Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter Time

There is absolutely nothing to do in the garden but wait for sunshine and warmer weather.  Interestingly, the home improvement stores have had cold weather plants available such as collards, cabbage, broccoli, and some herbs.  I feel that those cold weather plants would interfere with the spring planting in north Florida.

It is brutally cold for Floridians who don't have long johns and insulated jackets brought with us when we moved from more frigid states.  I am not sure that you are able to buy those things in department stores in Florida.

It is too cold, even in the Sunshine State, to go out and work in the garden.  I did do that not too long ago just to get some exercise and I found that I was disturbing large and small frogs.  Excuse me!  I covered them up with soil and additional pine straw.  I do not want to disturb those helpful workers.

Until spring comes, dress in layers.  Keep an extra coat in the car as well as blankets.  Also keep a bag of cat litter in your car just in case you should run into a little bit of ice.  I addition, keep a small shovel in the car at all times.  You never know when that may come in handy.

You know better than I do how to take care of your selves in the cold weather, do it.  The weathermen is predicting 80 degrees F for the weekend!

Keep warm!
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Friday, February 20, 2015

A Healthy Garden, A Healthy Gardener

A healthy gardener is a happy gardener, right?  In order to grow and take care of a garden, we have to take care of ourselves first or maybe it's the other way around.  There has to be a symbiotic relationship between the garden and the gardener.

I have a new doctor and I showed her my Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) report from April of last year and I asked her to translate it. She glanced at it and said that I had arthritis and there is no cure for it.

Instead of wasting her time with too many questions, I went home to research how to live the arthritis and the pain (in my lower back, in my case).  I came up with the following results that I want to share with you, BUT, you should consult your own physician about your own ailments.

1.  Reduce weight by taking smaller portions; be aware of the intake of calories; avoid sugary foods and drinks; and eat plant-based foods.

2.  Eat more fruit and vegetables loaded with antioxidants that will help protect your cells from damage.  Apples, onions, shallots, and strawberries (that are now in season) may help reduce joint inflammation and pain.

3.  Omega-3 fatty acids may relieve joint pain and decrease morning stiffness.  It supposedly reduces inflammation in the body.  It is recommended that we eat fatty fish twice a week.  Over the Counter Omega-3 is also doable.

4. Exercise.  Gardening is on the top of my list and walking is recommended.  The worst thing that I can do for my pain is to lay down and give in to the pain;  however, it is recommended to take short rests and refrain from chores.  Work a little, rest a little.

5.  Finally, stay hydrated.  It will help with weight reduction and it will flush out toxins.  I still have problems with drinking water, but I have startedl to drink water more than usual.


I stocked up on canned salmon, sardines, and herring.  Fresh salmon, trout, mackerel, and tuna are excellent choices for Omega-3. The Omega-3 balances out the carbohydrates that shows up as triglycerides in a lab report.  .

There are so many more ways that we can protect ourselves against arthritis and to stay healthy.  I need to go out in the garden and move around and keep moving and grow vegetables that are a vital part in the plant-based diet.

Source:  WebMD, my doctor, myself.

Your suggestions are welcome.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Removal of Yard Debris

On Thursday morning, I met up with the sanitation workers and asked them if they were the same guys who'd come and pick up the yard debris.  They were.  I gestured toward the pile of tree branches and stumps by the curb to show them what they had to look forward to removing.  They were very nice and polite about it.

I then smiled broadly and told them that I was actually waiting for a removal truck with a scoop to come when I heard their truck come.  Now, they were grinning and told me how much they appreciated it.

When the guy from Wood Resource Recovery came to pick up the debris, he positioned his truck in the circle, climbed up into his cab, and started to maneuver the scoop with care and precision.

He lined the branches up so that he could take a full load and dump into his truck.  He did the same with the large stumps.

It did not take him long to remove the remnants of the cedar tree.  He knew what he was doing.  He was also Licensed and Fully Insured.

Now, only the stump in the yard remained and it was to be ground down.  We discovered that the tree had been planted atop of the water and sewage lines leading from the house.  This presented a problem.

