Brooklyn Botantical Garden

We happened to visit Brooklyn Botanical Gardens during a free period. I would have gladly paid for this amazing garden. A great couple of hours were spent wandering around and viewing all the garden has to see.

Butterfly watching

Great plant name.

I don’t even understand….

Ouch….

This interesting tree fort was built from the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.

We have many of these in Florida too!

Huge ass pine tree

I like the memorial rocks.

Daniel-son trim the tree.

Sensory Garden

These are fun leaves. Very hairy.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden is now on my must return list. There was more we missed and it would be great to check it out during a different season. All hail nature!

Spring Harvest

Spring is here and the garden has come alive. Our winter was mild so all the plants I had started in the fall did fairly well. It is getting hot quickly but we are able to harvest some goodies before the major heat, mold and bugs arrive.
I wasn’t sure because it started off slow but it looks like we had a good year from the blueberries and tomatoes.
We started picking the blueberries one by one as they ripened. I thought we could beat the birds this year. I guess the area birds are not a fan this year. They left plenty for us.

They are almost all gone. In retrospect I think the new drip irrigation that I added for them has helped them this year. I always thought they had plenty of irrigation where they were but I guess I was wrong. With consistent irrigation and the right schedule of acid, next year should be even better!
While we soon say goodbye to the blueberries, the tomatoes are thriving.

Tomatoes growing out of control. I need to secure them.

In other news….
Grape vine is fully grown for the season.

Broccoli has bolted. We never really took advantage of harvesting it this year.

Chive flowering.

It might be a good year for the citrus. I started a new fertilizing routine last year. None of the other disease control measures were working and the trees still seemed to be dying off. The new fertilizer sits on the leaves and provides nutrients. The idea is that the plant will remain strong and fight off the diseases its self. They seem to be holding on for now and producing fruit. I won’t know for a while if this routine will work long term

Grapefruit

Grapefruit

Lime

Spain: Another day in Madrid

It was our last day in Madrid and the Prado Museum is a must see. You can find some great Spanish works there.

After our morning visit to the Prado we noticed these Syrian protesters out on the street. In the typical European way, people actually gather to protest things they want to change. We don’t get around to doing that anymore in the US.

After we visited the Prado for a few hours, we decided to wander around the El Real Jardín Botánico. It is the Royal Botantical garden. We fully enjoyed the large collection of plants outside and in the greenhouses.

Fun cactus-like plant

Orchids and other hanging plants

Cactus room

Our park selfie

Next to the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid lies the Parque del Retiro. This large park contains many trails, monuments, and lakes to enjoy. We spent a couple hours lounging around like locals. There is a boat rental and a cafe.

After lounging around the park we walked back into town and walked by this monument Puerta de Alcalá.

Also not far we happened upon this indoor outdoor area with this fabulous ceiling. I guess it is located inside what is known as the El Palacio de Comunicaciones.

After wandering around all day we were hungry. I ordered a hearty Spanish meal for dinner at a cafe nearby the hotel. It is early bedtime since we had to travel to Sevilla the next day. See you there.

Early July Garden

It’s the 4th of July and the garden is doing fine.

We finally have a watermelon growing. The bees are no where to be seen so I have been hand pollinating these as I can.

We also have a great crop of plum tomatoes. I noticed some signs of caterpillar damage (but saw no caterpillars yet). I want to spray them but the rain is every day lately. Hopefully I can spray BT sometime soon.

In the distance you might be able to make out the corn plant that is hanging on. No corn yet but I am hoping for something.

I am doing a much better job at training the muscadine grape vine this year. Last year the weight of the vine made the trellis slant forward. The extra support I added this winter is holding up.

For the first time we will have grapefruit this year. I counted at least five that are growing. The leaves are still falling off though. I found a spray that may help with this but I am having a hard time applying it because of the constant rain.

Key limes are back again too. They have the same issue as the grapefruit tree.

I butchered the heck out of the viburnum in the backyard. I was trying to locate a lost sprinkler head and finally found it behind the middle bush. I will be replacing that sprinkler head with drip irrigation to provide better water to one of the square foot gardens. I would like to train the bush on the right to grow as a small shade tree to open that area for some shade plant opportunities…..we will see what happens.

Flowers doing well in one of the whisky barrels.

And finally the aloe plant is reproducing again this year. I might transplant some of the babies. We don’t take advantage of this plant as much as we should.

Hopefully I will have an update at the end of the month to see what makes it.

August Garden: Summer Cleanup and New Arrivals

Some old friends are still in the garden and some new have recently joined. This is what is enduring the August heat for now….

New Citronella plant and marigold. Trying something new to fend off mosquitos.

It was time for some thyme to be added back to the garden. Purchased a thyme plant so we had fresh herbs on hand.

Summer crop of pinto beans sprouting while the garden waits for fall crops.

Spinach is still doing well. Now that the squash is removed it has room to grow.

Tomato seedlings preparing for the fall.

Now that the squash is gone, the collards have room to thrive. They do love those semi-shady days though.

Needed some fresh basil so I put another store bought plant in the garden.

These chives keep on kicking year after year. This is their best year yet. Can’t wait to throw them in various recipes.

We have a few of these sickly kale plants spread throughout the garden. I can’t seem to pull them out yet though. Part of me thinks they will beat the heat and the bugs.

Butternut Squash

Squashes have always proved difficult for me to grow. I have tried growing them from seed many times and many times I produce nothing. 
The first challenge I face is that the leaves die off and rot away before anything can even be produced. Usually some bug attacks them or the Florida humidity molds them to death.
If I get past that stage, it will start flowering but no fruit fully develops. This is due to the lack of successful pollinators for the squash (bugs and bees) and the fact that they require both the male and female flower to bloom at the same time to produce the final product. 
This year the plants grew. Squashes leaves traveled in all directions. Finally I had enough blooms to attempt to hand pollinate the squash fruits. The end result was two butternut squashes (the nicest and tastiest one is above. To pollinate, you find both the male and female flowers. The female flowers have a green undeveloped fruit attached and the flower has an opening of sort. The male flowers have no fruit attached and a stamen (long yellow stick). I break off the male flower and clear room around the stamen. I then rub the stamen all around the female squash stigma. If things go well, a tasty squash will grow. This method seems to work for me 70% of the time.
The bugs and heat are once again attacking the squash in my garden. I will be pulling the plants out soon. When it works, they taste fantastic. However I don’t have the real estate available in my garden to sacrifice to only produce 2 squashes for the season. I think this will be my last year growing them. They crowded out all the tomatoes so I have no tomato crop this summer.

I did enjoy my roasted butternut squash accompanied by sauteed spinach and quinoa.