How does your garden grow?

I love plants. They are fascinating, beautiful, useful and respond well to love and care. My whole yard is a garden that blends into the forest around it. It's not that the soil is dug up everywhere, but everywhere there are bits of this and that. I live in the subtropics and can garden all winter, but the summer is sparse growing due to the heat and humidity, pests and diseases.

I grow tropical fruits and vegetables, herbs, flowers, and especially try for native plants and pollinators. Right now I have orchids blooming, hot red peppers ripening, bananas filling out. I will post pictures when permitted to do so.

If you grow plants at all, inside or out. You can grow sprouts in your kitchen, microgreens on your windowsill and squash in containers on your patio.

What do you grow?



  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    Blaze your garden sounds like a slice of heaven, at the moment we have the horizontal rain and Atlantic winter winds battering everything, but its been unseasonably mild temperature wise, with no hard frosts yet, the remaining greenery is dull but not wilted yet.
    For whatever reason the plants grew at a slower pace this year, with many flowering months later than they should have.
    At the moment I have some potted regullar coriander/cilantro and Vietnamese coriander growing inside the patio doors, but I have no idea what to do with the latter, its not worked out as an ingredient I could use (tastes like soap) but I don't want to let it die either lol.

  • Cilantro - yum. How do you keep it going? Here, it grows, flowers and dies. What is the secret?

    I have tried some cilantro alternatives. Culantro (too strong and leaves have sharp dentitions) and Papalo (very strong and weird tasting.) I have not tried Vietnamese coriander. I am coming to think that the strong herbs like papalo, and perhaps Vietnamese coriander, are supposed to be used in very small quantities, adding the umami flavor to cooked dishes. Like the Thai use fish sauce.

  • Here in western Massachusetts we don't have the longest of growing seasons. As I type this I'm looking outside at 2" of snow and temps in the 20's (Fahrenheit). Our season ended about a month ago with the first hard frost. What we have the most success growing is squash -- any variety seems to thrive here. Greens (kale, collards, etc.) also do well here. We have two peach trees that had an abundance of fruit this year, so much so that we happily shared the bounty with our resident groundhog.

  • I just planted my Cyclamens for the winter and Geraniums of all hues, in our Mediterranean climate they should thrive and do well. I plan to sow some Nasturtium seeds next week🌼🥀 I may ask for advice soon and begin growing vegetables. I am not a particularly competent gardener.

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    Blaze I could move this thread to hobbies if you would like that?

  • Amity, of course. That’s where it belongs. Thank you.

  • I don't see this in the hobby section but I agree it would be easier to find if it was moved there.

    Here are updates on some of the projects I'm working on this winter in my greenhouse.

    I'm making a "raised bed" which is 4 feet x 12 feet. The sides are made of an exterior decking material comprised of wood fiber impregnated with a waterproof glue making it more or less impervious to water and rot. The arches are 10 foot long "sticks" of PVC pipe used for plumbing. The orange string in the base of the raised bed is actually an electric heat cable designed to be buried in soil. The heat cable has a built in thermostat and is supposed to automatically shut off when the soil temp reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The soil inside the raised bed isn't soil, it's pure compost which is made at a cattle ranch.

    The clear plastic over the raised bed is recycled greenhouse plastic that I've had saved for years waiting for an opportunity to reuse it. I started with a single layer of the plastic. However, the internal temperature of the raised bed has dipped below freezing. I've since added two additional layers of plastic. I have a wireless thermometer to track the temp and hopefully that will keep the temp above freezing at night.

    An additional experiment I'm trying in the greenhouse this winter is to have compost piles to create compost I can use for growing veg, but also hopefully to create a heat source that will help to keep the nighttime temps above freezing. I don't have enough green matter in the mix and results have been disappointing so far. Since this picture I've consolidated all the compost into one large pile. Hopefully that will help heat things up. Composting when it's active can give off a lot of heat. The internal temperature of an active healthy compost pile is between 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit.

    I've planted cold weather plants in the raised bed and they are actually germinating even with the night temps at freezing. I've planted spinach, kale, chard and a spinach-like green from Norway called Orach which I've never tried before.

  • IsabellaIsabella Citizen
    edited November 2020

    This thread is showing in Hobbies for me.

    As always I'm really impressed by your projects and your skill. The chickens have grown so much, too!

    I hope your thermostat works and you'll be able to monitor the temperature wirelessly from indoors, if adjustments are needed for the compost and heat retention.

    How long did it take you to build the greenhouse?
    How many different veg did you harvest since creating it?
    Which crop was most successful during the summer?

    It looks to me like you are almost self-sufficient at farming all your own food.

    What an incredible blessing that is for your family, especially during Covid.

    I think you all know I have a brown thumb but I've managed a few indoor plants this year. I don't even know what they're called except for a spider plant. I'll post pictures some time because I never know if they need more water, less water, more sun or less sun. It's been trial and error but I'm going by intuition.

