Archive for the ‘Herbs’ Category

July’s Garden Outlook

Summer in our Florida garden is full of humidity, heat, bugs & thunderstorms.  Our sunflowers have completed their growing cycles, but they were still beautiful on their way to seed.

   

There is still an abundance of eggplant in the garden. I’ve been chatting on our facebook page about how to cook them & my followers have given me some awesome recipe suggestions!

Our tomatoes, green peppers, okra & squash have all either been defeated by disease & bugs or have completed their growing cycles.   However, the parsley, sage, oregano & comfy herbs are doing quite well. Here is some potted Italian parsley that has been delicious to cook with this summer.

Pineapple mint is also on its way out.  The blooms are beautiful though. I will need to dry some for my winter teas soon. 

Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent now. My avocado plants are loving this tropical weather pattern!

Can’t have too many thunderstorms without seeing a rainbow!

The swamp lilies are next in line to bloom in the backyard. I love their white blooms in the summertime!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Update: 6.21.11

Happy First Day of Summer!

My little piece of paradise. :)

It feels like 98 degrees in the garden this afternoon.  It’s been HOT and we’ve had a lot of smoke from the area wildfires on top of the heat.  We have managed to get out in the garden a little bit though!  The Organicide spray is helping with whatever wilt or bacteria was taking over the garden. We lost the okra & peppers but everything else is looking much better! 

We harvested the first of our eggplants & the garden is full of the color purple!

Our two Celebrity tomato bushes have been producing more tomatoes than we know what to do with! I’ve been giving them to friends and neighbors, and even tried making my own sauce in the Crockpot with some of them.

There are more green tomatoes on the plants too.   I will have to look into more ways of saving & using them.  We’ve had tomatoes with almost every meal this week! hehe

This is how big just one tomato plant has gotten. It has to be at least six feet tall and six feet wide! It is funny how I have failed at growing them for years & then this year has been a stellar crop.

Even the basil is looking good this week. It is something that is hard to grow in humid Florida summers, since it is prone to wilt & disease.  It has been a delicious addition to our meals!

I am also happy to report that my avocado plants have recovered. They weren’t getting enough sun & were getting too much water. Now they are looking much healthier & getting big for the containers!

We are looking forward to the break the vegetable gardens give us in July. We have plans to close the composer & solarize the soil once the current veggies finish their cycles.  

Happy Gardening!

Weekend Garden Update

We enjoyed a nice weekend at home, with no agendas, no schedules, no company & nothing too important to do!  Our busy little family doesn’t get a weekend like this very often, so we are very thankful for the easy of this weekend. 

The garden has been very productive since our last update.  We have eaten our first tomato of the season, among other yummy things. I love to update with pictures so here they are! :)

We have tons of tomatoes!

Our new squash blooms.

The first signs of okra!

We have a row of new sunflowers.

We replanted forgotten lemon grass.

The first of our eggplants are appearing!

Our green peppers are appearing as well!

  

We removed some parsley from the full sun & planted it in partial sun, under our banana trees. It is doing much better.

Happy Gardening!

Mother’s Day Garden Update

I wish Mother’s Day was every weekend! What a wonderful time I had spending the day with my family in our backyard!  After being served breakfast we headed outdoors!  We spent most of the day digging in the sand box, weeding the flower beds, harvesting & sowing the garden & even swimming in the kiddie pools. Temperatures are now in the nineties! Soon even the shade will be too hot for comfort! Boo! 

The little gardeners helped me make an edible inventory garden list on Sunday.  Could we name everything we could eat in the backyard?! 

We sure could! Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, okra, carrots, sunflower sprouts, cucumber sprouts, bean sprouts, marigolds, garlic, sage, mint, rosemary, parsley, lemon grass, basil and aloe. Yum! 

    

left to right: more purple dragon carrots, eggplant blooms & our biggest tomato plant!

 

One of my Mother’s Day presents was my oldest planting seeds for me.  I didn’t object since it was done SO sweetly.  It is too late for sweet peas but six little seeds went into the ground on Sunday & a five year old was as proud as a rooster.

I feel April & May is the height of our spring growing season.  Better finish things up by June or the weather will do it for you.  If it isn’t the heat, it’s the afternoon downpours leeching nutrients from the soil and drowning the plants.  I am starting a few things later than usual. I just hate to stop. I’ve been planting steady since last August and I act like two months off is the end of the world.  I must be a slightly spoiled gardener. ;) lol  

Nonetheless, I have been dreaming up ways to fight the weather. Maybe a beach umbrella over the garden will help extend the growing season?  chuckle, chuckle.  I am taking a risk with cucumbers & beans but I guess we’ll see if I can get some produce out of the garden in late June.   July I will close the garden completely, solarize the soil & add new organic matter.  My mid August we will be ready to go again!

I’ll finish this update with this picture.  I am so pleased with my tomato growing efforts this year. Previous efforts have failed but this year I have lots of green tomatoes. All my gardening thumbs are crossed. I hope to be eating delicious tomatoes really soon!

Happy Gardening!

