Saturday, March 18, 2017

Timber!

When hurricane Matthew blew by our neighborhood last fall, it made a few landscape changes for us to work with on the Back Forty.  There was one particular old and mature cedar tree that was partially uprooted and partially toppled over into a tall palm tree.  It rested very well and very securely against the top of the palm tree.

 However, we were concerned about the tree falling onto our neighbor's fence and yard thus damaging her property.  In the mean time, we had several wind storms but the tree wouldn't budge.

After many months, we finally had Bruce and his gang come to remove the tree.  I thought that he was going to climb up the tree and remove one branch after another.  Not so!

Instead, Bruce secured a "come-a-long" around the tree:  they were going to raise the tree and have it "fall" down in our yard.  Granted, there was plenty of room between the hedge and our one lone palm tree in the yard.














 From my point of view, I saw Bruce climb the cedar tree several time.  I was thinking that he was adjusting the come-a-along.  Not so!

I learned later that Bruce was climbing the tree to chase away a raccoon!

Now that the tree was righted, it was to come down in our yard and it did. It came down with a lot of dust and pollen.

Timber!

The neighbor's fence wasn't damaged and our blooming bushes were intact.

I was told that the raccoon rode the tree down and then ran away to a safer place on the Back Forty


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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coleslaw

One more time from the garden to the table:  this time with my granddaughter.  There was one more cabbage plant that needed to be harvested and what better time than to let a young person experience fresh food while creating a dish of coleslaw within minutes of harvesting.  How fresh can it get?

 Under supervision and with explicit instructions, she pulled up the cabbage from the soil and removed the outer leaves using a large knife.

In the kitchen, she grated the cabbage and a  carrot for some color.

In a separate bowl, she mixed mayo and milk together with a little sugar to taste.

She finally combined all the ingredients in a serving dish.  I assure you that the slaw tasted delicious.



This very nice couple make good gardeners.  They work well together and they have the proper respect for the soil and for the vegetables that the seeds and plants produce.

These gardeners do not use herbicides nor pesticides which makes it safe to eat the vegetables directly in the garden, most often without washing.  Some vegetables never make it to the kitchen table.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Fabulously Simple Smoothies

This is absolutely positively the season for colds and sniffles and one of the better ways to ward off  the spread of germs is to provide the body with healthy whole foods containing vitamins and minerals.  Fortunately, grocery stores and Farmer's Market have fresh fruit and vegetable available at reasonable prices.

When the immune system is at a low, make yourself a healthy smoothie to keep your weight up.

Smoothie to Gain Weight
In a blender, add
One (1) cup whole Milk
One (1) fresh Banana, peeled, sliced and diced
One (1) tsp Vanilla Extract for taste
Direction:  Blend until smooth.

Lucky's Fat Burner Smoothie
In a blender, add
1 and 1/2 cups of Coconut Water
1 cup fresh Kale (blanched, but not necessary)
1 cup Berries of your choice
1/2 cup Mango chunks (optional)
1 tsp Flax Seed ( if you have it)
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper (for heat)
Directions:  Blend until smooth.

My Favorite Smoothie
In a blender, add
1 Banana, peeled, cut and diced
1/2 cup or more of sweet Florida strawberries (washed, hulled, and diced)
Add water, if necessary
Directions:  Blend until smooth.

Eat well.  Wash fruit and vegetables.  Wash hands often.  Sneeze into your bent elbow.  

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Spring Pruning

The azaleas have been blooming for some time now--you would think that spring is here in full force with longer days and sunshine.  We still have another month, at least, of winter in NE Florida and March could be rather windy and cool.

My park area on Back Forty has been so neglected that I don't know where to start the spring cleaning.  Hurricane Matthew has reorganized the landscape too and not in a helpful way.

It blew down a large holly type tree that produced a profusion of berries for the birds in the winter time.  It took some time to cut that up and remove it.





The strong hurricane winds also blew down large limbs on a huge tree on the city property near our Back Forty.  Some of the limbs ended up near our garden.

It was too precarious for us to cut and remove.  The city workers eventually came and removed all limbs and branches from their property as well as from ours.  How nice! We appreciate their hard work.




 
Pruning azaleas:  Prune the azaleas to your liking after they have finished blooming.  I usually cut down on the tall single rod type that has no other branches growing.  I trim down on the all too stringy branches.  If the azaleas are young, I give them some of their special fertilizer.

