Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Vegetable Garden Wish List for Autumn

We have a long growing autumnal season in Northern Florida, in Zone 9, starting in September and lasting through October.  This is my wish list for Vegetables from Seeds to sow in my garden:

Contender Snap Beans (September only) germinates in 8 days and matures in 40 - 60 days.
Detroit Beets germinates in 8 days and matures in 55 -75 days.
Imperator Carrots germinates in 8 days and matures in 100 -120 days.
Kale sown in December germinates in 10 days and matures in 60 - 90 days.
Black seeded Lettuce germinates 7 days and matures in 60 - 90 days.
Sweet Peas sown in December germinates in 10 days and matures in 100 - 150 days.
Turnips germinates in 7 days and matures in 45 - 60 days.
Radishes sown in October germinates in 6 days and matures in 28 - 36 days.
Spinach germinates in 8 days and matures in 40 - 60 days.

It is important that the soil is free from debris making for for a smooth bed for the seeds, especially the small seeds, so that they don't have to struggle so hard to germinate.  Once the seedlings are large and healthy enough, it is time for thinning out the plants, fertilize, and water.  It may also be advantageous to mulch the plants to conserve water and keep the roots from getting cold.

This is my wish list for Vegetables from Plants to plant in in my garden:

Broccoli matures in 55 - 75 days.
Brussel Sprouts matures in 75 - 120 days.
Cabbage matures in 120 - 150 days.
Cauliflour matures in 120 - 150 days.
Collards matures in 60 - 80 days.
Kale planted in December matures in 50 - 60 days.
Mustards matures in 85 - 100 days.

Water, fertilize, and mulch as needed.  Oh, I forgot the weeding.  Remove unwanted growth to keep from weeding at a later date--weed management.

A Special Thanks to Standard Feed for their many fine seed.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Leafy Greens

The garden is a place where my important nourishment comes from and I have selected leafy green vegetables to grow:  collards, kale, and mustards along with turnips.

The other year, I was pleasantly surprised how well mustard and kale plants did in my garden and I couldn't go wrong with Georgia collards.

The collards grow just about anywhere in any soil as long as they get a little food, water, and sunshine.  The more you pick, the more you get.  If you sow the seeds, they will take about 10 days to germinate and 120 - 150 days to mature.  Eat the collards finely chopped in salads, if you prefer, but otherwise cook until tender and use seasoned meat to add flavor to the collards.  I always use pickles and its juice.

Box of Mustard Plants
The kale and mustards compliment each other well when cooked together in salted water.  If you sow the seeds, they will take 9 - 10 days to germinate and 50 - 70 days to mature.  These greens freeze well after a quick blanching, cooling, draining,and packing.

I also like to mix in a bit of turnip greens with the kale and mustards.  They cook quickly.  If you sow turnip seeds, they will take 7 days to germinate and 45 - 60 days to mature.

These leafy green vegetables are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants and they will keep you regular.  They are easy to grow, cook, freeze, and store.

I usually let the mustard greens go to seed in the garden because they produce yellow flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Snap Beans Again

I am once again beating around the Contender Snap Bean Bushes. I do like them because of their tolerance to heat and their high yield.  The beans may be sowed in still hot September and in the cool of March/April.

The Contender beans are my favorite but there are such a variety to choose from and they mature in 50 - 55 days.  There is the Bountiful straight, broad, thick, flat, light green and string less.  Another is the popular Commodore which is, high yielding, dark green, fleshy, and round.  These grow to 6 - 7 inches long, if you let them.

The new and improved garden soil on the Back Forty plot looks fertile but I am still going to add some trace material (Ironite) and once the seedlings are taken off, I'll fertilize carefully as to avoid burns on the leaves.

The roots are also shallow so it behooves me to treat the plants tenderly when cultivating.  It may be advantageous to hill the plants up and put mulch around them to retain the moisture.

I like to harvest the beans when they are young, tender, and slender.  They cook up very quickly in slightly salted water and ready to eat as such or for a different taste, I stir fry in Hoisan sauce after cooking.