The garden before we left…

We’re on vacation right now but I wanted to share what the garden looked like before we left!  Fingers crossed we get some rain while I am away. If we don’t, I fear some seedlings won’t make it.

I am very pleased with my tomato growing efforts this year. I am hoping that my absence from the garden for the week, doesn’t give them any setbacks. I have 7 or 8 green tomatoes like the ones above.

The kids have been growing carrots for a few years now.  To liven things up this year we planted organic purple dragon carrots as well. :) Our first batch is almost ready. They little gardeners picked a few too early but they were still delicious.  (They taste like an orange carrot if you’re wondering).

All the herbs are doing great, especially the pineapple mint, sage & rosemary! I haven’t seen the rosemary grow so thick in years.

The lettuce & radishes are gone in the garden for now.  We enjoyed over 54 heads of lettuce & had the opportunity to learn about saving lettuce seeds (post about this soon)!

The okra, green peppers & eggplant are getting bigger every day. I can’t wait to see their first blooms! Below: eggplant & okra about thirty days old.

Our lantana is blooming like crazy. It looks so bright & pretty in our backyard.  Just another reason I love this time of year…

Happy Gardening!

April Garden Update

The garden is in full swing this month!  We are enjoying daily fresh radishes, lettuce & carrots!  We have green tomatoes on our plants, something that is somewhat of an accomplishment because I have horrible luck with growing tomatoes.

Early sunflowers & marigolds are blooming for our pollinators & we have been starting new seeds almost every chance we get.  Leeks are just sprouting & we are waiting on more basil, sunflowers & onions to sprout.

I walked to a local farmers market last week & came home with more than just fresh collard greens.  These herbs (basil & Vicky’s plant) followed me home as well. :) We replanted them in these homemade chalkboard pots. The little gardeners loved helping me mark them. :)

Eggplant & green pepper plants are getting big in the garden & we look forward to their first blooms! Something has been munching on them a little but this is something that comes with sustainable gardening & I think they will be just fine.

Earlier this month we read a great post by The Gardening Mom on our Facebook feed about making a home for the frogs & toads in the garden!  We gave it a try last weekend & are still hoping for a new residence to move in! :)

Happy Gardening!!!

Spring Garden Update

Well, spring is flying by here in Florida. The weather is back in the upper 80s and the mosquitoes are back biting again. We sure didn’t miss them.  I’ve had to adjust the garden’s water to help the new sprouts deal with the humidity and heat.  A few more months and it will be too hot for most of the veggies currently in the garden. 

Tomato blooms are appearing daily on our four Celebrity tomato plants.

Our Teddy Bear Sunflowers, which we planted from seeds, are now about a foot tall and showing us the first signs of future blooms. Two even survived a recent transplant!

Strawberries have been plentiful on the plants, but have been eaten by little critters before they are ripe enough for harvest. 

Our Pineapple mint has been plentiful. We have been harvesting it left and right for teas, salads & other yummy creations.

We finally got some parsley to sprout and look forward to more fresh herbs for cooking.

We have also transplanted more French Marigolds in our raised beds. This is the first year we have started them from seeds and have been very happy with our results!

One of the great things about nature is it’s always teaching us something, if we are paying attention.  I disgarded some dried up marigolds last fall. I simply tossed the dead plants into an area full of banana trees.  To my surprise I have wild marigolds in the banana trees this season!  How cute! 

Other gardening notes… our composting is doing lovely with the return of the heat.  I should have a new batch in just another week or so. We have also added organic blood meal & organic fertilizer to the garden to help boost spring time production!

Happy Gardening!

Our Garden Party

Last week one of our little gardeners turned 5 years of age. We celebrated the big event with two small garden themed parties!  We decided on two parties, as we feel smaller groups offer more learning and interaction for party goers.  Check out our previous post for all the fun gardening party preparations.  The parties were held two days in a row. The first one was 4 and 5 year old girls. The second was co-ed 4 and 5 year olds.  And of course a few younger siblings attended both parties.

Once all our guests arrived we put on our gardening aprons (that were part of the party favors) and headed outside!  We first talked about the garden and tried to name the things we could see, eat, smell, etc.  We also investigated the compost bins and what was inside.   Then we started picking!   

Our garden had enough produce at the time for everyone to pick one or two things. So at both parties we picked onions, radishes and carrots. I loved seeing the kids’ faces when I pulled up the first carrot! At the first party we ate lettuce leaves right off the plant. One child did it with me, one licked it and we all laughed.

At the second party we had more time to play in the garden, so we had the children plant okra seeds. I chose okra seeds because they are dark in color and a good size for the children’s small hands.  It is also something that if by chance sprouted, it would be in season.  They were able to plant more than one seed, which I think they enjoyed.  One or two wouldn’t have been enough. They enjoyed digging the holes much as they did planting and covering them up.  Of course we got out a huge watering can and took turns watering the seeds.

We also had time for each child to harvest a lettuce head.  The children snapped off the roots and threw them in the compost bin.  At the end of the party I sent the heads of lettuce home with the parents. I loved how each kid was so proud they had pulled it right out of the ground and given it to their parents to take home.  

