Creating a Wildlife Habitat

This is a great series on creating a wildlife habitat from one of the Florida blog’s that I love to follow…

Creating a Wildlife Habitat – Step #1: Food Sources

Creating a Wildlife Habitat – Step #2: Providing Water Sources

Creating a Wildlife Habitat – Step #3: Places for Cover

Creating a Wildlife Habitat – Step #4: Provide Places for Raising Young


Remember to garden for the wildlife that help all our gardens grow!


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!

Tent Camping with the Little Gardeners

Each year we go tent camping at different Florida state parks. Last weekend we camped at Little Talbot State Park in coastal Jacksonville, Florida.

Little Talbot Island is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida. The park offered some gorgeous beaches!

The shells were MUCH bigger than our Ponce Inlet beaches.

Shell pie?

The little gardeners running to see what dad caught…

The campsites were arranged too closer together, but we made do and had a fun trip!

We did a little hiking…

The sunsets were beautiful (and the mosquitoes thought we were beautiful too)!

Jacksonville Beach was having an air show in the distance and the girls enjoyed the sky writing…

We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and are looking forward to another camping adventure already!

Fall is here!

“But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head … The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on.”
– Robert Finch

In Florida, the temperatures are just starting to drop below the 90 degree mark!  Fall brings a wonderful season for gardening and nature exploring here in our sunny state. 

The only color change we have is the  falling yellow blooms of our raintree, but my little gardeners love it (and so do a few insects).

Zinnia the Florist

We had to clear out some of our zinnia to make room for fall gardening in our little garden, so I put the little gardeners in charge of this task.

They used their own scissors to cut the fresh zinnia flowers, and then I pulled up the plants.  As I saved some of the zinnia seeds for next year, the little gardeners pretended to play florist with the cut zinnia and this is what they made…

I was surprised how well the zinnia lasted in water.  They become quite stinky as they sat in their “vases” but the flowers held their color and didn’t wilt for a few days.  I would recommend having fresh-cut zinnia on a back porch or somewhere outside because of the smell.

The little gardeners really enjoyed their pretend play in the garden.  They sold the vases to their dad and I, and we paid them in pretend garden money (leaves and acorns). 

Since they played so well, I was able to create this path around one side of a garden box.  First I weeded and transplanted some of the plants there were growing there. Then I simply used some broken stepping-stones and some dirty sandbox sand.  I will be able to reach the backside of the box much better this fall!

We still have a lot of work to do. We have been cutting back and pruning all of our tropical landscape. 😉  Florida summers grow thick in our backyard.  We have replenished our soil and re-potted some of our container garden plants. Most of the Fall’s seeds have hit the dirt and we will have more updates soon! 

Have a great weekend!


Surprise Swallowtails

Last year we started milkweed from seeds hoping they would be ready for the monarchs this summer. We were thrilled when the six plants attracted tons of beautiful monarchs throughout the summer months.  However, we were pleasantly surprised to have swallowtail butterflies join in the fun!

I had harvested more fennel then I could make my family eat, so I decided to let some bolt and seed.  Little did I know the fennel would attract a handful of unique butterflies.

Florida is home to several species of swallowtail. I was never able to get a clear photo of the adults, since it was the larvae that surprised us.  I would have to guess that they were the Palamedes Swallowtail from studying them while they were drinking the zinnia.

Just like the monarchs we found the tiniest swallowtail caterpillars eating the blooms.

Then they would eat and grow, eat and grow.

Then unlike the monarchs, the swallowtail would build their chrysalis on the host plant, or just a few feet away.  This made it easy for the little gardeners to find them and witness their metamorphosis. 

Here’s two hanging in their “J” formation.

They were quick to metaphorize, and we often found the empty chryralises.  One wasp ate a swallowtail that was emerging.

 The little gardeners were amazed with TWO different types of butterflies in our backyard showing us their life cycles.  What a great summer with nature!

It doesn’t take much to excite a Florida gardener about Fall gardening!  Temperature cools off to the lower 90s, a few tiny green acorns on the oaks start to appear, and the raintree blooms yellow in the backyard… AND I have the fall gardening seeds purchased and the fall garden planned. 🙂   This week we’re sowing seeds and working hard, so our next post I will have photos of all our gardening fun.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing

Have a great weekend!