Tag Archives: Florida backyard garden

North Florida Gardening: August To-Do List

Standard

It is a jungle out there. I really don’t want to share pictures of what my garden looks like now.

DSCN6523

How about you just look at these pretty peas?

DSCN6527

Or the nice striping on this eggplant?

DSCN6528

I have two teeny tiny jalepeno plants, approximately a foot tall each, and they have been pumping out the peppers. I just got a dozen from them.

DSCN6524

Just keep scrolling past the garden pictures…

The okra is doing great, as is the basil. The orange and yellow cosmos are real winners over here.

DSCN6526

Jungle!! AHH!!

The cover crops that I planted are chugging along, though, even the 75 cent pinto beans.

DSCN6532

Going to let a few ‘Clemson Spineless’ okra pods ripen so I can save some okra seeds for next year.

I planted probably double the amount as last year, and I still wish I had planted more.

DSCN6534

The yard long beans are growing up the fence with amazing vigor. They twine like pole beans, but aren’t complaining about the netting. They show no signs of slowing, and seem as though they would grow 50 feet tall if I had a trellis high enough.

My neighbors probably already think I’m weird enough, better not.

DSCN6537

Picked and shelled some Southern peas. I think I’ll grow more ‘Mississippi Silver’ next year; they seem to be larger and pack the pod pretty tight. More meat for your shelling time.

My to-do list for August:

1. Get seeds started for fall garden. Kale, collards, Swiss chard, cauliflower, kohlrabi,and broccoli will go in flats so they can be planted out in September.

2. Till under cover crops in large garden toward end of month.

3. Pull up green beans from shed bed and replace with zucchini and yellow squash. In August, we can essentially replant a spring garden here in North Florida, and September starts the official fall garden planting for me. If you want an almost complete guide to the vegetables you can grow in Florida, a really good planting calender can be found here.

4. Try not to get stressed out by how terrible the garden looks now. July and August tend to be pretty tough. Maybe next year I’ll just smother the whole thing with grocery store beans the first of July and pretend it doesn’t exist until the middle of August. 🙂

How’s your garden? For some of  you, this is the time to make me jealous!

My Little Corn Harvest

Standard

We planted corn as an experiment this year, not knowing quite what to expect. Corn likes fertile soil, and, well, I’m essentially gardening in a sandbox.

incomplete corn pollination

Looks like incomplete pollination on some of them, but overall I was pleased with how many ears we got from our little planting.

Merit corn

We grew ‘Merit’ corn and got these cute little ears, perfect for a single serving.

ears of Merit corn

Some of these beautiful ears of corn will be boiled, slathered in butter, and sprinkled with salt.

I also plan to take some of these ( the ones that -ahem- were harvested too early) and simmer them in ham stock with some ham chunks, red potatoes, sauteed onions, and make some corn chowder!

Will I grow corn again? Yes!

Florida Raised Bed Gardening- Spring Planting!

Standard

Sometimes it’s fun to try something new.
DSCN6130
This year, in addition to having two raised beds, this gardener is growing tomatoes in a circle.
DSCN6131
In the center is a partially buried five gallon bucket with compost in it and holes drilled in the bottom. As water is added to the top, it filters down though the compost, watering and feeding simultaneously. Compost is so good for the plants and is so easy to make!
DSCN6132

The beds are getting fresh soil, and one if them is gridded in classic square foot gardening style.

DSCN6133

The grid is new this spring, and it really looks organized and neat.

The pepper plants you see in two of the squares were overwintered and are already producing peppers! It really is worthwhile to try to keep pepper plants alive over our mild North Florida winters, as they will produce in early spring that way.

Pepper plants started from seed in the spring typically struggle along through the summer, then produce lots of peppers in the fall. I picked bagfuls last year and froze peppers for later.

Raised beds produce quite well and require little space. If you’re interested in gardening in Florida, you can start anytime!

Summer is coming and it is a good time to plant some of the heat lovers like basil, okra, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas.

If you’re interested in starting your own sweet potato slips for growing, I have a tutorial here.

