Tag Archives: Florida vegetable garden

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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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.
  5. Harvest potatoes.DSCN6810
  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?

Did you start your tomatoes on Valentine’s Day?

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This year, I’m trying to eke out a bit more from my winter garden. Hopefully having the garden busy with radishes, turnips, and mustard greens will keep me from poking bean seeds into cool soil.

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I love being able to harvest the dinner vegetable just minutes before cooking it.

More kale, three types of turnips, and hopefully some carrots will be making an appearance soon.

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I did get some tomatoes, peppers, dill, and cucumbers started this week. It seems as though winter is over, and I do have a few rows that will be available.

I need to save some more seeds this year from my ‘National Pickling’ cucumbers. I use them to make refrigerator pickles, and we look forward to them each year.

Really, if I could only grow one vegetable each spring, I think cucumbers would be it.

What is your favorite vegetable to grow in the spring?

 

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. 😉

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. 🙂

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?

My Little Corn Harvest

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We planted corn as an experiment this year, not knowing quite what to expect. Corn likes fertile soil, and, well, I’m essentially gardening in a sandbox.

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Looks like incomplete pollination on some of them, but overall I was pleased with how many ears we got from our little planting.

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We grew ‘Merit’ corn and got these cute little ears, perfect for a single serving.

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Some of these beautiful ears of corn will be boiled, slathered in butter, and sprinkled with salt.

I also plan to take some of these ( the ones that -ahem- were harvested too early) and simmer them in ham stock with some ham chunks, red potatoes, sauteed onions, and make some corn chowder!

Will I grow corn again? Yes!

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?

 

North Florida Gardening April To-Do List

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I hope you had a happy Easter! Seeds are sprouting and tomato plants are being set out into the warming soil.

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Daikons are bolting, garlic is growing, mustard greens are providing final harvests, and a random volunteer collard plant is sending out pretty yellow blossoms.

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The large garden has yellow, purple, and green beans sprouting. Kale still producing; it hasn’t started to bolt like the mustard on the other side and the collards in the back corner.

Corn and okra in center box have sprouted.

Not much to see this month- but what a difference a month can make! I’m excited to see the difference between the young seedlings of this month and the progress they’ll make in a month.

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Look at all the greens I harvested! Their quality tends to decline with the warmer weather, so I wanted to get most of them harvested. I’m going to eat, freeze, and gift them away. I got a bag of collards, two bags of mustard greens, and two bags of kale.

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My largest head of broccoli is underwhelming. I’ve determined to try again next year.

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Tomatoes started on Valentine’s Day are doing well.

My to-do list:

1. Finish planting tomatoes.

2. Replace few straggling turnips with rows of bush beans.

3. Put up trellis for pickling cucumbers– they’ll be needing it soon.

4. Trellis tomatoes.

Pretty short list this month- mostly just let the seeds and plants grow. I made some strawberry-lemon marmalade that turned out really good. I’ll share that soon. 🙂

How is your garden? Thriving? Or are you waiting for the snow to thaw?

I’m ready for a juicy BLT! How about you?

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!

North Florida Gardening March To-Do List

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I love spring! I think the cold nights forecast for the next 2 nights will be the end of the cold nights, so I have some gardening plans.

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The garden by the shed has given me great harvests for mustard greens, and I am looking forward to harvesting 36 cloves of garlic later this year!

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The large garden is still producing plenty of kale, collards, and mustard greens. The pole bean teepee is gone; this year I’m going to try ‘Merit’ corn in that square. Anybody tried that variety?

If nothing else, I hope it looks neat. I plan to have ‘Purple Queen’ zinnias and marigolds around the box.

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The ‘White Egg’ turnips have done fantastic for me. I need to let some go to seed, but it’s hard to stop pulling them once you start!

Time for more roasted veggies– yum!!

Here’s my to-do list:

1. Plant green beans, squash, cucumbers and corn. I’m going to plant seeds from cucumbers that I grew last year- they made great refrigerator pickles!

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2. Harden off tomato plants. If you are starting your own plants from seed, you can check out my seed-starting tutorial here and then read about hardening off seedlings.

3. Start eggplant and  peppers.

4. Plant flowers like zinnias, marigolds, and cleome. I love to have flowers in my vegetable garden! They are beautiful and attract pollinators.

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5. Plant out my sugar snap pea plants. I had so much trouble last year with the squirrels that I decided to start my peas in flats, even though direct seeding them technically is better. My local seed source did not get any in time for me, so I just planted the few that I saved from last year. We’ll see if I get any, as it’s going to be getting too warm for them soon.

6. Hang netting on the fence for cucumbers.

Easy DIY Cucumber Trellis

Wow. Was that really my garden last year? I love being able to look back and see what I grew last year, and to plan to improve this year.
I hope you plan to grow something this year. Start small, and enjoy the journey!

Are you excited for spring to come? What are you anticipating the most? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Know anybody in North Florida or in zone 8 that is thinking about starting a garden? Feel free to email them this post or share it with them on Facebook using the buttons below this post.

Happy gardening!