Tag Archives: North Florida vegetable garden

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?

North Florida Gardening: June To-Do List

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I love to see progress in the garden! There has been much growth since last month and it is exciting to harvest new crops.

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The shed bed is growing nicely. Blueberry bushes to the left are adjusting nicely, and the tomatoes hopefully will produce well. I thinned the okra and mulched it with compost. I’m hoping to make lots of my No Slime Okra as a side dish this summer. Patch of bush beans coming along too. Hopefully will be able to harvest bundles of basil again; I love it as homemade pesto. Might try making my own dried Italian spice mix too.

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This garden is loving the sunshine. I have a cucumber vine almost to the top of the privacy fence.

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Harvested the first tomatoes of the season on May 28, many more behind them.

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These Roma tomatoes have a date with spaghetti later. 🙂

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I love how the zinnias look around the corn. Knee high by the fourth of July? Ha! I hope to be harvesting by then. Yay for Florida gardening!

My goals for this month:

  1. Keep up with the weeding. Last year I wrote about why I mulch, and one of the main reasons is to reduce weeding.
  2. Mulch the weeded areas so I don’t have to weed there again!
  3. Plant Fordhook lima beans.
  4. Make some amazing refrigerator pickles!!!!! YAY!! The cucumbers are producing and it is time for pickles!!

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Are you ready for a pop quiz?

Which of these zucchini flowers is the boy and which one is the girl? For a hint, you can reference my post on why squash may wrinkle and shrivel up instead of actually producing a squash.

The squash vine borers have shown up already, but I hope I will still get more squash.

Happy gardening!

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?

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!

Colorful Roasted Turnips, Radishes, and Carrots

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Sometimes simplest is best. If you have never tried turnips, I recommend this easy preparation.

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I planted my ‘White Egg’ turnips a bit too closely last fall, but have been able to harvest them at various times without succession planting them. I harvested some as greens, and others have made large roots as their neighbors have been cleared.

I have found them to be sweeter than the purple top turnips that I planted last year.

My husband doesn’t care much for them mashed, so I decided to try roasting them with some carrots from a friend’s garden, as well as with the last of the radishes.

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I tossed the chunks with some olive oil, and roasted them at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.

They  were seasoned with just a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a smidgen of fresh thyme.

I love the pretty pink of the radishes. 🙂

Also, my husband liked the roasted turnips!

I love eating fresh food from the garden. It is nice that I seldom have to buy the vegetable side dish for our dinners; I just harvest what is ready to eat and prepare it. That’s convenience. 🙂

Gardening saves me money and is good for us too!

Have you ever roasted radishes? I planted another row that I hope will be ready by the beginning of March. I’ll pull them, then plant some green beans!

I have another seasonal recipe for you coming soon- Sauteed Mustard Greens! They are quickly becoming one of my favorite greens, and when sauteed do not have a harsh mustardy flavor like their name may suggest.

 

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!

Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

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Florida Raised Bed Gardening Update

Gardening is addictive. Last spring, this retired couple started out with a single raised bed. They harvested squash, tomatoes, peppers, and green beans.

The bed was planted for the fall with collards, kale, carrots, turnips, and radishes.

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The North Florida raised bed now has a neighbor.

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See? Once you get started gardening, it’s hard to stop with just one bed.

The gardener used my cheap DIY plant label idea, and planted another garden.

The raised bed idea is great for planting carrots, who need soft soil in order to grow straight roots.

We have gotten some frosts recently here in North Florida, but they have a neat way to cover their beds for the night. I’ll have to show you some pictures of that soon.

I hope your gardens are growing well. You can start planning for the spring and getting your seeds together. I have a post on how to get free seeds and  how to make your own compost. Gardening can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want.

Winter is a time for yummy greens (especially in my favorite kale recipe!) and fresh hot biscuits. I have a super easy way to make biscuits that I will share with you later this week.

Fresh, hot, homemade biscuits with some easy peach jam? Yes, please!!!

 

November To-Do List

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Yes, it’s November already. I finally got my collards and kale into the ground.

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It was nice to have seeds still from last year. Germination rates were great.

Poor little root-bound souls. All the waiting was stressing them out. 🙂

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Triple row of daikon radishes doing well. I have an easy daikon recipe that I posted earlier this year that featured this root vegetable.

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So far the shed bed has the triple row of daikons, 2 wide rows of mustard, and a few straggling basil plants.

The large garden has been planted with onions, kale, collards, turnips, lettuce, and has a few summer crops remaining such as peppers, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.

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This is what happens when you neglect a zucchini. Ordinarily, I harvest mine when they are much smaller, but I’m glad I have a good chocolate zucchini bread recipe to use!

Here’s my list:

1. Plant garlic in shed bed.

2. Harvest and cure sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. Replace sweet potatoes with carrots, who should hopefully appreciate the loose soil.

3. Plant out broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, and Swiss chard transplants.

5. Resow Brussels sprouts and spinach.

6. Sow in empty spots: beets, carrots, mustard, and radish.

7. Start putting flowers and more vegetables in flowerbed. It is part of my plan to mix flowers and vegetables for winter color.

8. Make pear butter. I plan to use a method similar to my easy Crock-pot apple butter recipe.

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It’s nice to enjoy local produce, isn’t it?

With just a little work at the beginning, my winter garden should be a “set it and forget it” type of garden. How does your garden grow? Are you clearing it in preparation for the first snowfall? Are you sowing seeds for spring? I’d love to know!

October To-Do List

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I think fall is really here! The temperature is cool and refreshing in the morning, and seems to be lasting for a while. I have been starting seeds for the fall garden: collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Bibb lettuce, and Swiss chard. I planted 27 cells of each. If they all survive, that’s a ton of collards!!

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At the same time, I am harvesting peppers: banana, jalepeno, and bell.

Southern peas are still growing from the summer garden, but I also harvested my first zucchini from the fall garden.

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The large garden has been planted with beets, rutabagas, and some direct-sown cauliflower. The direct-sown cauliflower is a bit of an experiment; if it doesn’t work I have some seedlings started. The sweet potatoes will hopefully be bigger than last year’s potatoes.

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The shed bed gets more sun in the winter months and greens did well here for me. I am considering just tossing some mustard and turnip seeds over this plot rather than organizing it into rows. I’d probably get a pretty good yield, but I’m not sure that I could endure the aesthetics of that.

I did notice quite a few bugs enjoying the mulch and thought how much my friend’s chickens would enjoy them. Then I realized that this garden would be a great spot for a couple of chickens in the summer! It is typically shaded by noon, so would be semi-cool during the summer.

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They could work the ground for me, then move to a sunnier spot in September. I could let the ground set for about a month (mainly because of the chicken manure) then plant in October or November. Hmmm…something to think about for sure!

Here’s my list for this month:

1. Plant carrots, mustard, spinach, and pak choi, radishes, and maybe more turnips.

2. Freeze some of the bell peppers for winter stir-fries and spaghetti sauce.

3. Save seeds from four o’clocks and cleome to donate to gardenhoard.com’s free seed program. I have benefited from it, and want to give back. If you have a surplus of seeds, consider donating to them. What you may consider a rampant self-seeder may be #1 on somebody’s wish list.

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It’s beautiful weather to be outside with your hands in the soil! If you have been considering starting a garden, why not start small and simple? Grab a 9 pack of some type of greens (kale, collards, lettuce, mustard) and find a sunny spot for them. You may just be pleasantly surprised!

How is your garden? Are you hoping that your tomatoes will ripen before frost or are you ripping up old tomato plants to make room for your collards?

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!