Monday, March 19, 2018

Purple Potatoes

I don't remember where or when I heard about Purple Potatoes but I was interested and I was also going to get some.  There are a few farms in northern Florida  (e.g. Hasting) that grow purple potatoes but I don't believe that they are open to the public.

I asked at the local market and they had indeed heard about purple potatoes and shortly afterwards these small potatoes were available in bags.  OK, that will do for starters.

I cooked the purple potatoes as I would regular white one.  They did not lose their color and remained firm.

I understand that you may grow the purple potatoes as you would regular white or red potatoes.

After these potatoes were cooked, I served them as I would other potatoes

 My new found potatoes were a little bit "mealy."  They are different.  I can't say that I fell in love with them but I will give them another try. What about you?

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Red Tossed Salad

I'm changing it up a little, going from green to red.  Not that green is boring but red is vibrant and full of spice and zest.  Let's make a red salad.

The red lettuce are growing nicely in the cool spring weather, the red kale is also coming along, and the red mustard need to be picked before it bolts and blooms.  If I cut these three vegetables in strips, I will have a red tossed salad in a short time.

I set out red onions in the garden a little while ago, but only the green tops are showing.  Of course, they could be cut and used, but I bought a large red onion at the grocery store.  I will thinly slice it into moon shaped bits and add it to my red salad.

I almost forgot, I harvested the red cabbage and stored the various sized heads in the crisper in the fridge.  I will finely slice some of the cabbage into fine bite size pieces and add it to the salad along with some colorful small grape tomatoes.

We now have red lettuce, kale, mustard, onion and cabbage.  Let's mix it up and check this salad for taste and texture with red wine vinegar and oil.  Serve with crisp/toasted sourdough bread and cheese.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

The Hawk

Several years ago, I wrote about a red shouldered hawk visiting the Back Forty.  It was a medium sized hawk.  The other day, we had another hawk come visiting.  It couldn't be the same one, could it?

I was on my way out to the garden when I caught sight of some motion in the grass that needs cutting.  What was going on?

A hawk was having lunch.  He could have bought his own or caught a small rodent, a snake, or even a fish from the nearby creek.  The hawk usually catch their food scooping down on its prey while in flight.

The Florida hawk have a more off white colored head than the California bird that is more reddish.  My hawk's head is speckled!

Sometimes, the hawk finds himself on a perch resting and looking.  

Unfortunately, we have lost numerous trees to hurricanes but I am glad that hawks and other birds are finding their way back.

Take a listen to this red breasted hawk's solo.  
He has a distinct call.  

Most often this bird comes soaring into our yard.  He just appears on silent wings--the element of surprise at work.

When the hawk does come, the smaller birds such as the Cardinals disappear and it becomes very quiet on the Back Forty.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Red Winter Garden

This season, the gloomy winter months of January and February, I thought that I would put a little color in my life.  As it turned out, I put color in the garden.  Red for Valentine.

Let's begin with the Red Seed Potatoes that I just put in the ground.  Once the potatoes are cut up and have rested for a few days, it is difficult to tell their color.

I did not find any kale to plant earlier this fall, but a trip to the Plant Ranch proved full of surprises.  They had Red Kale.

They were left over since the fall because they were root bound but never mind.  I planted them before the nice soaking rain came down to water the very dry plants.  Good timing!

I have not had much success with Red Cabbage before.  I had almost given up on them, but I couldn't resist a six pack.  Sure enough!  They are heading up rather handsomely.  It won't be long before I can add some color to my otherwise green salad.

The Red Mustard is a winter hardy bunch and slow to bolt.  It is said that they improve with frost and they may even survive a short freeze.  They are more flavorful than green mustard but I still like to eat them with pickles.

I'll be curious to see what kind of flowers they will produce when it is no longer feasible for me to keep harvesting them.  I will absolutely let them go to seed to attract birds and other winged critters, hopefully, bees to aid with pollination.

I have no idea how many Red Seed Onions there are in this red netting but they need to go into the soil before too long.  I usually don't let the onions mature but use the small ones and the greenery.

Small Red Rocks from Sweden for decorative purposes.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!
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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Caring for the Citrus

I picked the last of the Valencia oranges.  I finished squeezing enough juice from the fruit to start the week off with a delicious morning drink to combat colds.

We are getting much too much of pink grapefruit which we love; however, it is not recommended to eat while on certain medications.  Instead, we carried half a bushel to the City Rescue Mission who accepted the fruit gracefully.  Some, we set out by the road with a sign for "Free Oranges" and some we did eat, sparingly.