Pruning the Plumbago:  Last spring/summer, I drastically trimmed the plumbago around the shed while it still was blooming.  I need to be able to move around the shed to paint it.  I didn't think I see any growth and blooms again for a long time.  The plumbago came back green and healthy and bloomed.

Usually, it's a better idea to trim this plant in the fall after it has bloomed out.  But leaving in warm and sunny Florida, zone 9, it doesn't seem to matter when the plumbago gets trimmed.  It does have a tendency to spread and should e kept in check.


Pruning the roses:  My roses has decided to bloom in the late fall.  Nothing spectacular--just one rose at a time; but oh! so beautiful.  The roses should definitely be trimmed before the warm spring weather arrives.  It is strongly recommended to prune by the end of February.

I carefully remove the black spotted leaves and put them out with the yard debris that is to be collected and removed.  I cut the branches and set them out in a barrel to be emptied and removed by the Sanitation Workers.

I also clean up the ground around the ground and remove weeds and give the roses a good mound of mulch.  I hold off on the fertilizer.

This is enough work to start off the spring cleaning in the beginning of February.

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Starting Seeds Indoors

Now is the time to sow seeds indoors for a Mach planting and the garden centers have many trays and assortments of containers available.  In addition, it is recommended that commercial soil be bought and used--not soil from the garden.  I have found it easier, less expensive, and less time consuming to wait and get transplants from garden centers than trying to start seeds indoors.

But if you like to give it a go, you will need clean containers, sterile media, seeds, and a sunny location.

The garden soil is the most important aspect of the indoor seed starting.  The reason your own garden soil should not be used is that it may carry diseases, bacteria, and weed seeds.

Another disadvantage is drainage.  Your own garden soil has a tendency to become heavy and packed after a few water sprinklers and that is hard on tender roots.

With a commercial soil mix, you have more control.  The soil is lighter and fluffier, and free of diseases.  It may contain peat moss, perlite, and/or vermicelli.

To start, place the media, soil, within 1/2 inch of the surface of the seed tray, press lightly, and moisten.  Then follow direction for planting depth on the seed packet.

Usually, a planting tray comes with a plastic see-through cover. Cover the seeds to keep them moist and warm.  As soon as the seedlings emerge, remove the cover.

Another aspect of growing seeds indoors is lighting.  The seeds and seedlings need at least 6 hours of natural or artificial light to grow.

I do believe that the prudent thing for me is to wait until later in the spring to buy plants from the garden centers and transplant them into my garden.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Winter Garden


 The broccoli have been harvested and replaced by two rows of Oregon Sweet Pea Pods.  They are the peas with edible pods--ready for munching in the garden when mature.

Three PVC pipes have been erected between the rows and strings still needs to be threaded into the holes in the poles so that they may climb on and to make it easy for our picking in mid-April.


A row of red potatoes have also been planted and because of their size they were cut into smaller pieces--each one with at least one healthy eye.


The small white potatoes with well developed eyes were planted whole.


Once the potatoes are dug up, okra which is a warm weather vegetable will be planted in their place.

Somewhere in this garden plot, there will e space for Contender green beans--a sure early spring winner.


It is rather interesting that I am still plotting and planting the winter garden while I am also planning for an early spring garden.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Curly Kale

Kale has become rather popular these last few years.  It is a versatile green powerhouse of a vegetable, loaded with vitamins C and K as well as many minerals.  The more it is picked, the more it grows.  It keeps very well in the garden during the cooler months but may be frozen for later use.

Curly Kale
The green curly kale gives some texture to the otherwise straight greenery in my garden and it also adds color and texture to a salad when torn or cut into small pieces.

Milo Sammas in "Dr. Earth:  Homegrown Food" writes that the "Antioxidant action of vitamin A and C help boost immune system, protect blood vessels, reduce inflammation and protect skin and lining of internal organs."

Here is an easy, delicious, and different recipe for a Kale Salad:


Remove the large veins in a bundle of kale and then blanch until wilted, cool under running cold tap water, let drain and set aside.


Cut, dice or cube an apple and peel, slice and dice an orange to combine with the kale

Vinaigrette:  In an attractive Mason jar, combine 3/4 cup of (canola) oil and 1/4 cup of (red wine) vinegar with a dash of sugar and 2 tbs of mustard.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Make it your own vinaigrette by adding herbs of your choice and even a minced clove of garlic,

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