Category Archives: Garden Tips

The Pickleworm Has Arrived

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Hmmm, what is this gooey clearish gunk on my cucumbers? It seems to be coming out of this little hole…

pickleworm frass

There’s a worm on my cucumber!!

pickleworm on cucumber

It can be a bit disconcerting to decide to enjoy one of  your fresh cucumbers and discover that a caterpillar beat you to it.

The first sign that you have a pickleworm problem is the clearish frass (technical term for poop).

There are some ways to deal with these freeloaders, though.

1. Super Organic: Eat the cucumber, worms and all. Embrace your inner insectivorous self.

2. Mildly Organic: Wash the cucumber and cut off the wormy part. If you harvest your cucumbers little and often, they will not have gotten very far into the cuke. Slice it up and serve in a Fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad with Basil.

To prevent the moths from laying eggs on them again, you can cover them with netting at night (when the moths are actively laying eggs) and remove it early morning so the bees can pollinate the crop

Alternatively, my Michelle from Pensacola Permaculture said that she had good results from rubbing off the faded flower once the cuke had been pollinated.

3. Organic: Spray with neem oil. For more organic ideas, including this one, click here.

4. Not Very Organic: Spray plants with Drano. Unfortunately, this method renders the cucumber unfit for human consumption, kills the host plant, and it is not recommended that you even attempt to grow anything in that spot ever again.

5. Fit of Rage Revenge: Drench cucumbers in liquid radioactive waste. Not for amateurs. Very effective against those caterpillars, but seldom used due to going-to-jail concerns. Don’t garden in that block ever again, even if you don’t go to jail or die from the radiation yourself.

How do you deal with pickleworms in your cucumbers?

Personally, I just cut off the affected part and eat the rest. Apparently they migrate, and so if your plants survive through the infestation, you should get more once they move north.

I’ve had my fair share of them this year, and have still had enough to make some amazing refrigerator dill pickles!

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Chocolate Cake with Zinnias

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chocolate cake with edible flowers

Mmmm, chocolate and flowers, what a great combination!

Even though I like to decorate cakes, I still think it’s hard to beat fresh flowers as a cake decoration.

chocolate cake with pink zinnias

I was bringing  a dessert to my sister’s house, and decided to bake a cake. Typically I like to do some type of piping or ruffles or something on cakes that I bring.

However, I didn’t really have the time to do that, so decided to go with a rough finish and to add some edible flowers just before I left.

I just love the contrast of the bright flowers against the chocolate frosting, don’t you?

easy chocolate cake decorating idea

The edible flowers used as garnish on the cake include: zinnia, Sweet William, orange daylily, and a few yellow mustard blooms as accent. The leaves are from a sweet potato plant. Did you know that they are a yummy edible green for summer?

Oh, and the spiky grass-looking greenery? Yep, just grass. 🙂

Do you use edible flowers as a garnish in your home? For a picture of a pretty flower-garnished salad, click here.

So next time you have to bring a cake, take it easy and decorate it with flowers! Edible, of course. Stay away from alstroemeria.

Like this idea? Pin it for later!

Plant Seeds Before It Rains!

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Who’s that crazy lady out there planting seeds?

Yep, that was me. It’s supposed to rain this afternoon, so I was out there trying to get them planted.

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I’d much rather have God water my garden, saves money!

It has been pretty hot recently, so these seeds should be up pretty quickly.

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I was also excited to pick the first cucumbers of the season- soon it will be time to make homemade pickles!

We’ve been working on the garden quite a bit lately; pictures and an update are coming soon!

This Is Why You Check Your Pockets

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I couldn’t figure out why my laundry room smelled like garlic.

Then I opened the dryer.image

Suddenly I realized that I must’ve stuffed a bulb of garlic in my pocket while harvesting my crop last weekend.

Some people check their pockets for errant pens or loose change; I guess I need to start checking mine for garlic.

So… you just might be a gardener if you have to check your laundry’s pockets for garlic.

What’s the strangest item to go through your laundry?

How to turn 10¢ into $54

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Patience is not one of  my stronger virtues. The saying, “Haste makes waste” haunts me frequently.

Sweet William

Sweet William

However, I have managed to grow a biennial (Sweet William) from seed! A biennial flower does not bloom until its second year, so you can imagine the patience that I needed to grow such a plant.

It has been exciting to see the different blooms appear.