Needless to say, the beans freeze well after blanching and cooling in running tap water, bagged and tagged.  They retain their consistency and color.

Seed Saving:  I also plan to set aside a patch to let the beans grow until they dry on the vine and then harvest them, shell, and store them in a glass container (my choice) in a cool and dark place until next season.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fall Planting

This is our new and improved garden on the Back Forty and I plotted an outline of what to plant in this 12 x 12 ft garden plot.  This season, I am only planting what we like and I am also trying to stick to my fall listing.  The rows run south to north, more or less and receive at least 6 hours of sun light.

The following are plants:

Cauliflowers mature in 120 - 150 days.  
Broccoli mature in 100 - 130 days.  
Cabbage mature in 75 - 120 days.
Info from Standard Feed for Zone 9 area

The following are plants from seeds:

Beets germinate in 8 days and mature in 55 - 75 days.
Carrots germinate in 8 days and mature in 100 - 120 days
Contender Snap Beans germinate in 6 days and mature in 40- 60 days.
Radishes germinate in 6 days and mature in 28 - 36 days
Lettuce germinates in 7 days and matures in 60 - 90 dys
Info from Standard Feed for Zone 9 area

I may get two different kinds of carrots; one the long and slender and the other short and stocky.  The carrots will store very well in the ground.  In other words, they don't have to be harvested once they mature--harvest when needed.  The same is pretty well also true for the beets.  I am also planning to get two different kinds of them.

Change Order:  Instead of 18 cabbage plants, I will reduce that to 9 plants and sow Contender Snap Beans in place of one of the rows of Cabbage. 

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Preparing the Fall Garden

We have a few changes to make here at the Back Forty gardens.  We are moving one of the garden plots about three feet away from the shade and the woods.

I am not too keen on boxes:  they don't give me enough room to move around in when tilling the dirt.  Boxes do look "cute", but I don't have a cute garden nor beautiful; just a good garden with a bountiful harvest.

This time, however, we are making a big box garden.  We are framing the garden and it comes out to be a 12 x 12 ft plot where the weeds have had plenty of room to grow this summer.

In the three feet outside the garden, there are some good and tough St. Augustine grass that we are tossing to the end that we are closing out, the end near the woods.

Once the timber is laid down and squared, we'll turn the soil and remove the weeds.  The soil looks dark and healthy, free from ants and insects.

Last spring, I bought a bale of straw to use as mulch and it has disintegrated very well into the garden which adds extra nutrition.  It also discourages nematodes to destroy the roots of the vegetables.

We are also going to make sure that we are rotating the crop.  We are planting different vegetables in this new garden, different from the ones we had last year and where the corn grew this summer.  It is still too early to plant: the sun is still too strong and vegetables for the fall have not come in to the nurseries yet.

This may also be a good time for "solarization" but it is too much work with covering the plot with plastic.  We are going to leave it to the sun to do the work without the plastic

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pokeberry Plants

I definitely think of the Pokeberry Plant as a tenacious weed that grow up to ten feet in undisturbed soil.  It is beautiful with its tall reddish stems and stalks, green leaves, and dark red luscious looking berries; however, consider all parts to be toxic when ingested.

This Pokeberry shows off its delicate small flowers on a pink stem.

The berries turn green before maturing to the dark red berry clusters.  Some of the berries were missing which is a sign that birds do eat them.  The bird droppings contain plenty of seeds and that is one way the plant is spread.

I groaned and moaned when surveying the way back Back Forty this morning and found one section densely populated with the Pokeberry weed.  The most effective way to get rid of this weed is by manually removing it but it is still too hot and humid for this type of work.

My plan of action is to arm myself with an ax, saw, and clippers and remove as much of the plant as possible and set it out as whole bushes or small trees for the Waste Pro to load up their truck and carry the debris away.  I also have to dig up the roots and remove them.  Am I looking forward to cooler weather or what?

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meditating in the Garden

There is nothing weird or mystical about meditation and, besides, it is so easy to do.  All that is required is 20 minutes and a quiet place away from phones, TV, radio, and other interruptions and distractions.  The early morning may be preferable but  special time before bed may also be beneficial.  What would also be helpful is to have this time set aside on a daily basis.

