Tropical South

April, 2004
Regional Report

Find More Space

It sure didn't take long to fill up my half acre, but my friend George Riegler has been gardening on the same four acres he was born on and doesn't worry about running out of room. "I just take out something I don't want as much," he says. Also, don't fret when a plant dies in your garden. Otherwise we'd never have room for anything new, and that wouldn't be any fun.

Plant in Containers and in the Ground

Some of us have plenty of plants in containers so that we can move them into the spotlight when they are blooming, into more shade for the summer, or into the garage if frost threatens. But most of us have better luck with plants in the ground where they need less water and Mother Nature helps a bit with the care. Choose what works best for you. I always have a lineup waiting to be planted safely in the ground.

Use a Tree for a Trellis

One great gardener I know lets his edible passion fruits grow up
into oak trees. The vine finds the absolute appropriate amount
of sun it needs, drops its fruits for harvest from the ground,
and can't overcome the oak. Chayotes grow well that way, too. I
have one in a carambola tree whose branches give it extra frost
protection as well as support.

Watch Out for Weedy Vines

Our worst weeds are vines like the air potato, skunk vine,
passionflowers, and balsam pear. Try to get rid of these before
the summer rains make them much worse and before they go to seed. There is a definite satisfaction in standing in one place and
pulling out a mile of weedy vine or uncovering an entire tree.

Prune Vines Constantly

One gardener I met recently said he thought all vines should be
outlawed in Florida. I love vines, but I must admit that some of
mine get out of hand and have driven both myself and my neighbors
crazy. So choose plants carefully and then prune them ruthlessly as needed. I've seen gardens where the most invasive vine was well controlled. It can be done. Be diligent.

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