Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

Cuban Knight Anole

April 13th, 2014 by Lila Steinhoff

Apple Green and Lightning Fast (Sort Of)

Heading out to the car this afternoon, a flash of intense green made its way down the front fence. Actually, the flash was the color, not the speed. It was a Cuban Knight Anole.

IMG 2880.JPG c 450x204 Cuban Knight AnoleCuban Knight Anole

This particular specimen is 16 to 18 inches long. Anoles can grow to 20 inches. The sun shining on his skin makes him look positively iridescent. Anoles will change their skin color if they get stressed, but this guy picked the best he had.

IMG 2878.JPG c 450x256 Cuban Knight AnoleCuban Knight Anole

First Meeting

Neighbor Bill (Jacqie) Jackson, who has lived in Florida for a year and a half, had his first meeting with another of Florida’s free range critters. Something this intensely green and 18 inches long makes an impression.

IMG 2895.JPG c.jpgc  450x292 Cuban Knight AnoleNeighbor and Anole

Pretty and Useful

Anoles live high up in tree trunks and tree canopies. Not sure where this one came from, but we’ve had a pair of anoles live in the canopy of our palm tree in the past.

IMG 2890.JPG c 450x162 Cuban Knight AnoleCuban Knight Anole

They aren’t just pretty faces, either.

They eat insects, which helps my garden; they also eat smaller lizards, flowers and fruit… which isn’t as big of a help.

IMG 2892.JPG c 450x194 Cuban Knight AnoleCuban Knight Anole

For a closer look, click on any picture to make it larger, then click on the right or left side of the image to move through the pictures.

Tags:   No Comments.

Yippee! A Key Lime Tree

April 2nd, 2014 by Lila Steinhoff

Trees on the Property – History

When we bought our house in 1976, the property had fruit trees that were already about 40 years old when we moved in. There were three coconut palms, two mangos, two avocados, a sapodilla, a calamondin, a grapefruit, a naval orange, a tangelo, a tangerine and a key lime.

620 Wilmot West side 1976 05 29 450x314 Yippee! A Key Lime TreeProperty in 1976

One of the first things I learned was that citrus trees have a lifespan of about 50 years, and  within 15 years, the citrus trees began dying off. The key lime is unique and rare, so I had many requests for fruit. I decided to grow key lime trees to give away with the fruit.

Key Lime Trees from Seed

Our original key lime tree was not a grafted tree, so the seeds would grow actual key lime trees. I gave away many seedlings, and I planted two new trees on this property… the last one, when my younger son was born in 1980.

DSCN0001.JPG c 450x361 Yippee! A Key Lime TreeKey Lime Tree

Rough Hurricane Season

Hurricane Francis in 2004 dropped a huge tree on top of my son’s key lime, breaking it off and killing it.

DSCN5305 c.jpg c 450x553 Yippee! A Key Lime TreeHurricane Battered Key Lime Tree

The second homegrown key lime fell victim to citrus canker in 2010. I had saved a lot of key lime seeds, but because of the citrus canker restrictions, I was not allowed to plant any type of citrus in our area. I have tried planting my saved seed several times since the program was dropped in 2006,  but I have had no luck starting new trees. The seed may be too old.

Shopping for Another Key Lime Tree

I finally came to the conclusion that the only way I will have key limes again is to buy a tree… and that is exactly what I did last weekend. I went to the Palm Beach County Rare Fruit Council‘s plant sale at the fairgrounds. I came home with an avocado tree ( a story for another time) and a key lime tree. The key limes sold out at the event, but I was given a business card directing me to Excaliber Rare Fruit Nursery from which the sale plants came. It was a well-stocked nursery with many rare fruit trees and a knowledgeable staff.

We put the key lime into the van with the avocado tree and headed home to plant.

IMG 6228.JPG c 450x584 Yippee! A Key Lime TreeTraveling Trees

In the Ground

Anyone who has purchased those little marbled-sized green things (very poor quality, unripened key limes) in the net bags from the grocery store will tell you that there is nothing that tastes like a ripe key lime.  It is unique and unforgettable.

IMG 2310.JPG c 450x565 Yippee! A Key Lime TreeWater for New Key Lime

My gardening partner Bill dug holes and helped plant the new trees. There are key limes on the horizon quicker than I expected. The new tree is covered with tiny key limes.

IMG 6248.JPG c 450x337 Yippee! A Key Lime TreeTiny Key Limes

I am very excited about the prospect.

Tags:   No Comments.

They Are Eating My Herbs!

March 21st, 2014 by Lila Steinhoff

Fennel Stripped to the Stems

Last spring, I wrote about finding my parsley patch stripped down to the stems overnight by a bunch of colorful caterpillars.

IMG 2423.JPG c 450x303 They Are Eating My Herbs!Black Swallowtail Caterpillars

They were Black Swallowtail caterpillars, and they had voracious appetites. They are back and chowing down on my garden. Last week, they stripped the fennel plants to nothing but stems.

IMG 1881.JPG c 450x337 They Are Eating My Herbs!Fennel with Caterpillars

IMG 1992.JPG c 450x408 They Are Eating My Herbs!

Fennel after Caterpillars.

Since they have exhausted their supply of fennel, they have moved on to parsley. Their main foods are dill, fennel and parsley. These creatures can strip the leaves from a plant in just a couple of days. They eat non-stop and don’t stop to take a breath.

52 Seconds from Leaf to Stem

You have to see this. This caterpillar is chomping the parsley with the same rhythm a typewriter makes… if anyone still recognizes that sound.

Beautiful Butterflies

I let the caterpillars have their share of the garden, because both the parsley and fennel come back immediately. I am never short of herbs.

IMG 2138.JPG c 450x309 They Are Eating My Herbs!Black Swallowtail Butterfly

 But, most of all, I let them stay because the butterfly is so beautiful. Share a few herb leaves and reap visual rewards.



Tags:   · · · · · · 1 Comment