Tuesday, December 01, 2020

New Beginnings Start Today!

Today is a big day for my new backyard garden...we are breaking ground!  

When buying and building our new home, we were so fortunate to get one of the bigger lots. It's quite irregularly-shaped as well, with a chunk of protected conservation woods in the right corner and a large grassy area in the other. 

So...guess what's happening to the grassy area? Yup. Raised beds! Here's a look at it now:

As they say in advertisements: but wait...there's more. See along the fence line? I'm also having the guys put in a perimeter bed to host a collection of small trees and bushes, mostly fruiting ones. 

I'll have a variety of citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange), avocado, cherry, and blueberry bushes and some pollinators, like sage and agastache, in between. Some of you may be gasping at the prospect of growing cherries here in Florida, but yes, it is done with great success. There's a variety called Barbados Cherry which is incredibly prolific here; even Home Depot sells them in big pots and they are apparently delicious.

I also got my dirty hands on a flowering tree that I've lusted after for more than a year: a Black Tulip Magnolia (shown at right). I saw one in Calloway's just before departing Dallas and quickly fell in love. After arriving here, I was amazed to find one, and was happy to purchase it from the lovely folks at Southern Horticulture. That baby is going in the back far corner.

A bit more about the raised beds. I ordered four of the 6' x 4' cedar beds that are 15" deep from Gardener's Supply. (Pro tip: When you have decent coupon codes - like 20% off and free shipping - it is really worth it to shop with them.) I've vowed to be a good gardener and practice proper crop rotation, and four beds should be plenty. I already have a nice herb collection going, and those will be tucked into random spots.

Irrigation will be interesting. We have an inground sprinkler system currently. After a bit of investigating, I found that Rainbird makes a kit that will convert your pop-up sprinkler into drip irrigation. Perfect, right? We'll see how that actually goes, though; I'm a bit skeptical.

One weird thing I've found about Florida is that nobody - and I mean NOBODY - has cedar mulch, which was my preferred mulch back in Texas. Here, they use that awful pine bark mulch or pine needles. I understand that's what is native, but...ugh. 

I've got a really nice guy who's doing this entire build for me, so I'll talk over the mulch issue with him. And of course I'll continue to share pictures as the project continues!

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Can U Dig It...Again?

Well hello...long time, no see, eh? 

So it's been around nine years since my last post here. But hey, it's 2020 and anything can happen!

A lot of life events have occurred for me personally. In May, my husband and I ditched the big, dusty city in favor of a small coastal town. Goodbye Dallas, Texas...hello St. Augustine, Florida! 

We are in a brand new house with a huge yard and, as the crow flies, we are a little over a mile and a half from the Atlantic. The air is predictably salty and breezy, and the soil is sandy. I'll certainly take that over black gumbo clay soil and triple-digit temperatures. 

Speaking of temperatures, in terms of Hardiness Zones, this move means I went from Zone 8a to 9a. Locals tell me our winters are milder than Jacksonville, which is an hour to the north, but we can still get frosts here between mid-December and mid-February, with last frost around Valentine's Day. 

There are a few apparent similarities when it comes to vegetable growing in Texas and Florida. Before knowing my background, everyone I've talked to here about gardening shakes their head, smiles, and remarks that I need to be prepared for "the heat and the bugs." 

Brothers and sisters, I've gardened in Dallas. You don't get much hotter and buggier than that.

I'm really looking forward to my first real gardening season here in Northeast Florida. My seed starting and planting dates are a little different from what I'm used to, but I'm giddy with the prospect of actually being able to grow stuff all winter, and not just veggies. Plants that I used to treat as annuals aren't anymore. It's a little crazy and I'm really looking forward to the change. I hope you'll come back as I share more of my new adventures.