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Sub Tropical Gardening

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Showing 26-50 of 57 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 10:35:39 PM PDT
Hi afb,

Thanks for the reply although I'm a bit late in getting to it. Mounts Botanical has a lovely web site, but visiting there isn't too practical. I live on the other side of Florida, Cape Coral, which is just west of Ft. Myers. I decided to go ahead and order a lavendar plant, and I'm going to see how it does in a container. Other than shrubs, I've pretty much given up trying to grow much in the ground and have gone over to container far, so good.


Posted on Apr 4, 2012 5:05:54 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Mercy, my Aunt Molly ground cherries have finally sprouted. I got 5 seedlings from 10 seeds. they seem to be very slow growing. I thought that since they are almost in the weed category that they would get big very quickly......maybe they will now that they have sprouted.

I finally received the seeds for SCHIZANTHUS PINNATUS/poor man's orchid, no seedlings yet, but I just put them in the pot a few days ago. I am really excited about this plant, hope it lives up to my expectations

Posted on Apr 4, 2012 8:22:59 AM PDT
Mercy says:
June, they just kind of poke along. This year I sprouted mine in February and put them in the ground in mid-March, and they're still only a couple inches tall. Truthfully, they're a pain- if they didn't taste so good I wouldn't bother growing them.

I put my sweet potatoes in last week. Pretty vines, edible tubers, easy as growing dandelions. Have you tried them? I bet they'd do great where you are.

Posted on Apr 4, 2012 10:44:19 AM PDT
June12345 says:
I did try sweet potatoes......................................without success! What did you use for seed potatoes? Did you just use a sweet you bought at the grocery store? That is what I did, but I think I read somewhere that super market sweets should not be used. Probably another bit of misinformation I stored in my brain.

Do you wait for the ground cherries to fall off the bush before you eat them? I read that they MUST be fully ripe before eating. If this is true I would need lots and lots of plants to get enough to make anything. Is this more misinformation I have acquired?

Posted on Apr 4, 2012 8:26:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2012 8:27:34 PM PDT
Mercy says:
Just a potato I bought from the grocery store, I think it was a Beauregard variety. I stuck it in a jar of water on the windowsill and eventually it started throwing out shoots. The trick is to keep them warm and outwait them. I don't know why it is, but they take forever to get started. Day length, maybe? I figure if the sweet potatoes from the supermarket are good enough for me to eat, they're good enough to grow from.

Yes, I've heard that about husk cherries too, and I'm not sure how true it is but I wait until mine fall just in case. They're related to nightshade; so are tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. I refuse to eat potatoes with green on them, too.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2012 6:02:31 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Mercy, you said, "I refuse to eat potatoes with green on them, too." and it gave me a smile. It seems that it is a lucky day when you get a bag of potatoes that are NOT green. I gave up and I just peel and peel until the green is gone.

What do you do with the ground cherries? Do you just eat them plain as they drop, or do you get enough to make something with them?

Posted on Apr 5, 2012 8:50:44 AM PDT
Mercy says:
I keep telling myself I'm going to make something with them, but I can't stop eating them.

What do you do to combat whiteflies? I swear I spend more time messing with them than I do anything else, hateful little things.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2012 9:30:03 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Well......not much...... The bugs get more of what I plant than I do. My poor baby citrus trees are all chewed up (I am not sure what white flies do, I just know I have them) I bought some Neem but I have yet to read the label and use it.

I just looked at my ground cherry seedlings and they are starting to actually look like plants. I am now down to 4 plants from the 10 seeds I planted. How many plants do you have? I am planning to stick them in anywhere I can find room.

It has been in the high 80's here, getting to be no weather for humans or plants

Posted on Apr 5, 2012 10:33:11 AM PDT
Mercy says:
Murphy's Oil soap and Tabasco sprayed on the top and bottom of the leaves. I have to re-apply it occasionally because it washes off, but it does the trick. Whiteflies kill or cripple just about every plant you can think of; vegetable, fruit and some ornamentals. They kill by either feeding directly on the plant or indirectly by spreading plant diseases. They're a plague in all the hot states.

