The Gardening Saga Continues

The rainy saga continues as I fight pests, experience crop failure, replant in containers, and hope for the best. This year I am spraying BT, scouting for armyworms, and using spot applications of organic pyrethrin dust to ward off the cucumber beetles. The purple sweet potatoes are growing well and spreading quickly.

What’s Blooming? Hardy Hibiscus Zinnias

Despite the pest pressure, I have managed to get some beautiful blooms this past week. I have another hibiscus grow-out in progress that I will update later on. I will plant more daylily seeds very soon. I love growing plants from seed and already have a few selections planted in the yard. The soft-leaved hibiscus has grown tall and is providing shade for the chicken pen just as planned.

Growing Container Potatoes with Irrigation Part 1

March 1st, 2021, I planted my potatoes and set up an irrigation system that I didn’t end up needing for that period of growing time. I also lost all my watermelons and pumpkins because it rained for weeks on end. The water was too much for them. I have since replanted the seeds and hope for the best. I used fabric pots because they are cheap and work great, allowing good drainage.

I am beginning to get blooms from the Dahlia seeds I planted this spring. I planted Unwins Dwarf and Bishops Children seeds and will follow up later on my attempts to plant seed from named varieties.

Hardy Hibiscus Illustris Elephant Ear and Red Ribs Seedlings Daylily Combination

This year, after all the rain, we have a blessing in disguise with our flower bed combo of Illustris elephant ears, hardy hibiscus, and Red Ribs seedling daylilies!This morning I found a beautiful white bloom in the Luna Mix seedlings. If you watched the video, I have already changed my mind about where to plant it! The big pink Luna Hardy Hibiscus looks so pretty and stands out in the landscape. Later on, I will update more as my plants grow and develop. More blooms are on the way!

  • White with Red eye Hardy Hibiscus grown from seeds
  • Pink with Red eye Hardy Hibiscus grown from seeds
  • Pink Hardy hibiscus, illustris elephant ear and Red Ribs Seedling daylilies
  • Luna Pink Hardy Hibiscus
  • Daylilies Red Ribs Seedling
  • Red Ribs x unknown seedling
  • Luna White Hardy Hibiscus

Daylily Seedling Update

Two years ago, I did some random crosses with Little Grapette, Little Business, and a few others. I saved the seed pods and planted them the same year. Since we have a long growing season, this works out just fine for me. This spring, I have enjoyed taking pictures of my cute flowers every morning. Some of these seedlings were surprisingly large or small when considering the parents! This year, I plan to plant the daylilies in my flower beds and plant more seeds for another 2-year wait.

Growing Pansies from Seeds Over the Winter

Flirty Skirts Pansy orange

Flirty Skirts Pansy Review

Last year, I ordered Flirty Skirts Pansy seeds from Park Seed. I also have a https://youtu.be/0GL8rrnHKMY video of my experience planting pansy seeds in the fall and watching them bloom in spring. These grew just as well as any other pansy I have grown but I am not certain whether or not they will set seeds and reseed themselves. They were very pretty as you can see!

(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any seed companies. The purpose of my reviews is simply to help people find the seeds because I do not do not sell or trade these seeds.)

Swiss Giants Blend

Swiss Giants Photo Review

Delta Pure Colors Mix Pansy Seeds

Delta Pure Color Mix Review

Pansy Got the Blues

Pansy Got the Blues Photo Review

Hail Storm Amaryllis grown from seeds Anne Chowning Louisiana Iris

Hail and Lots of Rain!

Marble Sized hail

This week we had a hail storm and more than our share of rain. I may have to replant my watermelon, beans, and possibly the okra. The container vegetable garden tour shows how we are in transition from winter to summer planting.

I have results from Minerva crossed both ways with Red Lion from my Amaryllis grown from seeds project I started three years ago. I am pleased with the slight differences and nuances of red and tangerine colors because they will coordinate nicely planted in a group. I have one amaryllis seedling with white markings and a tinge of pink. The bloom measured 7 inches, and I decided to use this one for my F2 seed pod for the next experiment.

My Anne Chowning Louisiana Iris has bloomed, and my review is she is stunning, as you can see in my youtube video posted on this page today. Despite the awful weather, this iris still looks nice. I am also trying Proven Winner’s calibrachoa Holy Smokes, and I am pleased with the deep purple combined with gold gilding in the center. So charming! I have another clematis that has boomed right after H.F. Young, and this one named City of Lyon has a bright magenta bloom. Finally, I had to include a picture of the Alpine White strawberries that I grew from seeds, and they are delicious! The flavor is sweet with a tart aftertaste reminiscent of pineapple.

