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Sub Tropical Gardening

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Initial post: Feb 4, 2012 4:50:01 AM PST
afb says:
Is there any interest is talking about sub tropical gardening?

Although I've lived in Zone 10 for many years, I'm just now really able to devote time to gardening, and I just love it.

One of the problems that I'm running into is that since this is such a small geographic area of the U. S., most research and publications that I've found so far, are much too broad.

I'm hopeful, with Amazon's customer reach, that this topic might attract contributors from other countries and greenhouse people as well as some other U.S. Zone 10ers.

Thanks. Hope to hear from you.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 9:11:19 AM PST
June12345 says:
I am in zone 10, and I feel your pain :). We really march to a different drummer down here. You might want to change your heading to zone 10 So Florida, California has a zone 10 but It is not like our hot, humid climate. All zone 10's are not created equal.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 11:32:22 AM PST
afb says:
Hi June,

What you say is very true, but some plants do cross over, plus there is a south Texas area. But, mainly I was hoping for some international interest.

I just purchased some dwarf Bougainvillea's. The only one I've been able to find here is the Helen Johnson, but I've read that they are further hybridizing (is that a word?) in Australia. Hopefully, they'll become available here. They're calling them Bambino Bougs. Cute, huh?

They aren't supposed to get more than about 2 feet tall. There are fewer and less aggressive thorns.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2012 12:41:57 PM PST
June12345 says:
I have had many failures trying to grow "things" that are not happy here in So FL.

I just purchased seeds from Amazon that I am going to give a try. Neither of the seeds were specifically recommended for this climate but I was intrigued. STRAWBERRY SPINACH and SCHIZANTHUS PINNATUS. The spinach is supposed to tolerate heat and the "poor man's orchid" I could not resist

Posted on Mar 8, 2012 1:04:04 AM PST
June12345 says:
"I have had many failures trying to grow "things" that are not happy here in So FL."

Me too. Between the heat, humidity, soil alkalinity and harmful Nematodes, the things which grow here most happily seem to be weeds, although Amaryllis bulbs seem to like the climate.

Has anyone had luck growing Lavender plants? I know that English Lavender won't grown in S/SW Florida, but what about the French variety? Maybe it would survive in a container?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 8, 2012 4:45:47 AM PST
afb says:
Hello Nightshadow. I spent four hours wandering around Mounts Botanical Garden on Tuesday. So fun. They did have Lavender growing and thriving in the ground. As I recall, it was in their herb garden area in full sun. I have no idea what kind it was, but you could call them. 561-233-1757. They also have a web site

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2012 7:06:32 AM PST
I, too, am frustrated by the lack of info, but also love the variety we can grow. For example, I now have lettuce, edible hibiscus, cranberry hibiscus, pak choi, swiss chard, pigeon peas, chinese spinach, malabar spinach, nz spinach, eggplant, katuk, moringa, collards, taro, belembe, mustard, okinawa spinach, etc. if one is open to new things there are numerous possibilities.

Posted on Mar 9, 2012 7:12:15 AM PST
June12345 says:
R. Roesler, how do you prepare your malabar spinach. I have some seed but I have not planted them yet.
You don't live far from me so I should also have success with the things your are growing.

Where do you get your seeds. I don't recognize many of the plants you are growing. I tried to grow collards but the bugs got most of them.

It does seem to be a constant battle with the bugs!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2012 10:09:46 AM PST
Hi June, I throw everything together either in a steamer pot or a stir fry. With Malabar try to use the small leaves. I prefer NZ spinach but my favorite is okinawa spinach. Swiss chard is also very good and easy to grow most of the year. I live in Davie. I never had a problem with collards but they are now going to seed and it's not my favorite. I get my seeds from the net, especially ebay. I don't spray anything. The tropical vegetables are usually not bothered by bugs.

Posted on Mar 9, 2012 10:15:36 AM PST
Echo near ft myers has a lot of fruits and vegetables that grow well here. They have a great website and sell seeds. I can offer cuttings of okinawa spinach, edible hibiscus, cranberry hibiscus, and sweet potatoes (greens are edible). I also have cassava (yuca), & malanga plants. All are free or trade.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2012 1:38:21 PM PST
afb says:
R. R. Sounds delicious. Do you make green smoothies?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2012 3:26:35 PM PST
June12345 says:
R. R, I googled Echo Nursery, there was a very interesting 10 minute tape taken at the nursery, I wish I lived near Fort Myers it looks like a very interesting (and reasonable) nursery. Have you been there?

