Tag Archives: Florida fall garden

I Just Can’t Help Myself

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Some women can’t be trusted to walk past a shoe display without buying. I can’t be trusted to walk past a seed display safely.

“I’ll just look, ” I tell myself, “maybe they have some of those colorful carrots that I’ve seen advertised.”

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Suddenly I find myself clutching a handful of seed packets like a kid with a fistful of forbidden candy, justifying myself.

I really have struggled with cauliflower, maybe it’s the variety?

Oh yes, there’s those colorful carrots- won’t they be fun?! Imagine the looks on people’s faces when I bring those out for a snack!

Swiss chard, well, I always see it growing so large and luxurious in my gardening books, maybe it’s time to grow a colorful variety like everybody else.

Kohlrabi, doesn’t it look fun? Like a UFO? No, I don’t have an obsession with UFOs, despite the fact that I also grow UFO squash. 🙂

Broccoli, now that is a vegetable that I would like to succeed in growing. With a name like ‘Sun King,’ it’s bound to do well for me here in Florida. I’m sick of growing broccoli florets.

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Oh boy, gotta have some of those flowers.

Won’t these look great together this fall? I saw a snapdragon/pansy combo that I really liked. Think of all the money I’ll save by growing these from seed!!

I can put them in the flower bed by the front porch, fill the flower bed out back once the summer flowers have been cut back, maybe put some in the garden too, Oh how about some pots of them on the front and back porches…

I don’t know who I think is going to do all this, but it is so fun to plan. 😀

NOTE: These are all fall crops and will not be started until late summer or early fall. By then, seed displays will be gone, despite the fact that THIS IS FLORIDA, PEOPLE, WE CAN GARDEN ALL. THE. TIME. so please leave out the displays!!

Ahem. Anyway, I think I am set for the fall. Unless… maybe I should buy some sugar snap peas, just in case the feed store doesn’t get any in stock???

Hey, at least gardening is a relatively cheap hobby. Productive too. I could collect stamps. At least I can eat my hobby.

If I save seeds from the non-hybrids, I’ll save even more!

Any others out there who need to be restrained when going by a seed display?

Colorful Roasted Turnips, Radishes, and Carrots

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Sometimes simplest is best. If you have never tried turnips, I recommend this easy preparation.

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I planted my ‘White Egg’ turnips a bit too closely last fall, but have been able to harvest them at various times without succession planting them. I harvested some as greens, and others have made large roots as their neighbors have been cleared.

I have found them to be sweeter than the purple top turnips that I planted last year.

My husband doesn’t care much for them mashed, so I decided to try roasting them with some carrots from a friend’s garden, as well as with the last of the radishes.

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I tossed the chunks with some olive oil, and roasted them at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.

They  were seasoned with just a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a smidgen of fresh thyme.

I love the pretty pink of the radishes. 🙂

Also, my husband liked the roasted turnips!

I love eating fresh food from the garden. It is nice that I seldom have to buy the vegetable side dish for our dinners; I just harvest what is ready to eat and prepare it. That’s convenience. 🙂

Gardening saves me money and is good for us too!

Have you ever roasted radishes? I planted another row that I hope will be ready by the beginning of March. I’ll pull them, then plant some green beans!

I have another seasonal recipe for you coming soon- Sauteed Mustard Greens! They are quickly becoming one of my favorite greens, and when sauteed do not have a harsh mustardy flavor like their name may suggest.

 

How to Freeze Peppers

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Florida fall garden pepper plant During the Florida fall, pepper plants seem to really produce peppers like crazy. I had to harvest all my peppers in anticipation of that random pre-Thanksgiving freeze. I think the final count was 54?

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Fresh peppers can be expensive, even more so prepackaged vegetables, fresh or frozen. I usually use peppers in spaghetti sauce, chili, fajitas, stir-fries, etc., so freezing them in strips or diced was the way to go for me!

Start by washing your peppers. Even if you did not have to spray them or fertilize, they may still have dust or little bugs on them.

Hold peppers upright, and slice off the wall of the peppers all the way around, leaving the seeds and core.

Cut into strips and/or dice the peppers.

No need to blanch, simply spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze. If you happen to think of it, stir them after about an hour so that they are separated.

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Do not skip the freezing-on-cookie-sheet step unless you have a recipe that calls for a one quart block of frozen peppers. 🙂

Put the peppers in freezer bags, label, and place in freezer.

I love having pepper strips ready to go into a stir-fry. It is so convenient to be able to take a small handful of diced peppers and to toss them into an omelette or spaghetti sauce.

Although I love to can my easy two ingredient blueberry jam, apple butter, and quick peach jam; I have to admit that quickly freezing a crop is the simplest way to preserve it for later.

Have you ever frozen a crop? How did it turn out?

 

November To-Do List

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Yes, it’s November already. I finally got my collards and kale into the ground.

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It was nice to have seeds still from last year. Germination rates were great.

Poor little root-bound souls. All the waiting was stressing them out. 🙂

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Triple row of daikon radishes doing well. I have an easy daikon recipe that I posted earlier this year that featured this root vegetable.

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So far the shed bed has the triple row of daikons, 2 wide rows of mustard, and a few straggling basil plants.

The large garden has been planted with onions, kale, collards, turnips, lettuce, and has a few summer crops remaining such as peppers, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.

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This is what happens when you neglect a zucchini. Ordinarily, I harvest mine when they are much smaller, but I’m glad I have a good chocolate zucchini bread recipe to use!

