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Florida Gardening in May

Florida Gardening in May
Florida gardening in May. Clockwise from top: blackberries, bougainvillea, balsam pear and lavender

Florida gardening in May. Clockwise from top: blackberries, bougainvillea, balsam pear and lavender

I once had a co-worker who would recite a poem her mother used to say about the first of May. It’s not something I can mention here — this being a family blog and all — but the basic idea of the poem is that May first is a great time for doing, well, all kinds of things outdoors.

As far as Florida gardening goes, the Florida Gardening Calendar by the University of Florida International Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension has some good tips. What stands out to me this month are the warnings, like scale on my plants. I’ve seen scale on leaves of a few of my plants. Also, the extension warns to “watch for pests on tomato plants.” Within the past month, I have picked off horn worms (the caterpillar of the hawk moth) and tomato fruit worms so much that I can’t even look at macaroni and cheese or noodles anymore. I don’t want to spray pesticides on my veggies — why else would you grow them if not to have your own organic produce? Anyway, there’s also a warning to check trees before hurricane season starts, and lawn diseases and pests. Ah, the price of living in paradise.

The good news is that if you like growing things, some herbs do really well (my oregano is going strong more than a year after the previous summer), like rosemary, basil and tarragon. Sweet potato plants are said to do well during the summer. I have a friend who successfully grew a nice crop of sweet potatoes all through last summer.

In my yard, I recently repotted the plants on my patio into nicer pots. It was worth the investment, because some of the plants really needed more room than their pots were giving them. It also makes our patio look nice. I added a yellow bougainvillea to the mix. The blackberry bush that came from a cutting from a friend is now sprouting flowers and green berries, and my boys and I harvested all of our carrots. My sweet almond bush smells heavenly. My lavender is blooming, and I even found a bit of it growing by surprise in the carrots.

I have also been yanking balsam pear/balsam apple from my hedges and shrubs. I hate this vine with a passion. It didn’t turn up in our yard until after Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and we’ve been dealing with it since then.

That’s what’s going on here. What’s going on in your yard right now?

  1. Our ficus hedges got eaten up by white fly and even though we’ve had it treated it still died because some of the neighbors didn’t treat theirs and so it goes! I’m trying to figure out something else to plant instead of just replacing the ficus hedge. We’ll see what I can come up with. :)

    • Susi, we have been dealing with the whitefly in our neighborhood too. It’s expensive to treat, and because we are a certified backyard habitat and have planted butterfly gardens, we don’t like spraying a bunch of pesticides. My husband started replacing our ficus hedge. Our yard is pretty big, so it’s going to have to happen little by little so we don’t break the bank all at once! We are putting in cocoplum bushes instead. Cocoplum is a nice native plant that has edible fruits the wildlife love. People can eat them too, apparently, although the only thing I’ve heard of people doing with them is making jelly. I’d rather let the birds have them! Other people are replacing ficus with podocarpus or Surinam cherry. My son’s school has Surinam cherry as a low hedge around the property, and it looks nice. That has a nice berry on it too.

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