Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not Much Gardening Going On

I haven't been in the garden for more than a few minutes all week.  For one, it's been rainy here and, also, I've got a lot going on inside the house.  I'll get to that in a minute.

I did grab my phone and snap a couple of pics of the garden.

The garlic that I just planted last week has popped up and is growing at an insane pace.  This picture was two days ago and it's almost twice this tall now !  I'm sure the 80 degree + weather has something to do with it.  Daytona Beach tied a record high today.

Lettuce and peas (in the middle) are doing well.  The Lincoln pea seeds floated above ground after a heavy rain, but I pushed them back down and they have now sprouted.

Teeny, tiny Brussels sprouts.  I've never gotten them to grow so we will see if these make it to a size that's edible.

The grocery store gerbera daisy that I used as a centerpiece for my daughter's bday party last spring was planted in a corner of one bed and has been blooming, off and on, all year.

That's about it in the garden.  In other news, my kitchen remodel that turned into a kitchen/bathroom/living/dining room remodel is coming along.  

This is my formal living and dining area as of today:

Our close friends own a wood flooring company and they spent the last two days ripping up hardwood maple floors that had been water damaged after the washer leaked through the wall.  All the furniture from these two rooms (well one big room really) is shoved into the great room behind the French doors. 

The guys also semi gutted the master bathroom.  I am so grateful they did all the work before my husband came home from a trip.  Now he can rebuild the shower and tile everything and it saved days.  Until it's done, this is what I have:

The new kitchen is close to being done.  We only replaced the upper cabinets and had matching doors and drawers made for the bottom.  Some were the wrong size so they had to be reordered and the filler pieces and crown and trim moldings still need to go up. We also need to pull the microwave forward so it's flush with the cabinets, not recessed.  Oh yeah, and backsplash tile. Ok , I guess it's not really that close to being done.  Wishful thinking I suppose. 

It's getting there.  We started three weeks ago and I can't wait to have a finished house back. 

All this chaos makes me anxious, not to mention the money being spent.  We have been in savings mode for so long, I feel weird shelling out so much.  Luckily, we have friends who are in these types of businesses and it's saving us a fortune. Another close friend owns the cabinetry shop and, yet another, is a master at painting and tile work.  He even works for a home cooked meal, something he, being an airline pilot and single, doesn't get too often!
I'll post finished pictures when done and, maybe, in the meantime, the weather will cooperate and I can finish my late winter planting. 

Time to go and try and find a clean place to sit-wish me luck!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Planting

The weather warmed up and the temps are supposed to be in the 50's at night for the next several days, so today, I took the opportunity to plant some stuff out in the garden.  I sowed some pea seeds-Sugar Snap and Lincoln, and transplanted a bunch of lettuce-Iceberg, Romaine and Buttercrisp along with Bright Lights Swiss chard.  I pulled up the  broccoli plants that had stopped producing side shoots and replanted more broccoli and cabbage in their places.  I filled six 4x4 beds with seeds and plants and it felt great!  I also got a small amount of my seed garlic planted in some large planters.  Tomorrow, I need to finish planting all the garlic, shallots, leeks and onions. I'm about six weeks late planting the garlic but I kept it in the fridge so hoping it will still bulb up.  

I think I will also plant the potatoes tomorrow.  Last year I planted in mid February, but thinking if I planted a little early, I might be able to harvest before it gets wet in the spring.  I may have to cover them if we get some late freezes, but a lot of locals plant in January (or earlier), so I'm giving it a try.

While I'm out there, I'll have the kids plant carrots and radishes, too.  Busy planting weekend in the Sanctuary Garden!

No pictures today, it was dark by the time I finished so I'll snap a few in the morning.

Have a good night:)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Florida Freeze

Winter has finally made it to Florida and I couldn't be happier!  It's been so warm here, unlike much of the U.S., I thought we'd have another winter less year.  Last year was so mild, none of my fruit trees or bushes produced except for my Sunraycer nectarine-that tree went from a 1/2" caliper to a two inch caliper in one season and put on almost 10' of growth! It gave me eight deliciously sweet nectarines and is already starting to blossom.  I shouldn't have let it produce since it was in it's first year, but I have a feeling this tree can handle it.

Right now, my kitchen breakfast nook is filled with plants waiting out the cd weather.  The cats love it- it's like their own personal jungle!   Here's the oldest cat, Phoebe, checking out some tomato transplants that are, patiently, waiting for warmer weather so they can go outside.  

