Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring's in the Air

Our pinxter azalea finally is blooming.
It's late this year.
Normally, here in northeast Florida, our springs are too short and summer comes too soon.  This year has been different. When the hummingbirds arrived a couple of weeks ago, we thought they might freeze their patooties off in the chilly night temperatures that reached down into the 30s. But they have continued to visit the coral honeysuckle flowers (Lonicera sempervirens) each day, so I guess they are tougher than they look.

Azaleas

Our native azaleas (Rhododendron canescens) are blooming a little later than normal this year, but the Japanese azaleas bloomed early and their flowers were ruined by the late frosts. I'd like to start replacing the aliens with natives--maybe this is the year to start the process.


Mining the lawn

Because we have a "freedom lawn," which is free of pesticides, fertilizers, and over-watering, there are many types of plants other than St. Augustine grass that grow there. Some of these volunteers are desirable plants that I transplant to non-lawn areas of the landscape.

Blue-eyed grass in the lawn Both the native blue-eyed grass (S. angustifolium)
& the yellow non-native (S. rosulatum) look the same
in the lawn.
Both the native blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) and the non-native (S. rosulatum) look pretty much the same when embedded in the lawn, so I'd transplanted some of the yellow ones to a mulched area, which became obvious after they bloomed. I removed them after I snapped the photo and replaced them with the blue natives. Now that they are blooming, I can tell the difference. :-)

Rainlily (Zephyranthes atamasca)


The other obvious lawn volunteer right now is this native rainlily (Zephyranthes atamasca).  This was growing in a wetter area of the lawn where I also find soft rushes. I transplanted this beauty to the mulched area that you can see at the top of the photo. It's near the blue-eyed grasses that I'd also removed from the lawn. They often grow together in the wild.

There are a few other lawn treasures, but I'll talk about those in a later post.


The end of the cool-weather crops


The extended cool weather has been good for the cool-weather crops. My second crop of broccoli has produced some beautiful, purple-tinged heads (curds), but if I'd known how prolific my first crop was going to be, I wouldn't have bothered to plant it. The handful of florets (in the left photo below) is probably the 30th harvest from the original 8 plants. As the plants try harder to bloom, they are producing the florets faster and faster, so these come-again broccolis are sweeter than the original curd. Eventually, I'll let them bloom when the second crop starts producing its own come-again florets. The pollinators will like those flowers.

The first crop of eight plants keeps on
giving!
The second broccoli crop.
The onions and the garlic will be ready to harvest soon. Then we'll get ready to plant some okra in those beds. This year, I will be planting a bunch of marigolds in with the okra to try to keep the root-knot nematodes in check, not that the okra cares, but to protect the crops that follow it. To be an effective deterrent, you have to turn the marigolds into the soil at the end of the season.
A green anole keeps watch for white flies and other
evil-doers on our broccoli.
Some of the sweet granex onions are beginning to bulb out.
Lupines growing in our neighborhood. I've tried planting seed over the years, but have not been able to
establish a population on our property. I guess we will just have to enjoy these wild populations from afar.

I have started my book tour so please make an effort to come out and see me at one of my upcoming events. Thanks to everyone for buying my books!

Green Gardening Matters, 
Ginny Stibolt

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