Tag Archives: Florida gardening blog

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?

Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Drumsticks with Cheddar

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So what happens when you add bacon to BBQ? Happiness on a drumstick.

This is an easy and impressive way to make chicken.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         6 chicken drumsticks, 6 slices of bacon, 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (my friend Teresa on acupofdiy.com has a homemade BBQ recipe on her blog), and 6 slices of Cheddar cheese

Warning: Don’t use your nice baking pans for this recipe.

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Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wrap each drumstick in bacon and bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and bacon is crispy.

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Brush drumsticks with BBQ sauce (this is why you don’t use your nice pan) and lay the cheese on top.

Bake an additional 5 minutes more or until the cheese is gooey and melty.

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Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Drumsticks with Cheddar

Summer on a plate! Serve with some No-Slime Okra and some sweet tea, mint-infused if you want to be fancy.

Probably won’t be much conversation for a while after you bring these out-people will be too busy eating to talk.

So many fresh and delicious meals to be enjoyed in the summer. I am enjoying the fresh fruit so much. I’ll have to tell you about my Peach-Blueberry Jam next!

What is your favorite summer food?

Why Another Garden Blog?

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My Florida backyard garden is a source of so much happiness and so many wonderful vegetables. Here in the Florida panhandle (zone 8b), we can grow something fresh and healthy all year long. Vegetable gardening in northwest Florida is sometimes challenging, but it is very rewarding to grow plants that are both beautiful and productive. In this blog, you are invited to peek over my fence and watch my garden grow.

There are already many sites and blogs dedicated to the outdoors; why did I decide to add yet another gardening blog?

It started when I began vegetable gardening in the Florida panhandle. I found myself (as many of you are) searching for resources that would first tell me what should be planted and then show me what they were growing. Growing vegetables here is completely different than what is portrayed in many gardening books.

Usually my dear research assistant, Mr. Google, provided me with zillions of sites and I found what I needed on the first page. However, I found it hard to find many people sharing their gardens in my area. What I did find I read voraciously and studied intently. I love gardening and have learned so much; both by research, and by hard-won experience.

Some tell me that I have the coveted green thumb, but I say with H. Fred Ale, “My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.” I hope that I can create a resource to make gardening a bit easier for you. I also plan to share resources that I found helpful.

I am so grateful that I have my little garden journal to refer to as I start seeds(see my seed-starting tutorial here, plant my okra, and harvest tomatoes; but now I plan to have an illustrated journal here, on coffeetocompost.com. I find that few things are more cheerful in the damp cold days of February than looking back to pictures of the enthusiastic garden in June.

I love to have my hands in the soil, feed the compost, watch little sproutlings grow, and feel the hope that a packet of seeds brings.  If you eagerly await the seed catalogs each year, obsessively monitor your seedlings’ progress, frantically try new ways to outwit frost,or just want to figure out how to have fresh basil this year; let’s garden together.