Tag Archives: North Florida gardening

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!

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Ground Cherries

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One of my most anticipated crops this year was a fruit that I had read so much about but never tasted: the ground cherry.

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I was able to get some free seeds from gardenhoard.com, and grew this little plant. It has been quite hot, and the plant has suffered, but it is still producing fruit.

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The fruit is ripe when it falls to the ground. I recommend letting it ripen a day or so more, or the flavor will be a bit reminiscent of a green tomato.

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Eating them is simple. Just peel back the papery husk and eat the fruit. There are hints of pineapple flavor, but it really is in a class all of its own. I’m actually not quite sure that I like them.

However, I’ve gone to so much trouble to get and grow the fruit that I want to like them. I’m considering making jam. In spite of its size, the single plant has been quite productive.

Have you ever had ground cherries? What did you think? Some seem to have such fond childhood memories of them.

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?

Propagating Torenia (Wishbone Flower) from Cuttings – More Free Plants!

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Torenia

Florida summers can be so hard on flowering plants. By mid-July, my tomato and cucumber plants are declining rapidly, succumbing to old age and oppressive humidity. Torenia continues to bloom heartily, even in North Florida’s hot and humid summers. It is easy to propagate too.

I am going to use the same technique that I have used on mint, basil, and tomato cuttings: rooting in water.

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Cleanly remove some cuttings, them remove the leaves that will be below the water or soil line. Leaves submerged in the water will decompose. Yuck.

Torenia rooted in water

Soon you will see white roots begin to grow. Most likely the roots will first appear at the nodes, or places where the leaves or branches grew from the main stalk.
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Once they have a good start on a root system, they can be planted in a pot of homemade compost or potting soil. There you are-new plant for free!

Baby the new plant for a few days, then you can put it in your garden.

For more tutorials on how to get free plants, you can read my Buy 2, Get 3 Free Tomato Plants post, or Have a Mint? Make Another Mint! You can also read about plant division in my post about sharing oregano with my brother.

Of course, a favorite money-saving post is How I Get Free Seeds.

Gardening is as expensive or as inexpensive as you make it.

What about you? Have you ever divided or rooted a plant before? Be careful, it can be addictive!

Be watching for an update on the monster tomato plant from the Florida raised bed garden and for pictures of some deadly pearly studs. Yes, some accessories can kill you! Any guesses about what the deadly pearly studs can be? Some of you may have seen them in your garden. Do you need another hint or can some of you gardeners already guess what they are?

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?

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!

Master Gardener Yard Sale

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DO you love yard sales? I read an ad in Bella magazine for a gardening yard sale!

If you in or close to Santa Rosa County, you may want to clear some space on your calender for this sale. Not only will plants and gardening items be available, but Master Gardeners will be there to answer gardening questions that you may have.

The sale will be at te UF/IFAS Extension Office at 6263 Dogwood Drive, Milton, and the sale will be from 8-noon.

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I’m interested in seeing the Demonstration Gardens.

This would be a great way to find plants suited to this area and to get some great tips.

If you live in Florida, the UF website is a great resource.Their planting calender is so helpful. Also, I have written a post with other Resources for North Florida Gardeners.

Hope you find some great deals!

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!