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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Summer Squash for Winter Meals

Rarely is it necessary to bundle up with coats, hats, and gloves in central Florida. That's just what I did today to venture into the garden for a couple of hours.

I've been thinking lately each time I drive in and out of the driveway that I really need to take some photos of the red pentas in the front garden. Rooted from cuttings (back in July) and planted into the front lawn renovation project they are glowing brightly just in time for the new decade.

From this angle the 'baby' Giant Spider Lily Crinum augustum 'Queen Emma' is showing off her deep magenta colors and broad leaves. She was just a 'pup' separated from the mother back in July also and my has she grown.

So with threats of freezing temperatures for the next three nights I headed out to the veggie garden to cull the beans, squash, and a few tomatoes. The carrots, greens, lettuce, broccoli, and peas should be fine.

First, though, taking a walk about the garden and capturing how things are looking today... just in case it all turns wilty and mushy this week.
It was decided not to panic over the reports and threats of hard freeze warnings. But we would enjoy some sauteed squash for dinner and rejoice that our vegetable garden is producing good food in the middle of winter.

The garage became our make-shift greenhouse for all the tender cuttings rooting in 4 and 6 inch pots. They are snuggly waiting out the next few days to see what really happens. But only a few container plants were moved into the shelter of the back patio.

Including my one blooming orchid.

We're taking our chances on the rest. I think. I may change my mind tomorrow and move more plants under cover. Tomorrow night is supposed to be the worst.

I'm counting on the screening over the lanai to hold off the lowest numbers predicted.

... And the canopy of oak trees to blanket the understory and fool the frost.

Likely some of the most tender tropicals will not fare so well. We'll hope for the roots to stay warm and healthy and for a quick recovery in a few weeks when the earth warms up.

I can't be sure about the stray goldenrod that keeps reseeding and blooming since this is my first year of going through winter with it.
Tomorrow or the next day everything may look quite differently. We will let the chips fall as they may and hope for some cloud cover tonight.
Stay warm, dear gardeners! At least we don't have snow!


  1. Oh Meems ....I have to tell you that your red Pentas are just gorgeous! Sorry to hear about the coming weather and I will keep my fingers and toes crossed that there will be very little or no damage. Girl your plants are stunning. Have you ever tried thermal blankets? Here are some links that you may find interesting.

  2. Uh Meems, have you checked the weather this morning? I wouldn't cross snow off just yet! Weird I know. I now have some very ugly mush where there were once beautiful plants...

  3. It would be amazing to see snow on some of those tropicals that you grow. I hope the weather people are wrong and the cold doesn't get to your garden. It is incredicbly cold here. 20 degrees below normal. Queen Emma is looking quite beautiful with her red dress on. That orchid looks so sweet peeking out of the foliage.

  4. Meems, I had to stop by after looking at the weather report for usually warm spots...we were thinking of visiting Tampa while I am healing. My dear, I so hope they are wrong about that cold front dipping down your way. Do you have old sheets to cover up those beauties? Hugs and thank you for a wonderful tour through your gorgeous garden ! gail

  5. Helen,
    Thermal blankets are very popular AND pricey. :-O Last year I spent so much energy and time attempting to cover everything but in the end nature takes over anyway. I'm trying really hard not to stress over the weather predictions. Thanks for the fingers and toes crossed. :-)

    Yes, I saw the snow line on the weather this morning. Maybe ya'll up there in the frozen north Florida but not here... surely, not here. Ha. So sorry about your mush. It happens fast doesn't it!

    Your very cold 20 degrees below normal is exactly why I must count my blessings even with our 'below normals'. The last couple of years I put myself through so much agony trying to fight the inevitable. It all works itself out in the end.

    Dear Gail,
    You are so sweet to check on me. Gloves and polartec are keeping me warm this morning. Had to be out in the garden early this morning for a service tech appt.

    We were bitten in a few places last night including those pretty squash leaves.The photo from yesterday is a memory of the past ~~ they are quite soggy this morning. Tonight not as cold but tomorrow below freezing. I'll be covering a few more things tomorrow and bringing in a few more containers. Then I'll let mother nature have her way.

    Do let me know if you decide to come to Tampa. Wouldn't that be fun! Today is a beautiful, sunny, clear-blue skies, high of 53 day in Florida... these are the days I LOVE!!!! Oh, yes, I DO have loads of blankets and old sheets packed in bins just for covering plants... I'll make use of them tomorrow... but absolutely no stressing allowed worrying about the outcome.
    Hugs to you,too.

  6. I love your optimistic outlook, Meems. And, I do hope we slip by but I'm bundling up and bringing my potted plants indoors and hoping that Mother Nature will not be too harsh with us. We were right between 32 and 33 this morning briefly, and so far things look okay...even the angel trumpet. Do stay warm!

  7. Meems your garden is just so beautiful. I love the picture of the orchid against the dark burgundy spikes.I hope you do not get the cold that seems to be spreading down into the southern states this week.It is wonderful to see your garden and its colors on a cold winter day.

  8. This cold streak is really taking hold on the South. Hope all goes well for you in the coming weeks. We're heading out to LA/Santa Monica in a few days and will be gone a week. Chris is home right now, so he'll be here at the house to care for Charm.

    Stay warm!

