May Gardening To-Do List

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It’s a great time to get those summer gardens started!

Here’s what I’m planning to do this month.

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  1. Get basil in the ground. It’s not too late to start some, and it makes wonderful homemade pesto!
  2. Plant eggplant.
  3. Plant okra.
  4. Set up and plant a pole bean teepee.
  5. Harvest potatoes.DSCN6810
  6. Start yard long beans.
  7. Hopefully I will get lots of cucumbers to make refrigerator pickles!

What’s on your agenda for this 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!

 

 

My ulterior motive for buying Classico

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Reusing Classico jars for canning

You’re not supposed to do this, but if you can believe what you read on the internet, you can actually reuse Classico jars for canning home goods!

I did it, and did not sustain any bodily injury.

Don’t come crying to me if you die, though. I told you that you’re not supposed to do it.

I have also used their lids with great success to avoid the nasty rusted canning lid syndrome.

Anyway, these are a great size (24 oz) and I am happy to add them to my canning jar stash! I think Publix had them BOGO for $2.99, which is a great deal, especially considering that I’m getting a canning jar too.

Mmm. Now I’m in the mood for some hot apple pie made with homemade pie filling or some warm homemade bread slathered with apple pie jam…

Maybe I’ll can some salsa in these this summer. I do love salsa.

Isn’t canning yummy?

 

 

I think I’m allergic to Mondays.

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How was your Monday? Awesome, I’m sure. Aren’t all Mondays?

I’ve actually been sneezing since this morning, despite allergy meds.

I played outside anyway, sneezing and sniffing.

I had this idea for my blog title today, “The Last Radishes  the First Tomato Flower” and it was going to be about how my garden was transitioning from fall/winter yada yada yada…

It looks like an even worse idea in print.

Plus, my radish pictures are garbage.

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Oh, and that tomato flower? It’s sadly out of focus. It was a great idea, but…

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On the bright side, the bolting turnips are so energetic and friendly.

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Ah, finally. A decent shot. It’s a baby cucumber! I am so eager to make some more Amazing Refrigerator Dill Pickles!.

if I had to choose between growing tomatoes or cucumbers, I’d pick cucumbers just because of those pickles.

It’s hard to be glooomy in a garden. It’s not my garden that was having a Monday, it was me. Actually, it was my camera skills. They are…hmm. Not quite sure how to describe them.

I do have some decent jam pictures. The photos from my Blueberry Peach jam Recipe are pretty good, for me at least.

So, day is done and I am thankful for my family to love, strength to putter in the garden, and sunshine to chase away the gray.

Thankful that Monday is not every day.

 

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!

Puttering Around in the Garden

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The daikon radishes have gone to seed, but I don’t mind. Looking up from weeding and peering at the corner of my garden through this veil of blossoms doesn’t bother me one bit. I may not get any radishes, but these flowers are not a disappointment. I hope to be saving seed from them soon.

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The pac choi is bolting too, in a blazing yellow haze. I hope that they will draw many early pollinators to my garden. I am hoping for great things from my black zucchini.

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Tomatoes can be a bit of a booger to grow in North Florida, but that doesn’t keep me from hoping. This year I’m growing Roma, ‘Super Sweet 100’, red beefsteak, and yellow grape.

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My alyssum that I started from seed has finally started to bloom. These are blooming among what I think are kohlrabi in my flower bed. I’m hoping to save seed from these and my Johhny Jump Ups.

Cosmos are popping up from seeds scattered last year, and cleome should be making its appearance soon.

It is a wonderful time of growth.

If you are thinking of planting some seeds, dividing perennials, or redoing your landscaping, this is a great time!

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?

Easy Roasted Cabbage Wedges

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Are you getting your menu together for St. Patrick’s Day? Corned beef and cabbage, right?

Did you know you can make your corned beef in the Crock-Pot? Yep, set it before you go to work and come home to dinner. I wrote about it in this post, and I plan to do mine in the Crock-Pot again this year.

If you are looking for a new way to eat the cabbage that is such a great price this time of year, try roasting it.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Peel off the outer leaves of your cabbage, and give it a good rinse.

Cut it into wedges.

Lay the wedges on a cookie sheet that has been coated with olive oil

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Generously salt and pepper, and drizzle with more olive oil.

Roast for 10 minutes, then carefully turn them over, using a spatula.

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Roast for about 7 more minutes, or until the centers are soft and the edges are crispy.

This will help you see the humble cabbage in a new way.

Cabbage: good for more than just sauerkraut.

Don’t forget the corned beef!

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!