Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years recipe: Apricot and Cranberry Jelly

I am REALLY excited to try this new recipe...And my new water-bath canner!!!

Apricot and Cranberry Jelly
Time to prepare: 25 mins

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups cranberries
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 orange, zested


Boil the water and sugar together for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and apricots. Simmer until the cranberry skins burst, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the orange zest and cool.

To can: sterilize and prepare appropriate jars.  Add jelly to warm jars, making sure to remove air bubbles and wipe rim of jars, and seal.  Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why are Bees so Important?

I know bees are important, but Why?  As I continue to research and learn about Bees and the garden I am beginning to understand the "why."

According to Ready Magazine:
"Bees are important to the production of fruits and vegetables. The honey produced by bees have important medicinal uses and is a good replacement for sugar as a sweetener. A healthy bee hive is also an indication of a healthy environment. The beekeepers that I speak to talk about a spiritual connection with the bees and the enjoyment that get for caring for them. That is why bees are important."

That's a pretty simple and straight forward answer.  However, this raises yet another questions. If bee hives are an indication of a healthy environment, what does Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) mean to our own environment?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years recipe: Espresso Bark

I don't plan on making wild and crazy (or unreasonable) New Years resolutions.  I will continue to eat healthy and exercise.  I will try to stress less about things that I cannot control.  
I will NOT be giving up coffee or chocolate!!!

Espresso Bark
Ready in: 25 mins.
Servings: 12

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon margarine
3/4 cup whole coffee beans
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate

1. Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper.
2. Combine the chocolate chips and margarine in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Mix in the coffee beans until evenly distributed.
3. Pour the chocolate out onto the waxed paper and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the pieces of white chocolate evenly over the top and press in lightly to make sure they stick. Place in the freezer until set, about 5 minutes. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On My Mind...

Good Morning!
Family in San Diego
 I miss you all very much!  Merry Christmas!!!!!

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More New Seeds!!!

I haven't even added these babies to the website yet.  I just found a supplier for Job's Tears seeds.  This plant has healing properties such as natural anti-inflammatory as well as detoxifying agents.  I am so excited to offer this new plant!
I'm really looking forward to planting Job's Tears.  Another new seed variety available for 2012 is the Long Island Brussels Spouts.  This is an amazing veggie! This is an open-pollinated, heirloom variety whose origin can be trace to the 1890s.  The Long Island is a heavy producer and grows about 20"-24" in height.
I'm getting ready for the coming garden season!
Happy Planting!

Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY kids gifts...I did it!

I had a major/minor project to finish this weekend and I did it.  I made aprons for my oldest niece and nephew and a shirt for my baby niece. 
Okay, so I didn't make them but I decorated them.

Here is the apron before I started:
Here they are after the iron-ons:

I added a few finishing touches with 'puffy paint'

And last but certainly not least, I decorated a shirt for the baby:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Garden update. Tomatoes are here!

I love tomatoes!  I've waited for months for the Cherokee Purple plants to blossom and give me tomatoes.
Here's a beautiful baby:
This is what the four tomato plants look like from the back: (a mess)

Here's a look inside the grey bin: Beets and Silverbeet Swiss Chard:
This morning I transplanted a few German Giant Radishes into a prepared bed:
Happy Planting!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vanishing Bees

Wow!  I watched a movie today that just blew my mind.  Check out the website for Vanishing of the Bees. 

Here's a quick clip:

Bees are essential to food production.  Bees are important in maintaining a balance ecosystem.  As I continue to research bees I'll be posting about the benefits of bees.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Radishes are alreading sprouting!

Wow!  I only planted the German Giant Radish seeds on Saturday and when I went out to check on everything this morning they're out!  I only planted a few seeds of each veggie variety this weekend (more for next weekend).
If you can't tell in the top picture, 5 out of 6 have already sprouted.  Not bad for 2 days!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Seeds!!!

A few months ago my new seeds arrived and so I updated the website.  This weekend I planted a few seeds to get ready for next year.  I'm a few weeks ahead of schedule but what the heck, I'm going to plant a few seeds every weekend.