Also, did you know that sweet potato leaves are edible? More on that in this post.

I’ll post more on what you can be doing now in the North Florida garden in my upcoming June To-Do List. Enjoy those fresh veggies! Hopefully it will be BLT season soon for you!

North Florida Gardening April To-Do List

Standard

I hope you had a happy Easter! Seeds are sprouting and tomato plants are being set out into the warming soil.

DSCN5960

Daikons are bolting, garlic is growing, mustard greens are providing final harvests, and a random volunteer collard plant is sending out pretty yellow blossoms.

DSCN5963

The large garden has yellow, purple, and green beans sprouting. Kale still producing; it hasn’t started to bolt like the mustard on the other side and the collards in the back corner.

Corn and okra in center box have sprouted.

Not much to see this month- but what a difference a month can make! I’m excited to see the difference between the young seedlings of this month and the progress they’ll make in a month.

DSCN5966

Look at all the greens I harvested! Their quality tends to decline with the warmer weather, so I wanted to get most of them harvested. I’m going to eat, freeze, and gift them away. I got a bag of collards, two bags of mustard greens, and two bags of kale.

DSCN5962

My largest head of broccoli is underwhelming. I’ve determined to try again next year.

DSCN5965

Tomatoes started on Valentine’s Day are doing well.

My to-do list:

1. Finish planting tomatoes.

2. Replace few straggling turnips with rows of bush beans.

3. Put up trellis for pickling cucumbers– they’ll be needing it soon.

4. Trellis tomatoes.

Pretty short list this month- mostly just let the seeds and plants grow. I made some strawberry-lemon marmalade that turned out really good. I’ll share that soon. 🙂

How is your garden? Thriving? Or are you waiting for the snow to thaw?

I’m ready for a juicy BLT! How about you?

North Florida Gardening March To-Do List

Standard

I love spring! I think the cold nights forecast for the next 2 nights will be the end of the cold nights, so I have some gardening plans.

grow garlic

The garden by the shed has given me great harvests for mustard greens, and I am looking forward to harvesting 36 cloves of garlic later this year!

DSCN5866                    DSCN5867

The large garden is still producing plenty of kale, collards, and mustard greens. The pole bean teepee is gone; this year I’m going to try ‘Merit’ corn in that square. Anybody tried that variety?

If nothing else, I hope it looks neat. I plan to have ‘Purple Queen’ zinnias and marigolds around the box.

'White Egg' turnips

The ‘White Egg’ turnips have done fantastic for me. I need to let some go to seed, but it’s hard to stop pulling them once you start!

Time for more roasted veggies– yum!!

Here’s my to-do list:

1. Plant green beans, squash, cucumbers and corn. I’m going to plant seeds from cucumbers that I grew last year- they made great refrigerator pickles!

DSCN4745

2. Harden off tomato plants. If you are starting your own plants from seed, you can check out my seed-starting tutorial here and then read about hardening off seedlings.

3. Start eggplant and  peppers.

4. Plant flowers like zinnias, marigolds, and cleome. I love to have flowers in my vegetable garden! They are beautiful and attract pollinators.

1045097_270647036410494_1604609450_n

5. Plant out my sugar snap pea plants. I had so much trouble last year with the squirrels that I decided to start my peas in flats, even though direct seeding them technically is better. My local seed source did not get any in time for me, so I just planted the few that I saved from last year. We’ll see if I get any, as it’s going to be getting too warm for them soon.

6. Hang netting on the fence for cucumbers.

Easy DIY Cucumber Trellis

Wow. Was that really my garden last year? I love being able to look back and see what I grew last year, and to plan to improve this year.
I hope you plan to grow something this year. Start small, and enjoy the journey!

Are you excited for spring to come? What are you anticipating the most? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Know anybody in North Florida or in zone 8 that is thinking about starting a garden? Feel free to email them this post or share it with them on Facebook using the buttons below this post.

Happy gardening!

What I Found at 3 A.M.

Standard

Ever gotten up and just couldn’t sleep?

DSCN5827

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!

