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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.

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,


  1. Oh so beautiful and so Florida Friendly. Your photos and stories are better than the magazines I subscribe to. Look out Southern Living.

  2. The container planting in the first shot is amazing! Such a mix of colors and textures!
    You seem to have this down to a science, but it's more like an artist with a brush or clay.
    I can only aspire...

  3. Truly enjoy you Blog............

  4. It is always a pleasure to stroll through your garden with you. I hope what ever is taking you away from your garden is resolved soon and you will be back to your routine.

  5. Amazing...yesterday it was in the 80' it is December 1 and we will be lucky to hit 70 today. Maybe Winter is here, let's just hope it is not like last winter.

    In the bottom left hand corner of one of your pics there is some Persian Shield. I finally got one a few months ago. How do they handle the winter? Mine is in a pot, so if it is tender I can always pull it inside.

    I do love your garden!!!

  6. What a great bunch of tips and lovely vistas of your gardens. I just love your peaceful place. I need to get out and take care of things in the gardens but have been doing some other stuff.

    Enjoy this time of year, it is beautiful.


  7. Great tips, and thankfully they're tips that I follow as well with the exception of fertilizer, which I use less of since I'm adjacent to a seasonally wet swamp that leads to the St. John's river. Its nice to see photos of your garden before the frost hits!

  8. what a beautiful fall garden. Those photos are fantastic. My garden is almost nonexistent at this time of year, but there is something doing on my blog - a Giveaway. I hope you'll visit.

  9. Your good gardening practices are really paying off for you this time of year. I'm taking notes. Love all your images and especially the sweet almond bush. Sometimes there are more important things to attend to than the garden, and it is nice when that garden lets you know it's OK.

    Great bee photo in your header!

  10. What wonderful views of your garden Meems. So many beautiful plants.Your gardening practices have really paid off. Have a wonderful week!

  11. Hi Meems...How right you are about the garden getting less attention these days. Sometimes life just gets busier than we like, but fortunately the garden goes on, and eventually we get caught up. It looks like your garden is doing well, and let's hope that first freezing night doesn't come for awhile...or, better yet, let's hope it doesn't come at all this winter. Great pic of the banana leaf.

  12. Your garden looks lovely in any season, and it is nice to know that sometimes we can step back when life gets busy and nature will handle it all as long as there has been good preparation. I am getting ready to get in a load of mulch, but have tried to remove as many fallen leaves as possible. I heard that too many fallen leaves will strip nitrogen from the soil as they decompose.

  13. Meems: Great post with lots of tips! Thanks! I so agree that right plants in right location give both plants and gardeners less stress. Sometimes I misplaced a plant, only found out I have to do constant spray or watering. Until I realized the location mistake, and move them, both plants and me felt the ease right away.

  14. Hear, hear!! and Amen! on all of your sustainable gardening practices. Makes all the difference in the world. Build the soil naturally, and you will be rewarded -- as you most definitely have been! Gorgeous garden. Those Adirondack chairs sure look like a lovely place to sit a spell and admire your handiwork!

  15. Your photos are just stunning, Cynthia. I think if my Callicarpa looked as good as yours I'd still have it. And the sustainable practices really do pay off don't they?

  16. Meems,
    Your garden never ceases to inspire. Your use of organic methods is really paying off as your pictures depict.

  17. Meems, This time of the year has me going this way and that way, but I know what is important to me. Yes, visiting one of my favorite garden blogs. Your photos are such an inspiration to me, if not for your blog I would not have my very simple garden blog. Merry Christmas and may God keep blessing you and your family. Janis

  18. Thank you all for your gracious and kind responses. I promise to get around to your lovely blogs again soon. I sure do miss knowing what's cooking in your gardens.

    Siesta Sister... I would take that persian shield in for this weather. In the ground and under cover they will do okay. But in a pot it will need some insulation. They are not terrible cold hardy. Although you might be okay in your county this week. Not sure what your particular micro-climate might be.

  19. We are on the same page as far as this topic goes! I'm on year 20 of organic gardening and haven't looked back. BTW: That's a gorgeous coleus you have. I've not grown them for awhile, but I think I'll get some next season.
    Beautiful garden shots!
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway