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!
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.
Our oldest gardener will start Kindergarten in August. To continue to develop her handwriting skills this summer we are starting a nature journal project. Our first assignment was to make the journal! So, I purchased a basic writing fundamentals notebook by Mead.
We then talked about decorating the cover with things that remind us of Florida living. We gathered last year’s nature magazines and a couple pairs of scissors, and started looking for anything related to Florida nature and wildlife. I also helped her cut out the letters for the words Nature Journal.
We then talked about other materials we could use on our journal cover. I’m a huge fan of mixed media art, so I always try to remind her of non-traditional art supplies. Shells, sand and other backyard finds were mentioned for our Florida themed cover. We drew lines with glue and then went out to the sand box and dumped sand on them.
We even placed three pieces of the Southern Slash Pine on the cover: pine bark, pine needles and pieces of a pine cone.
After our gardener was happy with its appearance and everything had completely dried, I sealed the cover with polyurethane to help it last through the summer.
Our First Journal Entry: 6/01/11
What she observed while taking a nature walk at dusk…
…a dark blue sky, two frogs and a bat (picture of sky and bat).
Journal Entry Two: 6/04/11
Take the camera and find something to take a picture of in the backyard. (Boy was she in for a treat)!
She found a Painted Lady Butterfly with a slightly injured wing. It sat quiet drinking on the lantana while she took a few (good) pictures. As we were looking at the wing injury the butterfly flew up & landed on her tummy. She squealed with delight but held perfectly still!
Our little gardener has been super excited to WRITE in her journal and can’t wait for her next assignment!
On Mother’s Day our Painted Lady Butterflies were ready to be released. We had lived with 10 of them for weeks, taking them to show n tell and moving them into their butterfly nets to wait for their completed transformation. Raising them with my children each spring is always the neatest thing. We learn something new each time!
This year we could see the chrysalis change so clearly. We would know which ones were going to hatch next. One morning as we were eating breakfast, we had the opportunity to literally watch one come out of its chrysalis. My oldest couldn’t believe how little & wet looking the wings were & then how quickly they opened & dried. We never seem to grow tired of the miracle of life!
The garden is in full swing this month! We are enjoying daily fresh radishes, lettuce & carrots! We have green tomatoes on our plants, something that is somewhat of an accomplishment because I have horrible luck with growing tomatoes.
Early sunflowers & marigolds are blooming for our pollinators & we have been starting new seeds almost every chance we get. Leeks are just sprouting & we are waiting on more basil, sunflowers & onions to sprout.
I walked to a local farmers market last week & came home with more than just fresh collard greens. These herbs (basil & Vicky’s plant) followed me home as well. We replanted them in these homemade chalkboard pots. The little gardeners loved helping me mark them.
Eggplant & green pepper plants are getting big in the garden & we look forward to their first blooms! Something has been munching on them a little but this is something that comes with sustainable gardening & I think they will be just fine.
Our Great Grandma leaves right down the road from us. She is the only family we have in town. Last week she called to report a duck nest in her backyard! I was so excited to share the news with my little gardeners! Of course they wanted to go over to Nanny’s house right away. Luckily mother duck was away so I could get this picture.
Research tells us we could have baby Muscovy ducklings in another month or so, if they survive all of nature’s challenges, and the rocks that mother duck as put in the nest?! How exciting would it be for my little ones to see this backyard miracle come to life!?