  • Yes the chickens have grown. They're a bit over six weeks old now. In 2-3 weeks it will be harvest time for them.

    I purchased the greenhouse probably five years ago from an acquaintance of my Dad, a hermit who lived in a very rural area with no electricity or running water. The life was too much for him so he moved back into town. I bought the greenhouse for $450 which is amazing because it's easily 1/10th of what the cost would be for a new one. So much was going on in my life that I was not able to actually build it until last year. My first attempt at pounding in the posts took forever because the site I chose was horribly rocky. I decided to pull up all the posts and start all over at another spot. It took months for me to set it up completely because I had to do it in my spare time. The site it's on is not ideal because the ground slopes quite dramatically. The back of the greenhouse is actually about 4-5 feet lower than the front of the greenhouse. That's a very significant decline! I have to work with what I have in relation to the land I have here.

    Last year I grew the following in the greenhouse: Tomatoes (six different varieties), Peppers (seven different varieties), Spinach (three different varieties), Turnips, Beets (three different varieties), Chard, Radish, Pak Choi, Napa Cabbage and Cantaloupe.

    The tomatoes were the most prolific although I have a problem with humidity in the greenhouse and must figure out a way to vent the greenhouse better during the summer to reduce fungus problems on some of the tomatoes.

    Next year I plan to expand the outdoor garden significantly.

    Keep up the indoor plants, Isabella. That's cool! Spider Plants are great for a few reasons: 1) They're not toxic to pets or humans. 2) They are well known for filtering toxins out of the air.

  • I'd love to see pictures of your summer produce some time! You must have had a huge yield with so many different varieties. What do you do with the excess?

    I'm sure it took a lot of planning and calculation to clear the land, construct the greenhouse, and plant everything successfully.

    I didn't know that spider plants filter toxins. It's just a small plant but it gets brown tips occasionally. I think it's been better during autumn than it was in the summer.

    MD has gone through cycles of growing herbs indoors. I think she has some chives and parsley on the go but she's moved them to her snazzy new bedroom for decor, so I don't see them often.

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    Wow Magna

    I didn't know you were so green fingered, I would give my left arm to have that set up! Though I would likely do little else if I had a tunnel like that and grounds around it.

    That was also amazing value for a poly tunnel (thats what we call them here) of that size.

    Is it mostly vegetables/edibles you grow?

  • Thanks, Amity. We fenced in a huge area around that greenhouse. It's not possible to garden effectively where we are without fencing because of the large deer population. Rabbits take their toll as well, but deer are voracious.

    I have to add metal fencing called "hardware cloth" to the inside of the greenhouse this spring to allow the sides to be raised during the day but keep the rabbits out. I had a very bad problem with rabbits having their fill on the produce in the greenhouse at night.

    I grow vegetables/edibles exclusively. I don't grow flowers, gourds, etc.

    I love watching farming and gardening Youtube videos. It's a self-educating process for me. I get my ideas and inspiration from a lot of different channels on Youtube. One of them is a from a man, Richard Perkins, who owns a very successful farm in Sweden. He's from the U.K. and his wife is Swedish. They have a young son named Ragnar. The method they use for farming is called the "No Till" method and uses raised beds and compost on top of the ground.

    This short video gives some beautiful examples of gardens and farms of people using the "no till" method around the world.

  • OliOli Citizen

    I started a new composting system, consisting of a series of coolite boxes, with which you do the usual lasagne layering with vegetable scraps, green waste, paper and soil. Mine was going well until I accidentally killed all my crawlies somehow, but I suppose they'll add to the mix? Then you leave it 4 weeks and plant straight in it. I'll let you know the results

  • ^ That's really cool, Oli. Yes, please let me know how it goes. My problem is I don't have enough "green" to add to the layers since it's winter here. I do hope the manure in the chicken litter will be enough nitrogen to kick the compost pile into gear. The reason for the green (leaves, grass clippings, freshly mown hay) is to add nitrogen. Urine has a lot of nitrogen in it, but I can't convince the family to trudge down to the greenhouse and pee on the pile.🤪

  • Why not? 😲

    You could have a collection pan. I have a 24 hour container here in front of me.

    Should work wonders.

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    @blazingstar said:
    Cilantro - yum. How do you keep it going? Here, it grows, flowers and dies. What is the secret?

    I have tried some cilantro alternatives. Culantro (too strong and leaves have sharp dentitions) and Papalo (very strong and weird tasting.) I have not tried Vietnamese coriander. I am coming to think that the strong herbs like papalo, and perhaps Vietnamese coriander, are supposed to be used in very small quantities, adding the umami flavor to cooked dishes. Like the Thai use fish sauce.

    How do I keep it alive?
    Lol I pick up a replacement one in the supermarket!

    Vietnamese coriander has not worked out, its not something I can develop a taste for.

  • Magna, what a great gardening system. You have worked hard to set all that up.