On Saturday I planted German Giant Radishes.  I tried this variety earlier this year but it was too hot.  I also planted Red Burgundy Onions and more Little Gem Lettuce.  Unfortunately, due to unforeseen issues a few of my previous lettuce plants were destroyed.

On Sunday I planted Bulgarian Giant Leeks, Purple Top Whiteglobe Turnips and Table Queen Bush Squash.  I don't dare post a picture of the current state of my covered patio.  When I see little sprouts I'll share but not yet.

If you don't live on sunny South Florida (or even if you do) and would like to know what to plant for your area and when to plant it send me an email or post a comment.  I'm happy to point you in the right direction.

Happy Planting!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dinner: Slow-Cooker Chicken and Spanish Rice

Dinner for tonight has been cooking for a few hours already.  I have made chicken this way so many times but I have never used a specific recipe so here goes:

Slow-Cooker Chicken
Servings: 6-8
Time: 4 hours

8 chicken breasts
6-8 cups water (enough to cover all ingredients)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce (even pasta sauce in a pinch)
1 bunch cilantro, whole pieces or chopped

Place chicken in the slow cooker and cover with onion, jalapeno, tomatoes and cilantro.  Add enough water to cover all ingredients.  Turn slow cooker on high for the first 3 hours, turn to low for the remaining hour.

This recipe is great for taco filling, sandwiches or with rice and/ or  beans.

Spanish Rice:
Servings: 8

1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups rice
1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon margarine
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cumin
In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients (I usually mash tomatoes with potato masher or give them a quick spin in food processor).
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low.
Cover and simmer 25 minutes or until rice is done. (Unless you like sticky, gooey rice, don't take off the lid and stir at all until it is done).
Garnish with green onions and/or cheddar cheese.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Compost! Take 2...

I am re-posting from July because my tomatoes are growing bigger than I could have possibly imagined thanks to a bit of aged compost.  The best part...It was FREE!!!  Since Christmas is right around the corner and I'll be cooking like a madwomen, I'll also be adding most of my kitchen "waste" to my brewing compost bin.

What is Compost?
Compost is a natural soil amendment and garden fertilizer. It can be made FREE using kitchen scraps. Apple cores, banana peels, celery or carrots parts, rinds and peels from fruits and veggies...throw it all in there! But don't stop there- also use grass clipping, dead leaves and other yard waste.

Not only does composting save money on expensive fertilizers and soil amendments, it keeps all of this "trash" out of your garbage bin and out of landfills.

Using compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.

Warning: Everything I read about compost says not to use meat, diary or pet waste in your compost.

Do I need to buy a fancy (expensive) composter? No way!

In my own yard I have a big (dark) plastic tub which I drilled holes into the bottom. I've added my kitchen and yard "waste" and then a layer of soil...repeat! Every 4 or 5 days I go out into the yard and turn it over. No, I don't dump it out, "turn it" is garden-speak for stir or mix. The more I "turn" the mix the faster it seems to decompose.

What's in My Compost Bin?

Cherry stems, apple cores, lime rinds, coffee grounds, tea bags, celery leaves, potato peels, carrot ends, cucumber and onion bits, egg shells (washed and dried), grass clippings, dead leaves, dead flowers, mango skins. I might have forgotten a few things but you get the picture.

Stay away from using lawn clippings or additives with chemical fertilizers or pesticides!

Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms and decomposing waste. These three ingredients are essential for a thriving veggie garden.

Happy Planting!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eggless Birthday Cookies

I found a recipe last night more out of desperation than curiosity.  I've been a bit distracted lately and even with a trip to the supermarket I was out of eggs.  It seems I just forgot.

It's my hubby's birthday so he got to choose what I made for dinner last night.  He chose the easiest dinner (in my opinion) that I have prepared so I have made it a bunch of times.  For dinner we had Chicken Tacos with cilantro, mixed greens, onions, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa and cheese.  But dessert was a secret (and eggless).

I had planned on making Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies but without eggs I had to find another recipe.  The eggless recipe was perfect because oatmeal raisin cookies are his second favorite cookie.

