April showers bring May flowers… but this month seems to have brought more than just flowers. COVID-19 restrictions seem to be lifting, slowly but surely.
Humidity has started to roll in this month along with some warmer temperatures. This is just the precursor for what’s to come in Florida during the summer months. But even with the heat, there are many things I am thankful this month. In light of the pandemic (which we’re all being affected by in one way or another) I have included some of what I’m thankful for below in the May 2020 garden update.
This month I am thankful for connection. I am thankful for the grocery store employee who has become my friend. I am thankful for the boy I knew 11 years ago whose path has crossed with mine, yet again. I am thankful for my best friend who does not waver. I am thankful for my family, my friends, my neighbor. I am thankful that you are part of me, and I am part of you. It doesn’t matter how long or how well we’ve known each other. I am a collection of experiences. And I would never be me without you. 💗
I am thankful for the written word. That even from the comfort of my own home, my own bed, my own neck massager (seriously people, you need one) – that I can still go on an adventure. I can travel the world, I can learn anything I desire, with just a few pages between my palms. This month I’ve been reading The Alchemist and the Handbook of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. 📚
This month I am thankful to reconnect with the earth. To be covered head to toe in dirt and mud and clay. The joy that I feel as I garden. The grounding, the sunshine, the fresh air. I am thankful for the parks that have reopened. Whether it’s riding my bike down a path or staring out onto the harbor, I am thankful for nature and solitude. 😊
What’s Growing in May
I’m also thankful for what’s been growing this month. This month my elderberry bushes continued to develop bunches of flowers. Currently, the bushes are being kept it two pots. They were started from four elderberry cuttings that I purchased at a plant sale about a year and a half ago and this is the first time they’ve started to blossom.
The elderberry bushes also started to form its first fruits. The berries are currently small and green. I’m excited to create my own elderberry syrup from this, which is great for the immune system. And any leftover can be dried and saved for later. Elderberry is one of the plants that I’ve noticed grow native in Florida. In the spring I can usually spot the clumps of white flowers amongst the trees and shrubbery.
My little pineapple is still going strong and has been fruiting for three months now. Pineapple typically takes 2 years to grow, and 6 months to fruit. I’m eagerly waiting.
My first cucumber sighting has been spotted. And my first tomato has started to change colors.
Here’s what was growing in May here in hardiness zone 9b:
Vegetables: Cucumbers, green beans, green onions, okra, peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and onions.
Fruit: Blueberries, cantaloupe, Key limes, limequats, Meyers lemon, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
Flowers: Cosmos, delphiniums, Mexican heather, marigolds, mums, roses, snapdragons, and zinnias.
Herbs: Chamomile, chives, cilantro, elderberry, parsley, and tulsi.
This month I harvested onions, more jalapenos than I know what to do with, string beans almost daily for dinner, strawberries, and raspberries. I also collected some cosmos seeds to plant in the future. I’ve also been enjoying tulsi tea daily from the garden, along with a slice or two of ginger.
May Happenings and Shenanigans
The garden received a lot of weeding maintenance this month. Hurricane season begins June 1st in Florida, and with that comes afternoon thunderstorms. And with that comes vegetation life that pops up overnight. Which we affectionately call weeds. I laid the groundwork by pulling up the weeds and placing mulch over spaces of soil that will help suppress the weed. I use FloriMulch from Lowe’s around my garden beds and EZ-Straw in my garden beds. This month I also replaced one of my raised beds and planted some more seeds!
Raised Bed Makeover
Back in March, I started pulling up the old wood from one of my raised beds. This month I finally got around to replacing the frame of my raised bed, adjusting the size from 8’x4′ to 6’x4′ (due to winter shadows). I replace the pine boards with cedar, which will last longer. I adjusted the height from 12″ to 6″, and I used corner brackets instead of wood stakes.
Putting it together took less than 30 minutes for me. Removing 8 square feet of dirt took a bit longer. 😁
This month after I finished building my new raised bed I went ahead and planted a few fruits and veggies in it. I planted cucumber, string beans, sweet potato, okra, watermelon, and canteloupe. I planted everything from seed except for the sweet potatoes, which I planted by sweet potato slip.
The seeds that I planted all came from Botanical Interests. They’re still by far my favorite seed company due to diversification, reliability, and heirloom and organic seed options. Last month I wasn’t sure if my purchase of seeds would arrive in time to plant my melons, but they arrived early in the month and I decided to go ahead and try planting them. April is typically the last month to plant, but I decided to give it a go and see what might come of it. Maybe nature will be kind to me.
I hope that wherever you are in the world, that you are safe, that you are happy, and that you are free.
Until next time, Happy Gardening!