Starting Giant Sunflower Seeds and What’s Blooming?

I planted sunflower seeds in Burpee’s organic potting mix on March the 4th. Just about any potting mix will work. This video is part one of a series where I am growing giant sunflowers. I also have planted my own saved seeds from the ornamental sunflowers I grew last year.

What’s Blooming this week?

This year I am especially pleased to see my crinums and ferns have survived the terrible frosty weather we had in February. The Amaryllis Alaska, Pink Surprise, and also some 3 year old seedlings are blooming. H.F. Young is so pretty that I had to share another picture. Blue Mirror Delphinium is a new perennial for me this year. I will let you know if it does well here in my Louisiana zone 8b garden. Last but not least I have a lot of dahlias growing from seeds this year. Stay tuned for the updates!

Planting Delays Selecting Giant Watermelon Seedlings

We had a planting delay last week into the weekend with cold weather. I had to put all my tender plants into the greenhouse. I also put my blooming Amaryllis Pink Surprise and Alaska inside so the blooms would stay pretty.

In this video, I am selecting which giant watermelon seedlings I’m going to plant as soon as it gets warm again. In the meantime, I have been amending the soil and preparing the planting holes.

We have a new Ohuhu 7x7x12 greenhouse and plan to customize it with a workbench and raised beds. Since it is so hot here during summer, I will have to apply a shade cloth and use a fan to keep the temperature regulated. I can’t wait to grow cucumbers and squash without the cucumber beetles destroying my vines!

I finally got my first clematis bloom from H.F. Young and like it very much! It had a slow start growing very little during the first year. I planted the spindly-looking vine on the back trellis last fall. This year it climbed a few feet on the trellis and bloomed. I was stunned by Pink Surprise Amaryllis. The blossom is big and tall, commanding attention. It also has a monstrous bulb making this Amaryllis remarkable.

This year I am trying Swamp Milkweed or Butterfly Milkweed. The scientific name is Asclepias incarnata. They are small seedlings right now but I will update those later. Hopefully, it will be covered in clusters of pink flowers this summer. This one is supposed to be less invasive than the Showy Milkweed. I am hoping to help out some butterflies this year.

Tulips and Daffodils in Bloom!

I was pleased this year to grow Tulipa bakeri Lilac Wonder, Daffodil Mix, and Jetfire Daffodil. The Lilac Wonder Tulip is closed in the morning and opens during the day. I think most tulips bloom like this, but in this wild tulip, it seems more pronounced. I will be sharing more posts and pictures later as more flowers bloom this spring.

I have been working on my garden clean up day after day. It seems like when I weed out a spot making sure to remove the roots, more sprout after I turn around again! I put some effort into protecting my plants from armadillos this year by putting down some chicken wire and securing it with landscape staples. So far, it has slowed down the squirrels.

My poor crinum lilies had all the foliage frozen off of them like never before. They are recovering well from the severe cold weather we had in February. I have taken some time to create another photo album for a closer view of the flowers this week. The weather has become wonderfully balmy, and I am enjoying the garden along with the plants!

Planting Giant Pumpkin vines

On March 12th, I planted my giant Large Marge pumpkin seedlings in the garden. These large pumpkins are capable of growing up to 40 pounds. I used 1/3 kitchen compost and rabbit manure, 1/3 organic topsoil, 1/3 potting soil with some minerals, and bone meal for my amendments. I dug a 2 foot deep hole and backfilled it as I turned the soil to combine my native soil with the added amendments.

Then I gently tipped the pumpkin plants out of their gallon pots and planted them about a foot apart in the hill. Planting two plants together may not be the best way to grow a giant pumpkin, but these will grow just fine this way. I should get some sizeable pumpkins for fall decorations this year.

Then I used cardboard boxes, leaves, pine straw, and old hay as mulch. I have to protect my plants from armadillos, so I used chicken wire around the bottom and placed a cage around them. In my zone 8b climate, I have always had better results with pumpkins by planting them early, and then I have to look for squash vine borer eggs every other day.

The Tulips and Daffodils are blooming!

Dahlia Planting Tips and How to keep Squirrels from digging them up

I have been planting more store-bought dahlias, and I also picked up a bag of purple gladiolus. The planting has been progressing slowly but surely as I manage to find bulbs I like here and there. In this video I am demonstrating how to tell if a dahlia tuber is healthy and will grow. The problem I have had lately is critters like squirrels digging in the beds. I have been protecting my plants with chicken wire and wire fencing.