Eggless Oatmeal Coconut Cookies 

1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Shredded Coconut (I used sweetened)
1 cup Quick Cooking Oats (I used large flake)
1/2 cup Butter
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons Honey

1. Preheat the oven to 350F for 15 minutes. Butter two cookie sheets. Usually cookies baked on such dark coated sheets turn brown very quickly, so I lined it with parchment paper and then greased it with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in the coconut and oats.
3. Melt the butter with the sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove it from the stove and let it cool for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the melted butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well with a spatula.
5. Add in chocolate chips.
6. Roll into balls the size of walnuts and place 1 inch apart on the baking sheet and flatten it slightly with a fork.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. If using 2 cookie sheets, shift racks halfway through the baking to ensure even browning.
8. Let the cookies cool on the sheets until they firm slightly. Then using a spatula carefully lift the cookies and transfer it to a cooling rack to cool completely.

***My tweaks to the recipe***
Omit Honey
Replace butter with unsweetened apple sauce (do not heat on the stove)
Add 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Monday, December 5, 2011

Garden Update. Harvesting!

I took a few pictures Sunday after I harvested Lettuce and Huckleberries.

Below are pictures I took bright and early this morning.
The seeds I planted a few weeks ago are now thriving seedlings. 
On Saturday I transplanted most of the seedlings. 
Hungarian Heart Tomatoes
My very first Cherokee Purple Tomato
Black Beauty Eggplant
Tam Jalapeno
The Side Yard Project: (from the back-side)
Happy Planting!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cookies Make Great Gifts


Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
1 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3/4 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and peanuts. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire cooling racks. Store tightly covered.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On My Mind...

Grandma Demme
December 15, 1942-November 10, 2010.

She loved the outdoors.  Grandma Demme was a creative and adventurous, free-spirit. 

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DIY Soap Recipe

Soap-Making can be an involved process requiring special tools and ingredients.  I like to keep it simple.  

I have used several methods for making soap.  The first time I made soap I purchased melt and pour soap as a base. 
1. Chop up M&P soap
2. Melt in a double boiler (or microwave)
3. Add essential oils
4. Pour into prepared mold
5. Refrigerate
After a few hours in the fridge, or overnight on a counter, the soap is ready to be released and packaged.

Another option for making soap is using ready-made soap such as Ivory or Dr. Bronner's bar soaps.
1/4 cup Water
Dried and pulverized Herbs
Essential Oil
Approx 2 cups shredded bar soap
Double boiler or Large glass bowl
**It is not necessary to use both herbs and essential oils.

1. Pour boiling water over herbs.
2. Add 5 or 6 drops of essential oil.
3. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly.
4. Remove from heat and add shredded soap.
5. Mix well and let stand for 15 minutes.
6. Divide the mixture into several small balls or pour into prepared molds.
7. After a few hours in the fridge, or overnight on a counter, the soap is ready to be released and packaged.

There are recipes all over the internet for both Melt and Pour or Made from Scratch soaps.  Happy Soaping!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eco-Friendly and Budget-Friendly Gift Giving

Christmas is right around the corner.  Every year the news reports of crazy shoppers and over-consumption around this time.  This year I have a few ideas for Eco-Friendly gifts, all of which are Made in the USA. Whether handmade, homemade, locally grown or locally produced, why not try something new this year.

DIY Lotions and Soap:  There are literally hundreds of recipes available online to make your own cosmetics and toiletries.  Most recipes don't require special equipment or fancy ingredients.  I've experimented with both lotion and soap and have been pleased with the results. (Recipes to follow tomorrow)

Check out your local farmer's market or craft fairs. Ask the seller where the items came from and what they are made of to ensure a quality product.

Give the gift of life!  
Give a small tree, homegrown potted herbs or veggies. Or, give a DIY "green" gift basket using a planer as a "basket" and fill it with garden seed (preferable organic), peat pellets, small hand tools and garden gloves.  It might be a good idea to include a guide for beginner gardeners.

Buy from a local business or small online business.  November 26th was "Small Business Saturday." Why do we need a day?  Why not make EVERY day an opportunity to support our community?

I read an interesting article this week about a company called "Eat More Kale".  The owner, Bo Muller-Moore, silk-screens all of his organic shirt using several different logos.  Speaking of small business owners, Pablo at Soul Grind Skate Shop (my dad) has a few great gift ideas for the skateboarder in your family.

