Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Papaya and Smoothies

My papaya have finally started to ripen!

Next to it is a wonderful blueberry/moringa/banana smoothie I concocted this morning.

Hubby gifted me with a "NutriBullet" for Christmas!  It has a more powerful motor than the Magic Bullet.  I've always been hesitant to replace my aging blender with a Magic Bullet.  But this model is built to make smoothies. Apparently I don't get out much because I didn't even know this model existed.

Today's smoothie consisted of a branch of moringa, a banana, frozen Wild Maine Blueberries, yogurt, a splash of Simply Apple Juice (instead of the orange pictured above), oatmeal, and chia seeds.  Hubby's not a fan of "green" smoothies.  So he used the orange and added banana and pineapple.

I also got 10 bags of compost from "OrganicLee", produced and sold by our County, for Christmas.  I kept telling the Hubs I just wanted "dirt" for Christmas. I've wanted to try this compost rather than making my usual soil mix.  It's pretty "woody" so that was a disappointment.  Definitely more on the mulch side than a compost/soil consistency. The bags are smaller than I expected for the price.  So overall, I'm not sold on it.  I've put it all in my latest garden plot and I'll plant another round of green bean seeds in it tomorrow.  It will be a good experiment.

Also on my to do list for tomorrow will be to make trellises for the peas, which are way overdue!  They're starting to fall over:

There's lots of rabbit poop in that bed!  

And, since I have the rest of the week off, I'm going to weed out this area (again) and make the next garden.  

There's plenty of free mulch up the street to cover it.

And last but not least, here's my Christmas Cactus still looking lovely.  I thought it was a goner.

Someone needs to get busy vacuuming and mulching all those leaves!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Home Grown Sweet Potatoes

I've been growing sweet potatoes for a few years now.  We bought two slips from ECHO in North Fort Myers a few years ago.  I just let them roam.  Each year I dig up a few potatoes here and there. Unfortunately, the majority of them have been really small so I just stick them back in the ground. But every now and then we get a really long one or a few that aren't uselessly skinny.

I'll let these dry a few days, then brush the dirt off and let them sit for a week or two to cure.

I dug up a half dozen or so a few weeks ago.  Last night I peeled them and boiled them up for dinner.

I've come to the conclusion that I need to grow them in big landscaper pots.  It might be more productive, and definitely easier to dig up!

Here's a Persian lime I found on the ground yesterday.  It was pretty darn good in ice water. Very juicy.

I got in the cooking mood yesterday for some reason.  Roast chicken for dinner with a salad and mashed sweet potatoes.  I had some leftover russett potatoes, brocolli, celery and some onion so I made up some potato/brocolli soup.  It was yummy!

And since hubby has been asking me to make Indian Pudding, I made some of that too.  It takes several hours to bake and you have to stir it every 30 minutes. It's our all time favorite dessert from our days of living in New Hampshire many years ago.

Looking forward to Wed/Thurs/Fri off the next two weeks!  Yay!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dinner and a Tree

For the first time in I'd say 17 years, we all (hubby, me and both of the boys - er, men children) went to fetch a Christmas Tree!   In record time, I might add.  I think it took all of 5 minutes. 

I dragged the first one out and we all agreed it was a nicely shaped tree, good top, but a bit "too skinny".  So we decided to find another one "just to be sure".  So I looked around, pointed to another and it got hauled out of the pile of trees.  We unwrapped it, shook it, stomped it up and down on its trunk, and voila!  That was "the tree". 

So I went off to pay for it, and the tree people cut off a bit of the trunk, wrapped it up (totally unnecessary), and put it in the back of the truck.  Then we all went out to dinner.  Easy peasy. 

And those boys (er, men children) thought it was going to be painful going with the parents to buy a Christmas Tree!  Ha! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Birthday Present and Green Beans

The hubby and sons bought me the most awesome birthday present this weekend!

Our wheelbarrow has been on it's last leg for quite some time.  The wheel kept falling off.  We'd fix it and it would work for a little while, then it would fall off again.  And I'm such a clutz trying to maneuver it when it's full that it would fall over and dump its load.

This marvelous piece of work won't tip over.  Or rust.  Or get a flat tire.

I was able to put 2 bags of compost and 1 bag of topsoil in it, mixed it up, move it across the yard, and dump it where it was meant to go with no trouble at all! Brilliant!  It wasn't difficult to push or dump.  It "looks" like it would be hard to move with a heavy load, but it was no trouble at all to push.

So I added some soil along the brick border and planted me some green beans.

I'll plant a few more little garden strips of green beans over the next few weeks so we'll have a good ongoing supply of green beans.

I also converted two more soda bottles to hold kitchen scraps, making holes in the sides to let worms get in, inverted the top, cap off to let water in, added some kitchen scraps and planted them in the tomato garden:

My two tomatillo plants are doing great!  Lots of flowers:

They seem very happy so far.

