Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

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…

Grandma’s Coastal Garden!

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We spent Memorial Day weekend traveling from Florida’s populated East Coast to it’s remote West Coast. Horseshoe Beach located in Florida’s Big Bend area is where my parents decided to retire. The last census reported a population of 224 residents, two of which are my father and mother.  My dad has been enjoying commercial fishing in his “retirement”, and after taking several years off from gardening, my mom (Mimi) is back at it!

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The little gardeners really enjoyed exploring Mimi’s garden.  Mimi used some extra crab traps as a trellis for her cucumbers. The only problem, one of the cucumber grew within the traps and we had to very carefully remove.  ;)mom_garden3 mom_garden2

The littlest gardener especially enjoyed the “big” corn! I have never attempted it, but Mimi’s was looking great!

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The beans, tomatoes, peppers, and peas all looked delicious!

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My mom in her garden…

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The pole beans the little gardeners harvested to go with our fresh caught fish dinner!

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It was a wonderful weekend for family, fresh food, and laughter!

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We are blessed to have spent this time together!

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~Bee

Yard Beans & Sunshine

This month has been great for gardening! Our favorite part… we’ve been eating yard beans outside in the sunshine.

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Yard long beans, also called asparagus beans or chinese snake beans, are a vigorous climbing annual that begins to produce long pods, ranging from 14 to 30 inches, 60 days after sowing.  These delicious beans are full of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates!  My little gardeners enjoyed them last year at a community garden and asked me to get some seeds for our garden this season.
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If the animals will leave them alone we might also have strawberries soon.
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The peppers are coming along nicely this season.

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The beach sunflowers, or dune sunflowers, are adding a nice color to our beds.

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For the first time I am attempting to save some parsley seeds.

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The basil has been delicious this month!

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I am excited to see the first of our purslane blooms. I have missed them. may8

This is my avocado tree. We started it from a seed in 2011 (see it potted here)!may9

In the garden, we are also starting sweet potatoes and sunflowers for the summer months ahead.  We hope you all have found time to play in the dirt as well!!

Thanks for stopping by, Bee

May News in the Florida Garden!

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We have been busy bees this month.  Online we are excited to have a new cover photo for our social networks.

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The new cover photo was designed by creative Courtney from Strong MOD.  Strong MOD is  Florida blog about healthy eating. Courtney offers up some delicious recipes. In fact I can’t wait to try her Pear Squares!

In the Garden…

The bugs are starting to swarm and I know our easy days of gardening are coming to a slow end.

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The beets were destroyed by what looks like pickleworms, and they moved right onto the cucumbers! We must have a healthy population of pickleworm moths in our preserve! Their pupa are hard to organically control!

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Speaking of moths, I discovered this banded sphinx moth while doing a little yard work today.

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It was almost four inches long.  I would love to see it’s colorful pupa. They usually live in burrows and feed on plants in the Ludwigia family (water purslane, water -primrose, etc), so the garden is safe!

Sweet Surprises…

When we removed our winter tomato crop this spring, a volunteer celery was growing underneath! We should have some to eat soon!

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The little gardeners asked for yard beans this spring. They are hoping to see some soon!

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I hope all my gardening friends have a special Mother’s Day weekend!

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Thanks ~Bee

Hello April!

April is an awesome time to garden in Florida.  The weather is great… warm and sunny with a breeze.  April is typically before rainy season begins here so the bugs and humidity are at a minimal.  The only advice I can think to give this month would be since the weather is so nice, dry, and breezy… keep an eye on your watering.  I have to had to lightly water almost every other day this month.

marchgarden1The saliva is blooming in the garden right now! Salivas also known as sages have a long flower blooming period.  They attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to our garden.

gardenApril1 gardenApril2The little gardeners have really enjoyed picking cherry tomatoes in the garden.

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Lots of onions have been ready for harvest this month. The girls think they take too long to grow. ;)

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The rest of the month we are working on a new butterfly garden in the front yard! We started native milkweed from seeds a few months ago, but they are slow to grow this season.  We purchased scarlet milkweed, native lantana (below), and a purple variety of lantana this week.  We have several other native wildflowers and plants to add to our new butterfly santuary… once it is dug up!  There is a lot of St. Augustine grass to be removed first, so we’re pulling Dad in on this spring project!

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I will take before and after pictures!

Hope you all are enjoying April, whatever your weather may be like!

Love is in the Garden!

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For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband is helping me add our first rain barrel to the garden!!! I am soooo excited.