I love Handmade items.  One year I made scarves for a few family members.  I don't have much use for a scarf in South Florida but it gets cold in other parts of the country.  Ornaments, Apron, Quilts, Cookies or Candy, Candles, Cookbooks, Drink-Mixes, Spices and Sauces are all AMAZING gifts that can be made on just about any budget.  Most importantly, they are gifts from the heart and made with love.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Growing from Seed in Containers

I have talked about container gardening a few times in the past few months.  At the moment I have plants growing both in the ground and in containers.  I noticed recently that I have less of a pest problem in containers than in-ground.

Whether you live in an apartment (or tipi), a house or a farm, container gardening is a simple solution for low-cost, organic gardening.

Most herbs love containers.  A window box or small tray can produce most of your herbs for cooking.  A few easy starters include: Basil, Cilantro, Sage and Thyme.

My favorite veggies for containers include Peppers (all varieties so far), Lettuce and Spinach, Squash and Tomatoes.

It's not necessary to purchase fancy or expensive containers.  I prefer to use recycled pots and containers.  For seedlings, I have cleaned (sterilized) yogurt or cottage cheese containers and then poked holes in them for drainage.  When I ran out of plastic I used recycled toilet paper rolls. When I ran out of TP rolls I bought peat pots.

Get it? Cheap!

One item I did splurge on was organic seed-starter mix.  In the past I have mixed my own but this season I was behind schedule so I bought a bag. Gasp!  It wasn't all that expensive and it saved me a bit of time.  Drainage is very important for starting seeds.

For self-watering trays I re-use plastic or styrofoam trays.  When seedlings are ready to be transplanted there are several low cost/no cost options available.
1. Clean kitty litter buckets
2. 5 gallon utility buckets
3. Thrift store or garage sales
Use your imagination!  Decorate ugly buckets or pots.  Just because it isn't stamp "planter" doesn't mean it wouldn't make a great plant container.

Happy Planting!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November has been a busy Month

I'm back from San Diego!  I had the best of intentions to post recipes but it was busy in San Diego.  My nieces and nephew are getting so big and they are beautiful!

While I was away my hubby took such good care of the garden.  I am so proud of him!

The Hungarian Heart tomatoes are doing wonderful.

My 2 Jalapeno Peppers and hanging in there.  Each has a single pepper growing.

I'm shocked!  My first attempt at Huckleberries and it seems to be a success.
First Huckleberry Harvest
I have 4 Eggplants but no fruit.  I'm looking forward to beautiful purple fruit!

Last but certainly not least are my Beets and Swiss Chard.  I planted these babies in a tuffbin and they seem to be doing quite well.  I've never grown beets before and I'm so excited to make fresh beet salad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipe

Less than 24 hours and I'll be in San Diego.  While I'm away I'll be posting recipes in preparation of Thanksgiving. Yippie!

Dried Cranberry Chutney Appetizers

1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3/4 cup mango chutney
soft cheese or cream cheese
apple, slices
toasted baguette, sliced or cracker

Combine dried cranberries, water, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan.
Bring to boiling.
Cover and remove from heat.
Let stand for 15 minutes.
Snip any large pieces of mango chutney.
Stir chutney into cranberry mixture.
Cover and chill at least 2 hours (overnight recommended).
Serve cranberry chutney with soft cheese or cream cheese, apple slices, and crackers, or with toasted baguette slices.

Makes about 1-1/3 cups chutney (twenty-one 1-tablespoon servings).

Make-Ahead Tip: Refrigerate chutney, covered, up to 2 days.

This recipe is SO easy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

On My Mind...

My mom and her husband

"Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship." -Margaret Mead

Today my thoughts are with my family in San Diego.  I am anxiously waiting, counting down the days until next Wednesday when I'll be able to see everyone again.  So much has happened in the past year and I really miss the daily family interaction.  My youngest niece turned 1 in October and I missed it!

