Tag Archives: Florida garden blog

Sneaking out to the Garden

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Let’s look at something besides my face, shall we?

It still hurts pretty bad from the Fluorouricil cream and its effects, but I can’t complain. I have a friend currently having treatment for melanoma.

There’s a difference between a face that hurts when it smiles and a smile that is hurting.

I have had a great year with my zucchini already. Usually I get about 4 squash, then the squash vine borers arrive to kill the plants. I planted black zucchini (I still think they look green) and they have done so well.

The cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen, and I have been pleased with the ‘Tendergreen’ beans. They’re one of my new favorites.

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InΒ  North Florida, the blackberries are ripe! I been foraging twice and have made some jam. You should go look for some too. I saw a 12 oz package of blackberries for $5.99 yesterday!!

Granted, the ones I found are much smaller, but you can’t beat the price!

I’ve had to do my picking and gardening in the shade because of the treatment for my pre-skin cancer spots, but I feel so much better some time in the garden.

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I think today might be a good day to make some chocolate zucchini bread.

I have some more gardening tips and ideas for you, especially if your daikon radishes are still bolting. If the seedpods have already dried, you can save the seeds like a ninja! I have harvested my potatoes, so also look for a post on how to harvest a small crop of potatoes.

Congratulations to all the graduates out there- I made a homemade chocolate cake with mocha frosting and coral peonies- pictures of that coming soon too.

I hope you get to go outside and do some gardening, but please wear a hat and sunscreen!

 

Eatin’ Local

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Concerned about food miles? I still get excited about serving my family veggies that were harvested from our backyard.

Sometimes we sit down to eat greens that were harvested, washed, prepared, then served. Food miles:0

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Zero food miles and incredible freshness.

I love farmer’s markets, but it’s also fun to shop in my backyard.

Our first two cucumbers didn’t even make it to the table. πŸ™‚

Have you been considering starting a garden? Love the idea of growing vegetables in your backyard but think you have a black thumb?

Maybe your previous attempts failed.

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Try again.

Find out what other gardeners are planting in your area. Find out where they’re planting them-sun or shade? Copy them shamelessly; they won’t mind.

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Once you pop that first sprig of fresh mint into your tea, eat that first real tomato, find out what cucumbers are supposed to taste like; you’ll be ruined.

Eat local. It’s so wonderful.

 

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.
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  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?

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?

 

 

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!

How to Grow Yard Long Beans (aka Asparagus Beans) (aka Snake Beans) (aka Noodle Beans)

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How to Grow Yard Long Beans (aka Asparagus Beans) (aka Snake Beans) (aka Noodle Beans)

If you want to grow traditional green beans in North Florida, you get planting times in the spring and fall, but the summer can be a bit tricky for fresh garden produce.

Enter… yard long beans! They are related to the southern peas that do so well in the heat, only they grow longer and stay tender.

If you were not familiar with yard long beans, I could show you my incredibly long green beans, and then sell you whatever brand of fertilizer I wanted.

Speaking of fertilizer…

It was David from www.thesurvivalgardener.com who first got me started with this great crop. He has an entertaining post about these beans as well as an efficient (albeit dubious)method of fertilizing plants.

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I had a few precious seeds saved from last year, and so I rationed some out into flats to be sure of optimum survival rates. I planted them about 1/2 inch deep, gave them water, and exposed them to the blistering heat of summer.

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They twine like typical pole beans, but did not complain about my netting. I think they would grow 50 feet long if I let them.

I have to admit that they did not get much care from me. My garden is a pretty dismal sight in summer and so it kinda depresses me to go out there too much. I tend to stay inside and make yummy stuff like peach jam and sand pear butter. Gotta work on the summer gardening a bit more.

Okra grows well for me. Maybe I’ll divide the garden among these beans, sweet potatoes (grown mostly for the greens), and okra. Sounds like a good plan.

Anyway…

growing yard long beans

The vines took a while to get flowers, but then the beans started growing.

Pretty neat, huh?

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I think I may just skip regular green beans next year and plant these starting in the spring. If I can get these vines to grow from April to October, I may not even have room for ice cubes in my freezer!

Have you ever had yard long beans? Would you grow them?

I have this really neat recipe for Yard Long Bean Knots that I’m going to share. I wanted to do something to showcase them in an interesting way, and I thought it turned out pretty well.

North Florida gardeners, it’s time to start seeds for the fall garden!

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Even now it’s still so hot outside, it is time to start thinking about the fall garden.

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Here’s some seeds I started this week: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, kohlrabi, and Swiss chard.

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Some of the seeds have already started coming up, 5 days later! Even though it’s still so hot, the seeds germinate quickly in the warm weather, and will be ready for transplant when it finally starts cooling down a bit.

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I also planted a few patty pan squash. I may also plant some zucchini and yellow squash too.

Next month I plan to direct sow my mustard greens, turnips, rutabagas, and even try some carrots again. It seems like I try carrots multiple times a year, and something always seems to destroy them. I also need to get some herbs started this week: dill and cilantro.

I also want to have plenty of fall and winter bedding plants, so I’m going to start snapdragons & pansies from seed. For the cost of a few packets of seed and my time, I hope to have plenty of color through the winter.

I am really anticipating the kale and mustard greens. The kale is so good for you and I love it sauteed with a little bit of butter and garlic as a side dish. The mustard greens are fabulous in stir fries. Oh, and I really want some turnips too. Turnips, although a root vegetable that I don’t see often used, is really good, especially roasted.

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That reminds me, I need to plant some radishes next month too. Maybe for Thanksgiving I can make some Colorful Roasted Turnips, Carrots and Radishes.

Do you live in a climate where you get to have a fall garden? What are you planting?

North Florida Gardening: August To-Do List

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

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How about you just look at these pretty peas?

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Or the nice striping on this eggplant?

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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.

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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.

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Jungle!! AHH!!

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

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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.

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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.

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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. πŸ™‚

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

North Florida Gardening: July To-Do List

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It’s time to make a decision. Take the summer off or keep on gardening?

There are many crops that can still be grown during the hot, humid days of our summer. However, if you want to take the summer off, be sure to plant some cover crops to improve the soil and keep the weeds from taking over your garden.

I plan to do a little of both. Southern peas such as black-eyed peas, pink eye purple-hulled peas, and cow peas, make great cover crops. As they grow, they put nitrogen back into the soil as well as providing a tasty crop. This summer, I’m growing many different varieties of southern peas, okra, eggplant, jalapenos, peppers, and basil.

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In the shed bed, the cherry tomatoes are actually thriving over here in the partial shade, the green beans have produced a decent crop, and as you can see the flowers are doing very well.

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In the large garden, the beans are producing well the tomatoes are just about done, the cucumbers are dwindling, the Southern peas are thriving, hopefully we will be able to harvest them soon.

See that large row of weeds? Yep, sometimes that’s reality, folks. I must do a better job with my mulching, as it really makes a difference in discouraging weeds. There’s this short but pointed post on Why I Mulch; I really should follow its advice. πŸ˜‰

I am planting as much of the surface with Southern peas in an effort to improve the soil.

I figure I can plant peas, let them grow until mid-August, till them in, let them rot for a few weeks, then plant the fall garden in September. Even though I lose a few weeks of productivity, I hope that a great fall garden will make up for it.

The soil is really poor over here; it’s a wonder I actually harvest anything.

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Despite the sandbox conditions, the Roma tomato plants have been the best producers this year.

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Some yard long beans are should hopefully be climbing the trellis soon. I saved a few precious seeds last year, and so planted some in flats to ensure a good stand. Ordinarily I don’t start beans in flats, but I’m not taking any chances.

I did not get to taste very many of those beans last year, because I was more concerned with saving the seeds for this year, but this year I’m hoping for many meals from them.

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This eggplant will be ready for harvest soon.

Here’s my to-do list for July.

1. Get rid of weeds, then plant more southern peas in the bare spot.

2. Tear down the cucumbers when they’re done producing and replace with yard long beans.

3. It’s peach season, so I need to make more peach jam, peach pie filling, and maybe even some spiced peach butter. I still have some blueberries so it is a good time to mix up a batch of peach – blueberry jam-so yummy!

4. When the tomatoes are done producing(they’re almost done now), replace with Jackson Wonder lima beans.

5. Figs are also in season, and I plan to experiment with fig preserves, roasted figs, gingered fig jam, and strawberry fig jam. I’ll let you know how it goes. πŸ™‚

Do you have any favorite fig recipes?

The Summer Garden in North Florida

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Are your squash plants struggling? Tomato plants looking raggedy and not producing any new flowers? Cucumbers starting to get covered in powdery mildew?

Time for the summer garden!

Here in North Florida, frost doesn’t signal the end of a gardening season; the intense heat and oppressive humidity kills the plants.

You don’t have to give up gardening in our “winter” season, as there are many crops that actually thrive in the heat.

1. Okra– I love this vegetable! It’s not just for gumbo; if you don’t like the slimeyness, try my no-slime okra recipe.

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2. Eggplant– The classic way to prepare it is as Eggplant Parmesan; but I like to dice it, saute it with olive oil and garlic, then use it like mushrooms in omelettes and sauces.

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3. Sweet potatoes– I bought plants once, and since then have propagated my own if I wanted more plants. You can also start your own. Of course I like to eat the potatoes, but did you know that you can also eat the leaves as a nutritious summer green?

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4. Southern peas– These peas are not to be confused with the little green peas known as English peas and garden peas; Southern peas include legumes such as black-eyed peas, pink-eyed purple-hulled peas, crowders, and lima beans. I made some amazing succotash last year with my fresh limas.

I am growing yard long beans again this year. I am really excited about them, so expect an update soon!

Jackson Wonder fresh lima beans

Even if you’d rather take the summer off from gardening, I recommend you use these as a cover crop. Since they are legumes, they will put nitrogen back in your soil. If you don’t cover your garden with either a thick layer of mulch or a cover crop, the weeds will take over.

Frugal cover crop tip: buy a bag of beans from the grocery store and plant them. They may be pole or bush, but either way you will be feeding the soil and shading out the weeds.

5. Peppers- I have had good success with jalapenos and banana peppers in the summer.

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I plant bell peppers in the spring, but they usually just limp along until the fall, and then produce like crazy. You can start some bell peppers now, but don’t expect much of a harvest until it gets a bit cooler.

These are the fuss-free crops that have done well for me in the summer. In the summer, I may pop out to water them occasionally in the morning or evening, but I really don’t want to be out for hours in the afternoon heat.

For a great chart of many other crops that can be planted, organized by month and region, click here.

Oh yes, one more summer crop.

6. Basil– This herb loves the heat and it is great for pesto!

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How about you? Do you keep gardening in the summer, or do you take some time off to rest?