  9. It's such a delight to see all your beautiful colors, Meems, especially at this time of year.
    Those Pentas are glorious! Do the Caladiums survive the freezing temps? Somehow I doubt it, but I sure hope they do.
    Mmmm, I'm dreaming of sautéed yellow squash with garlic and herbs. We had not a one, nor even any zucchini this past summer. So sorry to hear the frost zapped yours, but I'm glad you managed to salvage a few before the damage was done.
    Rug up and stay warm these next few days. I'm sure those temps feel like the arctic to your Florida blood!
    I'd love to share the shortbread and a cup of tea with you...and yes, we could chat for hours :)

  10. Oh Meems, I hope this cold weather doesn't get to your pretty plants and flowers like they have Darla's in Tallahassee.

    It's 16 degrees here now --and going down to about 7 tonight... Yipes!!!! No snow much here either---just flurries.

    Beautiful photos... Thanks!

  11. It by no means looks cold there, of course that is just the pictures and your gorgeous plants tricking my eyes. Do stay warm, this cold is crazy.


  12. Hi, Meems...I'm a new "follower" though I've visited your blog a few times before. Love your 'Queen Emma,' bromeliads, shell gingers, stromanthe, begonias, pentas...actually, I love ALL of your plants and many of them in my own garden! I am living here in CenFla fearing this extended freeze as well. If you'd like to visit my garden, I just started a blog: Thanks for sharing your garden with us!

  13. The Pentas are so pretty! Think I'll be needing some of those this summer. I keep hearing about all the cold down there and the rest of that side of the country. I hope you're plants did okay.

  14. Ah, Susan, I've been thinking about you every time I hear the weather reports... you usually get a few degrees colder than us. Hope you are still faring okay... it isn't looking good for tonight. I brough in a few more pots and did cover a few things today. Grrrr. Oh, that. No, that wasn't a very optimistic grrrr! Keep smiling.

    Ooooh, Lona,
    Looking at all that ice at your house makes me want to curl up and read a book. Come by anytime I hope we can serve up some green for you after this weekend.

    Sounds like the perfect place to go with weather like this on this half of the country. Enjoy and glad Charm will be in good hands.

    The caladiums are all faded away but the bulbs are still in the ground and will survive the cold with ease. The ground never freezes here... at least not yet. :-) If it weren't for the damage to the garden I'd be very happy in this kind of weather. It is such a nice break after all the heat of summer. So good to hear from you.

    It is amazing how very different a few hundred miles can be. Darla might actually see some snow flurries this weekend. THAT would be weird. We won't see that here but in the 20's now they are predicting. Yikes. Not nearly as cold as you but too cold for Florida.

    I hope you are enjoying all that snow in KY. this long streak of cold is very unusal and the plants don't like it at all.

    Hey! So glad you stopped by and so glad to have another blog from Florida. I do hope you aren't too far into the interior that you won't be protected by the gulf. Florida has the strangest patterns of zones and micro climates. I'll come visit later when I have a few more minutes. I already love your web address.

    For the most part my plants are hanging in there. Many of them tinged from the cold but nothing taken down to the roots. It's not very pretty but so far is that's all the damage we get they'll survive. This weekend will be the true test when we get into the
    20's... let's hope they are wrong about that prediction.

  15. Meems,
    I'd cover that squash if it gets into the 20s. Our squash hung in with many minor freezes.

    Might be walking out on the pond by weeks end. Once once in 13 years it was frozen enough to walk on. Bring your skates!@

  16. Randy,
    The squash is history... didn't like that first night in the low thirties. I gave in and covered the tomatoes before the third night and still have my fingers crossed for the green beans. I think everything will be okay... the carrots, peas, greens, lettuce, broccoli, onion... but not ice skating yet. :-)

  17. Oh dear, the thought of loosing plants to an unseasonable freeze is frustrating. I heard our weather forecaster say that 32 of our 50 states has some type of weather advisory. Guess that means most everyone is in for some kind of weather disaster. For us in N. IL it's another 9 inches of blowing snow starting tonite.

    Good luck, Meems, I hope your tender plants do OK.

  18. Hate to tell you that they are talking SNOW for Tampa Bay this weekend! Just heard it on WTVT. Who opened up the artic door?

  19. Meems, swinging by to see how the most beautiful yard in Florida is faring. Been thinking about your paradise on and off all day. Hope most (all!) of it makes it.


  20. Oh good luck Meems. I hope it doesn't get as cold as predicted. I heard about your cold spell on our news tonight. It's normal here but I know not there. I hope everything doesn't turn to mush. It would be a shame. Especially when it looks so gorgeous, as always. To think of harvesting squash in January makes my head spin but sounds yummy! Here's hoping the forecast is wrong and/or the cold spell is incredibly short.

  21. Marnie,
    SOOOO frustrating. Thanks for the well wishes.

    Island Rider,
    I guess that's possible.
    Rain is predicted so I suppose rain when it is below freezing could produce some snow here... crazy!!!

    You are too sweet... we are all holding out hope for each other... in vain I suspect. Until tonight we have done okay... only the most tender coleus and begonias succumbing... well, and some of the veggies. But overall not awful. I think it will be quite a different story after tonight. It has not been this cold for this long in many, many years.

    The fact that it is not normal here is what makes it a little more hard to swallow. On the brights side though ~~ it is all temporary. We'll come back from it but it sure is a lot of work to watch it all suffer in just a few short days. Cooked up a pot of collard greens, too, and the carrots, onion, peas are just fine but the rest of the squash is mush.


Have a blessed day,

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