So, it was decided to grind the stump up to make the area a flat surface.  The guy from the Jacksonville Stump Removal understood completely. He indicated that he would also grind up the surrounding roots that was stretching from the stump.  He was also Licensed and Fully Insured.

The guy rolled out a grinder similar to the picture (which is not mine) and started working that machine.  Within the half hour, he was finished.  A large mound was  now in place of the stump.

The guy raked up the debris that had scattered from the grinding.  He said to leave it alone and it would settle into the ground once it rained a few times.

I am so impressed with all the tree guys who took down the cedar tree, removed the debris, and ground up the stump within a few days.

We do miss our shade tree and we are in search of other trees to plant in our front yard to give us some relief from the hot summer sun.  If anybody have some ideas or suggestions for a deciduous fast growing shade tree, let me know.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tree Cutting

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Semper Fi Tree Guys rolled into the circle in their trucks and with their equipment.  It was time to take down the large cedar tree in our front yard that had provided us with shade for so many years.  But with frequent heavy rain showers and winds whipping around, the tree was splitting and blowing apart.  It was only a matter of time for it to come down on its own and that would create severe damage to the house.

 The Tree Guys worked very quickly and exercised the greatest care and caution.  The various branches came down with crashes and thumps and oohs from me.  I was concerned about everybody's safety.

The branches could be taken down without anybody having to climb the tree which could be dangerous because it was rather brittle and the uncertainty of the split.

I do believe that this was the last huge limb to come down and it covered our drive way.  Because of it dense crown, it landed rather softly.  The debris was carried to the curb to be picked up the following morning.

The tall stump was cut as close to the ground as possible and as you can see it split in half as it fell to the ground.

The cedar tree smelled so nice and fresh and the wood was so beautiful.  I wish I could have saved some of these stumps but I have got enough projects.

I must say that I was impressed with the Semper Fi Tree Guys.  They worked so efficiently.

Voices and noises carry on the beach and it impressed me that these guys were not yelling any orders but each one knew what to do.  It also made me happy that we could provide work for a veteran.

Thanks, Semper Fi Tree Guys for a work well done.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Pickled Peppers

It was too nice to stay home and work on Saturday so we decided to go to the Farmer's Market in down town Jacksonville.  I needed some peppers for a new recipe that I was going to try.  As always, I get carried away at the Market and wanted something new.  Let's go for some different peppers.

 Aside from the regular bell peppers that I recognized, the large table was filled with baskets of dark green Poblano or chili peppers and I was told that they were rather mild and great for stuffing because of their thick walls.

Some of the Poblanos were turning dark red and some had a brownish hint.  I told the attendant that I wanted one and my husband said that he wanted one also.  One pepper, not a basket full.

I had already selected Vidalia onions and I asked the attendant to use the same bag.

Deem of my surprise when I got home and found a bag full of peppers.  Oh, my goodness!  What am I going to do?

Green bell peppers can be cut up and put in the freezer without fuzz or muss but  what about the Poblanos?  What would you do?

I made a concoction of 4 parts of white vinegar and 2 parts of water, added 1 tbs of sea salt and a pinch or two of sugar and brought it to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes.  I also added minced dried parsley.

Before I started operating on the peppers, I put on my Latex gloves (in case the peppers were too hot to handle and burn my hands).

I rinsed the peppers, cut them in half, removed the seeds and sliced them.  I filled jars with the peppers and in the large jar with the colorful Poblanos, I added sliced Vidalia onions.  Finally, I poured the vinegar solution over the peppers and sealed them (but not too tight).

The water bath:  To be on the safe side, I gave the jars a water bath.  I don't have a special pot for this, so I covered the bottom of my large enameled pot with a dishtowel and wrapped the jars in wash rags to keep them from rattling against each other in the pot.

I was concerned about breakage but the vinegar was warm in the jars and I inserted the jars into the pot filled with water that was heating up on the stove.  No sudden temperature changes were to occur.

I filled the pot with water so that it would cover the tops of the jars and let it come to a gentle boil and to simmer for 10 minutes.  I let the jars cool in the pot and later store the jars on a shelf in the cabinet

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Cedar Tree Split

Only last week did we notice that the tree trunk of our one remaining cedar tree in the front yard was splitting; the more we looked, the more it split.  My husband and I agreed that the tree had to go because two large branches fell off during a recent rain storm with strong winds.  It was no longer safe.

Last fall we had our first Christmas tree removed because it was too close to the house.  The remaining Christmas tree was a haven for an owl that came and visited and robins recently made a rest stop in the tree that was laden with pollen and the cardinals always darted in and out among the branches.  The cedar tree had a hefty crown with long thick branches and it gave shade for the house in the afternoon.

We called the proper people to come out and mark the front yard so that we would know where the sewer, water, and the electrical wires were located.

We also had to obtain a permit from City Hall to  take down the cedar tree that we had planted after Christmas in 1980.

Next, we called the Semper Fi Tree Guys and they immediately came out to appraise the problem.  Yes, they agreed that it had to be removed--the sooner, the better.  It was too late to try to save it--the split was too severe.  The most reliable Tree Guy in the Beaches area gave us an estimate to which we agreed and he said he would get his team together.  "We'll see you in a few days."

Enjoy Valentine's Day and I'll be in touch in a few days
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Go Red for a Healthy Heart

Gardeners do have a head start for a healthy heart with the variety of fresh vegetables.  Not only do gardeners obtain wholesome vegetables but by having and caring for a garden, we also get our exercises.  It strenghtens our arms and legs by tilling the soil and turning the compost pile.  Every muscle in our bodies is being worked when we manually weed the garden, the flower beds, and the lawns.

Today is Go Red for women's healthy hearts, but let's get the guys in on this, too.

The Heart Association proclaims that "At the heart of good health is good nutrition." You and I know in our hearts that it is true.  

We do know what we should eat and how to take care of ourselves, but with all the fast food, pizzas, drinks, and baked goods available to us, it is not so easy.

You know as well as I do that it is the sauces, the gravies, and the condiments that can sink the best planned diet.  

We do know how tempting it is to get a donut for the morning coffee and Oh! I've been working too hard and too long in the garden, let's go get a pizza.  The temptation is there and it's hard to resist.

I recently visited my doctor and she is a tough cookie.  She told me in no uncertain terms to watch my diet and reduce my weight because my triglycerides were borderline diabetes.  I knew that was coming.  

I have started to count calories (if I know what they are) and weigh or measure my servings.  For example, a glass of wine is 4 oz, 2 servings equal 1 cup.  My proteins come in 4 oz servings.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are a must.  I have also started to drink water, 32 oz, and it is in addition to other liquids.  To balance the carbohydrates out, I am taking Omega 3 (OTC) because I don't eat that much fish on a regular basis.

I am going back to the garden and you take care of yourself, eat right, and live a happy life.  Also, for today dress red for a healthy heart.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The White Egret

The white Egret is a beautiful wading bird with long black legs, long neck, and a yellow long bill.  It hunts in shallow fresh and salt water.  It walks quietly and gingerly, stops and listens.  It is in no hurry:  it rather waits for the prey to come to him and the small fish or frog is quickly snapped up.

The white Egret is no stranger to the Back Forty Garden.  It has visited many times and picked among leaves and grass looking for insects and whatever moves.  We stand at a respectful distance to let him have free rein in the garden area.

This morning, when my husband went to feed the gold fish, he called for me to join him and bring the camera.   When I neared the pond, I immediately spotted the egret.

The egret walked around the pond that we have covered with netting over bent PVC pipes.  The egret stopped here and there and picked at the netting.  There got to be a hole somewhere, I am sure he thought.  He went round and round the pond and I thought that he must have gotten dizzy.

The egret did not pay us any attention:  he was on a mission to catch his breakfast.

The gold fish was hidden under two discs.  At one time, one of the braver gold fishes showed his sparkly orange self.  He wouldn't tease the egret, would he?

The egret decided to walk up one side of one bent PVC pipe and down the other.  He walked in perfect balance.  He walked on several pipes but the goldfish were still safe.

The egret walked on the PVC pipe base around the pond with miserable result. As a last resort, he walked on the netting ever so gingerly.  It wouldn't budge and he had no way of reaching the fish.

The egret was tenacious but eventually he had to give up.  Perhaps there is something edible in the scenic ditch.

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