Hello gardening friends & followers! We haven’t blogged since mid summer! We temporarily suspended our vegetable gardening and traveled for a little bit. We are happy to be back working in the garden beds!
We have been composting and replenishing our garden boxes. The purple beans are back (as requested by our little gardeners), and we are bringing indoors a few herbs and a young moringa in preparation for the coming winter. But my favorite thing about fall gardening is the crisp lettuce!!!
Halloween Crafting: Monster Jar Luminaries
When we haven’t been in the garden, we have been playing with the kids. This month we upcycled some old pickle jars into monster jar luminaries!
Painted the glass jars with acrylic paint (careful it stains).
Spray painted the lids.
Used a sharpie to draw on monster faces!
We hope you are having a wonderful autumn and will have more blog posts coming soon!!!
Follow our board on Pinterest: Backyard FL Gardening
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.
The 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.
The little gardeners have really enjoyed picking cherry tomatoes in the garden.
Lots of onions have been ready for harvest this month. The girls think they take too long to grow. ;)
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!
I will take before and after pictures!
Hope you all are enjoying April, whatever your weather may be like!
We added a new book to our Favorite Gardening Books for Children list:
My Garden by Kevin Henkes
It’s a sweet book about growing a young girl’s imagination in the garden. Preschool – Grade 2
We borrowed it from our local library, but you can also purchase it for around $12.
We are also excited to announce that we ordered the new Wings, Worms, and Wonder book by Florida author Kelly Johnson. The official release is August 20th.
A Guide for Creatively Integrating Gardening and Outdoor Learning into Children’s Lives
We are excited to explore the lesson plans and see what Kelly can add to our gardening experiences. Look for a review in September. Until then you can see more of our children’s gardening book selections here.
We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat! Ugh!
We may be tired of the heat but the grasses are loving it!!! I love cooking with fresh lemon grass in the late summer. When combined with garlic & other spices it is has some fabulous health benefits.
Caladiums are one of the easiest things to grow. I love the color they give my flowerbeds, this time of year. Be careful though they are poisonous to pets.
We are already thinking about fall gardening! From left to right: leeks, marigolds & celery sprouts will be transplanted into the garden beds soon! Radishes & sweet potatoes are in the ground already! By October we are hoping lettuce, broccoli & carrots will be growing in abundance as well! :)
When we cleaned out the tomato plants, I let the little gardeners play with the remaining tomatoes. We spent over an hour comparing, discussing & playing with the tomatoes.
We picked out our favorite, the ugliest, the biggest, the smallest, and the smelliest! They lined them on the edge of the gardening beds by size, color & shape. They even made tomato families.
We made tomato soup & had a pretend picnic. We discussed how important decomposition was, in little gardener terms, and put some of the juicer tomatoes in the composter.
It was a fun lesson for my kids while I worked & got a little exercise in the garden. We all got sunshine, fresh air and enjoyed our morning with the tomatoes!
Eggplants! Or as my littlest gardener would say, “Egg-ants!”
Our eggplant crop was the largest & most sucessful of our late summer gardening efforts this year. The littlest gardener really enjoyed the purple veggies.
We chatted about ways to cook them on our Facebook Page this month & our followers came up with some wonderful recipes for me to try! Here’s two delicious suggestions:
Greek Moussaka (submitted by Mastergardening)
Eggplant, Flower and Haloumi stack (submitted by Caroline Webster, who is also fun to follow on Twitter)
My littlest gardener found she liked to draw with chalk on the egg-ants we harvested each week.
She also enjoyed kissing them! :)
And she even picked some of their flowers & counted to three for me one morning!!!
We are down to just a few eggplants left growing this season. I plan on making my families’ favorite Eggplant Parmesan (with fresh basil) one last time.
We are attempting to grow sweet potatoes in our garden for the first time this summer! Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes like it hot! They are native to Central and South America. Their vines need room to grow so after our tomatoes, okra and other veggies cleared out of the garden, we planted two sweet potatoes that had gotten old in our pantry. We first started them in a glass full of water on the kitchen counter. Much like an avocado, they simply sprouted leaves and roots.
I realized that I started them a bit late. It is recommended they are started in April and May in Florida because they have a 95-120 day harvest. We started ours in June. However, they are doing well in the garden and myself and the little gardeners are looking forward to this experience.
The next step is mulching. They love mulch to help promote new vines & growth. Here are some other tips I found for planting, growing & harvesting sweet potatoes:
- Plant sweet potatoes about 12 inches apart, and allow 3 feet between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run.
- Good root development depends on aerated soil (that’s why they like mulch). They are the ideal crop for areas with sandy soil.
- About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a balanced organic fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label).
- Sweet potatoes are not very sweet when first dug, but they are fine for sweetened pies or casseroles. They need a period to sit and “cure” to bring out their sweetness. Don’t wash before curing.
- In late summer, sweet potatoes often produce flowers that resemble those of morning glory, a close botanical cousin.
- Taken from various online sources, including: http://www.bonnieplants.com/LearnGrowLibrary/HowtoGrowBonnieVarieties/tabid/128/ID/220/How-to-Grow-Sweet-Potatoes.aspx
We are looking forward to vines, flowers & curing potatoes later this summer! Fingers crossed!