January in our warm Florida Garden!

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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!

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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.

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We have volunteer tomatoes growing up our sunflowers. I think they are going to be cherry tomatoes. Yum.

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Our moringa tree is getting almost as tall as the banana trees. I am planning on re-potting it soon.

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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!

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Happy Gardening, Bee

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Grilled Okra Recipe – Summer Gardening

In our Kitchen…

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We have had the best okra harvest this year!  My littlest gardener isn’t a fan of tomatoes, yet. So I experimented with grilled okra pods for the first time this year.  My husband said, “Grilled okra? That doesn’t sound good.”  Well…

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The entire family LOVED my grilled okra!

Grilled Okra

Ingredients:

A dozen pieces of whole fresh okra, stems trimmed

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1-2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

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I used two bamboo skewers, and marinated the first batch for a few hours before grilling. The second one I didn’t have time, so we just brushed on the ingredients as we grilled.  Both times the okra was tender with the nice flavor.

After you season the okra, place it on the grill at 400 degrees, and cook until the okra’s green color brightens, and charred grill marks appear on the edges, about 5 minutes. Turn the okra over, and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes.

This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.  And the kids loved to dip the grilled okra into a special comeback sauce I whipped up.

Southern Comeback Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup chili sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon of dried basil

We also replace the mayo with sour cream, depending on the flavor of the rest of the dish being served with the okra.

In our Garden…

I am getting the garden beds ready for fall gardening now!  Seminole pumpkins are already producing, tomatoes and beans have sprouted, and we are seeing citrus on our trees!  Fall and winter are my favorite time in our FL backyard!

 Happy Gardening, 

Bee

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

Connecting Kids to their Food: Vero Beach Farms – Indian River County

“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:

 

White Rabbit Organic Farms & CSA

Osceola Organic Farm

Happy Gardening, ~Bee

Myakka River State Park – Sarasota FL

In in May we celebrated 9 years of marriage with a kid-free camping trip to Myakka River State Park!  My husband, who just started his own blog, wrote about our trip here!  But I wanted to share this unique state park with you too.

One of the oldest state parks in the state, Myakka River State Park is located in the Sarasota area.  I grew up on the East Coast, so Florida’s west coast ecosystem is a new, exciting place to explore.  My favorite part about the park was the 76′ observation tower, as well as the park’s delicious Pink Gator Cafe!  We have been to a lot of state parks, and I never seen such a nice park cafe.  Florida craft beers, alligator stew, and many other healthy choices were on its awesome menu.

We are looking forward to bring the kids back to this beautiful park in the fall!

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!!!