organic, edible landscaping for home gardening made fun!
Fruit trees for zone 9?
Choose proven varieties with low chill hours
Juicy peaches, red ripe plums, soft pears
. . . even apples
Oranges, grapefruits, kumquats & more:
Grow your own fruit salad!
Majestic sun-loving beauties
a dozen or more fragrant flowers
fragrant, long-lasting, easy care perennials
what's not to like?
on elegantly tall 3 to 5' scapes
the web-home of:
a North Florida nursery
Make It Edible: Plant Fruit Trees | Tropical Fruits | Do Organic Gardening
- gardening with us
- everything i buy dies
- I can't because . . .
- stress Therapy
CREATE THE PERFECT EDIBLE GARDEN
Hide fruit trees in plain sight in your landscape, or discover the joy of organic gardening right here on the Ask The Green Genie gardening blog. We're passionate about making gardening fun and profitable for home gardeners everywhere.
We'll tell you about intensive gardening tricks for small yards and how to grow unusual fruits you may not have thought you could grow. Everything from how to freeze your crop to secrets for a bountiful tomato harvest.
And never worry about a pest invasion again -- we've got you covered.
They can try, but we'll empower you with lots of options for organic pest control that actually work!
Learn more with the AskTheGreenGenie blog
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Everything I buy dies: I have a brown thumb.
There's a reason why everything you buy dies. Let's start with the question, "What was the last plant you bought and where did you buy it?"
When you buy a plant from the big box garden centers, it is normally potted in a soil-less mixture. It has been grown either in a greenhouse or a nursery where it is on irrigation and what I refer to as a constant intravenous feeding. It gets little nutrients from the "soil" if any: all its food comes from either supplemental fertilizer feed or is added to the water.
So why the soil-less mixture?
Well, there are some good things about the soil-less mixture. First, the soil-less mixture is lighter weight than real dirt and makes it much easier for the grower to move pots within the nursery or to market. Let's face it: repetitive lifting of heavy pots is going to create health concerns for the laborer, and OSHA will certainly have a say about that.
Second, a soil-less medium is nearly sterile and allows the grower more control over micro-organisms in the soil. Fungi, bacteria and soil viruses can be minimized. Nutrients are then delivered via either fertilizer application or in the water supply. This controlled feeding produces a more predictable growth rate, helping the grower meet demanding deadlines for production.
So what happens next is you bring the plant home from the store, plant it in real dirt without enough nutrition, give it a little water and lots of sun, and the plant goes into shock. Is it any wonder you think you have a brown thumb?
So what do you do?
Look for plant that have been grown in at least a partial soil mixture. This may mean shopping at smaller nurseries or the farmer's markets and talking with the venders. And when you bring your plants home, plan on transitioning them into the garden over the course of several days.
Happy Gardening from the Green Genie!
Before you say "I can't because . . ."
I don't have enough space.
When space is limited, we just have to get a bit more creative in order to have a garden. As long as you've got sunshine, water, and good soil nutrients, you CAN grow a garden.
Here's a few creative ideas for gardening in small spaces:
Many vegetables can be grown in tight spaces with the aid of a trellis. Tomatoes give higher yields with the xtra support, and squash is just as happy up in the air as down on the ground. With squash off the ground, there's actually less fungus rot to contend with. Squash, cucumbers, many kinds of beans, peas, and even pumpkins can be grown in less space with a sturdy fence or trellis. You can search Pinterest for a ton of trellis ideas just like the one here.
Growing your garden in containers offers finite control of the soil mixture and the moisture retention. An added benefit is having the plants closer to eye level where you can better manage insect control and other tasks like training them to a trellis.
Container gardening allows you to place the garden absolutely anywhere like the sunny spot in the middle of the patio. Just make sure you can get the hose to wherever you place the container, or set up a low cost, low maintenance drip irrigation system.
The bigger your container, the better your moisture retention will be in the summer and the better your heat retention will be in the winter.
Companion planting is planting plants together that grow better together. For example, tomatoes and marigolds. Marigolds control nematodes which tomatoes are susceptible to. So while the tomatoes grow tall, the marigolds provide a pretty border of colorful flowers and perform a useful function for the health of the tomatoes.
Plant carrots near your tomatoes and the tomatoes will shade the heat sensitive carrots. Tomatoes also provide a natural insect deterrent called solanine that protects the carrots. Or plant carrots and leeks together and the insects that bother one are repelled by the scent of the other.