Other fun backyard activities were the bean bag toss game, the sandbox and the bounce house. The bean bag toss was a big hit at the second party. Winners took home colorful packs of tomato, pepper and onion seeds.  The sandbox was a big hit with the younger children. We hid toy butterflies in it for them to dig and find.

After all the gardening and outdoor fun, the kids had worked up an appetite. At the first party we headed inside for drinks and healthy snacks.  Afterwards, instead of cake or cupcakes, we all sat down and made mud pudding!  Each child got a “flowering pot” or small clear green bowl. They scooped mud (chocolate pudding), dirt (crushed chocolate cookies) and worms (gummy) into their flowering pot.  Each child was then given a sprig of fresh cut pineapple mint to stick into their mud creation. Of course I had a bite of the mint to show the girls that it was yummy.  They all giggled and started in on the yummy mud.

At the second party we opted for a sunflower cupcake.  I totally took the idea from Martha Stewart Living Special Gardening Issue, March 2011.  We made cupcakes & decorated them with plain orange and yellow icing.  We placed a bowl of dark colored fruit (blueberries, blackberries, grapes) on a table and then surrounded it with the cupcakes. We added a stem and some leaves to finish it off.

I know by my daughter’s actions that she had a wonderful time at each party. Each offered a different chance to learn about the outdoors with her friends. Though gifts were discouraged, we did receive them (and are thankful).  Some gave thought to our garden theme and we had to include them in this post…

Handmade Childs Gardening Apron that was embroidered with the birthday girl’s name. The gift included gardening tools, matching gloves, a hand painted watering can and even a ladybug knee pad. Awesome!

An outdoor memory book was given with markers, stickers and other scrapbooking supplies. It is designed to help record outdoor adventures. We will use it to describe what we see, hear and smell. There are places for us to tuck nature treasures into keepsake pockets. It even has an easel on the back cover, where you can stand it up to display your photos and work. We will really enjoy this book in the coming months!

We are almost done writing all our thank you cards. And as I look back at the parties I have to smile. I didn’t have much time to take pictures but I really enjoyed working with all the kids in the garden. One child at each party enjoyed the garden more than the others. They asked a million questions and even stayed at the garden after all the kids had left.  I may never get another request for a garden themed birthday but if I do I will be thrilled.

Happy Gardening… and LOOK the children’s okra seed sprouts are already sprouting!!!!!!

 

Spring Update 3/20/11

Hello Friends! We are busy bees in our garden right now! We are trying to enjoy every minute of spring, as we know the heat & summer will be here before we know it (or want it). I decided to let the pictures guide our update this afternoon. Enjoy!

The first of the spring radishes are popping up everywhere!

Lettuce was in abundance this year. We have let a few heads continue to grow in hopes of harvesting our first seeds. Boy, have they gotten tall!  If I have read correctly, they will bloom & then produce a seed head. (If any of my gardener readers have suggestions here that would be great). I thought it would be cool to plant my own seeds next year and of course I felt like some of the lettuce wasn’t going to go to waste. We just had way too much!

The first strawberry of the season! It seems our switch from growing the strawberries in the ground to growing them in containers is going to be successful.

These Teddy Bear Sunflowers were our first organic seed purchased on Etsy. We have about 8-10 sprouts along the garden wall right now. Something has been enjoying a taste of them though!

Our French Dwarf Double Mixed Color Marigold seeds are sprouting! This is the first time we have tried to grow marigolds from seeds. They were also purchased on Etsy from a fabulous master gardener! My little gardening girls are always excited to grow flowers!

 Tomatoes are one of our favorites but I have had terrible luck with them all my gardening years.  They didn’t even make it into the spring garden last year.  However, I like a challenge every now and then, so I purchased these celebrity tomatoes from a local nursery. Four of them were added to the container portion of our garden space.  Fingers crossed… 

No matter how much it is neglected, this aloe grows great in our backyard.  My grandfather gave me some of his aloe crop years before he died. He’s now been gone almost nine years.  I have it growing everywhere and have given tons of it away.  I’m always getting new aloe shoots, like the ones shown above.

   

The Herb Garden. After another cold Florida winter I have decided to grow some of my herbs inside next winter! We missed having fresh, easily accessible cooking herbs. For now, they are starting to return.  From left to right: rosemary (we’ve never seen it to thick), Greek oregano, (forgotten) sprouts of lavender, and pineapple mint.

Our final photo for this update… our Florida Avocado sprout. We made several attempts before we successfully sprouted one.  My oldest gardener has nicknamed it “Roots,” as she was quite impressed with all the roots that first appeared from an avocado she ate and then stuck in water with toothpicks. ;)

More updates soon. Happy Gardening!

February Garden Update

We’ve been busy bees: planting seeds, harvesting fresh vegetables, composting, and eating!  Life in the garden has been fabulous.

Here’s an update in pictures…

We also planted the following seeds over the weekend… my little gardeners can’t wait for the sunflowers & carrots to sprout!

Radish (Champion)

Sweet Pepper (Big Dipper)

Sunflowers (Teddy Bear)

Eggplant (Black Beauty)

Carrots (Purple Dragon)

Spring is almost here! Happy Gardening!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers