Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

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!

Busy Bees in April

Spring has been flying by. We love all the excitement in and out of the garden!  Spring is such a wonderful time of year to be outdoors. Above, we took a trip and brought our new wagon to the farmers market in Deland, FL. We won this awesome wagon (and some other cool stuff ) from #GardenChat and Subaru on Twitter in March!  

In April, we were also published on EcoEtsy’s blog: Gardening with Kids and Books. On May 10th, our next EcoEtsy article will talk about rhubarb and even include a yummy recipe!

Here’s a photo gardening update of our backyard efforts in April!

Success in the Garden:

Green onions have been fabulous this season!

The fennel has been smelling (and looking) lovely!

The sweet peas are in bloom all over the garden!  We are very excited about this crop!

Failures in the Garden:

Our celery, didn’t quite make it. We have one lone plant left, but I’m afraid it’s too hot now.  First I had trouble starting the celery seeds, then I planted them too close, AND then our fat cat decided that they made a lovely bed to lay on. She sleeps on a few border grasses in our front yard, but has never slept on any of our vegetables before.  I learned all sorts of lessons with this first celery crop. ;)

Garden Future:

The last of this spring’s crops will be cucumber and peppers. The first of the peppers are arriving.

After this season, we plan on removing all the dirt in our largest raised box garden, and replacing it with new gardening soil.  We have been gardening three or four times a year in this box for four or five years now. Even though I add organic matter to the soil each season, it is just time to start over. The old gardening dirt will be used in various places in the yard, like to continue a stepping stone pathway.

We also have plans to build another box while we are taking a summer break from vegetable gardening. Well, a break from everything but sweet potatoes and herbs that is. ;)

Happy Gardening!

October in the Garden

  

Since we last posted we have lots to report!  I’m so happy Fall gardening has finally started. I was so over the heat and bugs of the summer!  We added a tiny garden box for my littlest gardener. She is very excited for her own personal gardening space. ;)  We also had a school project that involved the classroom mascot doing a little gardening with us.

We have pulled up the sweet potatoes after having a second caterpillar attack. The vines had taken up more space that I wanted them to, so next year I will plant them in a different area. I was able to harvest a half-dozen sweet potatoes for dinner.

We had to start seeds twice this season, partly because I think I started them too early. The second round is going well! Here are pics of our Bibb lettuce, purple dragon carrots, and collard sprouts. Sprouts not shown: celery, green leaf lettuce, and orange carrots.

   

Our mystery plant turned out to be a pumpkin. Still not sure how it came to be, or what type of pumpkin it was!?!  The pumpkins were quickly attacked and eaten during our second caterpillar attack.  So I pulled up it, plus it was not planted in an area where it would have had enough room to grow. 

  

We do have Seminole pumpkins in our backyard, see below. They have recovered well from the caterpillar attacks and we are hoping for Thanksgiving pumpkins!

 

We do have TWO more mystery plants. I let the little gardeners plant wherever they pleased this season, but I didn’t take the time to label them.  The one below on the right is a seedling from some guerilla gardening seed balls, made by Wall Flower Studio.  I have a seed list of what it could be, but I still don’t have a clue at this stage. Current Guess: some kind of herb. My oldest gardener thinks she planted milkweed in the red pot below.  I do not.  Current Guess: ? It isn’t strawberries.

 

Some Gardening Troubles:

Our avocado plant is having problems.  I’m looking into brown spots and wilt. I’m thinking I should get it in a bigger pot or in the ground soon.

I have also lost some thyme that I purchased at the farmers market, and some potted parsley that got too dry! Here is a little ICU section of my garden. These are plants that I need to keep an extra eye on. ;)

Lastly, I am happy to report some garlic that has sprouted, almost forgotten from last season. It will be an additional bonus in this season’s harvest! Yum! :)

Happy Gardening!

Thinking about Fall – Garden Update

I am so anxious to get things started this year that I couldn’t wait any longer.  I planted some fall seeds!!!  I know it’s early for our zone 9 gardening. Maybe two – four weeks too early but like I said I couldn’t wait any longer! :)

homegrown broccoli seeds

I planted most of the seeds in trays and some in the actual garden beds.  This year I used an old broken trellis to mark some of the seeds.  It will help keep the cat and dog out of the garden until the plants are bigger and established as well!

   

We planted green onions, Bibb lettuce, parsley, leeks and purple dragon carrots in the raised bed.  In the trays we started broccoli, Seminole pumpkin, and marigolds.

Some of the seeds have already sprouted! From left to right: radishes, celery & a mystery sprout. I think it is cauliflower or broccoli that the little gardeners planted a few weeks ago. It was not marked though, so I guess we will see. :)

   

What is left of the summer gardening is still doing well.  The aloe, grasses, sweet potatoes & herbs are loving the humidity & heat.

