How to Easily Grow Everglades Tomatoes from Seeds for Delicious Bite-Sized Flavor!

How to Easily Grow Everglades Tomatoes from Seeds for Delicious Bite-Sized Flavor!

It's no secret that growing vegetables in southwest Florida can be quite the challenge! Not many varieties can withstand, let alone thrive, in the brutal heat and humidity. 

It can be quite discouraging to see all of your gardening efforts wilt in the sun or be eaten by a myriad of pests. 

Make way for Everglades tomatoes!!!

 As their name implies, they are made just for this crazy climate!

They are prolific growers, and the taste of their dime-sized fruit is unmatched.

Seriously. I've never cared for tomatoes. Just not my thing.

But Everglades tomatoes are sooo good! 

They are quite sweet, almost like a grape, and full of flavor. I was quite surprised!

So even if you are not a tomato-lover, you will love these little cuties. 

And if you've been ready to give up on gardening, this post is for you!

We'll walk you through how to successfully grow Everglades tomatoes at home, step-by-step!

how to grow everglades tomatoes from seed


1. Choose the Right Location 

When planting Everglades tomatoesit is important to choose the right locationThese tomatoes thrive in full sunso it is best to choose a spot that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlightday.


2) Prepare the Soil 

Once you have chosen the right location for your Everglades tomatoes, it is time to prepare the soil. These tomatoes prefer soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0 and with a high nutrient content. To ensure that your soil is up to par, mix in organic matter such as compost or manure and work it into the top 12 inches of soil.

You also want to make sure that the soil is well-draining and free of weeds and other debris.

 

3) Plant the Seeds 

Start your Everglades seeds in pots covered with plastic wrap or another cover that acts like a greenhouse to keep the moisture in.

I tried planting seeds with saran wrap and some without, and the ones with saran wrap were much more likely to sprout and thrive.

everglades tomato seeds

Soon you will have a seedling that is ready to be repotted into a larger pot, or put directly into the ground. 

everglades tomato seedling

 

4. Plant the Seedlings or Plants

I like to plant my Everglades tomatoes in raised beds. That way I can give them better soil and keep them away from rabbits and squirrels. 

I usually end up putting a fence around them as well, since rabbits and squirrels apparently can climb! 😄
When planting your Everglades tomatoesit is important to plant them deep. I usually remove the lower few rows of leaves so that I can bury the stem as deep as possible. 

This will give the tomato plant more stability and encourage more roots to form for a healthier, more fruitful plant.

I also like to crush up several eggshells to bury in the hole as well. That provides your tomatoes with nitrogen and calcium, which helps prevent blossom end rot. 

And believe me, you don't want blossom end rot. 😄

concrete block bed for everglades tomatoes

5) Caring for your Tomatoes

Once your Everglades tomatoes are planted, you will need to provide them with the right care in order to ensure a successful harvest.

Be sure to water your tomatoes thoroughly and regularly, as they prefer moist (but not soggy) soil.

You should also mulch around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and keep weeds at bay.  I like to use the pine needles from around our yard, as we have them in abundance. 

Some gardening sources recommend fertilizing every few weeks to ensure that they get the nutrients they need, but I have never done that.  Some homemade compost and crushed eggshells in the hole or sprinkled on the top around the base of the plants have been good enough for me. 

growing everglades tomatoes

6) Harvesting and Storing your Tomatoes

When your Everglades tomatoes are ripe and ready to be harvested, you will know by their beautiful deep red color.  Once the tomatoes are harvested, you can store them in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

how to grow Everglades tomatoes

7) Enjoying your Tomatoes

Now is the pay-off!
 
You can use Everglades tomatoes however you use regular tomatoes...on salads, in chili and soup, in chicken or beef dishes, in spaghetti sauce, in salsa, on sandwiches, or just pop them in your mouth like grapes for a sweet snack!

Everglades tomatoes harvest

Everglades tomatoes are the best tomato to grow in south Florida, as it is stubborn and hardy, and is about the only tomato brave enough to withstand the heat and humidity down here. 

Not only that, but it TASTES GREAT!

ENJOY,  and have fun growing! 😊


Everglades tomatoes

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How long do Everglades tomatoes take to grow?

Everglades tomatoes typically take about 60 to 80 days to fully mature, depending on conditions.


Do Everglades tomatoes need a trellis?

No, you do not need a trellis for Everglades tomatoes.  You can, but they thrive best by just letting them sprawl on the ground.

I have grown them both ways, and either is fine, but I prefer sprawling.


Are Everglades tomatoes perennial?

No, Everglades tomatoes are an annual plant, meaning they must be planted each year.  Under the right conditions, they may reseed themselves.

I usually have to germinate more seeds when I want more plants.


Are Everglades tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?

Everglades tomatoes are typically classified as an indeterminate variety. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season until they are killed by frost or other environmental factors. 

Mine usually die out after a while, then I have to start some new seedlings.


What do Everglades tomatoes taste like?

Everglades tomatoes are sweet and tangy and full of flavor.

It is the tomato for those who don't like tomatoes!


Can you grow Everglades tomatoes in pots?

Yes, you absolutely can grow Everglades tomatoes in pots. Just choose a big one!  We have one growing in a large pot on our sunny lanai.


What do you do with Everglades tomatoes?

You can use Everglades tomatoes however you use regular tomatoes...on salads, in chili and soup, in chicken or beef dishes, in spaghetti sauce, in salsa, on sandwiches, or just pop them in your mouth like grapes for a sweet snack!

If you liked this post on how to grow Everglades Tomatoes from Seed, you may like How to Grow Mangroves at Home. It is another fun and unusual plant to grow in SW Florida or as a houseplant up north!

mangroves pots lanai

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5 Easy Tips to Make Succulents Grow Faster

5 Easy Tips to Make Succulents Grow Faster

by Major Ramm

Do you pride yourself on your green thumb, but wondering how to make your succulents  grow faster? Despite their reputation for being low maintenance, succulents can still require some skillful care to reach their full potential. In this article, we’ll explore the surprising reasons why your succulents may not be thriving, and share expert tips on how to help them flourish. From proper soil drainage to choosing the right pot, we’ll cover everything you need to know to create a healthy and vibrant fast-growing succulent garden. Get ready to unlock the secrets of succulent success.

how to grow succulents faster

1. Have Proper Soil Drainage

One key factor that’s often overlooked when it comes to succulent care is proper soil drainage. Without it, succulent roots can become waterlogged and prone to rot, leading to stunted growth and even death. So, what exactly does proper drainage entail?

First and foremost, it’s important to use a well-draining soil mix that allows excess water to escape quickly. A good succulent mix should contain a combination of materials such as sand, perlite, and pumice, which help to aerate the soil and prevent water from pooling. You can also add a layer of gravel or rocks at the bottom of your pot to provide extra drainage.

Additionally, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. It’s also a good idea to avoid using saucers or trays that can trap water and create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

By taking the time to ensure proper soil drainage, you’ll be setting your succulents up for success and helping them grow faster. But drainage is just one piece of the puzzle – next, we’ll explore the crucial role that light plays in succulent growth.

How to make succulents grow faster

2. Keep in Bright, Direct Sunlight

Proper drainage is essential for succulent growth but it’s not the only factor that needs to be considered. The amount and quality of light that succulents receive is just as important. Succulents are adapted to live in areas with high light intensity and low humidity. Therefore, they need bright, direct sunlight to thrive. However, too much sunlight can also be harmful and cause the leaves to become brown and crispy. 

To find the sweet spot of light for your succulent, pay attention to the direction and intensity of sunlight in your home. South-facing windows usually provide the most light, but they can also be the hottest. East- or west-facing windows are also good options. If your succulent isn’t getting enough light, the leaves may become stretched out and pale in color. In this case, consider moving it to a window that gets more light or supplementing with a grow light.

Now that you know how important light is to your succulent’s health, let’s explore how watering can also impact their growth.

How to make succulents grow faster

3.  Water Well when Completely Dry

Proper watering is another crucial element in the growth and health of your succulent. These plants are built to thrive in arid environments, meaning they are adapted to storing water in their leaves and stems. Overwatering can cause your succulent to rot, while underwatering can lead to shriveled leaves and stunted growth. 

So, how do you know when to water your succulent? It’s best to wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again. Stick your finger into the soil about an inch down – if it feels dry, it’s time to water. Be sure to use well-draining soil and a pot with a drainage hole to prevent water from sitting in the soil and causing root rot. 

When you do water your succulent, water thoroughly until it drains out of the bottom of the pot. Then, wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering again. It’s better to underwater your succulent than to overwater it, so don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. 

Now that we’ve covered the importance of proper watering, let’s move on to how to choose the right pot for your succulent.

How to make succulents grow faster

4. Choose a Porous Pot (with a Drainage Hole) that is the Right Size for your Succulent

The type of pot you choose for your succulent can have a big impact on its growth and overall health. The most important factor to consider is drainage. Succulents need well-draining soil to prevent their roots from sitting in water and potentially rotting. For this reason, it’s important to choose a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom.

In addition to drainage, the size of the pot is also important. A pot that is too small will restrict the growth of your succulent, while a pot that is too big can lead to overwatering and root rot. As a general rule, choose a pot that is slightly larger than the root ball of your succulent.

When it comes to materials, there are a variety of options to choose from including ceramic, terracotta, and plastic. Ceramic and terracotta pots are popular choices because they are porous, which allows for good airflow to the roots. However, they can also be heavy and prone to cracking. Plastic pots are lightweight and durable, but may not provide as good of ventilation.For this reason, I never use plastic pots for my succulents, and I believe that is a big reason that my succulents grow fast and thrive.

How to make succulents grow faster

5.  Apply Fertilizer Specifically Formulated for Succulents

While this step is purely optional, for those gardeners looking to maximize their succulent’s growth, we recommend using a fertilizer. 

When it comes to choosing a fertilizer for your succulent, there are a few things to consider. First, select a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for succulents. Obviously, these contain the nutrients most suited to benefit your succulent, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You may also want to consider a slow-release fertilizer, which will provide your plant with a steady supply of nutrients over time.

It’s important to apply succulent fertilizer correctly in order to avoid over-fertilization, which can harm your plant. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and be sure to only apply fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer). Be mindful of how often you apply fertilizer, as too much can cause your plant to become leggy and weak.You may need to experiment to see how much fertilizer is right for your plant.

How to make succulents grow faster

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, despite their reputation for being low maintenance, it is good to be mindful of these  hidden factors that can hinder their growth.  With proper care and attention, your succulents can thrive and grow faster. Remember to prioritize soil drainage, light exposure, watering habits, pot choice, and fertilizer use to ensure your plants reach their full potential. Take your time, show your succulents some love, and watch them reward you with stunning growth and vibrant colors.

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How to Grow Mangroves at Home

How to Grow Mangroves at Home

Growing mangroves at home in pots is super fun and actually quite easy!

When I moved from Ohio to southwest Florida, I couldn't wait to experiment with growing all sorts of tropical plants. I eagerly planted seeds from the lemons, oranges and mangoes I got from the grocery store, but one plant I couldn't wait to try was the exotic mangrove tree.

I loved airboat rides through the gorgeous mangrove forests in the brackish water of the 10,000 Islands of the Florida Everglades. There was something so magical about those long roots reaching down like many legs from branches to reach the water below.

mangrove island
mangrove roots legs

But could I grow a mangrove tree at home?

The answer was an emphatic "Yes!" Mangrove plants are super easy to grow in pots, and in this post, I will show you step-by-step how to grow your own mangroves!

growing mangroves at home

1. Find a Mangrove Propagule

If you are in southwest Florida, you can find mangrove propagules floating in the water or washed up on the beach.  You do not need them to have started growing roots yet; that just gives you a head-start, but seeds without roots will grow just as well.

mangrove propagule seed
mangrove seeds beach
mangrove propagules floating water
mangrove propagules beach

2. Soak the Mangrove propagules for at least 24 hours. 

soak mangrove propagules in water

It's best if you don't let them dry out, so once you find them, put them in water in a cup or baggie until you are ready to plant.

Mangrove propagules are  not "seeds," but actually baby plants! That is why you will want to treat them like the live seedlings they are, rather than dormant "seeds." 

soak mangrove seeds in cup of water
mangrove seeds in baggie

3. Put a layer of rocks in the bottom of a pot with no drainage holes

Unlike most trees, mangroves thrive in water, so do not drill holes in your pot! You will want those baby mangroves nice and happy in wet soil and water.

rocks in bottom of pot

4. Fill the pot with a mixture of half sand and half soil

pot of dirt

As you can see, I just used the sand and soil from our yard. I like to dig it up from around trees where a lot of organic matter has fallen and decomposed. Mangroves love organic matter...especially wet and decomposing organic matter!

florida dirt

5. Plant the mangrove propagules roots-down

plant mangroves roots down
mangrove propagules dirt planted

How do I know which end to plant down if there are no roots?

The top of a mangrove propagule has a little green sprout on top. The bottom of a propagule is usually a darker color (red or black) and slightly thicker and rounded. The bottom is what you will want to plant in the dirt.

mangrove propagules top bottom

6. Fill the pot with water 

Yes, you can grow mangroves in freshwater, so go ahead and fill the pot with water so that it is about 1" above the surface of the soil. I like to use natural rainwater, but tap water works as well.

mangrove planting seeds water

7. Keep it watered

Don't let your pot of mangrove seedling dry out! They love moist soil and water, so keep them wet!

How do you keep mosquitos out of the standing water in your pot?

This is a great question! If you live in Florida, you know that standing water anywhere is an invitation to breed your own mosquito farm. An easy hack for keeping mosquitoes out of  your pots is to squirt a bit of dish soap in the water.

I personally like Dr. Bronner's unscented baby Castile soap for this purpose. This hack works great for keeping mosquitoes out of your kid's wading pool as well.

dr bronners mangroves mosquitoes

Neem Oil & Dr. Bronner's Soap Recipe for Plants

I also like Dr. Bronner's  soap for my Neem oil/soap mixture that I use on absolutely anything and everything to keep pests and fungus away naturally. It is a must for any Florida gardener.

Simply mix 1 TBS Neem oil and 1 TBS Dr. Bronner's Castille soap in one gallon of water and spray liberally on any plant that needs some love.

8. Enjoy your own backyard (or lanai) mangrove forest!

mangrove habitat swamp

Okay, not really a mangrove "forest," but one can dream, right? My next experiment is to see if I can grow mangroves directly in my yard. From what I've read, you can! I would imagine they'd grow best in the swampy parts of your yard. I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, mangrove plants are beautiful in pots in your yard or lanai. They also make beautiful houseplants indoors as well. Just keep them by a sunny window.

mangroves pots lanai

After a while, your new mangrove trees will start growing those fun long root legs that make mangrove swamps so magical! 

mangrove roots pot
mangrove roots water pots

Have fun with your new mangrove plant pots by adding a whimsical solar-powered glass flamingo garden stake! Isn't this little guy adorable?

solar glass flamingo garden stake

How long does it take a mangrove tree to grow?

Mangroves grow very fast.  Since they are not "seeds" but actually baby plants, or "seedlings," they have already started growing! In their natural habitat, a mangrove seedling can grow up to three feet tall in its first year and reach over six feet or more within two years.

In a pot, however, a mangrove seedling still grows quickly, but not  quite as fast or as tall, as they are constrained and do not receive as many nutrients from the rich, organic matter that is found in their natural swampy habitat.

mangrove growing in pots

Where to boat through mangroves

To go on an airboat ride through the Florida Everglades mangrove swamps and grasslands, check out Everglades City Airboat Tours or Wooten's Grassland Airboat Tours.

To rent a boat all to yourself for the day to ride through the mangrove forests of the 10,000 Islands, check out my husband's awesome post, Naples to Marco Island by Boat.

You may also like to try Growing Everglades Tomatoes!

Another fun plant to grow is the Everglade tomato. Super cute and very sweet and tasty! 
Check out my post How to Easily Grow Everglades Tomatoes from Seeds for Delicious Bite-Sized Flavor! to learn how!

Everglades tomatoes harvest

Give it a try!

I hope you enjoyed learning how to grow mangroves at home! Growing mangroves in pots is very easy.  Please share and pin and let me know if you give it a try! 😃

How to grow mangroves
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