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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The cucumbers have been defeated!  I didn't do a very good job of preventing an aphid infestation and they came by the thousands.  They set up camp and went to work on the Cucumbers.  Bummer!  I was really looking forward to more pickles!

Over the weekend I made a stronger batch of garlic spray.  Once it was ready I went to work fight off the little devils.  I'll check out the garden this morning, maybe spray one last time and then wait.  The garlic spray consists of oil, garlic cloves and water and it takes 24 hours per batch.  I add the liquid to a spray bottle and go to work.  I didn't want to use this method because it can harm other soft bodied insects such as lady bugs but I had no choice.

The upside to removing the cucumbers is that I have a few other plants waiting to be planted.  I'll be adding compost, manure and a bit of organic fertilizer to the bare side of the garden and in they go.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I'm getting fired up for October!  Below is a copy of the flier I use for my office.  I've also included the PINK soap I made.

Breast Cancer
Awareness Month

Recent estimates from the ACS in the United States alone for 2009
are as follows:

About 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women

About 62,280 new cases of situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer)

About 40,170 women will die from breast cancer.

Find out how to reduce your risk for cancer

Free Health Workshop: Thursday at 6pm
Space is limited. Please call to reserve your spot.

Speaker: Dr. Robert Hart
2110 Tyler St,    Hollywood, FL 33020
(954) 364-8841

Nutrition and Spinal Evaluation
($95 Value)     Expires: October 31, 2011