    Oli, in the US we call that lasagna gardening. I made a 4 x 4 ft plot of lasagna way last spring (?) and it just working well now for the hot pepper and Black Krim tomato plant. I also put in layers of compost, cardboard boxes, cow patties, all sorts of stuff. I have another larger one started. The soil here is south Florida is exceedingly poor. I had the soil tested once and there is nothing in it. Zero. And I have been mulching and composting in the garden no virtually no effect.

    Here are some photos of my garden from a few weeks ago:

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  • Maybe my photos are too big. I could only load two into the post above. Here are two more.

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    Bananas above.

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    Yellow Orchid. I don't know what it is. It was a rehoming from a friend.

  • ^Beautiful flowers. I"m envious at your long growing season. I would want to grow my own tea plants if I lived where you do. Coffee too. Is it true that a tomato plant can grow continuously in your area and indeterminate varieties (like a Black Krim) could grow as tall as a small tree?

    I grew a black tomato heirloom variety last year called a Cherokee Purple that looks similar to a Black Krim (which I've never grown) and even though the Cherokee Purple was not suited for greenhouse growing at all (prone to cracking and mold from the humidity), the tomatoes that I could harvest from those plants had outstanding flavor. The best out of all the varieties I grew last year.

  • Good morning, Magna. Yes, indeterminant tomatoes can grow more or less forever. I've seem some people grow them up a trellis, 10 feet tall. But where I am, the plants succumb eventually to one of the various diseases tomatoes are susceptible to. I have grown Cherokee Purple before and had some success with it. The flavor is great.

    For my area in south Florida, my greatest achievement this year, documented on WP but I think you had already left by then, is a volunteer tomato plant which had excellent flavor and was resistant to the disease. It did not have great productivity, but none of the tomatoes I've ever grown produce much before succumbing to disease.

    I did not take a cutting from that plant (dumb! dumb!) but I did plant some seeds from the fruit and now have tomato plants that have survived many challenges and the tomatoes I'm getting now have the best flavor since I left the midwest USA. Misslizard named it "Florida Survivor." 😊

  • Teach51Teach51 Citizen
    edited February 3

    I have snails eating all my plants especially geraniums and cyclamen. I have no idea what to do to get rid of them.Any ideas? I have put some salt on the edge of the planters but not in the soil.🐌

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    edited February 3

    @Teach51 said:
    I have snails eating all my plants especially geraniums and cyclamen. I have no idea what to do to get rid of them.Any ideas? I have put some salt on the edge of the planters but not in the soil.🐌

    These are non toxic ideas:

    The best method I have found is going out at night with a torch periodically, or on a rainy day after a dry spell and removing them by hand using disposable gloves. I put them into a deep beer trap as I collect them.
    Also I leave flat stones (seaside type) in the flower beds and they congregate underneath them in the daytime, they get scraped off and also go for a boozy swim, or they are left in the open for the song thrushes and the starlings.

  • I am laughing thinking about tipsy snails and slugs. I'll check out the videos, thanks Amity

  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen

    @Teach51 said:
    I am laughing thinking about tipsy snails and slugs. I'll check out the videos, thanks Amity

    I find it to be the kindest way to go when Im dealing with too many of them.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    I love an orchid and that is a particularly nice one.

  • verityverity Administrator, Citizen

    Getting a single banana tree to fruit on it own is a an achievement in of itself.

  • OliOli Citizen
    Fruit salad from my garden this morning: a bunch of bananas, 2 red dragon fruit, a pineapple, lemons, a bunch of mint. Still waiting on the passionfruit and berries.
  • I am excited to find other gardening enthusiasts here! I love gardening, but apart from a vegetable patch at the end, mine is all ornamental plants. I first began learning about gardening 20 years ago, and it is wonderful how it transforms one's perception of the seasons. And how much love one can feel for individual plants! My garden (on the south coast of England) has heavy clay soil, so each year my partner and I spread well-rotted manure over the surface as a mulch. It is gradually improving the structure of the soil and the plants are happy! But the garden is a series of terraces and lugging that stuff up on my shoulders is some workout!

    I'm not sure how to post photos here, but I will try at some point. 
  • @Oli, I am delighted to hear about your fruit salad from your garden. When I can do that, it feels so special.

    @Robin, Welcome. I dearly love my plants and I'm so glad to have another enthusiastic gardener on board.

    Right now I am harvesting bananas, which are delicious. Much better than anything you can buy from the store. And tomatoes. I have had to put electric fencing to keep the possums and coons out and now this week, had to cover them all with bird netting. Those cat birds have great eye sight for picking out tomatoes that are just a hair before ripe. 🤥
  • Your fauna and flora both sound so exotic! Here we are at the tail end of our winter, although it has mostly been very mild. (I went swimming in the sea twice this weekend!)

    In my garden there are currently flowering: snowdrops, crocuses, camellias, hellebores, winter-flowering honeysuckle, even one or two roses.. Bananas would never ripen in our climate, but many people do grow them for their wonderful foliage! 
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