January has been really warm again this year. Warm, and wet here in Central Florida! We are still getting mosquitoes and sunflowers in our backyard!
When we do get a touch of cold, the winter veggies love it. Our collards, bok choy, cauliflower, and broccoli have done well despite the warmer season.
We have volunteer tomatoes growing up our sunflowers. I think they are going to be cherry tomatoes. Yum.
Our moringa tree is getting almost as tall as the banana trees. I am planning on re-potting it soon.
Our little gardeners have a renewed interest in our gardening efforts this month. Both girls have been awesome little worker bees! They are planting seeds, growing flowers, and helping us lay new edging and improving our soil for spring.
One lone orange is left on our tree, but I am super excited that my lemon tree is in bloom for the first time!
Winter is my favorite time to garden in Florida. Warm afternoons, cool nights, and delicious veggies, what is not to love?! We’ve had a dozen fires in our backyard fire pit this month. We also have been ordering seeds and preparing things for spring. Yes, I am in love with January gardening in our sunshine state!
The next blog post is a book review on an interactive children’s gardening book, and then I promise to update about the school garden. The children have been busy getting ready for spring!
“On average, U.S. students get less than four hours of food education per year. Millions of kids aren’t learning about the importance of fresh, nutritious food at home or at school, making it almost impossible for them to be healthy adults. ” ~Food Tank
One of my passions is teaching children about the food we eat. Check out our most recent field trip to visit two Florida farms! The kids loved collecting the eggs right from the hen’s coop, as well as seeing the fish swimming in the hydroponic gardens!
Children learn through experience. Be sure to look for ways in your own communities to strengthen your children’s relationship with the food they eat! And if you are lucky enough to visit or live in the Indian River County area, please stop by and visit these fantastic farms:
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!
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.
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:
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…
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!
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. ;)
The littlest gardener especially enjoyed the “big” corn! I have never attempted it, but Mimi’s was looking great!
The beans, tomatoes, peppers, and peas all looked delicious!
My mom in her garden…
The pole beans the little gardeners harvested to go with our fresh caught fish dinner!
It was a wonderful weekend for family, fresh food, and laughter!
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!!
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!
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!