Tag Archives: Florida gardening

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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In  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!

 

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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?

 

 

Now I Want a Goat. Well, Maybe 2 Goats.

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I thought I was going to need a cow for my family.

Then I read that a cow can produce 10 gallons of milk a day. We like milk, but that is a bit much.
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So I got this book from the library, and learned that apparently a goat can produce 200 gallons a year. Still a lot of milk, to be sure, but we easily go through 2 gallons a week, and that doesn’t include other milk products such as butter, cheese, yogurt(I’ve just started making my own!), and ice cream.

I also read that goat milk tastes like cow’s milk, which is a definite plus.

Drawbacks:
1. You’re supposed to have 2 so they can keep each other company.

2. They need to be bred to keep up milk production, and with that of course comes a time when you should let her rest from making milk and then feed her kid(s). Oh, and I’d will have to find a buck to borrow, since I don’t think I could convince my husband to get three goats. Actually, he probably won’t even go for two, especially since we live in a neighborhood… Anyway, back to dreaming. I guess that makes #3.

3. We live in a neighborhood. Chickens might be stretching it.

So I think Nigerian dwarf goats would be nice, they’re rather small (50 lbs) and probably would produce about as much milk as we need, plus we could use surplus for butter ( which I could freeze) and yogurt. I would be fun to also try my hand at making cheese.

I wonder if I could have them in my backyard. Probably not. It would probably violate some zoning law.

Maybe we should move to the country so I can have some goats.

And chickens.

Hmmm. Maybe I should just start with chickens, but the book estimates that i could have milk for about $1.70 a gallon, and that’s after factoring in feed costs!

Do any of you have goats? What have been your experiences?

Are they noisy? Smelly? Worth the feed and work? Are they good with human kids? Does goat milk really taste like cow’s milk?

Do you think the neighbors would notice??? I have a privacy fence… Maybe they would like some fresh feta cheese??

Somebody talk some sense into me.

Tell me they really stink and that the neighbors will surely complain. Tell me I don’t have room and that the human kids will have nowhere to play. Tell me to start off with three chickens like a normal person and see how I like that.

But fresh milk!!!!!

Risky Business: Planting in January

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If you’re supposed to make hay while the sun shines, shouldn’t you also plant seeds when the ground is tilled? Even if it is January?

I was able to plant 3 types of turnips, kohlrabi, mustard greens, cabbage collards, kale, daikon radishes, and lettuce. The center box has Yukon Gold potatoes on the left, red potatoes on the right.

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I planted my rows east to west this time, and scattered seeds in wide rows. These winter greens and root veggies don’t need much cultivation, so I just left about 6 inches for me to navigate between rows. The less bare ground there is, the less area weeds have available, especially since I am not going to mulch the little paths.

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My husband mulched the center path with these leaves from somebody else’s yard, anybody recognize the type of tree?

We’ve had some nice rain, some pounding rain, and varying temps, so we’ll see how it goes. I planted carrots too, but I have had such a tough time with them. I planted a Kaleidescope variety of colors, so it will be fun if I actually get to harvest them.

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After the pounding rain, I checked on the seeds, and of course noticed some that had been washed into low spots, but was excited to see some of the daikons had started to sprout. I’m really hoping for some great vegetables from this garden. Fall/winter can be a great gardening time in North Florida. What about you? Are you snowed in for the week?

I recently did a woodland themed cake for a baby shower and plan to share that with you soon.

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?

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!

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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?

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?

Have You Started Any Seeds Yet?

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Last year, I had spring fever so bad that I was putting seeds in the oven to help them germinate. Remember that story?

Well, this year I stuck to the plan and waited until Valentine’s Day to start my heat-lovers like tomatoes.

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The tomatoes germinated well, the dill and cilantro are doing great, and I even have some zinnias.

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I like to use inexpensive methods of labeling seedlings, and this time I had a yogurt container on hand.

Will these labels last forever?

No, but I really just need them to last a few weeks or until I can get the plants into the garden.

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I actually have daffodils this year, and they make me so happy! I love tulips and crocuses too, but North Florida is not cold enough for them.

I have already started planting my green beans, wax beans, and UFO squash. Pickling cucumbers have been planted with some dill.  Homemade pickles are the best!!!

Hopefully my ‘Royal Burgundy’ beans will be in the ground soon. I have never grown purple beans, and figured this year would be a great year to try them. Have you had them? What did you think?

If you are new to starting seeds, you may want to check out my posts on the basics of starting seeds, DIY plant labels, and how to prepare your seedlings for transplant.

Also, if you haven’t started a compost pile yet, my post Coffee to Compost- Literally! is a good place to get information.

Let’s get growing!

Eating Seasonally from The Winter Garden: Simple Nutritious Recipes

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Even though the weather is chilly, we can still enjoy warm savory meals from our North Florida gardens.

Greens and root vegetables, though humble compared to glorious tomatoes and crisp pickles, are still a comforting part of winter meals.

I have compiled a list of some simple yet nutritious ways to prepare some seasonal vegetables.

Even if you do not have a garden, you will find that the main ingredients are easy to find and economical too. Eating seasonally is good for your health and your budget!!!

Just click on the picture, and it will take you to the recipe. 😀

1. My Favorite Kale Recipe  If you love to eat a hearty breakfast, this is for you!

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My Favorite Kale Recipe

2.Savory Sauteed Mustard Greens This is a great way to prepare the greens that are so abundant at this time. If you have only ever had collards or turnip greens, this is a great way to try something new.

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Savory Sauteed Mustard Greens

3. Colorful Roasted Turnips, Carrots, and Radishes -This preparation is so easy, but the flavor that roasting gives to these vegetables is amazing!

Colorful Roasted Turnips, Carrots, and Radishes

4. Kale Chips – Classic. You can dress these up with different spices or Parmesan cheese.

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Kale Chip Recipe

5. Daikon Radish Recipe -Try something new from the farmer’s market! I can’t seem to grow carrots, no matter what I try; but I can manage to grow daikon radishes, which are shaped pretty much the same. Go figure. This is a delicious way to serve this unique vegetable.

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Daikon Radish Recipe

Of course, if you need some dessert to offset all that healthiness, you could also bake up some fresh cookies. 🙂 I love to eat Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Walnut Cookies on these cold winter days.

Do you try to eat seasonally? I love harvesting vegetables in the afternoon to go with dinner. I don’t live on a farm, but it does make me feel pretty domesticated to head out to my backyard garden with a colander and scissors to get  part of our supper. Quite the satisfying feeling, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m thinking of trying to make some type of turnip-rutabaga-cheesy casserole type dish next. Maybe with a toasted breadcrumb topping?

Or maybe I will try wilted mustard greens in a creamy cheddar sauce??

Although I have started some seeds already (more on that later), still being able to harvest most of our dinner vegetables from the garden is putting a little hold on my typical rabid spring fever. 🙂

Which one of the recipes looks the yummiest to you? If you try one of them, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. If it looks like something you’d like to try later, you can pin it using the buttons.

If you know of another crazy gardener, feel free to share my blog with them and to also like me on Facebook! I love to hear from other gardeners!

February To-Do List

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Will spring be early this year? I sure hope so.

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Until then, I am enjoying delicious greens from the garden. The collards pictured above have survived our light frosts pretty well.

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Turnip harvest have been good, and the mustard greens and kale have kept us supplied with veggies.

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I have been pleased with the ‘White Egg’ turnips this year. Despite being planted too closely, they have still produced many turnips. We ate the thinnings as greens, and now they are bulbing up nicely, no succession planting needed.

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The shed bed has been producing mustard greens, and the garlic is progressing nicely.

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Broccoli has been a bust. Again. Last year I blamed myself, the weather, and the soil and decided to try it again.

This year, I blame it on the variety. I’m going to spend a little extra and get a named variety or hybrid for next time. Do you have a favorite variety that you recommend?

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The pac choi is bolting, and I welcome the cheery yellow flowers. I plan to let my mustard bolt too, I’m hoping for an impressive display from them.

My to-do list:

1. Start tomatoes and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Last year I had spring fever so bad…do you remember the strange place that I sprouted seeds?

2. Make marmalade!! I love it so much on homemade bread, with hot tea to accompany it. That combination makes me feel cultured and British. 🙂

3. Sketch out a garden plan. I hope to have most of my crops and seeds planted by mid-March, and then to just let them do their thing.

4. Get more green bean seeds. I’m going to buy some in bulk to save money. Maybe this year I will save some seeds from them. Saving your own seeds is a great way to save money in the garden. You can also get seeds for free; check out my popular post on How I Get Free Seeds.

5. Plant out sugar snap starts. Last year I figured out too late that the squirrels were digging up my peas. I found a few peas that I had managed to save from last year, soaked them, and planted them in flats. Hopefully it’s not too late.

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Are you ready for spring? I have to admit, I’m not quite as stir crazy as I was last year; maybe it’s because I have so many crops actively growing and maturing.

We are supposedly in for some cold weather this week. If you have raised bed gardens, look for a post soon on how to cover your raised bed.

Are you going to try any new techniques or varieties this year? It’s never too early to plan!