Category Archives: Gardening by Month

Easy Fireplace Mantel Decoration Idea

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Sometimes simplest is best.

There is just something about an arrangement of clear glass jars and vases, simply dressed with some statement flowers.

Camellias are such a welcome bridge of color, happily transitioning us into spring. They give way to azaleas, and then the riot of wildflowers take over the roadsides.

Welcome, Spring!

 

 

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What’s growing in your compost?

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I’ve some nice looking potatoes that volunteered in my compost, but that’s not totally surprising.

I have found all kinds of fun plants: squash, collards, tomatoes, but I recently found the most exciting (to me) of all.

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Look closely at the far right side, about the middle.

Recognize it? I didn’t either, until I pulled up its sibling, thinking it was a weed.

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Do you know what it is now?

Look at the pit from which the root is growing. It’s a peach tree!! I am so excited to have them growing for me.

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I have some potted up along the house, and two planted already. I’m resisting the temptation to plant them all along the perimeter of my backyard.

But why? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I can imagine it now: peach, loquat, peach, loquat…goat pen… Just kidding.

Sorta. Maybe chickens?

Anyway, I’m finding good homes for the extra peach trees. They should be easier to rehome than puppies, I hope.

Oh, and speaking of random stuff that I didn’t plant but am still happy about growing- check out these blackberries!

I posted about my blackberry and rose situation last year, but this year it looks to be even better!

The first few have been harvested, and there are many more ripening. I have also mentally tagged a few sites to check out too.

I just love volunteer plants!  You got anything exciting growing that you didn’t plant?

My North Florida Gardening To-Do List for April

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My North Florida Gardening To-Do List for April

This was the hardest time of the year for me in college. Flowers were blooming, the weather was nice, and I wanted to be outside with my hands in the dirt so badly.

This should be a great month for planting, weeding, dividing, and transplanting.

My tomatoes are already in the ground, and zucchini have true leaves already.

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Greens are producing well, and some are bolting and attracting pollinators.

1. I need to get my pepper plants in the ground. I gave up on getting my bell peppers to sprout, and just spent the 3 bucks on some. You can be sure that I looked for a pack with lots of two in one plants. 🙂

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You may notice that my jalapeño and and habanero peppers germinated just fine though. Figures.

2. Plant green beans. I’m trying a new variety called ‘Tendergreen’ this spring.

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3. Save seeds from my Johhny Jump Ups. Looks like some seed has already been scattered for next season.

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I’m also excited that it seems like I will triple my blueberry production this year.

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You know, like from 5 blueberries to 15. 🙂

In other news, I have some fun stuff coming up in my compost. More on that later- for now, let’s poke some seeds in the ground!

Cute Kohlrabi and Kale Socks

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Don’t you just love the colors of spring?

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Cute little kohlrabi is starting to take on its characteristic shape. I’ve never actually had it before, so I’m hoping I like it. 🙂

I’ve found many new delicious vegetables simply by growing them in my garden. Mustard greens, for instance. Roasted turnips. Okra. These are vegetables I’d never bought, but came to love them after growing them.

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These scrawny little plants are pumping out sugar snaps. Sooo good. They’re pretty small plants, but they are working hard.

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Poked the cucumbers into the ground. I’m looking forward to pickles!!!!

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Aren’t these the coolest socks?!?!! Kale socks!!! 😀

My sister got these for me. I love them so much.

I love gardening so much. The garden is loving the gentle rains and warmer temperatures. Spring is my favorite season.

My windows are open and I love the cool breeze and the colorful azaleas.

How’s your garden? Growing anything new?

Kumquat Marmalade

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Kumquat Marmalade

It’s kumquat season! If your tree is going bonkers, or you have access to fresh kumquats, you may be wondering what to do with these unique fruits. I’ve been using kumquats in various recipes, but this is my favorite.

You only need kumquats, sugar, and water to make this fresh marmalade.

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Slice kumquats crosswise to make 5 cups, removing the seeds as much as you can. This is the tedious part.

You will go through various emotional stages as you slice the small kumquats.

Cup 1: Oh, how pretty!

Cup 2: This isn’t so bad.

Cup 3: Wow, it really took a long time to just slice that last one cup.

Cup 4: This is ridiculous. Who is even going to care that they are sliced in rounds?

Cup 4.5: Almost there…you can do this…

Cup 5: Yay! I’m done! I am never going to so this again. Next time I’m just going to chunk them in a blender.

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Chunking them is totally acceptable, but I do like how the slices turned out.

My next batch may be a mix of both, though. 🙂

Boil with 6 cups of water for 5 minutes. This is a good time to skim off any seeds you missed.

Let cool, then set in fridge overnight.

Mix in 4 cups of sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 220°F or passes the gel test.

Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Can pints or half pints in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 5 half pints
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I was concerned that just using kumquats wouldn’t give me enough jelly between the rind pieces, but it turned out that there is plenty of sparkling jelly.

I love the look of the thin strips of rind and the few circles that were left after the cooking process. If you prefer more bites of peel per bite, you may want to process some of the kumquats.

For other two ingredient jams, check out my post on strawberry jam (my husband’s favorite!), and  peach jam.

Look for my Strawberry Kumquat Marmalade recipe soon!

Did you start your tomatoes on Valentine’s Day?

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This year, I’m trying to eke out a bit more from my winter garden. Hopefully having the garden busy with radishes, turnips, and mustard greens will keep me from poking bean seeds into cool soil.

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I love being able to harvest the dinner vegetable just minutes before cooking it.

More kale, three types of turnips, and hopefully some carrots will be making an appearance soon.

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I did get some tomatoes, peppers, dill, and cucumbers started this week. It seems as though winter is over, and I do have a few rows that will be available.

I need to save some more seeds this year from my ‘National Pickling’ cucumbers. I use them to make refrigerator pickles, and we look forward to them each year.

Really, if I could only grow one vegetable each spring, I think cucumbers would be it.

What is your favorite vegetable to grow in the spring?

 

Risky Business: Planting in January

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If you’re supposed to make hay while the sun shines, shouldn’t you also plant seeds when the ground is tilled? Even if it is January?

I was able to plant 3 types of turnips, kohlrabi, mustard greens, cabbage collards, kale, daikon radishes, and lettuce. The center box has Yukon Gold potatoes on the left, red potatoes on the right.

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I planted my rows east to west this time, and scattered seeds in wide rows. These winter greens and root veggies don’t need much cultivation, so I just left about 6 inches for me to navigate between rows. The less bare ground there is, the less area weeds have available, especially since I am not going to mulch the little paths.

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My husband mulched the center path with these leaves from somebody else’s yard, anybody recognize the type of tree?

We’ve had some nice rain, some pounding rain, and varying temps, so we’ll see how it goes. I planted carrots too, but I have had such a tough time with them. I planted a Kaleidescope variety of colors, so it will be fun if I actually get to harvest them.

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After the pounding rain, I checked on the seeds, and of course noticed some that had been washed into low spots, but was excited to see some of the daikons had started to sprout. I’m really hoping for some great vegetables from this garden. Fall/winter can be a great gardening time in North Florida. What about you? Are you snowed in for the week?

I recently did a woodland themed cake for a baby shower and plan to share that with you soon.

Four Reasons to Start a Fall Garden in North Florida

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Fall is truly here. We have been enjoying very beautiful days, crisp mornings, and cool evenings. Did you know this is also a great time to garden? There are four great reasons to get started on your garden now.

1. Cooler Weather- I think we can all agree; gardening is much more pleasant without high temps and heavy humidity.
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2. Fewer Pests- The fall garden is not plagued by hordes of caterpillars, borers, or even  powdery mildew. Even the mosquito population seems to be diminished.

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3. Less Weeding- During the summer, the weeds keep pace with the vegetables, then overtake them in a blinding fury mid-July. During the fall, usually what you plant is what you grow, with minimal weeding, especially if you mulch.

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4. Less Work!! All of these advantages add up to less work overall. If you think you don’t like gardening, give fall gardening a try. For some, this is actually their favorite gardening season.

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Scatter some turnip seeds, poke a few kale starts in the ground, and enjoy gardening this fall!

Those bags are just some of my harvest from last year’s fall garden!

It’s Too Pretty Outside To Do My Ironing

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I really do have a ton of laundry to iron, but it is so beautiful outside. A little shade, a little breeze, and a little drop in the temperatures makes for a perfect fall gardening weather.

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Yard Long Bean Recipe: Roasted Knots

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Yard Long Bean Recipe: Roasted Knots

If you had beans that grew as long as your forearm, why would you just chop them up to make them look like ordinary green beans?

Why not do something interesting?

I thought about this for a while, and this is what I came up with one evening. Roasted Yard Long Bean Knots is quite a mouthful to say, but it is a literally delicious mouthful.

 

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Take your beans, wash and trim off the tough stem end.

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Blanch for a few minutes to make them pliable.

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Tie them into knots ( I got two from each bean), then snip with scissors or cut with a knife to separate.

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Place on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Pretty neat presentation!

If you’ve never grown these beans, you can check out my post about them.

If they are a favorite of yours, how do you like to eat them?