These were purchased from HD after the last freeze a few weeks ago.  They were marked down to .50 each.  Guess the store thought they wouldn't make it.  A little TLC and sea kelp fertilizer and they are good to go!

Hope everyone is staying warm!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Progress

I'm checking things off my garden project list!  I've got new hardware on my fence gate that serves the garden (thanks to my hubbie and Little Man), the new beds are all stained to match the old ones, the new beds are all filled with garden soil, tomato and pepper seeds have been started and I cleaned up the apple tree area.  I feel so accomplished...till I look at all the stuff still left to do.  

Speaking of filling the beds with garden soil...

I have, historically, used Mel's mix to fill my beds.  It's wonderful and I have no complaints about its ability to grow great produce.  My complaint is, it is expensive.  Since I started with one bed and added one a season for the last year or two, it wasn't a huge hit to the wallet all at once.  The issue this year is that I added five 4'x8' beds and filling them all with Mel's mix was gonna cost a fortune.  A friend of mine started a garden two years ago and filled all of her beds with garden soil she had delivered.  I called and found I could get "good, black garden soil" for $18 a yard!  The woman on the phone assured me it was perfect for raised garden beds and growing vegetables.  I am not one to change something that's working great already, but for that price, I would be a fool not to try it.  It looks pretty nice; it's loose and rich and looks a lot like my compost.  No sand at all, which is great because all the bargain brand soils and compost I have purchased have contained a lot of sand.  My whole yard is sand so I don't need any more.  Since I had already purchased several bags of vermiculite and peat moss over the winter, I amended the garden soil with these.  I will add worm castings, Azomite and compost to each bed prior to planting to end up with a hybrid Mel's mix/black garden soil.  I'm crossing my fingers that I'll have similar results as I have previous years.  Friends of mine use garden soil exclusively and grow tons of produce so it should work well.  

Here is Little Man playing on the pile of garden soil.  It looks like a small pile in this picture, but I ordered six yards.  It was enough to fill all the beds, top off the existing ones, fill in all the area beneath the apple trees (I'm planting my garlic here this week-it gets a lot of sun and is supposed to be a great companion planting), fill my old fire pit (another garlic planting area) and still have a huge pile left over.

I used it to create a new landscaped area in my front yard.

First, I dug up the sod and covered the area with cardboard.  Then I watered the cardboard thoroughly and added the soil (and photo bombed my own photo with my shadow).

My daughter, the Girly Girl, usually could care less about helping in the yard or garden; my Little Man is the one who loves to help out.  I was surprised when she asked if she could help and then filled a full wheelbarrow full of dirt and spread out several loads after I dumped it.  I suspect it was an attempt to put off cleaning her room, but I will take it.  I love when she wants to hang out with me and I know that the time is coming soon when I won't be cool any more. (Let's face it, I was never cool, I'm a total nerd and kinda proud of it).

I ended up with what I affectionately call "Fish Island".

Its still not planted, but we have freeze watches for the next two days so it will be this weekend before I feel it's safe to add some plants.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but a storm was moving in and I was lucky to get the dirt covered with landscape fabric and my garden tools put away just as the rain started.

Well, that's it for today.  Stay warm!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Garden Goals 2014

I was just reading another garden blog and it had a list of garden goals in the sidebar.  I like that idea, something told keep me in check and accountable.  I am very good at making plans and saying yes to things but I usually get myself in over my head.  It has never stopped me, though!

I have lots of garden goals/projects that I'd like to accomplish this year and I will attempt to list them here.

First the projects:
Finish staining new beds to match existing ones.
Cover walkways with landscape fabric and add gravel
Fix garden gate
Cap off reclaimed water sprinklers and finish installing fresh water irrigation
Remove blood orange tree that hasn't given a single edible orange since planting it several years ago
Work on fruit tree area along fence-remove sod and weeds and make it a proper garden area
Remove dying magnolia in the front yard and replace with a peach tree
Build a moveable trellis/row cover system that is interchangeable and can be moved from bed to bed
Move jasmine vines to west side fence and plant potted muscadine grapes on pergola

Wow, I'm exhausted thinking about all that work!

