Summer Gardening in Florida

I talk to people all the time that don’t think you can garden in Florida’s hot and humid summers. It isn’t always the easiest task, but it is definitely possibly, and always rewarding!

I found the easiest crops are: basil, sunflowers, peppers, and okra. They seem to love Florida’s heat and thunderstorms.  Summer is a great time to work on improving your soil as well!

Above are photos taken of our late August 2014 summer garden. Shown: purple basil, sweet basil, native milkweed recovered from the Monarchs, okra, Seminole pumpkin, and sunflowers. We have already started our Seminole pumpkins for fall and are currently preparing our soil and planning our fall garden beds.  The pine straw falling for all the Florida pines is a great, natural mulch for our pumpkin bed.

 

Here’s a great monthly calendar, divided by Florida’s three regions, to help you garden year around in the Sunshine State:

Florida Gardening Calendar by UF IFAS Solutions

Happy Gardening, ~Bee

Connecting Kids to their Food: Vero Beach Farms – Indian River County

“On average, U.S. students get less than four hours of food education per year. Millions of kids aren’t learning about the importance of fresh, nutritious food at home or at school, making it almost impossible for them to be healthy adults. ” ~Food Tank

 

One of my passions is teaching children about the food we eat.  Check out our most recent field trip to visit two Florida farms! The kids loved collecting the eggs right from the hen’s coop, as well as seeing the fish swimming in the hydroponic gardens!

Children learn through experience.  Be sure to look for ways in your own communities to strengthen your children’s relationship with the food they eat! And if you are lucky enough to visit or live in the Indian River County area, please stop by and visit these fantastic farms:

 

White Rabbit Organic Farms & CSA

Osceola Organic Farm

Happy Gardening, ~Bee

Myakka River State Park – Sarasota FL

In in May we celebrated 9 years of marriage with a kid-free camping trip to Myakka River State Park!  My husband, who just started his own blog, wrote about our trip here!  But I wanted to share this unique state park with you too.

One of the oldest state parks in the state, Myakka River State Park is located in the Sarasota area.  I grew up on the East Coast, so Florida’s west coast ecosystem is a new, exciting place to explore.  My favorite part about the park was the 76′ observation tower, as well as the park’s delicious Pink Gator Cafe!  We have been to a lot of state parks, and I never seen such a nice park cafe.  Florida craft beers, alligator stew, and many other healthy choices were on its awesome menu.

We are looking forward to bring the kids back to this beautiful park in the fall!

Hello Blog! Hello Summer Garden!

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Wow, time flies! We haven’t written since spring!  We have been enjoying the summer and all the season brings to our Florida backyard! Sunflowers, tomatoes, and elderberries have been the highlight of our gardening efforts. Florida’s beaches, state parks, and local farms have been our sources for summer entertainment.

We purchased a new blender, and have been exploring the world of green smoothies.  My little gardeners delivered a few salad baskets to loved ones, and we are anxiously awaiting our first harvest of pineapples!

 

But the best thing I have to report since I last blogged… is my husband and sweet girls gave me a lemon tree for Mother’s Day!

lemontree1 lemontree1

 

 Happy Gardening, Bee

Children’s Book Review: Green by L. V. Seeger

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I am passionate about children’s books. We visit our local library at least once a week, and if you looked at my Amazon account you would see most of my purchases are for childrens books! ;)

One of my 2014 blogging goals was to sit down and share some of our favorite books. All book reviews will focus on environmental themes in children’s literature.

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Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A satisfying homage to green, the color of all creation.

Subtle cutouts on each beautifully illustrated page of Green gave surprise and delight to my little readers. This book promotes curiosity and attention to detail.  The die cut pages hidden among the richly painted images keeps the audience lingering on each page.

Most children think of primary colors and this book gives a beautiful insight to shades and hues of colors.  Our favorite hue of green mentioned in the book was the ‘khaki green’ lizard.

Green does an excellent job promoting care for our environment while teaching colors.

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Another one of our favorite Laura Vaccaro Seeger books for children is First the Egg–a Caldecott Honor Book and a Geisel Honor Book.

Happy Reading!

Gardener’s Giveaway: Aquarian Bath

We are super excited to announce another spring giveaway, perfect for all our gardening friends and followers!!!

Aquarian Bath is another backyard Florida gardener, and an excellent soap maker, who has graciously offered to give away some amazing handmade items on our blog!!!

One lucky winner will receive these beautiful items:

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Aquarian Bath‘s gardener’s soap is made with fine pumice, ground rosemary and poppy seeds. Use it after gardening to gently remove dirt. This soap is scented with an herbaceous blend of Lemongrass, Rosemary and Lavender.  This soap just received a new look; each bar is hand stamped with Aquarian Bath’s 3D printed ‘gardener’s soap’ stamp.

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This flaxseed neck pillow would make a great gift for a gardener with its whimsical garden themed print. Aquarian Bath makes these pillows unscented or scented with 100% Organic herbs. Pillows can be used hot out of a microwave or cold out of the freezer, which is a really great option for a Florida gardener. Aquarian Bath pillows make great cold packs for injury as well.  These herbal pillows are packaged in Biodegradable Cellophane bags with microwave instructions.

Excited?! You should be, I have personally used Aquarian Bath products and they are amazing!!!

Just click on the link below to ENTER TO WIN!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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One of Aquarian Bath’s beautiful garden beds!

Shop Aquarian Bath or visit her booth at the 18th Annual Seaside Herb Society Faire in Ormond Beach March 22nd.

This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and over. Good Luck!!!

Fennel Thoughts & Recipes from the Garden

Black Swallowtail caterpillar on blooming fennel. Copyright 2013 Backyard FL Gardening.

Anyone eat fennel?! I have lots in the garden right now, and I am always looking for new ways to get my little gardeners to eat it. It is a great host plant for Black Swallowtails. The plant attracts the entire life cycle of the butterfly (eggs, larvae and chrysalis), which my little gardeners love, but some of it needs to be harvested this spring!

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Fennel tastes like a combination of celery, licorice and leeks and is used in many Mediterranean dishes. It can be eaten from the top to the bottom as all parts are useful.  The bulb part is our favorite and should be pale green and firm when harvested. Flowers on the stalk indicate that the plant is past its prime and should not be selected.  Unwashed fennel bulbs should be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.  When ready to use it, wash and cut bulb in half to remove the hard core.

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Young fennel

Our favorite way to eat fennel is in our chili and lasagna! The little gardeners never notice.  Here are some other delicious recipes I have found online:

Fish with Fennel & Tomato This recipe calls for tilapia, but any white fish will do!

Braised Chicken with Fennel and Apples

Tomato – Fennel Soup with Brie Toast

Please feel free to share your fennel recipes in the comments!!!

Congratulation to Kayla, Dee, and Irineo! They were selected as the winners of our spring seed giveaway!  We are excited to announce another giveaway next week!  Sponsored by the awesome Aquarian Bath! Stay tuned for details…

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