I've got 8 husk cherries that survived so far, but I've been racing the heat to get everything established. That tornado storm that swept the state darkened the sky but didn't drip a drop of rain on us, and I'm down to just two hundred gallons in my rainwater tanks. Which sounds like a lot, but most of my lot is under cultivation. Another hot year without rain will really hurt us- I lost most of my vegetables and a couple trees last year, even with irrigation.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2012 7:27:47 PM PDT

Do you mix the Murphy's Oil Soap with water? If so, would you give the proportions please? I hate using any kind of chemicals on insects and avoid doing so whenever possible because I don't want to kill the honeybees.

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 12:23:52 AM PDT
Mercy says:
I do mix it with water, but I don't really measure it. Maybe three or four tablespoons of soap per quart of water- make a fairly opaque emulsion. Oh, and this is with the original oil soap, not the stuff you get in a spray bottle. Enough Tabasco that it's noticably orange when you shake it up. It clears up my infestations very quickly, so if they're not gone when the soap dries you did it wrong.

I'm organic by necessity, I keep bees.

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 9:35:28 AM PDT
June12345 says:
I just noticed that there is a whole thread on 'white flies', I must read it

Posted on Apr 7, 2012 9:44:50 AM PDT
CarolMC says:
Hi! Enjoying all of your posts. I live in Marathon, in the Florida Keys (42 miles "north" of Key West) and have had numerous failures, and a few successes with fruits and veggies. Two varieties of kumquat trees, one sweet, one tart, grow well without watering and are fun and tasty additives to orangeade, and, when sliced thinly & added to sauces for pork and fish. Basil, onions and beets have been great successes in watered garden, rosemary in unwatered garden. Mango trees growing well, flowering, but never bearing fruit in unwatered garden. Other watered gardens: All melons I've tried grew well only to be destroyed by iguanas and white flies. Tomatoes do well in winter and spring, sometimes one bite taken out of each by an iguana. Green pepper leaves eaten by iguanas as soon as they appear, even when 'protected' by fencing. All my gardens were made by excavating local soil, and replaced with store-bought garden soil enriched with store-bought manure, peat moss, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:36:13 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Hi Carol, and glad to read you.

In the not too distant past where I live was plagued by the iguana population. Then Broward County instituted an iguana hunt, no more iguanas. Poor iguanas. I am sad and glad to see them gone. I live on a canal and they would all be sunning themselves on the dock. Some got as long as 6 feet from tip of tail to tip of nose. BUT, everyone got sick of them eating all their expensive plantings...thus the hunt. They are a food source many places (Chicken of the Tree)

What is the soil like where you are? I would imagine it would be from poor, to very poor, but mine is sand and then a bit more sand. I swear every bit of fertilizer I apply is leached through the sand to another country. I should have done raised beds years and years ago, now I am too old and tired to even try to build them.

I see Aldi is going to have a 4' x 4' raised bed kit on sale this week for 29.99 ( I am tempted but just the thought of hauling the soil tires me out.

Where/how do you all get the soil for your raised beds? How much does it take? How expensive is it?

Posted on Apr 7, 2012 9:26:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2012 9:27:09 PM PDT
Mercy says:
Carol- I have kumquat envy. I want one so badly but no one here sells them, and of course Texas is one of the states no one ships citrus to.

June- Heck, why didn't you say so? I have a dozen of these: I'm sure you could find them elsewhere, I think QVC may carry them. They're a snap to set up. The Suncast ones aren't as solid and are more difficult to install, but I have a couple of those, too. I get my soil dropped off by the dumptruck load, 4 to 6 square yards at a time. It's cheapest that way, but I have to transfer it to the beds by the wheelbarrow load. Wish I were closer and could help you out.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2012 4:49:53 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2012 9:50:07 AM PDT
T. Rushbrook says:
Hi June,
I'm a transplant from Massachusetts, livng now in Melbourne, Brevard County. This kind of gardening is all new to me. After trying pots and planters, I took a friend's advice and bought a couple of Earthboxes. They are here on Amazon and at They take 2 cu ft of soilless planting mix amended with dolomite and fertilizer. They have a water reservoir built in and you just keep them topped off through a fill tube on the top. There is a plastic muching cover that goes over the whole thing like a shower cap and you cut slits to place the plants in the soil.

So far, so good, for the ones I used a proper planting mix in. I have tomatoes and peppers growing quite nicely in them. I made the mistake of buying a compressed coconut fiber product promoted by Earthbox and the plants I put in those two Earthboxes are not happy! It doesn't seem to wick up the water like the regular spagnum moss based planting mixes. The basil plants and bush beans I planted in those two boxes look sickly.