I really want to try that Okinawa Spinach. From what I have read it is best to start it from a cutting. How do you do a trade (don't know why I ask I have nothing to trade, at least nothing that you would be interested in!) . I would be interesting in buying a cutting, or maybe

I do have some Malarbar spinach seeds left from last year, I should give it a try once again. I have had the best luck with yard long string beans. I have not been keeping up on my garden and the beans that I did not pick, that fell on the ground are now growing without my help

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2012 7:53:51 AM PST
I have been to ECHO and bought several plants and several packets of seeds. They ship seeds but not plants. Okinawa loves heat and humidity-it did great last summer but was bothered by our "cold" spell a few weeks ago. I stuck some cuttings in the ground and almost every one took. You can have a couple (no charge)- I don't understand people who charge $15 for one tiny plant. A side note- since I've been eating okinawa spinach 2-3 times a week my cholesterol & triglycerides have dropped significantly. There is a close relative that is known as the cholesterol plant because it lowers it. My doctor recommended medicine 2 yrs ago and now it's fine w/o ever taking meds. This could be a super plant!

My YL beans were also bothered by the cold.

Posted on Mar 10, 2012 7:58:54 AM PST
I don't make green smoothies but I may try. I use mangos, pineapples and bananas (raw/frozen) from my yard in my Yonanas (sp) machine. It comes out like a sorbet.
By the way- I've recently read that steaming food or eating it raw is the best nutritionally (I know I'm slow with this info). The okinawa tastes best steamed.

Posted on Mar 16, 2012 3:50:10 PM PDT
Mercy says:
Hey, most of zone 8 is classified as sub tropical, too. Okay, so we're on the chillier side of the sub-tropics. But I have olive trees in my yard, so we count, darn it!

Texas is a dry-summer area, so lavender does beautifully here.

I'm growing: Wine cup poppy mallows, salvia, dianthus, gaillardia, yarrow, echinacea, agastache, bearded iris, coreopsis, lavender, primroses, blue flax, nepeta, agave, yucca, sotol, chilopsis, mock orange, rose of sharon, mission olives, figs, loquats, nectarines, blackberries, muscadine grapes, and (of course) several species of cacti. Nothing kills a prickly pear. As far as I can tell nothing kills swiss chard, either.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2012 4:45:55 PM PDT
afb says:
Mercy....loved your post. Have to ask. Are you trying to kill the prickly pear? Love to look at them, but don't want one in my yard. Yes, some painful and bad experiences here. But, am thinking of trying a dwarf madagasgar.

Your list sounds fabulous, and the mention of the fig made me salivate. Love them. Have read that they don't do well down here, but am going to try. Must be a really interesting area where you live. How much space to you have to be able to grow all those wonderful things?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2012 5:00:13 PM PDT
afb says:
Not an expert in the green smoothies yet, but have purchased a VitaMix 1200 and am pretty pleased with both the product and the smoothies. Have been reading info that supports what you're saying about nutrition. Once heat is added diminishes to "progressive" extent the health benefits. Just from hearing about your garden thought how wonderful it would be to go out and select a few leaved to include.

If I may suggest, start with baby spinach. Just add a handful to your fruit smoothie and a bit more liquid. Doesn't change the taste (for me) nor the color and go from there and experiment. Would like to know what you think.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2012 8:06:16 PM PDT
Mercy says:
Kill a prickly pear? Goodness, no- they're delicious. I make jam and candies from the fruit, and you can cook the pads up like a vegetable (after you get the spines off). It's sort of green bean/asparagus/okra tasting. I grow them right under the windows of the house, they're a burglar deterrent. I have had some painful experiences with them, too, but they do the job.

I just remembered the gerbera daisies, gladiolus, and roses; "mermaid", "don juan climbing", "lamarque", and "nearly wild". Is it bad when you forget how many plants you have? Especially the Mermaid, which is trying to eat the fence and would chew on the house if I let it.

Most of my space is devoted to my vegetable garden- onions, garlic, cabbage, turnips, spinach, carrots, mustard greens, asparagus, swiss chard, okra, radishes, broccoli, peas, green beads, yard long beans, several varieties of squash, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, husk cherries, strawberries, eggplants, corn, jalapenos, and various herbs.

I'm growing a lot of ornamentals for pretty, but most of them are planted around the edges and in the space between the sidewalk and the curb for the neighbors to enjoy. I have all of those, a small rabbitry, and a flock of ducks on 1/3 acre. I just tore out most of the lawn and put in raised beds, and keep my fruit trees dwarfed. It sounds extreme, but we have terrible weather, long droughts, flash floods, and the worst soil you can imagine (rocky, alkaline, clay) and a lawn was more trouble than it was worth. Weed, mow, edge, weedeat, fertilize, spray for pests, weed some more and water, water, water- for what? It's boring to look at and you can't eat it.

Posted on Mar 17, 2012 5:45:20 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Mercy, I do live in the sub tropics and I can successfully grow only about 30% of what you are growing. You say "Texas is a dry-summer area". have you been to hot humid South Florida?

I do agree with the Don Juan rose bush, they are a real show stopper, but "asparagus" never ever would make it here. Love mock orange but that was when I lived up north. Iris, a total flop. That said, I must add that I enjoy your posts

Now what I want is a replacement for my mulberry up and died. I want to get a Persian Mulberry Tree, they are supposed to do well in Zones 10 and even 11! That's for me. Do any of you living in South Florida have one, and if you do where did you get it?

