Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sustainable Gardening Practices Pay Off
Granted it is the beginning of December and the growing season, even in Florida, is ebbing to a slow crawl.
With shorter days, a lower angle of the sun and not as many hours of direct sunlight some of the tropicals are getting sleepy.
I find myself wishing they would all stay awake year round, like the perennials, but some of them insist on retreating back to the earth for a rest. They'll return quickly in early spring so I really shouldn't begrudge them the recuperation they require.
For all those that slumber there are as many that stay the course right through the winter months. Or until a few hours of freezing temps descend upon us in mid-winter. Oh, let's not think about that today.
Tucked-in tightly together in the understory of mature oak trees most will stay snug and protected during cooler nights.
If there was ever a time to be grateful for good management practiced during peak growing season it is now. This garden is surviving on less attention~~ bordering on neglect ~~ than it has in a long time.
Life has a way of creeping up on us at times. Things planned and things sometimes unplanned. Every now and then life decides to pull on us in ways that make it challenging to get out in the garden as much as we'd like or need to. Every gardener knows what that is like.
Such is the way it's been around here these last couple of months. Not enough days available to spend reveling in what I call 'peaceful lingering'... getting to all those maintenance tasks that add up.
Instead it's been more like stealing an hour or two here and there to keep the garden going.
It's a good thing that extra layer of mulch went down in early fall. As busy times have come my way forcing the garden to take a back seat, fortunately, the weeds haven't completely take over.
Using an organic medium 2-3 inches thick will go a LONG way to keep plant roots cooler in summer and warmer in winter also.
My preference for fall mulch coverage is a mix of medium & fine pine bark or pine needles. In spring the fallen oak tree leaves will be sufficient for an added layer of mulch.
Oh, these photos might give the perception the garden is in tip-top shape. But we all know photos can be deceiving. This gardener can see the endless list of chores I've let fall by the wayside.
While we wait for life to get back to routine I'm praising the low(er) maintenance season of autumn.
Considering the big picture it sure does help to form good overall habits in our routine gardening practices. Keeping this in mind endorses sustainability in the garden should conditions turn to near-neglect either by choice or by default.
Mulching to provide good moisture retention and weed reduction is just one of the practices recommended for structuring our gardens toward sustainability.
Correct plant placement means less stress for the gardener and the plants alike in the long run. We'll be helping ourselves and giving our plants every possiblity of thriving if we take the time to plan and research at the outset.
Other factors like proper irrigation will train your plants/lawn to sink their roots deeper into the soil causing increased drought resistance. Did you know you can actually OVER water which increases the chances for pests and fungal problems.
Installing a separate watering system for the vegetable garden last spring has saved me hours of hand-watering as well as concern while on out-of-town trips. AND... we've got tomatoes!!!
Fertilizing appropriately is key. OVER fertilizing can promote disease doing the opposite of what we desire by weakening plants.
Since we've chosen to eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers organic matter such as compost, aged horse manure shavings, seabird guano pellets, blood meal, and bone meal have been added to existing bedding plants.
The management of yard pests is minimal to none with environmentally responsible practices in place. Adopting the philosophy of allowing beneficial insects to complete their natural feeding cycles we are learning better and better to patiently let them diminish the presence of harmful insects. And in rare cases we hand-pick naughty intruders.
It may seem like a lot of extra work initially to plan out a landscape design that is both function, sustainable, and artistically pleasing. But, believe me, it pays off to think through all the elements with the idea of saving time, energy, and money in the long run.
I'll get around to visiting blogs again soon... hopefully. Please bear with me as I don't intend to neglect my garden or my gardening friends forever...
Enjoying the moments,