Black Elderberry Magic

As we gear up for the winter holiday season, we should also be preparing for the cold and flu season.  I’m not writing to you about any Black Friday deals this week, I’m talking about Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), one of the most underestimated berries out there!!!

elderberry

Black elderberry has been used in medicine for hundreds of years, and many published studies are demonstrating it may effectively treat the flu, alleviate allergies, and boost overall respiratory healthy (among other things). A quick Google search and you will find lots of information!  Two years ago we decided to grow our own elderberry (Sambucus nigra subspecies Canadensis). The flowers smell lovely and we use them in our summertime teas!

Here are some ways you can incorporate this amazing herb into your diet! Since I started my elderberry hunt, I have come across the following:

Fresh elderberries (summer time)

Elderberry juice

Elderberry teas

Elderberry liquid extract

Elderberry gummy vitamins

Black Elderberry extract spray

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry jam

I have also found elderberry wine, although I have not tried it yet. 😉   Elderberry is being incorporated into more and more products each year. Check with your local specialty food or whole foods store to find all of the products listed above.  Or grow your own! It is very easy to grow in Florida, although it can get up to 13 ft in height so make sure you have the space.  Here is an article on growing Elderberry in Florida.

I would like to note here, I am not advocating any company or product, just the berry itself.  Personally we use an alcohol-free extract spray and my little gardeners really like Dino Elderberry Yummy Gummy vitamins. Our western culture needs to re-discover this native plant! It has so many uses, and is a wonderful attraction for birds, butterflies, and pollinators in any garden!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

~Bee

October in the Garden

  

Since we last posted we have lots to report!  I’m so happy Fall gardening has finally started. I was so over the heat and bugs of the summer!  We added a tiny garden box for my littlest gardener. She is very excited for her own personal gardening space. 😉  We also had a school project that involved the classroom mascot doing a little gardening with us.

We have pulled up the sweet potatoes after having a second caterpillar attack. The vines had taken up more space that I wanted them to, so next year I will plant them in a different area. I was able to harvest a half-dozen sweet potatoes for dinner.

We had to start seeds twice this season, partly because I think I started them too early. The second round is going well! Here are pics of our Bibb lettuce, purple dragon carrots, and collard sprouts. Sprouts not shown: celery, green leaf lettuce, and orange carrots.

   

Our mystery plant turned out to be a pumpkin. Still not sure how it came to be, or what type of pumpkin it was!?!  The pumpkins were quickly attacked and eaten during our second caterpillar attack.  So I pulled up it, plus it was not planted in an area where it would have had enough room to grow. 

  

We do have Seminole pumpkins in our backyard, see below. They have recovered well from the caterpillar attacks and we are hoping for Thanksgiving pumpkins!

 

We do have TWO more mystery plants. I let the little gardeners plant wherever they pleased this season, but I didn’t take the time to label them.  The one below on the right is a seedling from some guerilla gardening seed balls, made by Wall Flower Studio.  I have a seed list of what it could be, but I still don’t have a clue at this stage. Current Guess: some kind of herb. My oldest gardener thinks she planted milkweed in the red pot below.  I do not.  Current Guess: ? It isn’t strawberries.

 

Some Gardening Troubles:

Our avocado plant is having problems.  I’m looking into brown spots and wilt. I’m thinking I should get it in a bigger pot or in the ground soon.

I have also lost some thyme that I purchased at the farmers market, and some potted parsley that got too dry! Here is a little ICU section of my garden. These are plants that I need to keep an extra eye on. 😉

Lastly, I am happy to report some garlic that has sprouted, almost forgotten from last season. It will be an additional bonus in this season’s harvest! Yum! 🙂

Happy Gardening!

A little Halloween decorating!

We are very excited around here for the upcoming Halloween holiday.  The little gardeners have requested to be a monarch butterfly and a monarch caterpillar this year. I am planning on finishing up their costumes this weekend! 

I wanted to share our herb pumpkin decorations!  We found the plastic pumpkins at Goodwill for $0.40 each and they were the perfect size for some potted chives.

  

My little one keeps saying they need a hair cut! 😉

Happy Hallow…Green.

Thinking about Fall – Garden Update

I am so anxious to get things started this year that I couldn’t wait any longer.  I planted some fall seeds!!!  I know it’s early for our zone 9 gardening. Maybe two – four weeks too early but like I said I couldn’t wait any longer! 🙂

homegrown broccoli seeds

I planted most of the seeds in trays and some in the actual garden beds.  This year I used an old broken trellis to mark some of the seeds.  It will help keep the cat and dog out of the garden until the plants are bigger and established as well!

   

We planted green onions, Bibb lettuce, parsley, leeks and purple dragon carrots in the raised bed.  In the trays we started broccoli, Seminole pumpkin, and marigolds.

Some of the seeds have already sprouted! From left to right: radishes, celery & a mystery sprout. I think it is cauliflower or broccoli that the little gardeners planted a few weeks ago. It was not marked though, so I guess we will see. 🙂

   

What is left of the summer gardening is still doing well.  The aloe, grasses, sweet potatoes & herbs are loving the humidity & heat.

Aloe Vera
dwarf red fountain grass
sweet potatoes
   
sweet basil bloom
rosemary

 I love going to the garden to check on things and finding evidence that the little gardeners have been there. Here they had created a fairy bridge out of old palm bark and toad castle out of an empty pot. 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Garden Update: 6.21.11

Happy First Day of Summer!

My little piece of paradise. 🙂

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.  

Happy Gardening!

Weekend Garden Update

We enjoyed a nice weekend at home, with no agendas, no schedules, no company & nothing too important to do!  Our busy little family doesn’t get a weekend like this very often, so we are very thankful for the easy of this weekend. 

The garden has been very productive since our last update.  We have eaten our first tomato of the season, among other yummy things. I love to update with pictures so here they are! 🙂

We have tons of tomatoes!

Our new squash blooms.

The first signs of okra!

We have a row of new sunflowers.

We replanted forgotten lemon grass.

The first of our eggplants are appearing!

Our green peppers are appearing as well!

  

We removed some parsley from the full sun & planted it in partial sun, under our banana trees. It is doing much better.

Happy Gardening!

The garden before we left…

We’re on vacation right now but I wanted to share what the garden looked like before we left!  Fingers crossed we get some rain while I am away. If we don’t, I fear some seedlings won’t make it.

I am very pleased with my tomato growing efforts this year. I am hoping that my absence from the garden for the week, doesn’t give them any setbacks. I have 7 or 8 green tomatoes like the ones above.

The kids have been growing carrots for a few years now.  To liven things up this year we planted organic purple dragon carrots as well. 🙂 Our first batch is almost ready. They little gardeners picked a few too early but they were still delicious.  (They taste like an orange carrot if you’re wondering).

All the herbs are doing great, especially the pineapple mint, sage & rosemary! I haven’t seen the rosemary grow so thick in years.

The lettuce & radishes are gone in the garden for now.  We enjoyed over 54 heads of lettuce & had the opportunity to learn about saving lettuce seeds (post about this soon)!

The okra, green peppers & eggplant are getting bigger every day. I can’t wait to see their first blooms! Below: eggplant & okra about thirty days old.

Our lantana is blooming like crazy. It looks so bright & pretty in our backyard.  Just another reason I love this time of year…

Happy Gardening!