Tag Archives: Florida garden

May To-Do List

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I have some before and after pictures for you this month. The dollar weed was winning, so it was time to use a tiller and reclaim the garden.

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I planted my bean seeds expecting warmth, and we were disappointed. We ended up tilling much of it and replanting. My husband made those neat arches, and hopefully we’ll have lots of tasty cucumbers from them.

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Even if they don’t produce much, they still look cool. 🙂

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The shed bed had become overgrown with bolting mustard. I had some garlic almost ready to harvest, but I decided to just pull it up and make a fresh start. One of the bulbs made it inside and was discovered in an unlikely place-more on that later.

I had 3 blueberry bushes languishing by the back fence. That’s my wonderful husband there transplanting them. Really this garden renovation would not have been possible without him.

He was so sweet to help me. When I mentioned that blueberries like acidic soil, he carefully layered pine straw and coffee grounds in their new home. Awww… what a guy!

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Here’s some veggies that I harvested before the tilling: green and wax beans, carrots, turnips, and  a forgotten radish.

My to-do list:

  1. Till gardens.
  2. Plant more green beans, basil, okra, bell peppers, and southern peas.
  3. Mulch cucumbers with compost.
  4. Transplant eggplants.

 

How’s your garden?

 

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Northern Gardeners Are Going to be Jealous

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If you are already breaking out the jeans and sweaters and thinking about the condition of your snow shovel, you may not want to read this post. One of the many perks of gardening in Florida(and what can create so much envy) is that we can garden all year long. The fall garden is really just as big as the spring garden.

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I have started seeds for collards, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, Bibb lettuce, and cauliflower. Soon I will be planting seeds of turnips, beets, rutabagas, and carrots.

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At the same time, I have a zucchini that will be ready to harvest in just a few days. Isn’t that crazy?

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My green bean plants are doing well in the mild temperatures and I hope to enjoy fresh green beans soon too.

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This is the crop that I am actually the most eager to harvest- yard long beans, a.k.a. snake beans, a.k.a. asparagus beans. They have finally started to bloom and set pods. I am going to try to restrain myself and not eat the first few pods, as I want to save seed for next year. According to David over at Florida Survival Gardening, they are not only delicious, but they also grow well in the summer garden. His post on snake beans makes you want to skip traditional pole beans in favor of them.

Fall gardening is so fun! There is a lull in the heat and humidity, making it great weather for starting seeds and pulling summer’s weeds.The warm temperatures mean that your seeds will germinate quickly. The bugs will be scarce in the cooler months, so there will be less bother from mosquitoes and chewing caterpillars.

Let’s get growing! If you invest just a little effort now, your garden will reward you with nutritious and delicious vegetables this fall and into the winter.

If your sweet potato vines are overtaking your garden, don’t look at them as a nuisance, look at them as food! Post on that coming soon!

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!

Top 5 Flowers for North Florida

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Top 5 Flowers for North Florida

My vegetable garden makes for a happy tummy, but flowers are happiness for the eyes.

If I could only have five types of flowrs in my yard, I’d pick these.

It’s hard for me to pick a #1 favorite, though. I love the cheery exuberance of my zinnias, but would I pick them over the beneficial marigolds? Fortunately, I don’t have to choose, and I wedge them into my vegetable and flower gardens alike.

Here are my favorite 5. If I had to start over with a new yard, I’d start with these.

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1. Zinnia

They come  in a bazillion colors and  sizes and grow well from seed. They keep well in a vase and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Annual.

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2. Marigold

Reputed to repel nematode and other pests, marigold are a pretty and useful addition to a vegetable garden. Last year I grew some from some cheapo seeds, then saved so many seeds that I stored them in a spice container with large holes. This spring, I pretty much just sprinkled them where I wanted them to grow. Annual.

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3. Vinca

Gotta have vinca. They are a common landscaping plant for a good reason. These hardly flowers boom their little hearts out all summer. They reseed themselves quite well, and come in varying shades of white, pink, and lavender. I was so excited to find a blue vinca earlier this year too.They need no special watering or fertilizing and flourish even when neglected. I have a patch of them growing in front of my house. They are surrounded by a concrete porch and brick walkway and grow in poor, sandy soil. I planted a landscaper’s flat of 18 about 5 years ago, and thry have reseeded themselves in that spot ever since and have provided extra plants and seeds for other spots as well. Annual.

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4. Daylily

This is one of the earliest bloomers for me in the spring. The green and cheerful yellow are such mood-boosters after a chilly February. Supposedly the flowers are edible, but so far I have valued their happy colors more than their value as a food source. Perennial.

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5. Knockout Rose

My list would not be complete without this landscaping rose. No, its flowers are less than impressive, and scent is lacking, but it adds a welcome splash of color for very little effort. It blooms until the frosts come. One year, I had Christmas lights on the bushes. The white lights looked so lovely with the hot pink blooms. Perennial.

There are other honorable mentions: lantana, yarrow, crocosmia, Shasta daisies, tornia and mums. What do you think of my top 5? Did I include any of your favorites?

August To-Do List

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August To-Do List

Did you know that in North Florida, fall planting is as busy as spring? In fact, many of the spring crops (beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers) can be planted again!

Here’s how my garden is doing and my plans for this month.

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The summer showers and sweltering heat have finally taken their toll on many of my spring plants. However, the herbs, green beans, and ‘Marketmore’ cucumbers are doing well by the shed.

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I have moved many of my herbs from my pallet potting bench to the shadier garden, as the summer’s heat was drying them out too quickly.

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I ripped up the tomato jungle, but took some cuttings from the ‘Roma’,’Super Sweet 100′, and ‘Brandywine Pink” tomato plants for propagating. I am rooting them in water, as the heat seems to be a bit oppressive now for rooting them outside. I have a post about how to root tomatoes in this post.

The cucumbers are done. They exceeded my expectations, while the tomatoes in general underperformed.

The sweet potatoes are running, the new row of okra has buds, and I have a cantaloupe and watermelon ripening,

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It is a little strange to be preparing in the heat for fall/winter crops when sweater weather is a distant memory, but I will sweat while starting seeds for crops that will likely taste the best after a light frost. The best source that I have found for vegetable planting times in Florida is here.

So what is on my to-do list?

  1. Plant more green beans.
  2. Start broccoli, cauliflower,collards, and cucumbers. More fall crops can be started next month too.
  3. Make pesto. I transplanted the basil cuttings that I rooted, so hopefully I will be able to make some to freeze. It is a vibrant addition to winter spaghetti sauce.
  4. Stuff and roast banana peppers. Anyone have a favorite recipe?

Not too busy, the heat of summer is when I tend to let what I have done in spring do its thing. I haven’t had to do much weeding, even after pulling up the tomato plants. Less weeding is the main reason why I mulch.

Oops, almost forgot. I hope to try my first ground cherry this month too. The plant is from some seeds that I got for free, and I am so excited to try them! One of my big goals for this year was to grow fruit, and I really hope this plant succeeds.

How is your garden? Did you have a crop that exceeded your expectations?

Harvesting Jackson Wonder Lima Beans

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The dreaded pasty lima beans of your childhood are not the same as the ones that I harvested from my garden.

The Jackson Wonder lima beans that I planted in my Florida garden in March have been growing well and producing pods. Some of them have started drying so I decided to harvest.

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By harvesting the pods now, I have some for fresh eating and some for dried beans or seeds.

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I harvested half of my double row to get these. Not much of a harvest for the space, but they are tasty.

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Pretty too. Pale green lima beans and purple-speckled dried beans.

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Some of the soft ones have the pretty purple mottling too. They are the prettiest lima beans that I have ever seen.

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Here are the dried beans. I can use them in hearty soup later or use them as seeds next year.

Time to make some succotash with some of these yummy garden vegetables! Recipe coming tomorrow!

I Left My Garden for 6 Days

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Yes, I was that crazy lady with a tactical flashlight looking for cherry tomatoes last night when I returned.

I’ve had crazier ideas-remember the seeds in the oven?

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Not pictured: a handful of cherry tomatoes picked by flashlight

I was so excited to go on a treasure hunt this morning and find the rest of the vegetables!

So what do I plan to do with this bounty?

The yellow squash are destined for being sauteed with some onions in olive oil and of course a bit of butter. 🙂 I think I will just blanch and freeze the green beans for now.

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Most of the cucumbers are overripe and yellowing, but should make decent pickles.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see these banana peppers. They were grown from seeds saved from a pepper purchased last year. What do you think of stuffing them with a cream cheese-dill mixture?

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white patty pan squash

The patty pan squash are so big that I think I am going to make some chocolate bread with them, following a suggestion given by tinywhitecottage in response to my UFO squash post.

There were some casualties too; my zinnia, tomatillo, and basil seedlings are roasted, and I may not get any ground cherry plants after all. Yes, the ground cherry plants were grown from free seeds, but they were valuable to me.

While I was in Kentucky, I visited a very nice edible garden. I’ll share pictures of that soon. They had  neat compost bins that are similar to my compost system, and some biodegradable planters that really were a neat feature. I think you will enjoy the pictures.

I hope your gardens are doing well!

June To-Do List

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This month, I have more fun than work planned.

Large Florida backyard garden

Large Florida backyard garden

The large garden has been producing green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, and green onions.

Hopefully I will have some cherry tomatoes ready in the next few days. 😀

As you can see, the DIY cucumber trellis is up and the cucumbers are climbing!

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I can hardly bear to look at this garden. It is getting quite a bit of shade now and the fall crops are bolting and I have some bare spots, which I despise!

I should be able to grow some basil here. I also just planted some ‘Kentucky Wonder’ green beans there today.

Here is my list for June; I only consider the first item to be work, the rest is fun!

  1. Mulch shed garden.
  2. Get 200 likes for the Coffee to Compost Facebook page. I’m sooo close!
  3. Plant sweet potato slips that I started from a potato from last year.
  4. Plant purple-hulled peas. These do a  great job of enduring the North Florida summer heat and humidity.
  5. Plant more basil for homemade pesto.
  6. Hopefully, I will have tons of tomatoes soon. Guess I will have to endure harvesting those orbs of awesomeness.
  7. Make Tomato Cucumber Feta Salad. 
  8. Make homemade PICKLES!!! I made some last year and we have been looking forward to them so much!!
  9. Oh yes, one more thing. BLTs!

What’s on your to-do list?

Florida Raised Bed Gardening (Part 1)

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Thinking about starting a garden this year? Gardening in Florida is such a worthwhile endeavor. You can get fresh air, gentle exercise, and fresh vegetables!

I have been helping a retired couple set up a raised bed in their backyard. A raised bed is a great way to start gardening.

Many like the raised bed system of gardening because they have more control over the soil. In Florida, that is important because our natural ground is so sandy.

Also, many who have raised beds use the square foot method of gardening, as developed by Mel Bartholomew (see his blog here).

The first step is to select a site. You need between 4-6 hours of sun, really 6 hours or more is best. If some afternoon shade is available, your plants will appreciate the break from our blistering Florida sun.

They selected a site in their backyard that seemed to get the most sun.

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The next step is to assemble the raised bed. Be sure to use quality wood, but be careful of using wood that has been treated with chemicals-remember, your food will be growing in this box!

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This one was made by cutting a 4×4 into 4 equal lengths for the corners, then screwing 4x1x6 boards to the corner posts.

This  raised bed framework was built years ago and was used as a compost bin until they decided to use it for a garden.

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Next, lay a layer of  cardboard or thick newspaper to smother the grass. Poke a few holes for drainage, then add a thick layer of leaves. The leaves will also help to smother weeds and will provide more organic material as they decompose.

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Finally, add a thick layer of compost, at least 6 inches. This couple had been making compost using kitchen and yard scraps and had plenty of this rich material to use. For my tutorial on how to make compost, read this post.

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Florida Raised Bed Garden

Water the garden thoroughly to settle the soil and to be sure that it is level. Water will settle in any low spots.

The next post about raised bed gardening will cover how to plan and plant your Florida raised bed garden. This couple really wants tomatoes and herbs; see what they plant in Florida Raised Bed Gardening Part 2.