynn is utilizing the natural shade of overhead tree limbs to combat the heat,
as well as a protective covering to keep the tender seedlings safe from strong wind and rain.

We worked on filling some of these pots with

the dirt that was recently acquired from a seller on Craig's List.
We sifted through any roots or debris in the mound of dirt,
and then refilled the pots.

You can see the process we utilized here.

This dirt will be amended with peat moss
and possibly perlite to make it more viable.
It doesn't meet Lynn's standards for planting,
as it had difficulty absorbing moisture.

This baby walking stick was found in one of the pots where we were working.
It's such a treat discovering friendly critters!

Another task was to remove a couple of rows of spent sugar snap peas
to make room for more black-eyed peas.

The seeds were sown an inch deep about every 2 inches across the pot.
The germination rate with these babies is almost 100 percent.

The broccoli is slowing down dramatically.
We picked some tips for my order.

See the little eggs on the dill near my thumb?
Those are black swallowtail caterpillar eggs.
That means that soon we'll be bringing cats home
to give away on Craig's List.
We love teaching others about the life cycle of this amazing butterfly.

Another fantastic and productive day in paradise.
There is so much to learn and precious little time.
No matter, I'll take what I can get.
Farm School is an exercise in gratitude.

We started the Farm School series here.


Backyard Farming Connection

Back to the Basics

Friday, April 25, 2014

Plant Profile-Flax Lily

 Our series on Florida-friendly plants continues this week with another drought-tolerant specimen.
Even if you don't live in Florida,
you may be able to grow these beautiful low maintenance plants.

Flax Lily

Flax lily is used along our driveway to hug the curved bed.
It adds a variegated splash to the border
and also treats us to a spray of
delicate white flowers with a hint of golden centers.

Another drought tolerant example,
flax lily requires no supplemental watering
and can withstand our hot, humid summers.

When thinning is required,
just dig 'em up and replant elsewhere in the garden.
They also add height to container plantings.
This is a hearty plant that doesn't need coddling.
We'll be featuring just such a project next week on 
The Maple Hill Hop.
You can find it here.

Once every couple of years, they are cut down to the quick.
They regenerate within weeks.

This is one Florida-friendly plant that won't disappoint.
For the gardener who enjoys the beauty without all the work,
this is a superb choice.

Week One-Bulbine
Week Two-Native Milkweed
Week Three-African Iris 
Week Four-Society Garlic

You can find more Florida-friendly posts here

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thrifty Thursday-Garden Laundry Rack

Around here, Earth Day is every day.
We try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as we can.
Today we'll show you how we repurposed this little item.

Being a scrapper, this drying rack was found in a neighbor's recycle bin
(the other end isn't shown).
It wouldn't stay together, so it got recycled into a garden project.
We have a smaller one that we sometimes use indoors in the summer,
when it's too humid to dry on our clothesline.

The rack was taken apart easily, 
as it was already on its way there.
We'll save this part and perhaps add pegs to it
to turn it into a wall-mounted hat rack.
Or maybe some future piece of yard art.

The spindles were removed.

These tomato plants needed transplanting.
As our house is going back on the market next week,
I didn't want to buy tomato cages and have one more thing to pack and move.
Besides, it's fun finding other purposes for what's already around.

The tomatoes were planted,

snug as a bug.
A well is dug around the seedling,
to ensure that water stays put near its roots.

Three spindles were added near each plant
and as they grow, baling twine will be wound around them
to add support for growing limbs.

What have you repurposed lately?