I keep all my Earthboxes (5 in all) inside the screen enclosure around my pool. So far, not much of a problem with insects, though I have seen some little buggers around the sickly plants in the coconut fiber planters. I may have to dump those out and go with regular planting mix.

I had raised beds and made my own compost up in Massachusetts, but the growing season was way too short.

Posted on Apr 10, 2012 2:39:00 AM PDT
I am in So. FL as well. We love our bouganvillas and have just planted 3 more. Don't have to do much with them as they grow ell in this climate. There are a number of Butterfly plants like passion flowers. I did find some from the Butterfly World. I am hoping to grow veggies now. I am going to do some inside, but plan to put some in the ground. The problem is that most are grown in winter here and I wanted to try to grow in summer too. Have any of you grown veggies down here? We had a bunch of little snakes that look sort of the size of big earthworms. Don't know what kind they are. They probably come for the Lizards. I never tried to get rid of lizards outside as I figured they ate bugs. But I am not happy about snakes being around. Had some kids from church helping us set up our garden and they said they saw 6 or 7 snakes, the little ones. Not colored so not coral. Maybe rat snakes, but these would have to be babies if that were the case.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2012 12:34:56 PM PDT
June12345 says:
Mercy, thanks for the link to the raised beds at Sam's...they are the best buy that I have seen but, I do not have a membership in Sam's and I don't have any friends that have one either.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2012 12:39:37 PM PDT
June12345 says:
Hi Mr T, I actually bought one of the Earth Boxes when they were on sale but, like so many other things, I never put it to use.

Where did you get the proper soil? What was the brand name?

You are safe from so many bug problems growing in a screened in environment.

One think is for sure....we have a much longer growing season in Florida

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2012 12:57:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 10, 2012 12:57:58 PM PDT
June12345 says:
Caroline, They may have see leggless lizards
or glass snakes

There are some veggies that grow here in the summer...the first that came to mind are grape tomatoes. I know there are others, have tried a few, but I am not diligent in my care :( so I have not had great success. The one thing that I grew (can't remember what month I planted them) that I had great luck with was yard long beans and I also have some eggplant plants that now have nice fruit on them. The ones I grew are very hardy and survived in spite of me.(the seeds are Rosa Biancia). I do marvel how these plants hold the heavy fruit they produce.

Posted on Apr 13, 2012 7:29:00 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Where are you all?

My SCHIZANTHUS PINNATUS/poor man's orchid seeds have sprouted. Only two seedlings from 1/2 a package but I plan to take special care of these. I read that they form a pod with seeds so if I can get one to blossom then I will have more seeds. Some of the pictures I have seen of it make it look a bit like a weed!

My Aunt Molly Ground Cherries are going like a house on fire. I have been watering them with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer, one that is designed for herbs and vegetables

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 11:16:51 AM PDT
June12345 says:

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2012 4:20:44 AM PDT
GR8 Idea, just moving to Ft Myers from Z6. Much to learn about Z10 gardening. Looking forward to reading this forum.

Posted on May 1, 2012 9:58:59 AM PDT
June12345 says:
Joseph, Welcome to Florida. I was hoping that this tread would have regular activity but, alas, it would appear my hopes were for nought.

You will have a lot of learning and unlearing from Zone6 to Zone10

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 1:10:19 PM PDT
T. Rushbrook says:
The first two Earthboxes I got came with a bag of planting mix and the fertilizer and dolomite (lime). I tried the compressed coconut fiber in the next two and that was horrible! Hard to work with and the plants didn't seem to like it at all. The next two I bought just the Earthboxes and got Miracle Grow Canadian Spagnum Peat and it's the best so far. I bought it at Home Depot in the 2 cu ft bag. I bag for each Earthbox.

So, in my 6 Earthboxes, I have 2 varieties of tomatoes, 2 varieties of peppers, basil, parsley, chives, swiss chard and string beans. We have already had a couple meals of the strings beans, and I used a cubanelle pepper and basil in a frittata this morning! We constantly use the fresh herbs and can't wait to have some tomatoes.

I had some little bugs, but used an insecticidal soap and they're gone. The tomato plants' lower leaves are starting to wither, but my father-in-law claims that's what hapens to tomatoes in Florida. I tried an organic fungicide, but didn't seem to help much.

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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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