Some of my tulips bloomed in early January which was a month early! It looks like all the early bloomers were miniature tulips. I even found some with variegated leaves that appear to be on their way. All of the wild tulips have strappy leaves, and some of the grape hyacinths were just beginning to show some color.

It’s Tulip time in Lousiana!

My flower beds were a huge mess after the week of unseasonably cold and icy weather, but I enjoyed some beautiful tulips this past Sunday. Sometimes, you have to focus on the good things in life and do the work later! Then gardening can be rewarding and fun instead of drudgery.

Next week, I will be updating my progress as I continue to watch for emerging foliage. I am still clipping back the dead leaves of never before defoliated plants! I was worried about my ferns and crinum lilies because 19 degrees was close to what they can tolerate and survive. I will write again next week. Hopefully, more tulips, daffodils, and alliums will bloom. Stay tuned!

Check out this video of a very interesting tulip I found in a mix that has burgundy and red variegation. I love how this one stands out. I tried to find one like this online and have not found a match. I enjoy discovering a few neat varieties thrown in a mixed bag of tulips.

Guinevere Jumbo Perennial Tulips

I decided to try Guinevere Jumbo Perennial Tulips from Brecks and was not disappointed. They are really big flowers and so bright! I will share more pictures and videos later.

Photo Album of February Tulips Variegated and Long Stem Mix

  • Variegated leaf Tulip with red and white bloom
  • Variegated leaf Tulip with red and white bloom
  • Variegated Tulip in burgundy and red
  • Tree Frog sitting inside of a pink tulip
  • Tree Frog sitting inside of a pink tulip
  • Bouquet of pastel mix tulips pink and yellow
  • Variegated Red and White Tulip
  • Milkweed Assassin Bug
  • Bright Peach Tulip

2021 Winter Storm Inexpensive ways to protect plants from Ice and Frost

leaf covered in ice

The weather was crazy this past week from February 15th and a week afterward. I had to cover my plants during the night and uncover them during the day. I used mulch as much as possible, but there wasn’t enough to go around for all my containers. We have never had this much ice to freeze for days on end, so I learned what kind of fabric materials work best for frost protection and are inexpensive and easy to move around once they become encased in ice.

Winter Storm 2021 leaf covered in Ice
Winter Storm 2021 leaf covered in Ice

Lovely Unseasonal Snow and Ice Pictures in Zone 8b

I have some pictures to share because I braved the elements long enough to take a few photos of this historical ice event! I will share later about how my rather slushy flower beds are a wreck, but I wanted to enjoy how pretty the landscape was appearing and try to look on the bright side!

#Single Seed Challenge 2021 Japanese Katana Hybrid Tomato

#2021SingleSeedChallenge Katana Hybrid Tomato Seedling

I have joined the #SingleSeedChallenge2021. On February 13th, I chose the Japanese Katana Hybrid tomato seed to plant during this video. I also planted Sun Cherry extra sweet and Italian market tomato. I had my potting mix and seed starting trays set up when the weather predictions were becoming ominous. I am thankful my electricity stayed on during the 2021 winter storm. I could have brought my seed trays into the living room since we have gas heat. The peppers I have planted are Parks Whopper, Caballero, and another Huge Market pepper I found. Youtuber Scott Head of Black Gumbo Southern Gardening has the original video for the 2021 seed challenge. If you are interested in joining, watch the video and follow the directions.

Amaryllis Benfica and Sweet Nymph

Lovely Blooms During Winter!


Benfica was the last Amaryllis to bloom indoors this winter. I was impressed with the saturated color of the blooms. This one unfurls four blooms at the same time instead of one at a time like Sweet Nymph. I have a video posted on youtube. https://youtu.be/MY1ci8woqZ8

Benfica Amaryllis
Sweet Nymph budding

Sweet Nymph attempted to send out a third large bloom stalk, but I noticed the bulb was shrinking. I snipped that one off to stop the plant from blooming itself to death. It even has a large offset to grow this spring! I have to say this amaryllis is a top performer.


How to Protect Tulip Buds From Frost

I worked way too hard on November 30th as I planted my spring bulbs in the rain. The second week of February, a snowstorm was in the forecast. In our case, it was more like an ice storm. The day before the icy precipitation struck on February 15th, I covered all my tender budding tulips with blankets and towels. I did lose one pretty red and white tulip that was blooming at the wrong time.

Budding tulips at this stage are vulnerable to frost damage

The next morning they were firmly encapsulated in ice blankets. If you watched the previous video, then you know what I am saying! I waited a day then uncovered the containers during the day after the temperatures were above freezing. I had to break the ice off of some of the covers. Then I went through the process of uncovering them in the morning as soon as the temperatures rose above freezing and then covering them again at night. Hopefully, the tulips will bloom beautifully in the next few weeks.

Winter Storm 2021 Frozen Flowers and Plant Covers!

Wild Violet covered in ice

We have had a little more cold weather than usual lately. I covered most of my containers and found out this morning they were frozen solid! My tulips and grape hyacinths had just begun to bloom when the weather report of Winter Storm Warning was announced and sent me outside with armloads of blankets and towels. On the morning of the winter storm, I took some pretty pictures of flowers frozen in ice. I found this wild purple violet and some wild buttercups covered in ice. Many robins were hanging out in the garden, and the moon was pretty at the end of the day. I will update later on after I find out how my plants are doing. If you watch the full video, you will find out why I know nothing today! https://youtu.be/3fVrqBSylHg

  • Violets and Wild Buttercups after the Ice Storm
  • wild buttercup frozen in ice
  • wild violets in the snow
  • Wild Violets and Buttercups in the Snow
  • Wild Violets Frozen in Ice
  • Wild Strawberry Covered in Ice
  • Wildflower covered in Ice

Preparing for Freezing Weather

Tomorrow night and some days afterward are when we might get severe cold weather for our climate. I even covered some of my bulbs that should be good above 10 degrees to be on the safe side. Temperatures in the teens are too close for comfort! The weather was warm last week, which caused the miniature daffodils tulips and Muscari to begin blooming. Now, I am rushing to cover everything I value the most. I brought the rose cuttings inside so they would survive another update.

Yellow Jonquil with Bright Orange Trumpet

This lovely bloom appeared just days before the bad weather started. I love how tough these little flowers are and the squirrels and chipmunks don’t touch them.

Container Garden Frost Protection

I had to drag all of my old blankets and sheets out of storage to cover all my containers. Hopefully, my lettuce and root crops will be ok. I will update later.

Fabric Pots

I found these fabric pots are very good to use for overnight frost protection! They fit right over the smaller pots and give room for the plant to keep its shape.

Frost Protection

Things are not looking attractive out here but hopefully my flowers will be protected for Springtime.

2021 Late Winter Early Spring Blooms Daffodils Trailing Rosemary Freckles Pansy

Trailing Rosemary and Dwarf Tulips

My Trailing Rosemary has been blooming all winter. I didn’t realize that it would do this and be so cute and charming. The way it has developed a sort of bonsai looking trunk and drapes out of the container is cooly attractive. I will try taking cuttings and plant this one in more than one place for sure!

Imagine my surprise when I stepped outside in January and saw a tulip bloom budding up. I discovered that I have some dwarf tulips in the mixes I purchased last fall! I have some delicate soft yellow and bright pink tulips going on right now and never guessed they would be this early.

White Dandelion and Freckles Viola Pansy

I have so many blooms this winter. My pink dandelion bloomed white. I have another dandelion budding and wonder if that one will be pink. I also have been enjoying the delicate freckled blossoms of this viola. How fun!

Avalanche Jonquils

It is a no brainer why these jonquils are named Avalanche. They are an avalanche of blooms in January! About ten years ago, I found one lonely neglected bulb in the lawn getting mowed over and over. I moved it to a safer spot where it has naturalized beautifully.

Frost Tolerant Lettuce and Greens

I have enjoyed growing lettuce and various vegetables during the winter in my zone 8b garden because it is too cold for bugs plus the varieties like Lettuce Sanguine Ameliore (Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce) require colder temperatures to grow well. This variety is a butterhead type and is very pretty with the red splashes of color on the leaves.

2021 Amaryllis Sweet Nymph Minerva Apple Blossom

Amaryllis Sweet Nymph and Apple Blossom Blooms

Sweet Nymph Amaryllis

Here is a mid-January update of my Amaryllis I have been growing inside by my kitchen window. I am waiting on seed pods from Ferrari Amaryllis, Apple Blossom plus the red and white mislabeled Amaryllis resembling Charisma Amaryllis. Unfortunately, Opal Star did not make any seed pods. I did save its pollen to use for crossing with other varieties.

Minerva Amaryllis Blooms

Minerva Amaryllis

Close Up of Sweet Nymph

Close up of Sweet Nymph

Sweet Nymph was the star of the show this year. I have to say what a beautiful plant this is! The blooms are huge and hold up very well as they unfurl one by one. This one is pod infertile but makes lots of pollen. I love the mesmerizing striations of dark and light pink in the petals. Sweet Nymph Amaryllis will hold your gaze for moments as you sip hot drinks and enjoy having a garden in the middle of winter!

Sweet Nymph Amaryllis Markings

Sweet Nymph Amaryllis

Zone 8b Container Vegetable Gardening in winter

It’s Time to Harvest the Lettuce!

Lettuce Sanguine Ameliore 
 Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce

Lettuce Sanguine Ameliore has pretty reddish markings on the leaves.

In this video, I am harvesting some delicious fresh lettuce. I was impressed by the Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce from Baker Creek because I forgot to cover it and found the leaves were frozen solid, but they thawed out just fine!

I have planted strawberry cabbage lettuce, alpine strawberries, Kyoto red carrots, Red Cored Chantenay carrots, Japanese Minowase Daikon radish, Early Wonder Beets, and Cipolle di Tropea onions. I am enjoying growing through the winter but will have to watch the weather and be prepared to cover my containers with blankets if the weather forecasts a freeze. So far, the plants have survived 30 and 31 degree nights without covering, but I don’t want to make the mistake of not covering if it gets into the 20s, and that is rare but can happen. I may have to cover my plants overnight a few nights throughout this winter, but most nights will hover in the high 30s and 40s.

Lettuce Sanguine Ameliore ” Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce”
Lettuce Sanguine Ameliore 
 Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce image 2

I also spent some time doing fall garden clean up. I have enjoyed using the Sunbelt weed fabric but have found it still requires some weeding and maintenance. I have kept all fallen leaves and debris swept off and kept the edges trim with the weed eater. I think I would rather sweep my garden than pull weeds any day! The result of not keeping the weed mat clean is that weeds will grow in the mulched debris. I will place some rabbit manure in the holes left from last year’s plantings and cover that with hay to prevent weeds from growing over the winter.

Burpee Lettuce Loose Leaf Blend and Daikon radishes
Burpee Lettuce Loose Leaf Blend and Daikon radishes

Winter Garden Clean Up Planting Dahlia Tubers and Cosmos Corms

In this video, I am planting dahlia tubers and crocosmia mix corms on January the 16th, 2021, in zone 8b. My first winter Amaryllis bloom was Marquis, and it is in the intro! This year, I am planting an assortment of winter vegetables I will be updating later.

I have planted strawberry cabbage lettuce, Alpine strawberries, Kyoto red carrots, Red Cored Chantenay carrots, Japanese Minowase Daikon radish, Early Wonder Beets, and Cipolle di Tropea onions. I am enjoying growing vegetables throughout the winter! It will be necessary to watch the weather and be prepared to cover my containers with blankets if the weather forecasts a freeze. So far, the plants have survived 30 and 31 degree nights without covering. Still, I don’t want to make the mistake of not covering if it gets into the 20s, which doesn’t happen very often. I may have to cover my plants overnight a few times throughout this winter, but most nights will hover in the high 30s and 40s.

Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce

I also spent some time doing fall garden clean up. I have enjoyed using the Sunbelt weed fabric but have found it still requires some weeding and maintenance. I have kept all fallen leaves and debris swept off and kept the edges trim with the weed eater. I think I would rather sweep my garden than pull weeds any day! The result of not keeping the weed mat clean is that weeds will grow in the mulched debris. I will place some rabbit manure in the holes left from last year’s plantings and cover that with hay to prevent weeds from growing over the winter.

Last November, I planted some echinacea seeds gathered for Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea, and I am so curious what colors will bloom this summer. In this photo, you can see the echinacea and my grape hyacinth doing well in the cold weather of January!

fall sown echinacea seedlings
fall sown echinacea and grape hyacinth
grape hyacinth and echinacea

Last Harvest for 2020

  • butternut squash and dry harvested luffa gourds
  • Japanese Morning Glory speckled split petal
  • Japanese Morning Glory white split petal
  • Cosmos Gazebo Mix
  • Cosmos Gazebo Mix
  • Cosmos Gazebo Mix
  • Cosmos Gazebo Mix
  • Coral Canna Lily

Welcome to my gardening journal. I am a small hobby gardener. I love growing from seeds and experimenting with growing in containers. I have one last harvest this year of yellow cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, butternut squash, and luffa gourds. I did manage to keep the squash vine borer eggs off my plants this year. I also have some results from my canna seeds I planted last spring. Next year I will have more results to share especially since I will have more mature plants.