I have been trying to get my yard picked up before the insufferable summer heat hits here. It has been a hot winter and I am afraid it is going to be a very hot summer.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2012 6:08:42 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Mercy, I just saw your reference to husk cherries, I recently bought some seeds for 'Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry', and I just put the seeds in some pots to start. Hope I have luck and hope they love the heat and humidity. From what I have read they should do OK I think ground cherry and husk cherry are the same thing?

My soil is just the opposite of yours. I have sand, sand, and more sand. I live on a canal and I think to make the canal they dug up sand and more sand and make my piece of property. You may think you have the worse soil but I know I have!(smile). I also only have a plot of land 75 x 100, so I envy all the land you have...even if it is clay

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2012 7:52:39 AM PDT
Mercy says:
June, I think the difference is that we're semi-arid. I irrigate constantly, and either keep my vegetables under shadecloth (asparagus) or start growing them in January so they're done before it gets really hot. Also, everything but the cacti are in raised beds because I've only got a couple inches of topsoil. Sand, clay, rock- ignore 'em and pile compost on top and you can grow anything.

Really, no mock orange? They grow in San Antonio, and they're 9a. Huh.

Ground cherries, husk cherries- it's like Roma and Beefsteak. A lot like those, actually, because they're related to tomatoes. They should do well anywhere tomatoes grow. The only problem I've had is that they have a lousy germination rate, even with fresh seed. I've had as low as 30%.

I don't see a persian mulberry specifically, but Forestfarm stocks several Morus species. They are, hands down, the best mail order nursery I have ever dealt with. Story: I bought my chilopsis from them, and before they shipped it they called to tell me their stock had gotten some frost damage (they're in Oregon) and wasn't up to "their standard". When I told them I was having trouble finding them anywhere else they told me they'd send it to me anyhow but insisted it be 25% off. So after all this, I wasn't expecting much. When the plant arrived, it was still better than anything I'd gotten through the mail before. Same with everything I've gotten from them- they're proud of their work and it shows. End story: Enough gushing, check them out, they're awesome.

I haven't ordered from Willis Orchards but if anyone has I'd like to hear feedback, because I really want to:

And yes, I have been to south Florida. I left and came home as quickly as I could. I can dispatch a rattlesnake with a garden hoe, but you can't do that to an alligator.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2012 8:31:49 AM PDT
June12345 says:
I'll take a gator over a rattler any day! :)

Posted on Mar 19, 2012 6:22:45 AM PDT
afb says:
Gotta admit, I'm with June on the gator vs. rattler issue. I have a reason for bringing this up. A question for you vegie gardeners. What eatables can you grow or is there a technique that doesn't create a habitat attractive to snakes?

I am snake phobic. Seriously snake phobic. AND, before you start reasoning or lecturing me, please look up phobia. I "think" I know why I'm this way, but it doesn't help. As a overly left-brain individual whose basic philosophy in life includes "never hurt any living thing," not only is the phobia a personal failure but a frustration in my love of growing things I love.

In my current gardening, I eliminate "snake habitat" areas as much as possible. I limb up bushes. The only things I grow that hug the ground are bromeliads.....that includes wonderful, delicious pineapples. So, at least, I get those.

Anyway, question is, what can I grow that falls into this limitation? Thanks for your help.

Posted on Mar 19, 2012 7:40:39 AM PDT
June12345 says:
afb, just a quick comment. The only thing I have had great luck with are yard long beans...I don't even have to replant them because if I forget to pick them they fall off the vine and reseed themselves. Oh I also have one of those up side down planters with one grape tomato plant....the seeds for the tomato plant are from a salad I got at Wendy's

I want to thank your of your review of the salt cellar, That looks like a nice one, I have it in my cart

I also marvel that you have a 97% helpful vote...that is miraculous. I did one review and was informed how unhelpful my critique was.

I did have to laugh about you and your bromeliads. I was cleaning out around a patch I have, and doing it with great care, and caution. I did not want to find and surprises critters hidden in the patch

Posted on Mar 19, 2012 9:58:50 AM PDT
Mercy says:
Afb I don't think there's a way to make them unattractive to snakes. The only "snake repellant" I know works is moth balls, and I wouldn't want to put them in my veggies. I carry a 3 foot "pokey stick" when I'm working outside, and use it to check anywhere I can't see before my hand or foot goes there. I also wear good gloves, which is only limited protection from snakes but makes me feel better about the recluses, black widows and scorpions that range around here.

You ought to watch me shake out my shoes and stomp on my gloves before I but them on. I won't pick on you for your reptile phobia if you don't mention my arachnid paranoia. ;J
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Discussion in:  Gardening forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  57
Initial post:  Feb 4, 2012
Latest post:  May 22, 2012

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