Now for the goals:

Grow with the intention of eating as much fresh as I can.  Large quantities for putting up can be obtained from the farmers market. Exceptions are potatoes, garlic, onions and cucumbers.
Create a list of recipes and preservation ideas for everything I grow/purchase at market.
Keep an actual garden journal that tracks planting dates, varieties, pests, harvest, etc.
Create a calendar with dates for planting, fertilizing, planting, etc.
Grow a good slicing tomato!
Keep the garden area as neat and orderly as possible.  Put away tools, pots, etc as soon as I'm done.
No shortcuts on projects!  I always end up redoing it at a later date.
Learn as much as I can and enjoy every step along the way.

Anyone else have goals for this gardening season (or year, if you live in the south, like me)?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Seeds Are In!

My mail carrier was good to me today.  She brought three seed orders and some nice sugarcane.  Last week. She brought me lots of onion starts and my seed potatoes so I better get working.

I added another two beds and I am waiting for the weather to cooperate so I can stain them to match the others.  Once that is done, I can have the soil delivered and, then, the gravel for the pathways.  I've been going back and forth on the gravel.  I can't decide between brown and white.  I believe brown will be the lowest maintenance, but I really love the idea of white.  It seems so orderly to me.  I had white stones when there were only two beds and loved it.  I only changed to brown mulch because it was so inexpensive.  I hate having to add more a few times a year, though.  We also are still planning the pool and gravel would be much better once that's in.  

What do you think-brown or white gravel?

I really have to stop worrying about appearance and get peas and carrots planted and tomatoes and peppers started.

Has your mail carrier been good to you, also?

Thanks for reading,

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Crops are Falling!

Falling prey to caterpillars!  They are everywhere and the Bt I have been spraying just makes them stronger.  I got some spinosad in the form of Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew but we've had rain every evening so I haven't been able to spray.  The rain is gone today and the forecast is clear for the next week so I will spray tonight in one last ditch effort to save what's left of the butternuts and cocozelles.  The spaghetti squash and pumpkins are done.  One pumpkin and no squash on a dozen plants and the one pumpkin was attacked last night and has holes all over.  All but one butternut was attacked, too.  The butternut holes are tiny so I'm hoping I can still save them and just cut the wormy part out.  They won't store, but I could cube and freeze.

The biggest butternut, not looking too good.

Spaghetti squash covered in powdery mildew and chewed by caterpillars which have made their way into the vines.

The last cantaloupe.  Starting to see a theme?  Yup, the caterpillars feasted last night!
The good news is that only a few of the cucumbers have been hit with bugs and no powdery mildew yet so I get to keep those for a few more weeks, or so.  Also, all the winter veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, etc. are doing great.  The caterpillars only seem to like the cucurbits.  If I pull them now, I free up a lot of space to plant onions, garlic, leeks, carrots and greens, among other things.  I am somewhat sacrificing the cucumbers because, once everything else is gone, they will be the feast of choice.  Hoping to keep spraying and keep them from moving onto winter crops.

The sweet potatoes are curing nicely, and I cooked with the ones I harvested early, about a month ago.  I made scalloped potatoes at gratin.  They started out as scalloped potatoes, but them I covered the top with cheese so, technically, they are au gratin.   I think.  Never was really sure of the difference.  Whatever the name, they were the best sweet potatoes I've ever eaten.  Ever. In my life.  Even my daughter loved them and ate two helpings.  I didn't follow a recipe, just sautéed an onion and garlic in butter, added salt, pepper and crushed cayenne pepper and wondra flour and made a paste.  Then I poured in some heavy cream and added chopped chives and the sauce was done.  I mixed in the potatoes and poured it all into a baking dish, covered it with grated asiago and baked at 400 till potatoes were soft and the top was brown which took about 30-35 mins.  Everything but the flour and dairy came from the garden-love that!  I didn't get a picture because they were gone before I even thought of it.  

We had the potatoes with a salad and a crock pot roast.  I even made an apple slab pie for dessert.  Used this recipe from King Arthur Flour.  I had a store bought crust and was short on time but it worked great.  I will attempt to make the crust from scratch next time.  Oh my, it was a great dinner.  I will have to run a few extra miles today, but it was sooooo worth it.  

One last thing, but it's not garden related.  Hope no one minds.  Here's a somewhat grainy (pulled it from a video on my phone) of my son riding his bike for the first time without training wheels!  

So proud of him.  Go Little Man, go!

Thanks for reading,