Archive for the ‘From the Garden’ Category

Today’s bounty

Here is a shot of a few things I harvested today….a departure from the usual lettuce, kale and tomatoes.

Can anyone name the purple little gem??



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We’ve been harvesting an amazing amount of kale and lettuce in the garden this fall/winter. I have a hard time calling it winter because it’s 72 degrees out – and it’s December 11.

Take a look:

Kale, southern peas, bloom from the eggplant, cukes and dinosaur kale






I wasn’t sure what to do with the southern peas. The pods are really fibrous, so I let them dry in the vine and took the peas out when they were hard. They’ll make an appearance in one of our meals one day!

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A lot has changed in the garden since Day 5, my last update on our expanded growing area. All of the seeds we planted in containers have been moved into the ground. We needed to wait until about September 15 when the weather started to cool enough here in Florida so the soil wasn’t too warm. Unfortunately we lost a few we planted because the sun literally baked them once transplanted. And the black weed barrier we have down around the plants didn’t help, I’m sure.

I took a few shots this afternoon, including one of our friendly neighborhood hawk. I’ve affectionately dubbed him “mascot”, number two only to our pup Morgen.

This was the only shot I could get as he and his 2′ wing span flew away before I could get my larger lens.

Ok, back to the garden. This year, my husband expanded our garden by double, so now we have a total of 760 square feet of growing space.  Here’s our original little piece of land, the left side of the garden that has Southern Peas, tomatoes, green and yellow beans, giant Caesar lettuce and sweet peppers.

Here is some of the giant caesar, which looks really hearty so I’m excited to see how this does.




Green and yellow beans already needed stakes after being in the ground for only a week. The flowers are already starting to bloom on these! We usually have really good luck with these beans and hopefully this year will be no different.


Below is the new section Ryan cleared out over a period of weeks. The grass that used to live here had mostly gone to weed, so he had to pull all of that out and mix in the good compost. A LOT of sweat on 95 degree days – backbreaking labor! Now that the plants are in we need to put some mulch down to keep the moisture in and keep the weed barrier from baking any more of the plants.


Sweet peppers are looking really good too. We have about 12 of these plants.



And my favorite plant this season – the cucumber. It’s normally a very difficult vegetable to grow for us, but I think we have the problem sorted out. Instead of growing these on the ground, we’ve decided to stake them. They seem super happy already, with blooms appearing and the little tendrils curling around the bamboo stakes. Hopefully this solves the problem!

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The growth in the past day was magnified by how the seedlings are leaning toward the morning sun. I never thought plants could look ‘cute’, but I think these do! Something that was not so cute, but glad to see, was a lizard having a late afternoon snack. See if you can make out the lizard on the bamboo downing the roach. Yummy!!

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In Florida, we’re lucky to have two planting seasons – Fall and Spring. Now that it’s August, we’re in the midst of some of the hottest weather all year and it’s time to start thinking about what we’ll plan for our Fall vegetable garden. Hard to think about going outside and preparing the soil!

I wasn’t able to post how bountiful our spring/summer harvest of tomatoes were – partially because we were so busy picking everything! My husband planted 17 tomato plants – 8 Roma, 8 Better Boy and 1 “100s” (grape). We easily harvested about 800 tomatoes, and were to the point that we couldn’t give them away fast enough! Once the really intense heat hit, the tomatoes just dried out right on the vine so we pulled everything out about 3 weeks ago. We had so many, I wanted to try canning them, but that seemed so work-intensive. So we gave them away – even leaving bowls full at the front desk of our YMCA.

Below is an example of what we were able to harvest almost every day – it was amazing!!

Now I’m excited to think about all of the Autumn-season vegetables we’ll plant. Here’s a list of what I ordered from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange:

  • Whippoorwill Southern peas
  • Eggplant
  • Collards
  • Dinosaur Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
In a few weeks, we’ll take our regular visit to South Seminole Farm and Nursery or the local hydroponic store where we’ll stock up on some compost and:
  • Sweet potato
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Bok choy
  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce

Where are you at in your gardening season? Just winding down, or planning what’s next?

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We spent some time this morning picking some oranges from our neighbor’s yard. It’s a beautiful 75 degrees and sunny out, so what better way to celebrate the new year and a gorgeous day!






R fashioned an impressive orange-picker out of a stick of bamboo and a Stonyfield Farm yogurt container.

Both girls of course wanted a chance to pick oranges!

Even Morgen our dog was smiling!

Happy New Year!!

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Crawl, walk…crawl again

I’m assuming that when I first started walking, I didn’t just start and then kept with it, never crawling again. Granted, I don’t have the memory of Marilu Henner and can’t recall exactly my mobility timeline – I’m actually quite the opposite, but I digress.

With living as free of chemicals, pesticides, GM food as possible, I’m still in the crawling stage. There are moments of clarity when I know I have to make a better choice than the last one. There are also moments when I just can’t find organic Brie, organic Chick-fil-a…or organic fudge. Mostly the convenient or so-good-but-so-bad for you items. Then I remember what this is all about…not so much living for the moment and consuming whatever I want, but living so that I can have *more* moments.

I can use every excuse in the book – I’m tired, I didn’t plan well enough, I’ve been traveling and working a lot, the traditional grocery store that we frequent (which I know their organic inventory pretty well) didn’t have what I wanted – but the bottom line is that living this kind of life takes a commitment. It takes willpower and a regular reminder of exactly why you’re doing it. It’s an instant realization at first, but then it started to fade for me and I started slipping back into old habits.

We still bought the basic organic necessities (milk, etc.), but when it comes to meal planning and resisting the urge to eat out – which feels like it’s often – that was another story. And it’s not like there’s an organic restaurant at every corner. We certainly don’t live in California! So the options were few.

Now that I’m off from my day job for a few weeks, I’m taking the opportunity to refocus and take more time to savor food – be thoughtful and purposeful in what we choose because ultimately our kids will pay the price whether it’s through a long healthy life or God forbid possibly a debilitating disease.

And it’s not just about food – what are we using to clean the house? Furnish the house? While I’d love to do away with all the carpet and put down bamboo, that’s just not realistic financially. So we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, and that’s trying our best. Taking each decision one at a time and make it the best one we possibly can. And isn’t it true that unless something is hard-fought or takes effort, it’s probably not worth it?

Did you walk right away? Or did you regress and have to build back up to the habits you always wanted?

PS – That is my adorable daughter when she was 6 weeks old. I never pass up a chance to share sweet pics like that!

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