Looking forward to next weekend - lots to do!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mulch and Sticks

I made a bit of progress on the back garden yesterday.  The weather was perfect. Cloudy and cool.

I managed to get two loads of free mulch using three of my big blue tubs each trip, and spread it on the newly weeded garden area:

It's always risky getting this mulch since it's hard to tell what type of seeds might be in it.

I also worked on the stick pile.  I broke the branches up into 8-12" sticks and managed to fill one of the big blue tubs, twice.  It was a lot of work, but really good therapy.  I enjoy doing it, oddly enough.

This will be an interesting experiment.  My idea is to spread the sticks out, then add heavy mulch, then soil.  Not sure if just mulch and soil will work as well for plants as the sticks, mulch and soil, but time will tell.  And, that portion of the garden should turn out a bit higher than the one behind it.  Contour is always nice.  And it will separate the two for walking around.  I have boards to put down for paths.

Still lots and lots of sticks to be broken down.  Hours and hours of "fun"!

Crappy Stick Pile Picture

Here's a wide view of that back garden area.  Still lots and lots of work to do to build the soil:

I went to Home Depot on Friday after work and was surprised to find this tree for sale:

They also had variegated cassava!  That's one smart garden center manager who is clearly keeping up with the times.

Last week, I was going to pull out one of my (two) okra plants.  One has an okra pod that I'm letting go to seed and the other was looking really poorly so I was going to yank it. But last night, I noticed this on the one I was going to yank:

I guess the temps going back into the 80's for a few weeks spurred the plant on. I'm glad I got to enjoy one more gorgeous bloom!

Looks like cool weather again for the rest of the week.  Excellent weather for breaking up sticks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Good News and Progress in the Garden

Our son came home from the VA Hospital yesterday.  It was a great relief to see him pretty much back to normal.  We are stunned at how quickly the good folks at the VA were able to get his brain functioning normally again (11 days).  Now it's up to him to do what he has to do to continue to function normally.

I'm hoping he'll be able to relax and find that "just being home" for the next 3 weeks is good therapy.  It's been a very exhausting few weeks, emotionally, mentally and physically.

On our drive home, funnily enough, he wanted to go to Checkers for a burger. So we went.  This beautiful oak tree was in the parking lot:

I was able to spend a little time in the garden on Sunday.  I created a bit more "garden space":

The corn garden is in the foreground.  The new garden space is from the far right corner of the corn garden to just beyond the rolling cart by the post.  It needs mulch and some compost and topsoil on top.  Will work on that this weekend.

I still have to break down the old square foot garden beds (I've removed the wooden sides from most of them), add compost and replant in those areas.

It will be a good sized garden once it all comes together.

Here's a view from the other end.

I planted peas and carrots (seeds) in the foreground up to the post (and newly cleared area).  Our son's dog is helping me tamp down the soil (ha ha).  The "green" section to the left of the dog is where I'll be concentrating next.  This will end up being another good sized garden.  Green beans will go there when it's done.

I've already planted squash here and there throughout the gardens.  They're all doing just fine.

It's a painfully slow process building the garden, but so long as I can do a little here and there I'm not totally discouraged.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Life, Interrupted

Sorry for the lack of posts to my reader(s?)!

I've been dealing with a family crisis over the past few weeks.  Our older son is an Army Veteran.  He has been experiencing some pretty darn scary mental health issues.  We don't know what has triggered these symptoms, or why they have manifested 11 years after his time in Iraq, but it's been frightening and overwhelming for everyone near and dear.

It has been extremely difficult to get our heads around the situation, but he is getting the help he needs at a VA Hospital here in Florida.  They have been very kind and helpful.

As for the garden, I was able to focus some of my attention on one of my garden beds.  I "fluffed it up", added rabbit manure, then sprinkled it with diatomaceous earth (to keep flies away).  I plan to put english peas in this bed.

We had a very hard rain a few days ago and that crushed quite a few of my potted plants.  I'm hopeful some of the tomato plants by the deck will perk up. They were all completely flattened.  The (26) corn plants are doing okay.  Two of my tomatillos survived as well.

Hubby and I managed to take a mental health day yesterday.  We drove to Delray Beach to visit the Morikami Japanese Gardens.  It was just what we needed.  A beautiful, peaceful place to rest our minds.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pots of Herbs and Such

Here's what's popped up so far from my little potting spree:

 I didn't expect both seeds to germinate so that was a nice surprise!  I'll try to split them and get 6 new Roselle plants!

Goji Berry
The pot on the right has just sprouted, but it's hard to see.  There's a third pot which I hope will also sprout.  I'm very excited to have Goji berry growing!

