How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Should we be Building an Ark?

I was watching the Today Show on NBC this morning and heard Al Roker announce that Miami has had 30” of rain over normal this year. I was surprised because I know it has been raining like no other year I can remember, but I had no idea we could be 30” over normal. That’s a lot of rain. How many times have I been saying in my blogs how much it has been raining? I am surprised that the local news hasn’t emphasized this more. I heard them say last week that West Palm Beach may have the rainiest year on record, and Miami the 4th rainiest. Well it is official Miami has had 79.44” normal is 48.34”, Ft. Lauderdale 50.92” normal 48.08” and Key West which is normally dryer than the rest of the state had 41.81” normal 29.07”. Thirty inches of rain is a lot of extra rain!! No wonder my yard is so overgrown! I have felt so badly for my bees all year having to endure all this rainy weather. The other morning when I woke up they were in a frenzy. I thought at first robbing was taking place, but realized that they were taking an orientation flight from being cooped up from all the rain over the weekend.

I am hoping all this rain will go away soon. As a Miamian at this time of the year we are anxiously awaiting our first cool front. I just got done watching the weather, but it doesn’t look like we will experience that cool front anytime soon. As you know, all this rain has made my yard a jungle. The yard clean-up started on Monday. I have one yard guy working the clean-up instead of the crew that I was suppose to have on the weekend. He is doing a very good job, but it is a lot of work to do for one person. I get so depressed when everything gets cut back. I am also frustrated with myself that I haven’t been able to maintain the yard better. The bougainvilleas are always an issue in my yard. There is a part of me that would love to take them all out and replace them with something more manageable, but they do look so beautiful when they are in bloom. Several of them needed to be removed because they are falling over. They get too top heavy and the roots pull out of the ground. With the bougainvillea cut back the fence that is already in very bad shape looks even worse. Things right now are not looking very good in my back yard, but in a few months when things grow back I know it will look better. I am venting because I am just so frustrated. I keep remembering how beautiful everything looked in the beginning of the season and now everything is just a mess. I am sure I am going to need to replace many of the annuals and I really need to mulch again. I am not sure our finances will allow it all to be done the way I would like it to be done. Hence the frustration! The front yard is looking better we have a very large tree that has been totally overgrown for a while. Ruben cut the tree back and there is actually sunlight hitting the front of the house. I will try to get some pictures of the progress and destruction as the week progresses. Right now I am just trying to adjust to the changes and realize how much work I have to get it looking pretty again. First thing I need to fix is the fence, I should be able to nail some replacement boards so esthetically it looks better, but I also need to protect my little Chihuahuas from escaping through the open slots.

This is week two of the yard clean up. It is taking longer than I expected. I have spent a small fortune with just one person doing all the work. A crew would have been a lot quicker. Ruben has done a great job cleaning everything up. The problem is that with everything so overgrown, much of what I planted in the spring is looking a little leggy and a little spent. I am hoping that with just a few new plants I can make the yard look a little better. With the garden cut back and sunlight able to reach the plants hopefully the garden will come alive again. Whenever you start a project like this whether it is yard work, or house construction, there is always something that pops up and costs more money. I realized that the water garden was not working. I just bought a new pump in July. With things cut back I examined the situation more closely to discover that the old yard crew had weed wacked through the electrical cord of the pond pump. I was able to take it back to the pump store and they repaired the cord very nicely, and inexpensively. Then when I went to hook it up I also discovered a leak in the flexible tubing that carries the water up to the waterfall. That is not something I can fix. Now I need to call the pond guy, Ernesto. More Money!! It is always something. Next life I am coming back rich instead of beautiful. I am not saying that I am beautiful but I know I am definitely not rich or famous. Ruben is moving the Cat Palms from the West side of the house to various places throughout the yard. This is where I plan on putting my first time ever vegetable garden. The west side of the house looks pretty bad. There are gas lines and electrical lines running along the course of the wall. The air conditioner compressor is also located on that side of the house. The Cat Palms were disguising all the ugliness, but now it is all out there for everyone to see. I can make it more esthetic by planting a few Sunflowers or placing a trellis to have some vegetables grow up and hide the wall.

I have a lot of work to do in the yard. I think I learned a lesson which is never let things get overgrown again. Don’t be afraid to cut things back, after all, this is South Florida with all the rain we have had things grow very quickly. I have to remember that my garden is an ever changing environment with Mother Nature in control, and the gardener learning how to manage the change! I look forward to these changes, especially planning my vegetable garden.

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