The Cleanup After the Storm

The Cleanup after the Storm
The storm that hit Pensacola and the surrounding area on Friday and Saturday morning was a real soaker.  Thunder rumbled here in the wee hours, however I awakened to a brilliant blue sky.  Here in Northwestern Florida we got just shy of 3 ½ inches of rain!  Not a bad way to start the grass growing.
 
 
I cleaned up the backyard and surveyed the damage.  The tree hedge between our yard and the neighbor’s horse field lost a couple of large branches that the wind knocked down.  My tomatoes in pots on the patio weathered the storm well. No damage there.
Our centipede grass is still semi dormant and the cool temperatures have hindered its growth. We are currently using “Trugreen” as our fertilizer and weed control service to get the grass up to par.  The previous owners relied on rainfall as the main watering component for their lawn care.  This allowed the grass to struggle and weeds took over in many areas.  As with any gardening project, the lawn is a work in progress.  Our backyard looks much healthier than the front lawn.
Centipede grass is an interesting grass. It adapts to rough soil conditions and is used in abundance throughout the Southern states.  It does not grow well in alkaline soils or dry regions such as our Western United States.  In addition, centipede grass does not do well in the cold.  That could be one reason our grass is looking so poorly, as we had many days and nights hovering at or below freezing this winter.
I found a website called, “Aggie Horticulture,” at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/turf/publications/centipede.html that explains everything you want to know about this type of grass.
The Aggie Horticulture site says, Centipede grass, Eremochloa ophiuroides  (Munro) Hack, is a coarse-textured perennial grass that spreads by stolons. The stolons have a creeping growth habit with rather short upright stems that resemble a centipede — thus, the name centipede grass. Centipede grass remains green throughout the year in mild climates, but leaves and young stolons are killed during hard freezes. It does not have a true dormant state and resumes growth whenever temperatures are favorable.”
 
As I said our lawn is a real work in progress, and is part of my beautiful garden.  It pays to do your research and incorporate lawn care into your garden plans.

What Comes Next in the Garden?

IN THE MEANTIME… What do you do when the weather won’t let you out to play in your garden? 

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain gently falling on my roof. The drain spout at the back corner of the house is near my bed. I could hear the rain and the drip, drip, dripping of the water through the gutter. Such bliss… I snuggled back into my comforter, even though I had other plans in the garden today. It was so dark at 8:00 am this morning that our street lights were still on. I knew that did not bode well, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and stared out the back patio watching birds of all kinds mill around the bird feeder.

The wind increased and thunder rumbled through the dark skies. Strobe light flashes of lightening sliced through my thoughts. No gardening today for me. No problem, because being retired means you plan your day your way. I have always found things to do to occupy my time, and doing crafts has always been a great way to spend time when I can’t play in the dirt.

I started crocheting with thread over 30 years ago. My mother and grandmother (I think most of the women in my family crocheted) both crocheted doilies. I wanted to take up the craft to carry on the tradition, as both women are now deceased. What a joy it was to have a craft that was unusual in our modern times. Plus the cost for the crochet hooks and thread were in my budget too! Cheap!

This is a piece I am currently working on called, “In the Vineyard,” by Alice Gundel. I found this pattern in the magazine, “Magic Crochet,” December 1997, Number 111, page 12 and 13. This technique is called filet crochet. If you are interested in learning this type of crochet, I found a great filet crochet tutorial on Youtube at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s3L73m8W9o .

I think I will stay inside and work on my crochet since the rain is still coming down in buckets. The National Weather Service in Mobile, AL has posted severe thunderstorm warnings, flood warnings, and costal flood warnings for the area. It is a good day to stay inside, snuggle with my dogs, and crochet.

Gulf Coast March storm, 3/28/14, from the National Weather Service Facebook page at www.facebook.com.

Gardening in Pensacola, Florida

The Preparation

Hi friends. Today I want to share the beginning of my current gardening project in Pensacola, Florida. We moved here last spring and my first vegetable garden attempt was a total disaster. The heavy, cloying humidity, along with 5 inches of rain for a week turned my tomatoes into spindly bug covered sticks!

There are many challenges to face in our Gulf Coast climate. One of the best places I have found to answer many of my questions is the Escambia County Extension Office at this website: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/category/gardening-in-the-panhandle/.  Everything you can think of can be found there and is a wonderful source of information on gardening, grass growing, pest control, etc.

The first thing I did was to find out what planting zone I was in so that I could have an idea of what plants could survive in our terrain. I live northwest of Pensacola and my zone is 9a. If you go to the site below and input your zip code it will tell you what zone you are actually in.

Image from the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map at http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

Once you determine the planting zone, you can then research what plants grow the best for your area. I like a mix of vegetables and flowers so I try to find things that grow well together. You have to watch for shady and sunny areas too. There are lots of good things to think about and plan for.

I enlisted the help of my grandchildren in planting seeds so that they could see how easy it is to have a garden. Hopefully they will like gardening themselves. Presently, we have zucchini, cucumbers, kale, spaghetti squash, and some Roma tomatoes planted. I used old pots from previous Home Depot purchases and even incorporated Greek yogurt containers with holes punched into their bottoms as my planting vessels. I used ice cream containers to start the seeds in because the lids helps to hold in the heat which the seeds need to germinate.

Spaghetti squash to the left, cucumbers, and kale.
Zucchini on the far right.
Roma tomatoes.

We’re off to a great start and if the weather cooperates and warms up we will have some great plants to put into our garden. I love the smell of the wet compost as it mixes with the red, clay of the North Florida soil. The South winds are blowing and the Gulf moisture is streaming into our area. Rain and thunder storms tonight!

Welcome!

Happy Spring to everyone, even though it does not appear to be spring yet in many parts of the United States. Here in Pensacola, Florida it has been a cold, rough winter. We had many cloudy, damp, cold days with winds coming out of the north, instead of the warm tropical winds from the south. I was able to grow a winter garden though and that was a fun endeavor. My cabbages, brocoli, and kale grew quite well in the protection of my shed and neighbor’s fence.

Here is a picture of my grand children with the last of the cabbages. Gardening in this part of the Gulf Coast is quite a challenge in the summer. I hope to share some of my tricks and mistakes along the way so others and can enjoy the peace of gardening in Northwest Florida. Please follow my gardening saga and share your tips and tricks that you may find helpful to the rest of us struggling gardeners out there. Along the way, I want to share my other interests such as crocheting, jewelry making, reading, crafting, baking and weight loss and exercise tips. Join me in my journey into retirement as I silver thread my way to a more fulfilling life style.