"Family is the most important thing in the world." -Princess Diana

In the meantime I have carefully prepared meals for my hubby.  They're stored safely in the freezer for when I'm gone.  He is SO spoiled!  No living on cereal and ham sandwiches while I'm away, although he'll still sneak in a few bowls of cereal that I've purchased just for the occasion.

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seed Starting Basics (part 2)

No, I didn't forget to include seeds in the first post.  More important than clean containers, soil, water and sun are SEEDS.  I am biased when it comes to garden seeds as I run an online seed company.  However, I did years of research before I came to the decision to only grow plants from organic, heirloom, open-pollinated, non-gmo seeds.


I'll simplify here because my soapbox isn't big enough for me to be here all day.  Heirlooms seed varieties are a seeds variety over 50 years old and have not been modified and are open-pollinated.  GMO seeds are genetically modified organisms, also called "franken-seeds."   

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are created using gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, GE)  In 30 other countries around the world there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs, because they are not considered proven safe. In the U.S. on the other hand, the FDA approved commercial production of GMOs based on studies conducted by the companies who created them and profit from their sale. 

For more information,
check out

Depending on the variety of vegetable or herb seed you choose, germination can take between 3-21 days.  

Don't forget to label your seeds!!!  Recently, I ran out of recycled containers so I bought Jiffy Pots.  I placed several jiffy pots in recycled trays and then simply labeled the tray.  Same with recycled toilet paper rolls in the plastic tray with only the tray labeled.  The seeds I planted in plastic containers are individually labeled with painter's tape.

Starting plants from seed take patience and commitment.  Seedlings (baby plants) should be ready to be transplanted between 4 to 6 weeks from germination.  If seeds are started in a small container it might be necessary to transplant earlier into a larger container.

While seeds are germinating and seedlings are growing tall it's time to decide what to do with them once they're ready to transplant.  (more on transplanting later this week)

Happy Planting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Seed Starting Basics

There are a few VERY important things to remember when starting plants from seed.

1. Containers. I use recycled containers from previous plant purchases, yogurt or cottage cheese containers and even empty toilet paper rolls.

2. Soil.  It is possible to mix your own seed starting soil using potting soil, perlite and moss.  Otherwise, your local garden center should carry a pre-mixed seed starter soil.

3. Water.  It is important to moisten the soil before you plant seeds so you don't wash them away.  While seeds are germinating keep the soil moist but not soggy.

4. Heat or sun.  In Florida I am able to leave most of my seed pots in a covered patio area.  In other parts of the country it might be necessary to start seeds indoors using a grow light or by placing pots on top of a fridge or a sunny windowsill.

Most of the seeds I planted last week are growing wonderfully.  Several are just barely peaking out of the dirt.

If you are growing seedlings indoors it is important to "harden off" plants about 2 weeks before transplanting.  To do this, set them outside and water less but don't forget about them.  If a frost warning has been issued cover seedlings or bring them inside.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crazy weekend

What a wild weekend we had in South Florida!  It rained and it rained and then it rained some more.  I'm not quite sure if all of my plants lived through the deluge but I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

All of the recently planted seeds are still on the nice comfy covered patio.  Unfortunately the wind blew the rain so hard even a few of the seedlings were washed out.

Oh well, I can always plant more seeds.

"Earth laughs in flowers."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's not too late to start a Garden!

On My Mind...
My sister Jen (right) and I (left) 2010 San Diego
An herb garden is an easy way to start and can be started indoors even in late October.

If you have a windowsill that gets several hours of sun (and if you can keep cats and/or dogs out of it) what are you waiting for?

Basil is a great place to start.  Basil requires plenty of sunlight and water.  Keep in mind Basil needs proper drainage and does not like standing water.  If starting from seed, germination takes about 7 days and can be started in a small recycled plastic container with drainage or a Jiffy Pot.  

Once the plant has grown several inches tall it can be transplanted into a larger container.  As the Basil grows, clip flowers to ensure the plant devotes it's energy to growing more leaves.

It's that easy!  Happy Planting! 

*Today I joined an "On My Mind" discussion from Down to Earth.*
"This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. To take part, post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here from your blog by saying you're part of "On my mind". Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When you've done that, come back here and add a comment below, with a link to your blog."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall Planting

Gardening in South Florida has been an amazing experience.  At this moment it is 2:15pm and tells me it is 84 degrees outside and with the humidity it "feels like" 90!  And it's late October!!!  

This summer was very hard on my garden.  It was HOT!  For a few weeks we had NO rain and then it rained for an entire week.  

The morning temperature has been wonderful with a slight breeze and even after being outside for an hour after lunch I didn't feel like I was going to pass out.

For some strange reason I have been more plant-motivated this month.  Does that even make sense?

On Saturday I planted:
Table Queen Bush Squash
Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
Detroit Dark Red Beets
5 Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard
And already I have little sprouting seeds!

I have run out of seedling pots (all recycled) so last night I had to purchase a few Jiffy Pots for the rest of my Fall planting.
This morning I planted:
Fine Verde Basil
Dill Vierling
Echinacea Purpurea

But that's not all...Tomorrow I intend to plant more.  Soaking in little shot glasses on my kitchen table are Habanero and Pimiento Peppers, Brussels Sprouts and Little Gem Lettuce seeds.

Have I lost my mind?  Gone over the edge?  I'm not sure but I'll be really happy when I don't have to keep going to the store for salad stuff.  Even with the weekly trips to the farmer's market I find myself running to the grocery store for items I have run out of or forgot to pick up on Sunday.

Are you planning a Fall Garden?  Have you already started?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I LOVE Beets!

I planted beets about 2 weeks ago.  The seeds have sprouted and are growing additional leaves.
Heirloom Beet Seedling

Unfortunately, Rita (my female cat) ate the tops off 3 of them.  To remedy the situation, I planted about 20 seeds this weekend.  I ran out of plastic containers so I used recycled toilet paper rolls.
I have been buying beets at the farmer's Market every Sunday.  They are cheaper than buying canned beets from the store and I know there are no preservative when I cook them.  I simply chop, add olive oil and bake at 375 until they are tender.  I store them in the fridge until I am ready to eat them.  Sometimes I add them to my salad and other times I just eat them right out of the container.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another gorgeous day in Florida!

It has finally cooled down in South Florida. It's 79 degrees!  The eggplants are finally blooming thanks to a tiny cold snap we had over the weekend. Woohoo!

Yesterday was a very busy day.  It was a friend's birthday so I made brownies using applesauce instead of oil.  Yum!  And during my lunch break I made my version of Texas Caviar. The recipe is so easy and keeps in the fridge for several days.  I use it to top eggs or brown rice or even eat it by itself.
Texas Caviar (My version)
While the recipe calls for canned items I actually use homemade items that I have either frozen or canned myself.

1 can Black Beans
1 can Whole Kernel Corn
1/2 a Red Onion, chopped
1 Red or Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Jalapeno, chopped
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
2 Limes, squeezed.  Add only the juice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Speaking of changes...

I planted these Little Gem Lettuce less than a month ago.  After I took this picture I clipped off a few leaves and added it to my salad.  It was yummy!

Below is a recently transplanted Cal Wonder Bell Pepper.

I don't think the Pak Choi does very well when transplanted.

Next time I'll sow directly into a medium container.

After several months of hard work in the yard I am making several BIG and unexpected changes.  I have realized that at my current pace, the side-yard project, will continue to be very expensive.  The purpose of this project is to not only save money but to produce healthier, more nutrient dense food while learning more about Urban Homesteading.  
And yes, I did use the phrase. 
(Not sure what I'm talking about? Just ask!)

Last month I had to pull out the Cucumber and the Pumpkin plants due to a nasty aphid infestation.  However, I did find a useful recipe for pest control using olive oil, garlic and water which I have been using almost daily.  This month I was horrified when I notice several of my tomato plants had had their leaves devoured by tomato hornworms.  Never have I seen such humongous green worms!

SO, for the next few months I will be planting everything in containers.  Planting in containers can save both time and money.  I will be able to better regulate the amount of water used, soil quality and pests.

Today I planted a few more varieties of veggie seeds.  I soaked the seeds overnight and this morning cleaned out as many containers as I could find. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Container Gardening

I am currently reading an interesting book about gardening in containers.  I checked it out of the library a few weeks ago.  I have enjoyed it SO MUCH that I'm thinking about buying it from Amazon.

