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

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

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…

Happy Halloween from the Garden!

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Hello gardening friends & followers! We haven’t blogged since mid summer!  We temporarily suspended our vegetable gardening and traveled for a little bit.  We are happy to be back working in the garden beds!

We have been composting and replenishing our garden boxes. The purple beans are back (as requested by our little gardeners), and we are bringing indoors a few herbs and a young moringa in preparation for the coming winter. But my favorite thing about fall gardening is the crisp lettuce!!!

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Halloween Crafting: Monster Jar Luminaries

 

When we haven’t been in the garden, we have been playing with the kids.  This month we upcycled some old pickle jars into monster jar luminaries!

 
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We simply:

Painted the glass jars with acrylic paint (careful it stains).

Spray painted the lids.

Used a sharpie to draw on monster faces!

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We hope you are having a wonderful autumn and will have more blog posts coming soon!!!

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January 2013 Seed Swap

This post is for my Daytona Beach area followers… we’re participating in another great seed swap to start off the year!!!

Seed Swap Ormond Beach Library

Tuesday January 29th, 2013

10am -11 am Meeting room 4

 

Come see me and bring some seeds to trade!

Extra seeds will be available for those with no seeds to trade.

Come start your garden today!

For more info contact Cory from Aquarian Bath: aquarianbath@gmail.com