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.

Valencia
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.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oregon Sugar Pods or Sweet Peas

I am planting Oregon Sweet Peas or Sugar Pods in Northern Florida and I don't know how to explain or justify that to myself.  In the first place, you sow/plant whatever is available in the various seed stores.  Second; it may have something to do with the climate.  The sweet peas do like cooler weather but not necessarily freezing cold.

I sowed Sweet Peas earlier this year and only one seedling came up!  The seeds were fresh; however, the weather may not have been the best for sowing:  it was too dry; too chilly, and then it was right cold.

So, my husband and I went down town to Standard Feed and bought a package of their Oregon Sweet Peas or Oregon Sweet Peas, enough for two 8-foot rows planted very close together so that they can use the same trellis.

The soil was soft and easy to make two row about 3 inches deep and I "evenly" distributed my seeds, covered them up, and patted them down with the garden rake.  As they come up, I will continue to hill soil round them  Eventually, I will also fertilize them with a common garden/vegetable fertilizer such as 10-10-10.


Once the peas are beginning to mature, I love picking the pea pods and eating them right there.  My serving of fresh vegetables.

I strongly recommend harvesting the peas before they do get too full.  I usually blanch my peas, chill 'em in running cold water, bag and label them for the freezer.

Some gardeners like to presoak seeds overnight to speed up germination.  It is difficult to say how long it will take for the peas to germinate.  It depends on the warmth of the sun, the temperature of the soil, and the all important watering.

A guesstimate for germination is 8 days and 120 days to maturity.  Peas are usually ready for harvest 3 weeks after flowers appear.

Happy Gardening!
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

To Do List for January 2018

A gardener's work is never done.  Every time I go out to the Back Forty, I moan and groan looking at the work that is grabbing my attention.  As soon as it gets warmer, I will grab the hoe fork, the rake, the shovel, and ,,,,

Here is my To Do list for January 2018 that is going by rather fast:

1.  For starters, this is a good time to transplant trees, bushes, and plants only to prune diseased or dead material.  Do not fertilize at this time; however, watering is of utmost importance--moist, but not soaking wet.

2. Use horticultural oil spray for citrus and woody ornamental trees/bushes, if scale problems exist. Follow label directions.

3. Do prune roses and remove leaves on the ground and strip leaves from plant (unless green) to reduce disease problems.

4. This is also the time to plant seeds indoors or in a green house for March plantings of peppers and tomatoes.  It takes four to five weeks to grow small transplants.

5. Water lawns, if necessary.  In my zone 9 area, 3/4 of an inch every 10 to 14 days should suffice.

6.  It is never too early to start raking leaves and pine needles to add to the compost pile.

Keep warm.
Keep Green.
Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Haricot Verts aka Green Beans

The other day it was Herbes de Provence and today it is Haricots Verts which is a fancy French word for thin green beans.  Some time ago I sowed too old green beans too late in the season.  Yes, the plants grew and bloomed but the beans looked pitiful.  The freeze took care of the vines and that was the end of the beans.  So I thought.



I was out in the garden this morning and to my amazement found almost too large beans and too frozen.  I picked them and cut them up for cooking.  Would it make any difference to the beans if they were frozen in or outside the freezer?

I thought that I would take extra care to treat this surprise.  I salted the water in a large pot and let it come to a boil and then gently transferred the beans from a bowl to the pot.

While the beans were boiling gently, I fried bacon to season the beans,  thinly diced a bit of red onion, made zest from a lemon and mixed them together to add to the beans after they finished cooking and were plated

The large green beans turned out very well and we will enjoy eating them for many a days next week.

We will be ready to start planting green beans in March (zone 9) for a bountiful harvest in about 2 months later.

Keep it Green!
Keep warm!
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