Summer Gardening in Florida

I talk to people all the time that don’t think you can garden in Florida’s hot and humid summers. It isn’t always the easiest task, but it is definitely possibly, and always rewarding!

I found the easiest crops are: basil, sunflowers, peppers, and okra. They seem to love Florida’s heat and thunderstorms.  Summer is a great time to work on improving your soil as well!

Above are photos taken of our late August 2014 summer garden. Shown: purple basil, sweet basil, native milkweed recovered from the Monarchs, okra, Seminole pumpkin, and sunflowers. We have already started our Seminole pumpkins for fall and are currently preparing our soil and planning our fall garden beds.  The pine straw falling for all the Florida pines is a great, natural mulch for our pumpkin bed.

 

Here’s a great monthly calendar, divided by Florida’s three regions, to help you garden year around in the Sunshine State:

Florida Gardening Calendar by UF IFAS Solutions

Happy Gardening, ~Bee

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Hello Blog! Hello Summer Garden!

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Wow, time flies! We haven’t written since spring!  We have been enjoying the summer and all the season brings to our Florida backyard! Sunflowers, tomatoes, and elderberries have been the highlight of our gardening efforts. Florida’s beaches, state parks, and local farms have been our sources for summer entertainment.

We purchased a new blender, and have been exploring the world of green smoothies.  My little gardeners delivered a few salad baskets to loved ones, and we are anxiously awaiting our first harvest of pineapples!

 

But the best thing I have to report since I last blogged… is my husband and sweet girls gave me a lemon tree for Mother’s Day!

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 Happy Gardening, Bee

Gardener’s Giveaway: Aquarian Bath

We are super excited to announce another spring giveaway, perfect for all our gardening friends and followers!!!

Aquarian Bath is another backyard Florida gardener, and an excellent soap maker, who has graciously offered to give away some amazing handmade items on our blog!!!

One lucky winner will receive these beautiful items:

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Aquarian Bath‘s gardener’s soap is made with fine pumice, ground rosemary and poppy seeds. Use it after gardening to gently remove dirt. This soap is scented with an herbaceous blend of Lemongrass, Rosemary and Lavender.  This soap just received a new look; each bar is hand stamped with Aquarian Bath’s 3D printed ‘gardener’s soap’ stamp.

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This flaxseed neck pillow would make a great gift for a gardener with its whimsical garden themed print. Aquarian Bath makes these pillows unscented or scented with 100% Organic herbs. Pillows can be used hot out of a microwave or cold out of the freezer, which is a really great option for a Florida gardener. Aquarian Bath pillows make great cold packs for injury as well.  These herbal pillows are packaged in Biodegradable Cellophane bags with microwave instructions.

Excited?! You should be, I have personally used Aquarian Bath products and they are amazing!!!

Just click on the link below to ENTER TO WIN!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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One of Aquarian Bath’s beautiful garden beds!

Shop Aquarian Bath or visit her booth at the 18th Annual Seaside Herb Society Faire in Ormond Beach March 22nd.

This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and over. Good Luck!!!

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…

Early Spring Update & Seed Giveaway!

We have been enjoying another mild Florida winter. Our backyard gardening efforts have been successful and our little garden has big plans in 2014!

2014 Online

I spent some time updating our website and renewing our url in January. I added a local Florida Seed Supplier page to our website, and I am working on a new Local Nurseries page this month!  However, I am most excited to share the new photo collection on our (right) sidebar. I love the collection of photos available after years of posting here.

Early Spring in the Garden

We have had lots of fresh broccoli for dinners this first part of the year.  Our cauliflower and red cabbage should be ready in a few weeks!  The herbs all came inside for the winter, and I love having their smell in the house. One of the larger garden beds is getting new soil and getting ready for spring seeds, and we are still eating fresh lettuce and carrots from winter’s efforts!

Even though it has been a mild winter, we still have had some frost.  I am surprised at the number of flowers still blooming in our backyard. They have been protected by the fence and house, so they have continued giving us a little bit of color all winter long!

Seed Giveaway!

My little gardeners think we have too many seeds… and they just might be correct!  So here’s a seed giveaway to make room for more, and to support our Facebook page! Win some flower seeds for your garden! We will send three winners a variety pack of flower seeds, all organically grown in our backyard, and collected by our family! Let’s plant some flowers and make the bees and butterflies happy this spring!

Just click on Rafflecopter link below (if entry box is not appearing).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway starts February 19th, 2014 at midnight and ends February 26th, 2014 at midnight. Good Luck!

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