Resolutions Attract great fun yoga

What are resolutions?

Is it a yearly event to try to get your life in order? Or is it a feudal attempt to reach a specific desired goal such as losing weight or making more money?  Are resolutions merely mission statements that we quickly forget? Why do humans have unlimited dissatisfaction?

One of your comments was that my blog was very vanilla and dry. How exciting can fertilizer and mulch be? So, here is a more subjective and thought provoking dissertation.

Leave your past behind. You are not your story. You are not: your job, your marital status, your disease, what your parents think of you, what your kids think of you, what anyone thinks of you. What is important is what you think of you.

 Life on this planet especially at this time is supposed to be fun! We no longer have to fight for our physical survival or slay dragons. How do we make life fun? How about developing virtues?

 A list of virtues includes: kindness, integrity, service, compassion, consideration, cleanliness, and gratitude. Virtues are universal and recognized by all cultures as basic qualities necessary for our well being and harmonious living. Necessary because when we practice virtuosity, we build character. Becoming more virtuous people will attract great things that may have been missing in life such as fulfilling relationships, a more purposeful better life, and happiness.

I believe money is a means of exchange to satisfy a desire. However, as John said, “Can’t buy me love.” But happiness is fleeting, unless we can figure out how to turn on the self-generating happiness machine inside of all of us. Perhaps we can start by being grateful, smiling for no reason, and taking time to just sit in nature for a few minutes every day. I do this.

 What is money to you? Is it a sign of success like a pat on the back? The perception and perspective of how much money or success we have colors our outlook light or dark. Just as if we perceive ourselves as mediocre, we will rise to only that level.

What lies beyond success? We are feverishly seeking it to what end? Our journey (yours and mine) is one of goal eaters. What really feeds us? Is it our own ingenuity or the kindness we give to others? I say both. We thrive on the next challenge, as challenges are opportunities to excel. “The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how we use them.”

 Being in the service of what we want to express to the world is thought provoking. What do you want to express? What is your service? Does it serve you? Is it your goal to do it well? I love whole ‘practicing’ part of being a lawyer or going to yoga. Practice is good. I am practicing to be a good human, and yes, yoga helps!

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Mulch it!

Mulch Mulch Mulch

Why mulch? Mulch reduces water loss due to evaporation, moderates the soil temperature, suppresses weeds, and controls erosion. Also, mulch can also be used to make walkways or paths throughout your landscape. The different types of mulch are organic and inorganic. Organic mulch breaks down (decays) to provide some nutrients to the soil. However, mulch is not a replacement for fertilizer. Use about a 3” to 4” layer for this type while keeping an inch or two away from the stems to allow for air movement. The different kinds of organic mulch here in Florida are; pine bark, cypress, eucalyptus and chemically colored cypress in red or black. I prefer pine bark nuggets, which are good for the plants and really dresses the yard. For a time, loggers were tearing up our Everglades to create cypess mulch for the big box stores.  I am not sure if this has completely stopped. The red colored mulch leaches the coloring dye chemical into your plants. This is not a good thing. If your area is naturally wet, or unnaturally with roof or yard drains, the layers of mulch will inhibit the soil from drying out. Some plants can actually drown during wet seasons. Also, fungi growth can be a huge problem. To reduce this problem, occasionally stir the mulch to allow it to breathe. (More on fungus in another post) Do not mulch your citrus trees (More on citrus in another post), as they are very susceptible to fungal problems. Acid loving plants thrive when oak leaves, pine needles, or peat moss is used for mulch. They are azaleas, camellias, gardenias, magnolias, hydrangea, even hibiscus and jasmine like a little acid. Mulch can be applied just about any time of the year or when trees and shrubs are being planted. The best time, to apply mulch in established bed areas is in mid-spring and oak leaves (acid) can be spread when available. Inorganic material is often used as mulch, which includes gravel, rock, or stones. This provides an aesthetically pleasing look if not overused. After all, this is not Arizona!

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Basic fertilizer tips

Fertilizing in Florida is always a challenge. What, when, where, how, but mostly why are questions I get from clients regularly. The feeding and maintenance of both new and old plants usually involves the application of balanced fertilizer three times a year, every year— March or April, June or July, and September or October. Fertilizer just went back on sale in the box stores October 1. If you don’t have your lawn and yard professionally sprayed, you will need to fertilize your plants yourself. Time-release pellets are easier and safer for the plant as they break down slower and more gently. Check to see the application frequency needed per product on the label. Apply time release pellets fertilizer (Ozmocote or Dynamite) like salt and pepper. Do not just pile a mound at the base of the plant, in the case of fertilizer, more is not better! Sprinkle only enough to clearly see it on the soil.  Apply a width depending on size of plant, e.g. a larger tree you might apply a 2-3 feet wide, small shrub, a few inches. I like the fat tree spikes and use them for both trees and shrubs that come in a small bag of 5 and can be bought at the box stores.

I use the Ozmocote and Alaska Fish Emulsion in my own yard and garden. Alaska Fish Emulsion is an organic fertilizer (ground up fish parts) and works wonders on all plants. You can use “fish” anywhere and everywhere since it now comes in a non-smelly formula. You can not burn or overdose using fish. This can also be used as a “tonic” for sick plants, 2x or 3x strength over 2-3 waterings. You can also use fish for planting by watering it into your soil instead of plain water to promote quicker adaptation.

 

Our sandy Alkaline soil can affect many plants that require acidic soil conditions. Some familiar acid-loving plants include Ixora, Magnolia, Azalea, Gardenia, Hibiscus, and Roses. Use acid fertilizer made specifically for these plants. Planting these plants near oak trees, which makes the soil more acid, helps this situation.

What is really in the fertilizer bags? What does it all mean?

Here is a break down for their use;

The top of a fertilizer tag lists three numbers for the major plant nutrients:

Nitrogen (N)   Phosphorus (P)   Potassium (K)

These are also known as the N-P-K number. The most common is 6-6-6, or Triple 6.

Nitrogen The first number is the element that makes top green vegetative growth. It is also the least expensive way to make your grass and plants green. There is a downside to this. Using a fertilizer that is much above 10% also makes soft growth: the leaf that bugs just love, much easier for them to get their proboscis or teeth into. Look at grass fertilizer tags (they are usually the highest in nitrogen). The first number is usually quite high (16 to 36%). Not only do you have to cut the grass more often, but also you end up with more disease problems. In addition, water release fertilizers are the easiest to burn with, which is why inexpensive fertilizers have very low application rates.

PHOSPHORUS (P) The second number is for the element that affects roots, stems, fruits and flowers. Grass fertilizers use too much nitrogen (to “keep it green”) and completely ignore root system health (roots are the part of the plant that take in and process the food). The middle number in grass fertilizers is usually between 4 and at the most 6.

POTASSIUM (K) The third number is for the element that promotes flowers and fruits. It also enables assimilation of Nitrogen and Phosphorous. It is used by the plant to make strong cell walls, which makes it more difficult for bugs and disease to get into the plant.

MINOR (ESSENTIAL) ELEMENTS This section lists other elements that plants need in much smaller quantities. Manganese, magnesium, iron, etc., make your plants green with safe growth. Florida’s sandy soil does not have many minors, so they must be added. Without them, the majors are not assimilated properly through the plant’s system. Underneath each element is listed where it was derived from. Do not think that a bag that says 20-20-20 is automatically 10 times better than a bag labeled 2-2-2. No plant wants or needs 20-20-20. You will want to get the right fertilizers for your plants.

 

 

PALM FERTILIZATION: 

1.     USF recommendation for palms is to use 8-4-12. Palm fertilizer should automatically include 3-4% of both magnesium and manganese. Read the back label to be 100% sure these are in your palm fertilizer. Sensitive palms like Pygmy date palm, Foxtail, Queens, Royal palm, and Paurotis will probably die without these critical nutrients, magnesium and manganese.

 To add magnesium you will save money if you purchase Epsom Salts at your drug store.  Epsom Salts is magnesium sulfate. Always apply at the same time with an application of your regular fertilizer for that plant (to prevent imbalance)

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Hello Florida!

Do you have particular local problems and confusion at nurseries and home improvement stores? I can help you.

Planning a design for your home’s landscape can be a daunting task with our sub-tropical Florida climate. Which plants need full sun? Which need shade? Most landscape books do not address the unique needs and conditions of West Central Florida, like high heat and humidity. What may grow well in St. Petersburg will freeze in Brooksville.

Some important things to keep in mind.

Design Tips

  • To provide a more natural look, curve the planting beds and stagger the heights of some of the plantings.
  • A mix of plant materials at the foundation creates interest.
  • Use color to draw your attention to areas you seek to emphasize.
  • Camouflage unsightly areas with a climbing vine or trellis.
  • Repeat colors and plants from one area to another for unity and conformity.
  • Make a pathway special by using stone or pavers in a curvilinear fashion.
  • Create visual impact by adding a water feature, garden sculpture, or colorful potted plants.
  • When planting a hedge or plants in front of a window, consider the window height to avoid constant trimming.
  • Stand inside your house looking out the window to visualize a focal point outside.
  • Consider the mature height and canopy of big trees. Plant potentially large trees a distance away from the house, garage, or driveway to avoid root or branching problems. A basic formula is to divide the mature height by 2 to get the measured planting distance.
  • For a noise and/or a privacy screen of trees or shrubs, do not plant in a line. A staggered line will offer more density.
  • In general, plants that are variegated (different colored leaves or with a pattern) are more interesting. After planting, is the most critical period for the establishment for your new plants. Water frequently to reduce plant stress and establish a strong, extensive root system. Water your new plants daily for the first couple of weeks, and then two or three times a week for the first 60 days. 
  • The maintenance of new and young plants usually involves the application of balanced fertilizer three times a year — March or April, June or July, and September or October.
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