Holy Basil and Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil
 I've never grown either of these and you certainly don't come across them at the big box stores.  So I'm hoping these will do well for me once I get them in the ground.

Sweet Basil and Lime Basil
I've never grown Lime basil either.  I've heard good things about it.

Amethyst Basil and Sweet Basil
The amethyst basil should be interesting looking.  I planted a few sweet basil pots, cause I just can't have too much of that.


I got distracted when the hubby got home from work and didn't take pics of all these square plastic pots, which are mini hugelkultur pots.  I put sticks in the bottom, then mulch, then soil.

The pot on the left - Anise Hyssop - hasn't sprouted yet.  There are a few others that haven't sprouted yet; marjoram, garlic chives and I think parsley.

All in all, I'm pleased with the progress. You just never know here in Florida, we have lots of obstacles to overcome including slugs, snails, and a million bugs to out smart!

The Corn Patch

I finally got my corn patch finished and planted.  Phew!

First I spread a nice layer of rabbit manure, then sprinkled it with diatomaceous earth (because the flies were pretty bad), next was a nice layer of compost, then top soil.

I finished just in time too, since we are getting a nice rain for the rest of the evening, into tomorrow.

I don't know if it's the best time of year for growing corn, but it really doesn't matter to me since 1.) it's old seed, who knows if it will even germinate, and 2) it can't be any worse than the last bit of corn I grew which was looking lovely, started growing ears, then promptly croaked because it got too hot.

So if this round doesn't take, I'll plant again in late January.

It's all good.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kitchen Scrap Garden Feeder Experiment

I came across a blog post a while back where a guy drilled several holes in the bottom and sides of a 5 gallon bucket, "planted" it in his garden, added kitchen scraps and surrounded it with tomato plants.

I wanted to try this in my garden but I didn't want to use a 5 gallon bucket.  That would be way too large for my small garden space along the deck.  I decided to use 1 liter bottles.

I made holes in the bottom and sides big enough for worms to get in.  Then I cut the top off the bottle so I could invert the neck into the base as a "cover".  This would allow water to get in and was removable so I could add more kitchen scraps as needed.

The 1 liter bottles don't take up too much space in the garden - basically the space of a little potted plant.

I'll "plant" two more of these tomorrow and get some mulch from up the street to complete this new garden bed of tomato plants!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Potting Fever

Last weekend, I bought 2 bags of compost and 2 bags of topsoil, added some peat and 6-6-6 and revamped the little area in front of the deck and planted some tomatoes.

I also potted a bunch of flowers, herbs and "other fun stuff".

The fun stuff: 3 roselle, 3 goji berry, 2 golden berry and a mulberry.  Crossing my fingers they'll all sprout.

We cut back a lot of our trees and I've been watching the sunlight over the past few weeks.  I decided today that I'll plant corn in the foreground of this area, which used to be quite shady.

crappy picture - I know

I need to pull out a bazillion sprouted saplings then I'll bring in mulch to cover it all. Then a layer of my "soil".  It will be a few weeks yet before the corn can be planted, but that's my plan.

The roselle calyxes are still coming along:

Hubby took a picture of one of the flowers in the yard and made this fun little picture:

That's about it for today.  A Chicken is roasting in the oven and it's about time to put together the fixins.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fall Garden Update

Here's what's happening in the back yard:

The Roselle is finally producing flowers and calyxes!  Yay!

Getting a picture was very difficult.  I had to bend it down with one hand and try to make the phone camera work with the other.  I'm not very coordinated!

We tried eating the leaves last weekend and they were fantastic!  I just read today that you can dry the leaves, crumble them, and use them as seasoning for chicken and fish - a sort of lemon pepper flavor.  Interesting!  I'll give it a try!  I'm tickled the Roselle is finally doing something other than grow 8 feet tall!

Amazingly, the okra is still producing nicely.  I'm still getting a few every day or so.

I made another batch of okra, onion, garlic, fresh corn and stewed tomatoes to go over rice.  Good stuff.

I had a jicama that regrew this summer and it's now to the flowering stage.

Here's the plant itself.

I need to gently dig it up to see how the root(s) are doing.  Last year's crop was a bit gone by.  I waited too long.  The plant had pretty much died off.

The papaya are still green.  I do hope they start to ripen soon.

This next picture of my other papaya tree looks like it's getting pierced by the sun!

I amended the soil along the deck so I could plant a few tomato plants there.  It gets the most sun.

We bought two of these white fence posts that you can just plunk in the ground - you don't have to dig a post hole for them - so I don't have to get help putting them in the ground.  I plan to use them out in the new garden area (eventually) to use as a trellis for green beans.  I have field fence or chicken wire I can use to make the trellises with - I'll try chicken wire first since it's easier to work with.  It will be a good experiment.  They were under $3 a piece so it was a good inexpensive way to come up with a vertical trellis.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sneaky Velvet Beans!

A few months ago I had planted some velvet bean seeds which quickly grew into monster vines.  I pulled them all up since they were strangling my new sunchoke plants.

Or so I thought...

These sneaky little devils were hiding in my sunchokes, tucked in along my chicken run cage!  I was checking on my Roselle when I spotted these.

The Roselle, as I suspected, is flowering!  Yay!  It's so tall I didn't bother trying to take pictures.  I'm going to need to use a step ladder to get the calyxes off!

My Roselle isn't very attractive, it's just a giant stalk with leaves very close to the stalk. I'm definitely going to pinch off the top when I grow these again to see if I can force it to make more of a bush.

Finding these bean pods was a good reminder that I want to plant some of these where I don't need to worry about collateral damage.  They're nitrogen fixers and I can let them go, chop them down, and let them do their thing again.

But first I need to complete my garden because some of these seedlings aren't waiting any longer:

I'm going to have to put these in the ground today if they're going to survive. Right now in fact, since we leave for Sarasota in 2 hours!  So much to do, so little time...

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I was minding my own business at the office when one of the guys from the office next door started knocking on my door, a bit frantic, and said "you need to move your car!"

The woods were on fire, right in front of my car!  Holy smokes!


There was no lightning in the area - a clear sunny day here  - so we all came to the conclusion that someone was in there doing something they shouldn't have.  We all suspect there's a homeless guy living back there.  Yikes.

We have had 3 homeless men walk into our office over the last few months - one was totally disoriented and my boss escorted him out the door and away from the building. Another came in under the premise he was looking for the bus stop. Our office building is set back from the main road and is behind a car garage so it was a bit of a stretch trying to find a bus stop at our office!  And he wouldn't stop talking - it was August and we assumed he was just trying to get out of the heat. My boss rescued me again and told him I was busy (I have a terrible flaw in that I can't be mean to people, which I know will get me into serious trouble one day), and the third one practically fell into the office, handed me a folded up piece of paper which had both me and my coworker thinking "bank robber" type note, and looked like he was high as a kite! We were terrified!  My coworker immediately went to get my boss again. Meanwhile, I read the note which said he was deaf and he was asking for money.  He left peacefully but OMG - that freaked us out!

There was a fourth one that came in but I wasn't there, thankfully.  But my poor coworker had to handle him - he was one of those "close talker" people where they get right up to you.  She kept backing up but he kept advancing.  Thankfully my boss was there too and rescued her, but not before he nearly got completely past the reception area and into the main hallway!  

My office is the reception area.  My boss asked me nicely to take that office because he likes me taking care of people, although we rarely have anyone come to the office unannounced.  And, because there are no fluorescent lights (which burn me - the freak that I am), I said sure!

With all the strange activity, we now keep my office door locked.  It's a nuisance, but it is definitely safer!

Last Friday, the UPS guy came, then the FedEx guy, and I didn't bother to lock the door since the mailman was due to show up next.  Well, wouldn't you know it, in comes another guy with foil dishes like you'd get from a restaurant to put your leftovers in, stacked 5 high.  He said he was selling some sort of cakes for $5 each.  I kindly told him I didn't have any cash, sorry, and he went on his way. My immediate thought, sadly, was why would I trust baked goods from a complete stranger? Wierd.

I'm definitely going to start moving my car to the front of the building before everyone leaves the office.  After we change the clocks back, it's dark by time I go home.  The whole thing is creeping me out.  Sigh...Something else for my worry list.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seeds in a Jiffy (pot)!

I've been anxious to get some seeds started, but my garden isn't quite ready for direct seed planting yet.  Hubby has been after me to get tomato seeds going so I finally got around to planting the Jiffy Seed Pots on Sunday.  I've warned him they'll grow quickly and he'll need to help me finish the garden.  Sucker!

There are 72 seed pots in the tray - the bulk are tomato seeds (gap in markers):

I left the popular photography magazine on the bar - my little joke!  Ha Ha!  It's not mine, it's the hubby's.  Don't get excited.

Because I'm such a dork when it comes to knowing what's been planted, and where, I made up a spreadsheet so I can identify what's what:

Really Really Crappy Spreadsheet Pic!

I also planted up a few pots of herbs - marjoram, thyme, cilantro and sage.

I'm hoping to get another Jiffy tray tomorrow so I can start some flowers and more herbs.  If I get out of work at a decent hour.

I didn't get home from work til after dark tonight so I didn't bother to inspect the yard, or the seed tray.  Hubby says there are some sprouted seeds already.  Not surprising.  It usually only takes a few days for things to pop.

Got our vehicles sorted out (got mine back today and the truck back late Saturday night) and looking forward to the weekend!