Monday, May 17, 2010

Monster vine is a lillikoi

Last year I bought "Brazilian round yellow passion fruit" seeds from Baker Creek. Unlike the other passion fruit seeds I unsuccessfully tried to germinate before, these germinated very easily and grew very quickly. Within a month or two from germinating around May last year, I planted them in my back yard on a two wire trellis specially made for the two plants I planted.

In my wildest dreams I never imagined them to completely overgrow the trellis and then reach beyond to envelop everything in its path. As you can see in the last picture, they're now snaking up my traveller's Palm.

I see my neighbor tried to hack it away from his Crepe Myrtle trees which were being completely suffocated. I will have to bring out my pruning gear this coming weekend and try to stop it from completely taking over.

It has been blooming profusely for a couple of weeks now, but I still don't see a single fruit forming, I also don't see any bees or other insects buzzing around the flowers. I think I will have to take a small paint brush and start hand pollinating. I wonder if having two vines are enough - hopefully the seeds were not from the same parent and incompatible.

So, if there are more people out there who were wondering what "Brazilian round yellow passionfruit" from Baker Creek are, they are undoubtedly the yellow edible passion fruit or lillikoi.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Put a sock on it

Last year, I lost almost all my limes and meyer lemons to birds.

I had caught black birds pecking at my citrus fruits. A search for florida's birds revealed they are "American Crows" or "Boat tailed Grackle"

I had been thinking long and hard how to protect my fruit from these birds. At the same time I have also pondered how I can save my pomegranates from the leaf-footed bugs.

I read on some blog that someone was using footies, those try on socks you get at the shoe stores. So I searched and found some for sale on eBay, bought some last week and started to put them on the poms and citrus fruit.

So far so good. I spotted a leaf footed bug on one of the poms and today I found a leaf footed bug nymph on another. So the verdict is still out if its going to work on the poms.

It seems to be working on the meyer lemon, so far I have not seen any new bird damage after applying them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fakahatchee grass - no South Florida garden should be without it

It almost makes sense that the big garden centers don't sell the toughest native plants, I guess they want "repeat business".

I'm really trying to strike a balance between form, function, beauty by planting many different kinds of plants, from perennials, to shrubs and trees.

I am placing a lot of emphasis on edibles, but also on native plants and water wise plants.

I took out many books from our public library system and read up a good deal about our best native landscaping plants. Unfortunately, very few of them are available at any of the garden centers. The only ones that are readily available are sea grape, coco plum.

There are only two native nurseries relatively close by, but both are catering more for the landscaping businesses than for homeowners, so you have to phone ahead and make an appointment, in short just too much of a hassle.

My firebush is from a small cutting I took while visiting a nature center. Of the handfull of cuttings, one rooted and has grown to a 10 feet tall shrub/tree. My elder berry is from a small piece of wood that I broke off from a shrub growing wild next to my jogging path, I made a clean cut above the point where I snapped it off, then dipped it in some rooting hormone, placed it in a glass of water on my window sill and within a few weeks it grew roots, I planted it out and today its about 15 feet tall and wide and forever full of striking white flowers. In fact its so vigorous that I will soon have to prune it back severely, otherwise it will smother the other shrubs in the border.

I had unsuccessfully tried to grow fakahatchee grass from seeds. I had been searching for it for long time, then while browsing through the plants at Rorabecks Market in Lake Worth, I came upon fakahatchee grass at a great price. So I bought a 5 gallon container, divided it into 3 and planted them in different spots in the garden. This coming fall, I will divide them again and probably have another 3 or more to plant elsewhere.

To give you a comparison, my lemon grass which had been growing so well and looking so great, all but died back during the winter and now looks terrible, but the fakahatchee grass, grew bigger and more beautiful.

May - the hardest month

Its incredible how the weather can change here in South Florida. From being super wet and cold to super hot and super dry.

We had a record breaking cold and wet "winter". It was really great on the budget - I never had to water my garden from December through late April, which is quite unusual as this is our dry season.

I sort of knew this lucky streak wouldn't last. May is historically one of the driest months here. Unfortunately it packs a double whammy, its not only dry, its super hot and humid also.

Almost without exception, the only plants that can take this are the natives. The coco plum, fakahatchee grass, firebush and sea grape look as well as ever. However, just about every other plant is being burnt to ashes.

With my landscaping endeavor, I didn't keep up modifying my irrigation system, so I have many spots where the sprinklers just don't reach anymore, so I have had to resort to dragging the hose everywhere. Its kind of like trying to water a football field with a hose.

Everyday I discover another patch of almost dead grass or some plants that look unsaveable, then I drag the hose with sprinkler there, turn on the timer then go to turn it off or move it to another spot.

I really need to re-configure my sprinkler system so that the "dead" areas are watered and also add some drip irrigation to the mixed shrub beds.

Hopefully the dry spell will be over soon and we'll get our daily deluge to cool things off and bring some welcome relief.