Hello there! Welcome to Sprout Dispatch. I’m Misti and I normally write at Oceanic Wilderness. For awhile I’ve wanted to be part of a collaborative blog and while I searched and searched, I was unable to find the perfect place to fit in. Instead I decided to start my own little collaboration. I was highly influenced by the wonderful Tend Collective, but I wanted to focus on the southern gardens and zones that are rarely talked (or so I feel) about on the blogging and gardening world.
The zones that wither in the heat.
I first began contemplating gardening more heavily while my husband Chris and I lived in Florida. We piddled around on a zone 9a/9b west facing balcony garden at our apartment in Melbourne, FL before moving to Miami and various locations in Ft. Lauderdale where we were in sub-tropical zone 10B. This is the land of extremely humid and wet summers, and the land of winter tomatoes. It was mostly heaven. We could drive to the Redland and Homestead area and get fresh mangoes, lychee, and avocados in peak season of summer, and in winter walk out our back door and pick the best tomatoes I’ve ever had in my life. We also container gardened there because we rented, but also because much of our yard was fill material. In case you didn’t know, most of south Florida was swamp at some point and had to be filled in order not to flood.
Two years ago we left Florida and went hiking on the Appalachian Trail and then moved back to our home state of Texas. It took us awhile but we finally settled down again on the outskirts of NW Houston. With the new USDA Hardiness Zone Map we are situated just inside the 9A zone. Currently we are renting again and while our landlord said he would build us a garden if we wanted (he lives next door) we found out about a local community garden and decided to opt in with that.
Our community garden is semi-quiet, not many families use the garden, unlike a community garden my brother and mom use up in Ft. Worth, which is packed to the brim and has a wait list; but we fill up beds outside of ‘our’ beds in order to keep the garden looking nice and to share with others. A food bank is located adjacent to the garden and should we ever have too much food, some is donated there. I have recently shared some turnips with a woman and her young son and daughter who were in the garden admiring what was growing.
Over the winter, which was relatively mild compared to recent years in Texas, we had success with a variety of Brassicas, carrots, beets and in the late fall we had a bounty of cucumbers. Right now we have onions in the ground ready for harvest in May as well as a couple varieties of garlic. We’re hoping to have a good crop of tomatoes before the summer heat sets in. Texas is really a weird climate for tomatoes, we have a very narrow window, and if you are lucky to over summer tomatoes you might get another crop in the fall.
In the past we have grown a multitude of orchids and rare plants but we sold most of those when we left Florida. I would love to rebuild our collection again someday, but for now and until we buy a house, we won’t be collecting as many plants and will stick to edible gardening. Of course there are a few so-called houseplants, a couple holdover orchids and more tropical plants that we’ve had relatives babysit for us in the meantime. Eventually, though, I want all of those beautiful plants back. I want full, lush flowerbeds with native wildflowers, but of course some exotic and tropical plants too, the ones that I can push the boundaries with in our zone. Perhaps we’ll get a greenhouse to protect the orchids from frost and the cold during the winter. Who knows? We’ll just have to see how it goes.
I ‘know’ Chel through mutual friends, Marc and Eliana and while we both lived in Florida at the same time, we never met. It wasn’t really until after I left Florida that we started talking more and communicating via our blogs and email. She has a tropical garden on the southwest coast of Florida—which I will let her explain more about on Friday—but we have many similarities. She was one of the first people I thought about including when I thought about building Sprout Dispatch.
Curtis is my brother. He inherited the same genes I did, the ones that require us to grow things. He still lives near our parents up in Fort Worth and gardens mostly in his suburban lot but also at a small plot in a local community garden. He would definitely love some acreage—and again, I’ll let him explain his own garden and goals for the future. But, he’s my brother and I love him and he’s got the best kids ever!
What can you expect from Sprout Dispatch? Well, we’re here to write our three gardens from our own perspectives in our strange, southern ways. We’re going to start with working on weekly themes and interpreting them how we see fit. We may evolve after that. Who knows? This is really just a way to talk about gardening, share information, and to learn more from each other and from the gardening world itself.
We welcome comments and emails, see our email on the sidebar over to the right, and you can also click the link to grab a button if you feel inclined to throw one up on your blog or website. Right now we’re just getting started, so bear with us for a few weeks and see how things go. Share our blog with your friends and around the internet—-we love readers!
On that note, I’ll end with a quote:
““Any garden demands as much of its maker as he has to give. But I do not need to tell you, if you are a gardener, that no other undertaking will give as great a return for the amount of effort put into it.” —Elizabeth Lawrence
A biography of Elizabeth I highly recommend is No One Gardens Alone.