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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat! Ugh!
We may be tired of the heat but the grasses are loving it!!! I love cooking with fresh lemon grass in the late summer. When combined with garlic & other spices it is has some fabulous health benefits.
Caladiums are one of the easiest things to grow. I love the color they give my flowerbeds, this time of year. Be careful though they are poisonous to pets.
We are already thinking about fall gardening! From left to right: leeks, marigolds & celery sprouts will be transplanted into the garden beds soon! Radishes & sweet potatoes are in the ground already! By October we are hoping lettuce, broccoli & carrots will be growing in abundance as well!
Gardening is very slow this time of year. Instead of fighting the heat, bugs and storms, we take some time to nurture our soil. We have one eggplant left to eat, sweet potatoes trying to fight off bugs, and most of the garden under cover for a little solarization. Here are some photos from the the end of July:
Some news to report:
We had a hungry paper wasp devour a green caterpillar in front of us. I read they will kill the caterpillars and bring them back to the nest for food for their larvae, but we watched the little guy eat the caterpillar bite for bite. Maybe it will be regurgitated when she returns to the nest? The research wasn’t clear. It was amazing to witness though!!! I’ve never seen a wasp sit still for so long.
The Crape myrtles are also heavy with blooms and bees this year. Better enjoy them while they last!