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I have wanted one for years! We added gutters to the house last year and now have the perfect place for one. We will have to build a stand and place it under the gutter spout, after we remove some banana trees.  The rain barrel even has a small tray on the top for planting anything with shallow roots. I was thinking some succulents would be nice and easy.

Lots of activity in the garden this week…

JANupdate103Cauliflower heads are starting to peak through their leaves.

imageAfter lots of love (and misting) our spring sprouts are starting to appear.  Above my oldest gardener planted beets, hope this means she will eat them. ;)

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Onions are looking lovely! We should have all sorts of varieties ready soon.

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One more head of cabbage is left in the garden this week! Yum!

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And a little red is showing up in the garden, just in time for Valentine’s Day dinner.

Happy Gardening!

 

Good-bye January!

Hello February, where did January go!?!

The garden has been keeping my busy since we returned from our travels.

The warm weather is splitting the cabbage and burning the strawberries, but the tomatoes are doing good. Tomatoes?! LOL Feels so funny to have tomato plants producing in January!

Here’s the garden at the beginning of January…

gardenJAN1Lovely Strawberries

gardenJAN8Wild Cherry Tomatoes

gardenJAN2Broccoli

gardenJan3Cauliflower

gardenJAN4Cabbage

gardenJAN5We’re still getting a few handfuls of collard greens. I’ve been adding them to our soups.

gardenJAN7Parsley by the front door.

carrots2Carrots ready for harvest.

And at the end of the month…

imageBurnt Strawberries… too much sun, heat, and not enough water.

I wanted to show several shots of the cabbage…  After much investigation, it seems to have split from the heat and a busted water hose.  We ate it right away and it was still delicious though.

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On a positive note, we planted spring seeds and the verbena is starting to bloom.

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Happy Gardening!

Fall in the Backyard Garden

Fall is here and the garden is growing!

The little gardeners asked to grow purple green beans this year. They are growing fast…

And the first beans are showing…

The radishes are always the fastest crop of Fall. The little gardeners selected purple radishes this year as well. These were harvested a little early by my overzealous munchkins.

Hurricane Sandy bought us heavy wind and rain for a few days.  The garage roof was damaged and is leaking but I will not complain.  It was nothing like the NE! Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected.

The dog sure did enjoy the wind and debris…

  

The little gardeners found eggs under some of the bean leaves.

Looks like we have long tail skipper butterfly larvae in the garden now. The little caterpillars are hiding under the curled up leaves.

We have lettuce, onion, collard and carrot sprouts in a few of the beds!

October is my birthday month so my sweet husband built me another garden box. We used reclaimed lumber from old docks for the side boards.

It has since been completed and is awaiting another batch of soil.

Happy Gardening!

May Garden Update

Hope everyone is having a great week. We have finally been getting some rain! Not only is the rain nice because we need it so badly, but because it gives me a chance to catch up on my blogs. 

Here’s what our garden is looking like this week…in pictures of course. :)

I took the photos on my ipad this week. I am trying to familiarize myself with the camera and see how it looks.  It would eliminate a step in blogging, uploading the images, but not sure how I feel about the quality of the images. Anyways, the garden…

 

We have a little bird nest in the upcycled tire  container we made last month!

The sweet potato runners are starting to grow up the kid’s teepee.

We are picking the last of the peas.

 

Already had to move the herbs into the shade of the banana trees. Summer in Florida is here to stay.

The cucumbers have started to appear.

We have tons of blooms on all the pepper plants!

Looks like the last head of celery is going to make it!

The littlest gardener always keeps things lively in the garden. She decided the pretend to be a peacock with the freshly picked fennel. :)

Spring Break 2012

All my Amaryllis lilies are blooming in the garden right now. Every year, during the week of my daughter’s birthday they show us their beautiful red color. 

  

Other blooms in the garden:

  

I am happy to report, our salvaged pineapple is doing great!  What I mean by salvaged is, the unwanted pineapple tops from the dissolving Daytona Beach community garden, that have been recovering in my backyard. :)

Lots of sweet pea and radish sprouts are popping up all through the garden!

 New tomato sprouts as well:

Our avocado tree is recovering nicely from a fungus.

We saw this idea on Pinterest, and decided to start our own teepee from the summer. Our’s will be made out of sweet potatoes vines instead of green beans.

Caterpillars and grasshoppers have been easy to find in our backyard. Here one of them seems to have eaten my entire spearmint plant…

Funny, it didn’t eat the pineapple mint plant right next to it though!

We have lots of gardening plans in April. Seems we may have spent more of March on the boat than in the garden.  The weather has been so nice (and no bugs)!

 

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