Friday, March 17, 2017

Blooms and Frost

Frost on the roof and the papaya with fruit

Typical of this time of year the weather gets warmer and blooms begin to show, new growth in plants and from sprouting seeds happens then - ARGH,  a cold spell suddenly shows up and if we don't act fast the sudden freeze can wipe out a new crop, fruit setting or even kill tender and cold sensitive plants and trees!! With loads of pretty and fragrant blooms on our citrus, fruit on some of the oranges and papayas and flowers beginning to come out throughout the yard just these past few weeks, when the weather people began announcing a frost warning two days ago we took action.

Added new palms and Japanese iris to a new bed by the bamboo out front

The same palms covered by tarp against the frost

Brand new Adonidia Palms, Cast Iron plant and Giant Bird of Paradise

Covered with pop up against the frost that clearly shows on the roof

New Palms, Bird of Paradise and on the far left of this picture a small Foxtail Palm

Covered against cold

Eventually the upper story cold hardy trees will help shelter the majority of my plants, but for now we have to scramble to find sheets, burlap and other materials to cover or build shelters with to protect these from the frost.  They are definitely a pain to have to get out in the cold and set up and really ugly to look at, but considering the investment of time, money and materials we have in these plants it's worth it.

Extremely fragrant citrus flowers

We created this tee pee to cover new plants bought at the Leu Garden plant show and some of our citrus in pots

Once things are more established, or as I said the trees that will serve as upper story protection layers have grown up sufficiently to do their jobs we won't have to put up as many of these shelters, but with our landscape and garden still being relatively new being proactive is important.  Compared to last year when we had to cover entire banana circles and even use heaters, we're already seeing improvement, so we have made some progress.

Some of our Elephant Ears blooming

A small Tahitian Squash

One of the Pigeon Peas with older pods and new flowers

Chickens in the tunnel on a warmer day

Plants covered and the chicken tunnel and tractor

The younger bananas, elephant ears and star fruit covered, while the more established bananas were able to survive with the microclimate we've created with surrounding plantings

A younger banana circle that needed complete coverage
Duranta flowering

Pretty apple tree blossums

One of 4 baby pineapples


Purple Indian Mustard and Romaine Lettuce

Green onions

More Purple Mustard, some young broccoli, marigolds and longevity spinach.


More marigolds and young broccoli

Fumi, Peachy and Henny Penny in the chicken tunnel

My Garden beds covered for frost

The frost on the roof and covers, as well as the layers we had to put on ourselves to protect from the cold when venturing out this morning, definitely let me know it got cold for Central Florida.  We had heat lamps on in the chicken coop and they were all huddled together on the roosting bar under the lamp or inside the enclosed chicken house.  Once it warmed up they began to wander out to the tunnels to eat and as Cameron and I were out taking down the covers we had a couple of our local Sandhill Cranes show up to visit and feed on any feed or bugs the chickens left for them.

This pair of Sandhill Cranes visits regularly

At one point our rooster Fumi was eye to eye with one of the cranes as he was trying to encourage some of his girls who were still in the tunnel and too afraid of walking past these BIG birds to follow him back into the coop.  Despite the fact he walked back and forth several times they wouldn't follow him all the way back in.

Cameron got a piece of bread and was hand feeding the cranes for a bit, before we finished our work of taking all the covers off and hoping that tonight won't be so cold.  I'll have to check weather to be sure, but I think this front is moving on and we'll be okay for now.  I've been doing some plant shopping and have more seeds and bulbs planted to add to our food production and the aesthetics of our yard.

I only have video of the crane actually taking the bread from his hand, but here is Cameron holding it out

In time my desire is to have a highly productive food forest and at the same time a really pretty edible landscape.  I'm going for a tropical paradise in appearance, while taking care to use more appropriate plants for the zone 9 subtropical climate we live in. For now we're a work in progress, but baby steps right?  We will get there and all I have to do is look back at earlier blog posts when I get frustrated that it's not there yet to remind myself how far we've already come.