My Florida backyard garden is a source of so much happiness and so many wonderful vegetables. Here in the Florida panhandle (zone 8b), we can grow something fresh and healthy all year long. Vegetable gardening in northwest Florida is sometimes challenging, but it is very rewarding to grow plants that are both beautiful and productive. In this blog, you are invited to peek over my fence and watch my garden grow.

There are many sites and blogs dedicated to the
outdoors; why did I decide to add yet another gardening blog?

It started when I decided to start vegetable gardening in the Florida panhandle. I found
myself (as many of you are) searching for resources that would first tell me
what should be planted and then show me what they were growing. Usually
my dear research assistant, Mr. Google, provided me with zillions of sites and
I found what I needed on the first page. However, I found it hard to find many
people sharing their gardens in my area (zone 8b). What I did find I read voraciously
and studied intently. I love gardening and have learned so much; both by research,
and by hard-won experience.

In this blog, you are invited to peek over my fence and see my garden.
Some tell me that I have the coveted green thumb, but I say with H. Fred Ale,
“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things
from the plant’s point of view.” I hope that I can create a resource to
make gardening a bit easier for you. I will also share resources that I
find helpful.

I am so grateful that I have my little garden journal to refer to as I start seeds(see my seed-starting tutorial here, plant my okra( I have a great no-slime okra recipe!), and harvest tomatoes; but now I plan to have an illustrated journal here, on coffeetocompost.com. I find that few things are more cheerful in the damp cold days of February than looking back to pictures of the enthusiastic garden in June.

I love to have my hands in the soil, feed the compost, watch little sproutlings grow, and feel the hope that a packet of seeds brings(I also have a post on how I get seeds for free!).  If you eagerly await the seed catalogs each year, obsessively monitor your seedlings’ progress, frantically try new ways to outwit frost,or just want to figure out how to have fresh basil this year; let’s garden together.


27 responses »

  1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and following me today. I have only read one of your posts and am already hooked. As you read in my blog I’m not a very good gardener, or at least have not been one in the past, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the year. I look forward to following your progress and learning from you. Thank you again.

    • I’m so glad you like it! I hope you have a great year in the garden. No gardener will ever know it all; we are always learning, so don’t be afraid to invest a few seeds and a little plot of ground. Start little and enjoy the process! So glad to have you!

  2. Hi Sarah. I’m so glad you stopped by my site and introduced yourself — it gave me the chance to bounce around your place. I’m looking forward to more posts about Florida gardening and learning all I can before I break ground in my south Florida garden. Be well!

  3. Just found your blog and I am super excited! I am in the same zone and a beginner to FL gardening. So thankful to have found you!! Can’t wait to read and learn!

    • It is great to garden here! There is always something that you can grow. Some take a break but I love to have something growing at all times. Feel free to ask questions. Happy gardening!

  4. I feel the same way as my zone 5 garden. I find many gardens out West/East but nothing much in our cold area. It is fun to meet other gardeners!
    I am with you-my hands need to be in the soil as soon as the earth warms in our area. I look forward to reading your lovely blog. We can all learn from each other + as you , I have learned from many of my mistakes. The best way to get better!

  5. that sentence made no sense! What I meant is-I have found not many resources or blogs for growing in my area( zone 5). I am on the edge of 4, so some years we have mild + others not so mild! I grow from seed under light to get a longer growing season. It must be lovely to grow more year round, but I am sure there are issues with that also. I do enjoy my rest after a long intense season of growing:-)

    • Thank you, Kevin. What a nice compliment. I appreciate the nomination, but am not participating at this time. Glad you enjoy the blog- the gardening community is so friendly!

  6. I am in Pace, Santa Rosa County, FL near Barnettmill Creek. I prefer to grow sweet eating pears, but through mislabeling at the nursery I have ended up with 5 sand pear trees (correct name is Kieffer pear). I have been giving them away. This year’s the harvest was low for the Kieffers. As I mentioned I prefer sweeter pear varieties like Tenns, Southern Bartlett, and some other blight resistant pears. Next yr I will experiment pear recipes. I have started to invest heavily in persimmons which consists of grafting some of the wild ones on my place. For people in the south I strongly recommend joining the Southern Fruit Fellowship. https://southernfruitfellowship.wordpress.com/about/ The Southern Fruit Fellowship is an organization of amateur fruit growing enthusiasts throughout the southern United States. We are affiliated with North American Fruit Explorers [NAFEX], but membership is open to all interested parties.

    The Southern Fruit Fellowship is an informal organization of amateur fruit growing enthusiasts throughout the Southern United States. Membership is open to all interested parties.
    I also belonged to a closed group of about 20 people mostly in the south with one member in California. We are dedicated to growing fruit trees and other things. Two years ago the Banana Forum had a get together in Pensacola and if that happens again I will find someway to let you all know about it. .

    • I would definitely contact the nursery about the mislabeling; maybe they would replace them? I too prefer the sweeter varieties, but it’s hard to beat free! I made some jam with them today along with some pineapple, and I really liked how it turned out. I’ll be sharing that recipe soon, but I found it delicious. Sounds like you are associated with some great people. I wish I had planted many fruit trees as soon as we bought our house. Thanks for your comment!

      • Most nurseries tend to mislabel their pear trees and likely other varieties also. You do not find out until some years have past when you harvest the fruit. Very hard thing to go to a hardware store or box store like wally world and ask for your money back for something about 3-6 yrs afterwards. Buy your trees and other things from just fruits and exotics, an hour south of Tallahassee in Crawfordville; they label correctly. My philosophy has been to plant fruit trees and vines first and then the garden. I am retired now and will of course devote more time to gardening. I have a large pear orchard of many different types: both Asian and European/hybrid types that do well in the south. Grapes are next year. I need to place the grape arbors so they get full sun and I can see and safely kill the squirrels that will feast upon them. I have 8 acres. I need to put in a well for irrigation and so much more. Best wishes for your success and may you always have a green thumb.

  7. Hello sweetie. Nice blog. I have so much to learn from you as I am moving there this summer. I had a great organic garden up in Washington state, but I have come to learn that a garden down south is a whole different bundle of wax (beans that is)<– groan…that was bad 🙂 I've put you in my reader. Do you mind saying what town you are in? If not on your blog, then maybe shoot me an email? katrobbins101@gmail.com I am moving to Panama City area. I look forward to reading what you share!

  8. Hi, I saw the “southern peas” which has a purplish bean. I know them as butter beans. A friend of my Dad’s brought them back from Alabama in the’70s. Unfortunately I don’t have any seed left from those beans. Could you tell me the variety it is? Maybe where to purchased them? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Bob P.

    • Hi Bob! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Maybe you are looking for the ‘Jackson Wonder’ lima bean? Once shelled, they have such pretty purple markings and are flat like how I think of butter beans. Alternatively, you may also be looking for the pink-eyed purple-hulled pea. It has the violet shell with the peas inside with the pink eye. That seems to be refered to as a Southern pea, and I liked to harvest the immature pods as ‘snaps’ and cook them with the peas. If these are not what you’re looking for at all, maybe you could tell me which post had them and that would help me identify them. Hope this helps!

    • So glad I could help! It’s wonderful how certain foods can bring back memories. You may even have time to try planting a few. There’s still a lot of summer left in Northwest Florida.

  9. Just read your information on using coconut oil after fluorouracil.. My arms are a burning bright red mess. On my face??? I might go crazy(just had my 87th birthday Oct 21 so crazy might be close)…but you look great. Do gardening here in Menifee, Southern Calif. So will enjoy your blogs. Blessings and thanks. Howard at pegmarcreations@aol.com.

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