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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.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another Layer of Organics for the Edible Garden

Gaillardia pulchella Indian blanket flower left over from spring, although weedy in appearance, it just keeps on blooming.

The far back corner of the edible garden, (2) 4 x 8 framed beds, has been occupied with salvia coccinea, cuphea ignea cigar plant, pentas, sweet peppers, and zinnias all summer long.

It's been nice to see color here during these hottest months when not much else in the way of veggies are growing.

The prep work of the garden is as much fun as the actual gardening.

Moving dirt around and dreaming about all the new possibilities is simply invigorating.

Benefits** of adding organic matter:
• Improves tilth, condition, and structure of soil, providing better aeration and temperatures.
• Supports living soil-organisms.
• Improves ability of soil to hold water and nutrients.
• Helps dissolve mineral form of nutrients.
• Buffers soil from chemical imbalances.
• Maintains a steady supply of plant nutrients.
• May contribute some degree of biological control of certain soil pests.
• Helps recycle organic wastes, thus keeping them out of landfills and waterways.
• Cheap energy source, replacing manufactured nitrogen.
**Resource for benefits list is .

In preparing the beds for fall plantings a healthy layer of compost was recently added which you can read about here. Just in case you missed it and won't be able to sleep tonight until you catch up with these exciting updates.

This week a nice layer of well-aged horse manure has been added on top of that to improve the soil even further. I'm telling you I could shovel and move dirt around all day.

It is a beautiful, earthy thing.

Last weekend my 'cowboy son' loaded me up again
with the richness of those good organic amendments that will blend into the compost and breakdown into nutrients for plants. Just in time to get the seeds in the ground in a couple of weeks.

The veggie garden consists of 6 separate planting areas each approximately 8' x4' (one is larger) divided by walkways and perennial borders surround it. It is fenced off and on the north side of the house and runs east and west. Not the recommended location for edibles. But we work with what we have.

Other than empty beds waiting for veggie seeds lots of self-seeded porterweed have sprung up randomly. This is the NOT the native. This one truly acts like a weed.

But we let a few of them grow to maturity for obvious reasons. The rest we pull out and give away or ... just pull out and toss.

If you've not had the chance to grow cuban oregano may I recommend you give it a try! Not only is it pretty and completely no nonsense to grow (here ~ year round). It will add the most wonderful fragrance and taste to any dish you traditionally use italian oregano. Typically I use both varieties when cooking my homemade spaghetti sauce. It makes it out of this world good.

Other colorful spots in the edible garden.

The edible garden is the most consistently sunny location in all of Hoe and Shovel. I've had a difficult time resisting adding more seeds of zinnias and cosmos throughout. The few still left will have to be yanked soon to make room for planting seeds for fall veggies. Although they may perish on their own with their newly added dose of manure. They prefer lean, dry soil.

5 minutes of outdoor activity a day is all you need to improve your mood~~ and your self-esteem~~ according to a new study by researchers at the University of Essex, in England.
Resource: Real Simple magazine, August 2010


  1. Hi, Meems! Absolutely wonderful. I love playing in the dirt, and your composted dirt looks so rich. I was out taking photos before my trip yesterday morning to update my blog. I noticed that I could not just take photos...(even though I was dressed and clean for the plane ride)...I just had to pull some weeds, invasive plants, clip some coleus for rootings, etc.

    We, gardeners, just can't stay out of the dirt. I've even managed to infect another young budding gardener this week. She came and took some plants; I was sad that I don't have more yet to share, but this will come in the spring. I noticed that she couldn't wait until the weekend to get her new beauties set out. She had to go home and set it out right away (which was almost 7 pm when she left me).

    Ahh, just as your garden has inspired me to continue to grow the small expanse of "jumangi" at Cannon Ball, I now have encouraged and inspired another to do the same. That is as rewarding as eating the fruits that you grow, isn't it?

  2. I know what you mean about being able to move dirt around all day long. There's nothing like the smell of good earth.
    I need to look for some of that blanketflower. I love the color combination! Do you let most of your beauties reseed themselves or do you harvest seeds for the next season? Your garden is such a wonderful array of colors, textures and shapes. Enjoy your gardening day!

  3. Brando,
    It must be that tactile need to touch and feel and smell the goodness of the soil. It's one of those chores that isn't a chore. I want it to last longer. Crazy us. You will forever be sharing your cuttings with young or old gardeners, dear girl. It is in you like your veins. SO rewarding. You must make another trip here when you get a chance.

    In the vegetable garden letting flowers reseed depends entirely on the season. I've noticed they would take over without a bit of control and after all as much as I love the flowers those beds are mixed with veggies. I have plenty of Gaillardia seed not buy any if you are willing to wait for seed. I will mail you some... just e-mail me. hoeandshovelgarden at gmail dot com
    Have a happy weekend!