Growing Sweet William from Seed

Plants of blooming size sell for $5.99 at a local nursery. I estimate that I have about 9 plants about that size, so I essentially turned about 10¢ into $54! Ka-ching! I love saving money in the garden, and starting your own plants from seed is a fabulous way to do that.

Sweet William

Sweet William

Last spring I wrote a tutorial on the basics of starting seeds. One of the seeds that were featured were these Sweet William plants in seedling form. Since I wasn’t picky about variety, the inexpensive 20¢ seeds suited me just fine. So far they have been beautiful and long-lasting blooms; they have given me a great return on my investment of time and money.

Have you ever started your own plants from seed? What type of seed has saved you the most money?

How Do You Store Scraps For Compost?

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l can think of very few recycling systems that are as efficient as composting. Composting takes scraps that would otherwise be thrown away and converts them to a valuable ( and free!) garden soil amendment.

To store scraps throughout the day, I like to keep a covered plastic container next to my sink for fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, and other compostables. Using a covered container keeps me from smelling the onion ends and is more aesthetically pleasing.

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There are some decorative compost buckets out there, but with my system I get a few more uses out of a plastic container that will be trashed anyway.

When it gets yucky, I just toss it and use something else!

What do you use to store your scraps for compost? I’d love to hear about it in the comments to this post or on my page on Facebook!

For more composting tips, you can read my post Coffee to Compost, Literally!

How to Cover a Raised Bed Garden from Winter’s Frost

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BRRR! The weather in North Florida has been hormonal!!!

Looks like we have a few more chilly nights left before spring comes to North Florida. If you have young or tender plants that you want to protect from the light frosts predicted for this area, check out this nifty idea.

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All you need is an old fitted sheet and a few sticks taller than your plants. Poke the sticks into the ground at a level higher than your tallest plants and stretch the sheet over the bed.

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The sticks keep the sheet off your plants, and the fitted sheet helps to hold the edges down. This is great idea from the owners of the Florida raised beds seen on this site.

Easy to install, easy to remove.

If you can place the sheets in the afternoon, it will give the sun a chance to warm the trapped air, giving the plants a bit more frost protection.

Who’s ready for spring?

What I Found at 3 A.M.

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Ever gotten up and just couldn’t sleep?

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It’s February in Florida, which means that I am getting spring fever and thinking about starting seeds.

So when I was up one night and just couldn’t stop thinking about the bulk seeds I was going to buy the next day, I decided to pop over to the University of Florida’s great spreadsheet to be sure I didn’t miss out on anything that I could be growing.

For the first time, I noticed a little note at the bottom about another article on “minor vegetables” and decided to take a look.

What fun! I found so much information on various crops that will survive the terrible soil and hormonal weather patterns of North Florida.

Then I was really too excited to sleep. 😀

By the way, my mug says, “I listed Starbucks as my emergency contact at work.” One of my former students got it for me and it is one of my favorite mugs.

Enjoy the link!

Chicken Owners, is this normal?

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I don’t own chickens. Yet.

One day I hope to own some, but for now I can buy yard eggs for $2 per dozen from a neighbor.

I have the benefits of healthier and tastier eggs without the work and expense (small as that could be) of keeping them.

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However, I am a bit concerned by how dirty these eggs are. I realize, of course, that grocery eggs have been washed; but it was my understanding that if the laying box was kept clean, eggs this dirty would be pretty rare.

Also, eggs that I have received from kind friends have not been this dirty.

So, is this pretty normal, or should I be concerned?

Thanks for your help!

How to Save Okra Seeds

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I love to save money in my garden. If your okra did well for you this year, consider leaving a plant or two to set seed for next year.

Saving your own seed means that not only are you saving money, but that you are also growing a variety that has already proven itself in your area.

All you have to do is resist the temptation to harvest the pods for my easy no-slime okra recipe, and wait for them to turn brown.

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When the pods begin to split, remove them from the plant. Do you see the brown seeds in the picture?

Store in a cool, dry place for next year. Remember to label them!

Don’t be like me, who has about a hundred tomato seeds from last season and was so sure she would remember what variety they were that she didn’t label them. I’m pretty sure they are ‘Roma’ tomato seeds; I hope I’m right.

Now you can use the money saved to buy a new variety to try, like purple carrots or yellow tomatoes!

Do you save seeds, or does the process intimidate you?