Companion planting is also NOT planting certain plants together or sequentially in the same soil. Like tomatoes: never plant tomatoes in the same soil, year after year. And don't plant strawberries near tomatoes, or in the same soil the following season. Companion planting ultimately saves you space by letting you plant closer together, yet having healthier plants at the same time.
I don't know where to start.
If you've never grown a garden, or you've recently moved to a new climate, container gardening or raised bed planting may be your best answer the first year. Either method will give you finite control over the soil ingredients, better drainage, and ultimately higher yields in a smaller space.
With the advantage of better moisture control, your gardening efforts will be much more rewarding as you explore what works or doesn't work in your particular yard.
Start with vegetables.
Vegetables are one of the easiest kinds of plants to grow and I think one of the most rewarding. Whether you're just starting out or highly experienced, we suggest buying your starter tomato plants as 6-8" seedlings as soon as the weather at night stays over 50 degrees. Buy from a local feed store or farmer's market, as the varieties you find there are probably better suited to your area and you'll have far more success than trying to start from seed.
Plants like squash, beans, carrots, or peas grow so easily from seed there's really no reason not to start with seeds. Buy seeds that are not only meant for your zone, but also try to find sources that were harvested from a similar climate. I can tell you from experiences, if you live in Florida, buying seeds that were grown in the Northeast is a recipe for crop failure. Seeds grown in South Carolina have always had higher germination rates down here than seeds grown in Pennsylvania or Illinois. Never mind how gorgeous the catalogs are!
Plan Your Space.
Map your space and create an overall plan before you buy the first seed or plant! Planning your space will help you be more realistic with your expectations. Your gardening space needs to be prepared BEFORE you go to the store, because your new purchases need to be planted nearly immediately.
Remember that you're just one person and your garden requires weekly maintenance at a minimum to stay looking nice. So don't plant more stuff than you have time to check on every week. That's also another advantage of container gardening or raised bed gardening: you'll have less weeds so less maintenance.
Organic gardening gives higher yields for the same effort as you work with nature instead of against it. Read up on mulching, composting and especially everything organic.
Check out the Organic Gardening Made Easy post on this blog and you'll find a step by step DVD with lots of color pictures to guide you through your first organic garden.
Set aside a time every week to tinker in your garden and you'll find yourself so immersed in its rewards, it won't seem like work at all. Share your new interests with a friend and you'll be amazed how chores won't feel like chores at all.
Gardeners are some of the easiest people in the world to start a conversation with. Finding a new gardening friend is easy: they're at the farmer's market, at a community garden, at the garden center, or simply behind that gorgeous flower bed down the street.
Palm Trees Don't Grow In South Dakota . . .
Every school kid knows from first hand experience that plants need sunshine, water and air. But these same kids when they get to college, studying agronomy, find out that there's more to it than that. There are plants that need exact quantities of hours of light, soil nutrients, temperature minimums, air pressure and humidity controls, etc.
So before you blame yourself for problems in the garden, please understand that the exacting needs of particular plants is a big deal.
Study the ideal habitat of each of the plants on your wish list BEFORE you buy them. That palm tree you want won't survive the winter in South Dakota unless you're prepared to build a BIG greenhouse over it. The Medjool Date Palm will grow easily in zone 9 in California, but don't expect the same results in zone 9 in Florida. The sun and the temperature may be the same, but the Medjool likes a dry climate and 54" of rain a year is a killer.
Before you buy your tomato plants, learn from the locals what varieties of tomatoes they've been growing. Tomatoes that grow in the Northeast aren't suited to the South. And what grows in wet Florida isn't going to survive in Arizona without a lot of precious water.
Happy Gardening from the Green Genie!
Gardening provides stress relief.
Life was simplier when blackberries and apples were simply fruits in the garden. Even still, gardening can provide better stress relief after a long day at the office than most other leisure activities, according to a recent study in the Netherlands.
CNN reports "We live in a society where we're just maxing ourselves out all the time in terms of paying attention," says Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., a horticulture instructor and researcher in the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Yet this "attention fatique" appears to be reversible by engaging in "involuntary attention" activities such as gardening. "The breeze blows, things get dew on them, things flower; the sounds, the smells," says Taylor, herself a home gardener. "All of these draw on that form of attention."
In another study from Norway, people who had been diagnosed with depression spent six hours a week in the garden. After just three months, half of the participants had experienced measurable improvement. And it may be more than just the activty of gardening according to Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado. His research with mice and soil bacteria suggests cognitive responses to the bacteria similar to serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs.