Friday, June 19, 2020

Birds of prey in our yard

Here's looking at you, kid!

Barred Owls

We're delighted that Barrel Owls (Strix varia) have occupied our non-poisoned yard for a number of years. We mostly hear them at twilight or dawn, but during mating season they are more active in the day.

They are opportunistic predators catching anything from small mammals to insects: including snakes, lizards, bats, birds, and even fish.

Their range is forested habitats across eastern North America and is now expanding into the Pacific northwest.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Lime basil pesto

Lime basil seedlings in my New Zealand
spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes) rows.

Lime basil loves Florida's 
hot, wet summers!

Lime basil (Ocimum americanum) is native to Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, not the Americas, despite its species epithet. It has a strong citrus odor and a cross between lime basil and sweet basil (O.basilicum) is known as lemon basil.

Sweet basil, which is the traditional basil for Italian cooking including pesto, is susceptible to fungal diseases once the wet season begins here in Florida.

So, a number of years ago, I bought some lime basil seed from Burpee on the advice that it was more heat tolerant. It was so prolific that it has been self seeding in my edible beds ever since.  Read my previous Lime basil article for more information.

This year I transplanted the seedlings from my okra and New Zealand spinach beds to its own row, so I could keep those crops weeded and have a good basil crop as well.


This is the story from rogue seedlings to pesto.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

A South American engulfed my resting vegetable beds

I had put my veggie beds to rest for the winter. What could go wrong?


I knew we were going to be out of town for the first three months of 2020, so I did not plant our normal winter crops. After the last summer/fall crops in three of the beds, I weeded them trying to disturb the soil as little as possible and then covered them with a four-inch layer of pine needles. (6 reasons to use pine needle mulch in edible gardens) In two of the other three beds had the native salvia and other wildflowers growing, so I did some light weeding and left them alone. In the last bed I planted some wildflower seeds and I'll cover this bed in my next post.

So in those three beds, a visitor from South America came calling...

This innocent-looking plant is a monster! The native range for this oxalis is shown in green while the purple areas show where it's escaped. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

For a more beautiful yard, plant more beautyberry

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana): a plant profile


In addition to its iridescent purple berries, beautyberry make your landscape more beautiful because of all the birds it invites to the landscape. In this photo, there is a mockingbird in the upper right and a cardinal in the lower left. 
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is in the mint family (Lamiacaeae). Appropriately enough, the genus name is Greek for beautiful fruit. Usually the fruit is a bright purple, but white berries sometimes occur naturally and both purple- and white-berried shrubs are available in the native plant trade. While there are no other Callicarpa species native to Florida there are others, but most are native to Asia.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Smart Gardening

Let's combat those horticultural myths with science 

This meme with a reminder to share
about male and female pepper fruits based on
 the number of lobes is total baloney!

The Internet has been a fantastic tool for sharing all of human knowledge. Social media, powered via the Internet, has made it easier to reconnect with long-lost friends and relatives and to share photos and memes with the world. It also serves as a market place, with online shopping.

But all this mostly unfiltered access to eye balls has made it ripe for spreading misleading information and blatant misinformation. Plus, this unfiltered marketplace allows for the selling of ineffective or bogus products with no chance for returns.

But, our topic is gardening and landscaping, so let's look at a few examples of bad information so widely shared that those myths have become accepted as fact.