Aloe Vera

dwarf red fountain grass

sweet potatoes

   

sweet basil bloom

rosemary

 I love going to the garden to check on things and finding evidence that the little gardeners have been there. Here they had created a fairy bridge out of old palm bark and toad castle out of an empty pot. :)

Happy Gardening!

Late August in the Garden

We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat!  Ugh!

Cymbopogon (lemongrass)

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! :)

Lantana

Happy Gardening!

Eggplants!

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. 

Happy Gardening!

Sweet Potatoes

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!

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!

Saving Lettuce Seeds

Our winter garden produced quite a bit of lettuce; 52 heads of Bibb lettuce to be exact.  So I decided to let five of them continue to grow so I could learn about harvesting seeds.


This is what Bibb lettuce looks like right before harvest.

This is what Bibb lettuce looks like right before a seed harvest. Quite different I know. I had lots of people ask me what it was, not believing it was lettuce.

Normally you pick your lettuce before it starts shooting up a seed stalk (or bolting).  In order to save the seeds, you need to let the plant flower.  The lettuce bloom only opens for a short time each day. I could find mine open for about thirty minutes each morning.

While I was waiting on all the blooms to mature, I explored seed savings tips & information on the worldwide web. The most helpful thing I did was contact Garden Hoard, who I had previously purchased seeds from.  I love how much information is enclosed in each seed order.  Garden Hoard (aka Katie Flickinger & team) not only sell handpicked seeds, bulbs, & plants, they promote educating gardeners to grow successfully!  They have a great section on their website about seed saving & even more specifically, seed saving articles on fruits & vegetables.  However, they have nothing about lettuce. I had done my research & knew I was waiting for the yellow blooms to mature into seed pods but that was the extent of my knowledge.  I wasn’t sure if I knew when or how to correctly harvest the seed pods. So I emailed Katie at Garden Hoard with a few questions.
I was so happy when she quickly & enthusiastically responded.  She initially gave me a chunk of info & answers. For another week or more, we emailed back & forth almost 12 times.  I’d send her a picture of the pods once the flowers fell off; she’d tell me not mature enough. In one email, she even sent me a picture of lettuce ready for seed harvest. I loved having a gardener to ask questions since this was unfamiliar territory for me. 
One of the first things Garden Hoard told me was:  one lettuce plant can produce 30,000 seeds!  You should have seen my face while reading the email.  I have five plants. What was I going to do with 150,000 lettuce seeds?! The second thing she told me was: if harvested & stored properly (see below) lettuce seeds can last up to five years. Well this was good but still… 150,000?!
Here are some other great tips she shared with me:

  • Lettuce is awesome for seed saving, because it will almost always come true from seed. However, to be sure that there is no crossing between lettuce varieties, you should plant a different crop between the rows of lettuce.
  • The small flowers will turn into feathery white tufts, and tucked inside are the tiny black (or white) seeds.

  • They don’t ripen all at once, so you have to watch the pods and collect them as they are ready. Whenever you see some seeds turning dark, shake the pod over a paper bag so you can catch them.  Then, in newspaper, let them dry for two weeks, and when they are completely dry, store them in a Ziploc bag in your fridge.

After waiting & waiting for all the white tufts to appear, I was in need of garden space! The five lettuce plants were now at least 4 feet tall.  Florida’s spring gardening season was in full swing by the time SOME sections of the plants were ready for seed harvest.  I waited a little longer then I decided to just pull up three of the most mature plants (& replanted eggplant & okra).  I pulled the entire plants, removed the top 12 inches of the each, which included seed heads & stems. I let them dry for two weeks.  The more they dried the more white tufts appeared! 

I repeated the process with the remaining two lettuce plants. Doing it this way, I had some seed pods that never gave me tufts because they didn’t have time to mature. I also had overly mature pods that the seeds were falling out of, since they had so long to mature. This was okay because even if I collected 100,000 seeds that was still going to be enough. Chuckle.

Now the test… will the little black lettuce seeds sprout? I tossed some of my most mature seeds into one container filled with more water than gardening soil, making it muddy. I threw some smaller less mature seeds into a second container of gardening mud…and then waited, very impatiently.   What if they didn’t sprout? I was going to be SO disappointed. You would have thought I’d won the lottery the morning I checked on them & saw sprouts! I was so excited that I had successfully saved my first seeds. Whew! Both containers of seeds sprouted one day apart. This also helped to guide me on how mature the seed pod should be when removing it from the plant.
Now I have a tedious process of removing the seed pods, opening them up, and separating the seeds. Once that is completed, I have to find them homes. First in line to receive seeds is Katie at Gardening Hoard.  We love following Garden Hoard on Twitter & Facebook so give them a buzz & tell them Bee sent you.

Happy Seed Saving (<– that’s a first)!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers