Fall Garden 2013

Fall is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited.  Even in muggy-100%-humidity-on-most-days-sunny Florida we’ve detected a bit of fall in the air.  Today in fact a cold front has moved through and temperatures are all the way down to 89 degrees!  Brrrr…..Break out the parkas!

Needless to say, with those ridiculously hot and humid summer days, our garden was forced to take a sabbatical.  The sun and heat would just burn up anything we put in the ground.  So, we let the garden go for a couple of months.  And by let it go, I mean it looked like this…
IMG_3636The weeds and grass just grew out of control and, frankly, even thinking about mowing in there made us want to hide under the covers and never come out!    Keep in mind, this is what it has the potential to be:
IMG_3199The hope of fresh broccoli and other yummy vegetables helped to get us motivated to transform things again.

IMG_3691After combatting the grass and weeds that had grown between the beds, we opted to cover the garden in mulch.  We killed off all that grass first, lined it all with weed barrier, and then covered that with the mulch.  We hope this will alleviate the chore of maneuvering the lawn mower through those tight spaces.  *Fingers crossed!*  Looks better, right?

And without all the grass and weeds growing within the beds, we could make room for our fall crops.
IMG_3642We started some seeds on September 7 and within a week most of them had germinated.  When we finished the garden prep, they were ready to be transferred.
IMG_3693Here’s a look at the layout of the beds for fall.
Fall Garden 2013We’ll keep you posted on the progress!  Now, bring on the cooler temps!!

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Carrots You’ll Want to Eat

Back in early April, Jessa decided to grow carrots in her section of the garden.
IMG_2994This week, she was able to harvest a large bunch of them.
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IMG_3513One little carrot in particular made us chuckle…
IMG_3519Looks a little like a leg model, eh?

While she originally planned to just feed them to the horse, we thought we’d try them out too.  Now, this family doesn’t love carrots.  But, here’s a recipe that I’ve found works for everyone’s tastebuds and keeps them from turning up their noses at this vegetable.
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Sweet and Savory Carrots

1-2 c of carrots sliced thin
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Place sliced carrots in pot and just barely cover them with water.  Add butter, sugar, and salt to pot and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan and reduce to a simmer.  Cook the carrots about 7 or 8 minutes then remove the lid and raise the heat a little.  Let the water reduce until it almost evaporates.  This takes a few minutes and creates a delicious sauce for the carrots.  Check your seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Spring Garden 2013 – Done

Since it’s officially summer and officially hot and humid, we are calling the spring garden done.  While we were initially excited to start our garden at our new house, we have since become a little disenchanted with its performance.

We started with a blank slate…
IMG_2944We planted to our hearts’ content and then waited about 8-10 weeks for produce production…
Spring Garden 4-15-13Everything really took off and we were hopeful that we would get tons of fruits and vegetables!
garden 5-24-13But then we had rain…lots of it.  Some rain is good.  Too much can ruin a good thing.
IMG_3383 And we had bugs.  Bugs who like to eat.  They ate our cucumbers and our squash.  They even ate our lima beans and green beans.  We never even ate a single lima!
IMG_3384The sweet potatoes are going strong and look quite vibrant!  Jessa’s carrots are doing well too but we’ll let them “cook” a little longer.
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We thought at one point that our butternut squash were just done (after determining that they might have developed powdery mildew); but, just this week, the leaves have perked back up and this little gem appeared!
IMG_3386So here’s a recap of our Spring Garden and what worked and what didn’t:

  • Tomatoes – took forever to ripen and then the leaves turned brown and the fruit just turned to mush; may have salvaged one or two tomatoes but the flavor wasn’t that great.
  • Lima Beans – eaten by bugs/caterpillars/critters.
  • Cucumbers – harvested about 6 cukes; many destroyed by pickle worms; some that were harvested had a spongy texture (unedible).
  • Yellow Squash – harvested quite a few (15-20) but many had more of a gourd-like appearance rather than a tender yellow squash; in the end they were also destroyed by pickle worms.
  • Green Bush Beans – harvested a handful of beans off one plant then no more grew; we think these were also eaten by caterpillars.
  • Butternut Squash – many were produced but the plants appeared to develop powdery mildew; we let them grow on the vine as long as possible before bringing them in.
  • Cantaloupe – these took forEVER to grow; a few fruits started to grow to about softball size but then turned to mush and had to be tossed; did not get even one cantaloupe to taste.
  • Carrots – doing well and are edible; letting them get a little larger before harvesting.
  • Sweet potatoes – last thing we planted (a few weeks after everything else) and they are doing well; we’ve seen a few flowers; no potatoes yet.

We had a late freeze this year which kept us from planting early; well, that and we just weren’t ready to start gardening after a move and kitchen renovation.  Our plan next spring is to get an earlier start by starting seedlings inside before transplanting to the garden.  It’s really too hot to grow much of anything in the Florida summer.  We’ll take a break and start up again in the early fall.  We are looking forward to broccoli and greens!!