This month has been great for gardening! Our favorite part… we’ve been eating yard beans outside in the sunshine.
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.
If the animals will leave them alone we might also have strawberries soon.
The peppers are coming along nicely this season.
The beach sunflowers, or dune sunflowers, are adding a nice color to our beds.
For the first time I am attempting to save some parsley seeds.
The basil has been delicious this month!
I am excited to see the first of our purslane blooms. I have missed them.
This is my avocado tree. We started it from a seed in 2011 (see it potted here)!
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
We have been busy bees this month. Online we are excited to have a new cover photo for our social networks.
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.
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!
Speaking of moths, I discovered this banded sphinx moth while doing a little yard work today.
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!
When we removed our winter tomato crop this spring, a volunteer celery was growing underneath! We should have some to eat soon!
The little gardeners asked for yard beans this spring. They are hoping to see some soon!
I hope all my gardening friends have a special Mother’s Day weekend!
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.
dwarf red fountain grass
sweet basil bloom
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. :)
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!
Gardening is very slow this time of year. Instead of fighting the heat, bugs and storms, we take some time to nurture our soil. We have one eggplant left to eat, sweet potatoes trying to fight off bugs, and most of the garden under cover for a little solarization. Here are some photos from the the end of July:
Lots of mushrooms from the afternoon thunderstorms.
Lil gardener watching the last space shuttle take off.
Our first attempt at sweet potatoes.
Some news to report:
We had a hungry paper wasp devour a green caterpillar in front of us. I read they will kill the caterpillars and bring them back to the nest for food for their larvae, but we watched the little guy eat the caterpillar bite for bite. Maybe it will be regurgitated when she returns to the nest? The research wasn’t clear. It was amazing to witness though!!! I’ve never seen a wasp sit still for so long.
The Crape myrtles are also heavy with blooms and bees this year. Better enjoy them while they last!
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!
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!