Friday, October 9, 2015

Plant City Strawberries for the Florida Bee Farm

On our last trip to pickup the Blueberry plants we just so happened to be driving by the Parksdale Farm Market and Garden center in Plant City.  They are just outside the gates to Florida's Strawberry festival and are famous for their strawberry shortcake and strawberry products.  Also for a few days in October they carry the strawberry seedlings for sale.  They don't ship them and you sometimes have to reserve these in advance.   I called ahead to make sure they had enough and was able to procure 75 seedlings.  On our way home from the blueberry farm we stopped in to pick up the strawberry seedlings.
Playing tourist at Parksdale Farm Market in Plant City

Parksdale Farm Market is a pretty cool place with plenty of touristy stuff and produce so it was a nice diversion for our trip home.  They also sold the thin plastic cover that is helpful in planting the strawberry plants.  The prices were more than reasonable.  I'll be back every year if these strawberries take.
Preparing the raised beds mounding and making furrows

They also included directions with the strawberry seedlings detailing do's and don't s.  They recommended making rows mounded up and then covering with the plastic cover.  Fertilize between the furrows before covering with plastic.  Then you plant the seedlings being careful to not plant them too deep.  Make sure only the root areas go underground.  The directions said the biggest mistake people make is to plant the seedlings too deep.
Strawberry plants being carefully planted
The Lucky guy

And finally the last step was to customize the irrigation system to precisely deliver water to the roots of the strawberry plants.  To do this the existing irrigation hoses were removed and replaced with soaker hoses.  The strawberry plants were planted a little closer together than the recommendation because we were trying to maximize the space we had.  As it turned out 50 plants fit nicely into the above raised bed.  I'll try to plant another 20 or so into standalone pots for experimentation.  And if we're lucky we should be getting fresh strawberries from December until May. 

Strawberry irrigation system

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blueberries for the Bee Farm

Craigslist has all sorts of interesting things for sale or for free.  This week we drove out to Lithia to get as many mature blueberry plants as we could fit in my truck and trailer.  They were in 25 gallon pots that weighed about 75 lbs each which meant we could only fit 18 in one trip.  And it's a good thing because the spot we had picked out for the blueberries exactly fit 18 plants.  Their Blueberry farm had several thousand plants at one time but they were ready for a change in life and were selling the property and getting out of the blueberry business.

Blueberry farm
Blueberry plants take several years before they produce optimum amounts of fruit.   The 3 small plants I purchased last year only produced a few berries last season so it will be nice to have a good harvest of blueberries this year.  We eat several cups of blueberries almost every day.   Blueberries also need bees for pollination which makes having these at The Bee Farm so convenient.   Another synergistic  benefit of having blueberry plants is the effect on the flavor of our honey.  Blueberry pollen makes absolutely delicious honey !

Ready to unload the Blueberry plants
Blueberry plants in their new home

The plants were placed on weed cloth in a corner of the yard where there's plenty of sun.  They were also added to the irrigation system to automatically be watered every day.  However it's important you don't over water them so a controlled drip system was employed.
Automatic irrigation of the blueberry plants

Friday, October 2, 2015

Making Plumeria plants

One of the easiest plants to grow is what I think of as a classical Hawaiian plant.  One that is used to make the lais that people wear.  The plant's name is Plumaria, also know as a Frangipani.  This plant thrives in subtropical climates and produces a delicious smelling flower.  Absolutely beautiful.  We have many of these plants around our home and they were getting too big so it was time to prune and turn the cuttings into new plants.  I ended up with about 50 cuttings which will soon become a full size Plumaria plants.   Some of the plants I had at home were well over 6 feet tall.