Here’s my list:

1. Plant garlic in shed bed.

2. Harvest and cure sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. Replace sweet potatoes with carrots, who should hopefully appreciate the loose soil.

3. Plant out broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, and Swiss chard transplants.

5. Resow Brussels sprouts and spinach.

6. Sow in empty spots: beets, carrots, mustard, and radish.

7. Start putting flowers and more vegetables in flowerbed. It is part of my plan to mix flowers and vegetables for winter color.

8. Make pear butter. I plan to use a method similar to my easy Crock-pot apple butter recipe.

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It’s nice to enjoy local produce, isn’t it?

With just a little work at the beginning, my winter garden should be a “set it and forget it” type of garden. How does your garden grow? Are you clearing it in preparation for the first snowfall? Are you sowing seeds for spring? I’d love to know!

October To-Do List

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I think fall is really here! The temperature is cool and refreshing in the morning, and seems to be lasting for a while. I have been starting seeds for the fall garden: collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Bibb lettuce, and Swiss chard. I planted 27 cells of each. If they all survive, that’s a ton of collards!!

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At the same time, I am harvesting peppers: banana, jalepeno, and bell.

Southern peas are still growing from the summer garden, but I also harvested my first zucchini from the fall garden.

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The large garden has been planted with beets, rutabagas, and some direct-sown cauliflower. The direct-sown cauliflower is a bit of an experiment; if it doesn’t work I have some seedlings started. The sweet potatoes will hopefully be bigger than last year’s potatoes.

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The shed bed gets more sun in the winter months and greens did well here for me. I am considering just tossing some mustard and turnip seeds over this plot rather than organizing it into rows. I’d probably get a pretty good yield, but I’m not sure that I could endure the aesthetics of that.

I did notice quite a few bugs enjoying the mulch and thought how much my friend’s chickens would enjoy them. Then I realized that this garden would be a great spot for a couple of chickens in the summer! It is typically shaded by noon, so would be semi-cool during the summer.

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They could work the ground for me, then move to a sunnier spot in September. I could let the ground set for about a month (mainly because of the chicken manure) then plant in October or November. Hmmm…something to think about for sure!

Here’s my list for this month:

1. Plant carrots, mustard, spinach, and pak choi, radishes, and maybe more turnips.

2. Freeze some of the bell peppers for winter stir-fries and spaghetti sauce.

3. Save seeds from four o’clocks and cleome to donate to gardenhoard.com’s free seed program. I have benefited from it, and want to give back. If you have a surplus of seeds, consider donating to them. What you may consider a rampant self-seeder may be #1 on somebody’s wish list.

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It’s beautiful weather to be outside with your hands in the soil! If you have been considering starting a garden, why not start small and simple? Grab a 9 pack of some type of greens (kale, collards, lettuce, mustard) and find a sunny spot for them. You may just be pleasantly surprised!

How is your garden? Are you hoping that your tomatoes will ripen before frost or are you ripping up old tomato plants to make room for your collards?

September To-Do List

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September To-Do List

My garden is going through an ugly time.

Right now, only the most stalwart crops are surviving the heat.

This banana plant is a notable exception; it’s mocking its more homely neighbors.

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As you can tell, in the shed bed not much is going on except for the basil. I plan to put some fall crops over here again this fall and winter. This garden gets more sunlight in the winter and my collards and kale did well over here last year.

I can make some pesto from the basil and freeze it. A little pesto adds a nice summery shot of flavor to winter sauces.

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Despite the heat and lack of rainwater, I am still able to harvest okra, bell peppers, Southern peas, and some ground cherries. The sweet potato vines are running, and I should saute some of the greens. We really enjoyed them last year. Even if my sweet potato crop is poor this year, the greens would still make it worthwhile to grow.

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This banana pepper plant really is my pride and joy at this time. I hate to pick the peck of peppers and pickle them; the plant looks fabulous!

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I started my fall planting in August. My green beans are doing well and I have 2 zucchini plants.

Here’s my plan for September:

1. Start collards and kale in flats. In this heat, the seeds will germinate rapidly and get off to a good start.

2. Clear old plants from shed bed.

3. Find a yummy recipe for those banana peppers.

4. Pickle some of the okra. I’ve never had pickled okra-I hope I like it!

5. Transplant some of the tomato plants that I propagated from my spring planting.

 

The list is pretty easy for this month. I love gardening in Florida, there is always something new that you can grow!

Any ideas for the banana peppers? I’m thinking of stuffing them with cream cheese, cheddar, bacon, and sauteed onions and then baking them. Does that sound good?

How is your garden this month?

Time to Plant the Fall Garden!

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For us in North Florida, spring is here again! Many of the spring crops can be planted again, and many of the fall crops can be started this month.

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I really want some green beans, so I am planting some of them, and a few zucchini plants. I saved seeds from my prolific ‘National Pickling’ cucumbers, and I hope to make some more homemade pickles.

I am only going to plant a few tomato plants. I have some cuttings rooted in water on my windowsill. I just clipped some cuttings off the plants before I pulled them. For more tips, read this post.

Many leafy vegetables can be started next month. Collards and kale did well for me last year, so I plan to grow them again.

For now, my garden has quite a few plants that will keep producing for a while: peppers, okra, sweet potatoes, and pink-eyed purple-hulled peas.

For a spectacular Florida Vegetable Planting Guide, visit the University of Florida site. If one of your spring crops failed, chances are that you can try again!

Gardening in Florida is awesome!

What are you doing in your garden now? Are you relaxing in the air conditioning or sweating in the summer sun? I confess, most of my gardening is done before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Florida sun can be brutal!