The citrus trees have yet to sprout so it was a good time to closely cut the growth from under all the citrus trees on the Back Forty.  We trimmed out the hanging branches from the grape fruit tree and trimmed out the dead limbs and branches from the orange trees.

With a low setting on the tractor, I trimmed the grass further making a close cut ring around the trees.  (As you can see, the Valencia tree needs a lot of attention.)

The most important task to do for the fruit trees is to liberally spray them with a Homemade Insecticidal Oil.  Mix  2.5 tbs mild dish-washing detergent and 2.5 tbs vegetable oil with one (1) gallon (about 4 liters) of soft water.

To make hard water soft, boil it and let it cool.  (Hard water contains calcium and other minerals.)

Finally, it is also time to fertilize the citrus trees to give them a good start for their fruit production.  It is strongly recommended to use fertilizer specifically for the citrus.  If you like to mix your own fertilizer, consult a nursery that specializes in citrus.  It is important that the trees get mostly nitrogen.

It is also important that the trees not be mulched but that the area under the trees are free of weeds and debris.

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

BBQed Chicken Legs for Super Ball Sunday

The other week, we were watching the football play-off to see which teams would meet in Minnesota for the Super Ball.  Our son announced that he wanted to eat BBQed chicken wings while watching the game. 

Hm!  Chicken wings?  I have always felt that there isn't much meat on the wings but a lot of bones; however, the guys went to this BBQ place and came home with two dozen wings.  Again. hm.  Son went home happy, even if the Jaguars lost by a few points.

For the Super Ball Sunday, my husband and I decided to BBQ chicken legs and to see if we couldn't make our own sauce as well.  Husband bought ten (10) chicken legs and I made the sauce.

To Do: Prepare the baking dish by adding a dab of oil to the bottom and lay out the chicken legs. Tear off foil to eventually cover cover the dish.

Preheat the oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ingredients added together are as follows: empty your spice cabinet!

2 tsp each of dry mustard, chili powder (to taste), paprika, and salt (sea salt)
1 tsp each of cumin and black pepper

Melt 4 tsp butter or margarine in a pot and stir in:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Add the spices (your own) to the pot and let it heat up to melt the margarine. Stir this mixture over the chicken in the prepared dish, cover with the foil, and put the dish in the oven for about one (1) hour. 

After 1/2  an hour, turn the chicken over if you would like.  I didn't and it turned out fine.  If you have a thermometer, it should read 156 degrees F when inserted in a thick part of the chicken leg.

The BBQed chicken legs should be served somewhat warm with a dipping sauce such as Ranch, if you prefer. 

Happy Cooking!
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Planting Red Seed Potatoes

It's time to plant seed potatoes again in Zone 9 which includes north east Florida where I live.  Let's say that the winter is over, long gone, only a too recent memory.  In general, potatoes do well in sunny and well drained areas with warm days and cool nights.

Red Seed Potatoes
I've got five pounds (about 2.5 kilos) of white potatoes ad five pounds of red potatoes.  Both are the generic kind--no names.  I don't have a choice but to buy whatever is available at nursery and garden stores.

After cutting up the red potatoes before planting, I placed the pieces on a baking sheet and put them in a cool and airy room to rest, dry, and heal for a coupe of days.  This will somewhat prevent the potato pieces from rotting after planting.

While the potatoes were resting, I was busy making a furrow for planting the seed potatoes 4 inches deep, 8 inches apart and 36 inches between rows, give and take an inch here and there. The potatoes are planted with the cut surface down.

I covered the furrows with a thin layer of pine mulch and then planted the potatoes, covered them up with another thin layer of mulch along with a common commercial garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10, and finally covered the potatoes with soil.  (I made a row and a half,)

Red Seed Potatoes cut and resting
I believe that it is a good idea not to put fertilizer directly on the potatoes to prevent from burns.  Again, fertilize the shoots when they are about 6 - 8 inches tall. The shoots should start showing within 2 - 3 weeks after planting.

This is also a good time to start hilling up the potato shoots to give them more room to grow and to prevent direct sunshine that will make them green and toxic.

It may take 80 - 115 days from planting to harvest.  To test maturity, dig up a sample and if the skin does not come off too easy when rubbed, the potatoes are ready for harvesting.

Sources:  Me and the Garden Help in The Florida Times Union

Happy Gardening!
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