The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible by Edward C. Smith is very easy to read, easy direction to follow and includes many of the veggies I currently have in my own garden (and more).  I have been in need of inspiration lately.  Between the rain and gloomy weather, the uncertainty of the garden and a little extra work around the house I am taking a much needed break to sit down and plan a course of action.

I have had great success so far with lettuce and peppers growing in containers so it's about time I expanded my container garden.  After a weekend of transplanting, I currently have Pak Choi, Bell Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Little Gem Lettuce, Pimento Peppers, Hungarian Heart Tomato, Huckleberry and Red Burgundy Onion growing in containers.

Next weekend I hope to plant Spinach, German Giant Radish, more Little Gem Lettuce, and 5 Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard.

Good Morning!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden Update!!

I've been away from both the garden and blog lately.  I'm still considering my option for the future of the side-yard project.  AND, it rained most of the weekend and it's still drizzling today.  I didn't let a little, (a lot) of rain get me down. 

Since the ground had been completely saturated this weekend I figured it was time to add a bit of fertilizer.  This morning I went out to inspect the garden and, to my horror, found SNAILS in the garden.  Lots of snails!  I had a solution!  Epsom salt to the rescue.  Not only is is a great source of phosphorus which the plants needed but it also gets rid of snails and will hopefully keep them away.  Next on the list of soil amendments was Nitrogen.  Several weeks ago I purchased organic blood meal which is a great source of Nitrogen and Tomatoes LOVE it!

As for the remaining seedlings, I've already transplanted most into larger pots while they await their final destination.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Friday!

True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shock of adversity, before it is entitled to appellation.

-George Washington

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Made in America!

Last night I watched a great clip about a house being built entirely from products Made in America.  The man behind the idea, Anders Lewindal, states that if other builders simply used 5% more "Made in America" products on homes being built, it would create 220,000 jobs right now!

Check out the video clip.

I think this is an AMAZING idea and a great opportunity to support the people in your community as well as companies in America.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Space in the Garden (Part 2)

On Thursday I posted about the new spot in the garden.  My timing on transplanting could not have been better if I had planned it! It rained off and on Friday and poured Friday night into Saturday morning.

Things are happening behind the scenes so I'm not sure about the future of my side-yard project.  More on that later.  For now, I have decided to go back to containers.  I have quite a few left from last year as well as maturing compost and organic soil amendments.  This afternoon I'll begin the transformation. {sigh}  I was really looking forward to a complete and successful project.

La La La La Life goes on!

New additions: Hungarian Heart Tomato, Cal Wonder Bell, Tam Jalapeno, Pak Choi, Small Sugar Pumpkin and Marigolds.

Current Patio dwellers: Detroit Dark Red Beet, Little Gem Lettuce, Pimento Pepper,  Huckleberry and Spinach.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A New Space in the Garden

I've had to take a few plants out of the garden that were not producing.  In fact, they didn't even look like they were going to make it much longer.  I'm very disappointed and sad to see them go.  However, I'm looking forward to adding a few seedlings that are ready to be transplanted.
I've started clearing away old mulch and pulling weeds.  The area is about 2 and a half feet wide and about 6 feet long.  It doesn't look like much now but I'll post pictures again once I complete this project.

While I was working in the garden this morning I found a hideous creature!!  The dreaded tomato hornworm.  The picture below doesn't even do this monster justice.  It was almost 2 inches long and it was a fat little guy!!!!
The next seedling to go into the side-yard project are 2 more Cal Wonder Peppers, 2 Jalapeno Peppers and a Hungarian Heart Tomato.  
These were almost cat food!
The Little Gem Lettuce and the Pak Choi are doing marvelous!  I have them in containers on the front porch.

Happy planting!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Soap for October!

I didn't forget to post pictures of the Organic Star Anise soap but I've had my hands full lately.  Between the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign at the office and the aphids in the garden I've been a very girl.

The soap turned out an amazing shade of PINK!  If you've never smelled Star Anise it is delicious.  It kinda smells like black licorice.

For information about Breast Cancer and prevention check out Susan G. Komen.