There’s a few downsides to container gardening in Southwest Florida. One of them is the summer. Down here, it rains pretty much every single day from June to October. And not light rain, either- torrential, unhappy, stormy rain. The sun comes out late in the afternoons, but things never really dry up.
And the summer rain doesn’t cool anything down- it just turns the outdoors into a great big sauna. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to cry, and a quick walk to get the mail turns into an arduous task in which your glasses fog and your clothes become soaked through with either rain, humidity, or sweat. By the time you return to the house you are ready for a cool shower and a nap. And I say this as someone who likes to spend HOURS outside every day. Summers can be rough here.
The plants don’t like it much, either. They handle it in two ways- they shut down and conserve all their energy on surviving, or they die.
Luckily, I managed to keep most of my garden alive through last summer. When I started gardening I was told that a summer garden in Southwest Florida would be a challenge, and to be ready to say goodbye to my plants. I was NOT okay with that. So I worked hard all summer to keep the plants alive. They didn’t grow or do much of anything but wilt a little and get soaked, but they made it.
I compensated by over-gardening. By August, my once lush garden was half its normal size and because i was antsy to have *something* to do, I started planting tons of seeds and going to the nursery at least once a week and buying tons of plants. Everything was so *cheap*, I couldn’t resist.
What I didn’t factor in was that come October, things would begin to thrive again. All the plants that were compact and itty-bitty during the summer would explode back to life. By the time December rolled around, I realized I had WAY overplanted.
So for the last few months, I have had my hands full. At least an hour or two of work in the garden every single day. So I haven’t planted much at all.
However, a few weeks ago I found myself ordering some new seeds from Renee’s Garden. I was itchy to try some new flowers for the spring. I found myself ordering two types of container Sweet Peas (Color Palette Cupid and Knee-High Explorer). I re-ordered the Cha-Cha Zinnias that I have had great success with. Also, I wanted to see if I could get a white Nasturtium , so I ordered a pack of Buttercream. I didn’t have much luck with Morning Glories late last spring so I re-ordered those because the idea of having a bright blue flower makes my heart sing a little bit. I also re-stocked myself on dwarf sunflowers (Music Box, plus the new Junior- especially for containers-, and I heard Lemon Queen might make it in a large planter, so I got that as well).
The seeds arrived about a week ago, and like a little kid with a new toy I went out to play in the garden. I started out with a few of the seeds:
So far, so good on both varieties of Sweet Pea. One thing you will learn about me is I over-plant. If the packet tells me to plant one seed every inch, I will plant three seeds per half inch. It’s a terrible habit, but it’s just what I do. Trust me, I learn my lesson when it’s time to repot, but I always plant extra seeds “just in case”.
Anyway, three of the six Sweet Pea seeds sprouted (yay!), and two of the three Morning Glory seeds sprouted as well (they look tender, but hopefully they’ll get stronger).
No sign of the Buttercream Nasturtium yet, but I’m not surprised.
Nasturtiums are kind of touchy from seed. I have tried ALL sorts of seed prep with them (soaking, scarification, removing the “husk”, etc.) and what I found works best is cutting out a chunk of the seed (through the husk and deep into the white part) with a pair of scissors and then planting it about half inch deep in semi-moist soil and leaving the pot in the sunshine. Too much water, the seed will just get mushy and just dissolve. Not enough water, it won’t sprout. So it’s always kind of a crapshoot. I need to experiment with the light allowance as well- I have had some Nasturtium sprout in bright sunlight, and some have needed complete shade.
I have had some Nasturtium seeds sprout in about 48 hours, and some have taken WEEKS, and one took months. I think the biggest surprise in my garden was when a Nasturtium seed I planted LAST SUMMER sprouted a few weeks ago (I re-used the soil with another plant, and imagine my surprise when a little Nasturtium popped up beside it!)
So I’m just going to babysit it, and try to resist the urge to dig the seed out and see if it’s doing anything (another terrible habit I indulge in often!)
Finally, the sunflowers are coming up! I planted a mix of the three seed varieties I ordered- about nine seeds total, so I have no idea which is which, but it’s a good start.
So some new beginnings in my little garden. I will keep you posted on the progress of these guys…
Have an amazing weekend! <3