  4. You are a 'Down To Earth' girl aren't you? Great post Meems. That potted selloum (sp) has actually been in that container since I received it. I have not brought it in for the winter. It does get knocked back in the winter, so far, it has returned though. I must get it in the ground.

  5. Your veggie soil will be super-rich with the perfect texture. I can't wait for DIL to move her horses to Six Acres. I will also be able to take advantage of horse manure. I have blue porterweed pop up all over as well, and just leave two or three to grow, for the same obvious reasons. I'm finding less and less room every year, as my garden plants grow.

    P.S. I love blanketflowers! I think they look best if constantly deadheaded, but ya know, my husband calls them weeds anyway. I also have coreopsis and spiderwort in the same bed, and everyone thinks that bed looks weedy. The bees love me for it, though.

  6. Meems, Love your new header photo. Everything in your garden looks great and looks like Fall is on its way. I have a three day weekend and did find the butterfly plants in South Tampa. Two of my friends each got one as surprise gift and I got three for myself. Will try to find the perfect spot to plant them this weekend. Janis

  7. Meems: Lucky you having free aged horse manure handy for your veggie garden! I have three portalweed in my garden, they are taking much more space than I wanted even I keep trimming them away. All other self seedlings are given away as well. My indian blanket Plants finally started growing and blooming after I started seeds in the early spring.

  8. Your garden is gorgeous! Thanks for stopping by my blog and adding it to your florida blogroll. I've been enjoying going through your site, :)

  9. I love the pathway too. I was thinking how beautiful your plants look. This time of here, things are looking a little blasted around here and don't perk up until the cooler weather comes. But your garden manages to look tropicalesque without that deep-fried late summer look. Lovely!

  10. What beautiful dirt you have, Meems. Your son's gift of aged horse manure is certainly special to a gardener. I was out shoveling compost from my pile today and you are right, it is quite enjoyable. I've been busy setting up my little container veggie bed and I put several pots of flowers along the edges mimicing your method. Enjoyed all the photos of your flowers awaiting the arrival of those fall veggies.

  11. Darla,
    Ha. You are going to love setting that plant free!

    Those porterweed will take over given any opportunity won't they? All of mine were completely fried this winter and I thought none would have a chance to return. Was I ever wrong. I've pulled so many of them out in an effort to control their take over.

    There's no way I could dead head blanket flower. That might be all I had time for. Personally I like every stage of its life from bud to seed so I just make sure I have them where I don't mind their 'weedy' appearance or I yank them and start new.

    Yay... you found the swallow tail. It doesn't surprise me at all you would gift them right at the outset. I appreciate you telling me you like the new header. Enjoy your 3 day weekend.

  12. Ami,
    You are going to really enjoy that blanket flower in winter now that it is taking off. It is true the porterweed can get very large but it is a critter-magnet and wouldn't want to be without it.

    Thanks for the visit. I'm always happy to welcome more Florida bloggers. So fun to see what's going on in other Florida gardens.

    Dirty Girl,
    Thank you. Before it is planted out it looks so wide. Then all of a sudden when the veggies start to grow I wonder why I can't see it anymore.

    I used to always lament the August/September garden looking so frayed and worn after summer. Now that I plant more for structure and sustainability the garden last through this tough time and into autumn. I don't have it all figured out but I'm learning a few more things with each season. And the shade helps, too. :-)

    Why, thank you, NanaK!
    I DO love B E A U T I F U L dirt. You are going to love the feel of your veggie area with some added flowers and the critters they draw to greet you as you toil.
    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  13. gosh that looks lovely - Grower Jim said what I was growing was cuban oregano but it is not variegated. We call it mother of herbs here in australia and it has a lovely flavour and scent. I agree - a must in any tropical garden.

  14. Africanaussie,
    I'm not sure I've ever seen the non-variegated type. I'll keep my eye out for it now though... you've sparked my curiosity.

  15. I must be the only one here who does not enjoy heaving dirt around, although it's much better now that I've invested in a good shovel. Amending beds is right down there with pulling up torpedo grass. Especially when it's hot.
    I'm a big fan of blanketflower. I started with one plant 2 or 3 years ago and now I have dozens. And they don't ask for heaping shovelsful of compost! I bought some yellow gallardia seeds 2 years ago -- maybe yellow queen or gallo yellow? -- and they are just as hardy and self-seeding as the natives. Not the same luck with the mahogany globes.

  16. How beautiful!

    Your garden is a butterfly's heaven.I often lose track of time in my own garden as well as my customers'. The best for me is gardening in the rain, though my wife begs me not to track in any mud.

  17. Penlyn,
    A good shovel is essential but also thoughts of roots loving the goodness of rich organics... should always be done in the shade or in the evening when the slant of the sun is less brutal. The Gaillardia survives in lean soil and very little water. It is great in the veggie garden and out in the front corner here... your garden must LOVE it.

    Oh, I LOVE to garden in a gentle rain. Especially in summer.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

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Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway