Tag Archives: vegetable gardening in Florida

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?

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!

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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.

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

I love the pretty pink of the radishes. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 andย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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!

September To-Do List

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September To-Do List

My garden is going through an ugly time.

Right now, only the most stalwart crops are surviving the heat.

This banana plant is a notable exception; it’s mocking its more homely neighbors.

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As you can tell, in the shed bed not much is going on except for the basil. I plan to put some fall crops over here again this fall and winter. This garden gets more sunlight in the winter and my collards and kale did well over here last year.

I can make some pesto from the basil and freeze it. A little pesto adds a nice summery shot of flavor to winter sauces.

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Despite the heat and lack of rainwater, I am still able to harvest okra, bell peppers, Southern peas, and some ground cherries. The sweet potato vines are running, and I should saute some of the greens. We really enjoyed them last year. Even if my sweet potato crop is poor this year, the greens would still make it worthwhile to grow.

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This banana pepper plant really is my pride and joy at this time. I hate to pick the peck of peppers and pickle them; the plant looks fabulous!

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I started my fall planting in August. My green beans are doing well and I have 2 zucchini plants.

Here’s my plan for September:

1. Start collards and kale in flats. In this heat, the seeds will germinate rapidly and get off to a good start.

2. Clear old plants from shed bed.

3. Find a yummy recipe for those banana peppers.

4. Pickle some of the okra. I’ve never had pickled okra-I hope I like it!

5. Transplant some of the tomato plants that I propagated from my spring planting.

 

The list is pretty easy for this month. I love gardening in Florida, there is always something new that you can grow!

Any ideas for the banana peppers? I’m thinking of stuffing them with cream cheese, cheddar, bacon, and sauteed onions and then baking them. Does that sound good?

How is your garden this month?

Time to Plant the Fall Garden!

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For us in North Florida, spring is here again! Many of the spring crops can be planted again, and many of the fall crops can be started this month.

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I really want some green beans, so I am planting some of them, and a few zucchini plants. I saved seeds from my prolific ‘National Pickling’ cucumbers, and I hope to make some more homemade pickles.

I am only going to plant a few tomato plants. I have some cuttings rooted in water on my windowsill. I just clipped some cuttings off the plants before I pulled them. For more tips, read this post.

Many leafy vegetables can be started next month. Collards and kale did well for me last year, so I plan to grow them again.

For now, my garden has quite a few plants that will keep producing for a while: peppers, okra, sweet potatoes, and pink-eyed purple-hulled peas.

For a spectacular Florida Vegetable Planting Guide, visit the University of Florida site. If one of your spring crops failed, chances are that you can try again!

Gardening in Florida is awesome!

What are you doing in your garden now? Are you relaxing in the air conditioning or sweating in the summer sun? I confess, most of my gardening is done before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Florida sun can be brutal!

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?