Fresh Salad from the Backyard Garden

Standard

Some are concerned with food miles. Not me. This salad was harvested mere yards from my kitchen.

salad from North Florida garden

Crunchy Bibb lettuce, colorful Swiss chard, sweet pac choi, and crisp radishes were fresh additions to a winter salad.

It is great fun to wander through the gardens, picking and pulling food from the ground, then enjoying its intense flavors soon afterward.

Have you started dreaming about your spring garden yet? If you are in North Florida, check out my February To-Do List for some ideas to get you started.

If your view of the garden is obscured by snow drifts, check out my post on how to get free seeds and start your collection.

If you are new to gardening, you can get some ideas from my posts on the basics of starting seeds, how to start composting, and why I mulch.

Gardening is soooo much fun!

Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

Standard
Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

Gardening is addictive. Last spring, this retired couple started out with a single raised bed. They harvested squash, tomatoes, peppers, and green beans.

The bed was planted for the fall with collards, kale, carrots, turnips, and radishes.

DSCN5538

The North Florida raised bed now has a neighbor.

DSCN5539
See? Once you get started gardening, it’s hard to stop with just one bed.

The gardener used my cheap DIY plant label idea, and planted another garden.

The raised bed idea is great for planting carrots, who need soft soil in order to grow straight roots.

We have gotten some frosts recently here in North Florida, but they have a neat way to cover their beds for the night. I’ll have to show you some pictures of that soon.

I hope your gardens are growing well. You can start planning for the spring and getting your seeds together. I have a post on how to get free seeds and  how to make your own compost. Gardening can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want.

Winter is a time for yummy greens (especially in my favorite kale recipe!) and fresh hot biscuits. I have a super easy way to make biscuits that I will share with you later this week.

Fresh, hot, homemade biscuits with some easy peach jam? Yes, please!!!

 

How to Save Okra Seeds

Standard

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.

DSCN5513

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?

My Florida Garden in February

Standard

I love being able to go outside on a winter afternoon to harvest vegetables. Often we are able to eat vegetables that were growing in the ground an half hour before dinner. You can’t get much fresher than that! We have been enjoying delicious root vegetables like turnips and daikon radishes, as well as nutritious leafy greens.

Image

I love the purple and white on these turnips.

Image

The daikon radishes above are pretty easy to grow. Most seem to just  use the roots, but the greens are edible too. They seem like turnip greens to me, only a bit milder. I love crops that are edible above and below the ground!

Much of my Florida backyard garden is waiting for some consistent warmth. I have two gardens: the “shed bed”, which is shady for a good part of the day; and a larger, sunnier garden in the corner of the backyard.

Image

“Shed bed” with its fall/winter crops of kale, daikon radish, onions, broccoli, garlic, collards, and other greens such as Swiss chard and lettuce. We can eat greens a few times a week now by just harvesting the outer leaves. Kale is so tasty cooked with just a little olive oil, garlic, and kosher salt. Yum! Just the thing to round out a hearty winter meal.

Image

See how the leaf mulch keeps the weeds under control in the picture above? I seldom have to weed over here.

Image

This corner garden is just hanging on with its onions, few turnips and rutabagas, cauliflower, and broccoli. Soon it will be full of tomatoes, green beans, and eggplants.

Image

This broccoli is “buttoning”, or forming little broccoli florets rather than large heads. I think the snow and ice that we experienced here in the Florida Panhandle stressed it out a bit. My daughter doesn’t mind though, she eats them raw.

Image

Isn’t that just the cutest little cauliflower you’ve ever seen? I had some last year that turned out to be very yummy so I have high hopes for this year. Hopefully they will reach full size by the middle of April.

The corner bed was the big expansion last year. I remember indicating an area roughly 23’x25′ to my husband, then watching him till under this huge corner of the backyard and thinking,”What have I done?!”

I filled it though, and last summer we enjoyed homemade spaghetti sauce, tender eggplant, fresh green beans, and crisp bell peppers. For most of the summer I hardly bought vegetables. It was worth it!

This year, I plan to double the size of that garden.

Ambitious, yes, I know. Either that, or slightly crazy. What do you think?