I have a most comfortable chair on the porch which is near the green grass, the trees, and the garden.

To prepare myself for a quiet time, I sit with my feet placed together on a soft carpet on the floor and my hands are resting easy in my lap.  Some people may prefer to close their eyes while others may concentrate on a pleasant point in the garden.

Before I actually begin the meditation, I let my whole body come to a relaxed state starting with my feet, my legs, my arms and parts in between.  I let my shoulders and neck relax and finally my face.  Relax.

I inhale slowly.  I exhale slowly.  I am aware of birds twittering and children playing nearby.  I let it go.  I am aware of cars and buses on the road way--people going to work and students going to school.  I let it go.  Whatever other thoughts come to my mind, I acknowledge them and let them go.

I continue my breathing.  I inhale lowly,  I exhale slowly.

Breathing in, I know this is my in-breath.
Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath.
Breathing in, I'm aware of my eyes.
Breathing out, I smile to my eyes.
Breathing in, I'm aware of my whole body.
Breathing out, I release the pain in my body.
--Thich Nhat Hanh

I open my eyes and sit still for a few minutes.  I take in the green grass and the trees.  I stretch my legs and arms before I get up from my comfortable chair.  I feel refreshed and ready to meet the day.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Painting the Shed

Early this summer, while the weather was still reasonably warm, I painted the garden shed that was in dire need of some sprucing up--the sooner, the better.  The shed had been power washed last year.  Who was procrastinating?

To do it right, I had to remove old caulking so that the new would stick and seal the crevices. This would protect the shed from rain that may otherwise find its way into the walls.

In addition, I went around the shed and sanded all the nails that I could see and hammered them into the the posts and walls.  I had to use more nails for some of the posts and frames around the windows.  I then painted the nails with Rostolium to prevent rusting.

The shed pretty much matches the house in color. The shed is an extension of our living area.  

To use up old paint, I painted the doors on the inside in a light purple color and to play with the idea of a she shed, I put up some lacy curtains from IKEA.  What do you think?

What color do I paint the doors on the outside, the shutters, and the flower boxes?  I didn't want a screaming color but something that blended it but special.

I settled for Persimmon!  An orangy color. Discreet?

 My husband put up the flower boxes and we
 planted orange Marigolds in the flower boxes and added a flag with a splash of orange among its colors.

He also added an electrical outlet on the outside so we no longer have to open a window for the electrical cord.

We enjoy looking at our shed from the garden, the porch, and the summer kitchen.  It's a happy color!  It's unique.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Things to do in July

Stay inside:  when the temperature hits three digits and the sun's burn time is 10 minutes (or less), you have no business being outside.  Close the house up, draw the curtains, and drink plenty of water..

If you must be outside in your yard, prune the roses, hydrangeas, the society garlic, and other perennials to remove spent flowers (dead head) to encourage more blooms and at the same time reducing plant size and reducing disease problems.

Vegetables:  In zone 9, the following vegetables may be planted:  Eggplant, Okra, Southern Peas, Peppers, Water Melons and of course Cherry Tomatoes.  They are all supposed to be hot weather plants; however, you may not find them in nurseries at this time of the year.

My master gardener and I picked 30 ears of sweet Silver Queen corn this morning.  We shucked them, blanched them, cooled them down to stop the boiling, packed them in plastic bags, and put them in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.

You may get corn at the grocery stores or at the farmers market for a quarter a piece.

Is it worth the labor and cost to produce your own corn?

My kitchen is now closed, the curtains drawn, and I am going to enjoy a tall glass of cold water.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Algae Blooms

An article about algae bloom affecting the South Florida was sent to me today. One line that caught my attention read that "Excess fertilizer, manure, and partially treated sewage spark nasty algae outbreaks in public waters."  In my opinion, this is true for many waters, not just in Florida.

As an avid gardener, year around, I do use commercial fertilizer sparingly but I usually blend in my compost into the garden soil for enrichment.  There is a grassy ten foot barrier between my garden and the scenic creek that carries water to the Intra Coastal and out to sea.

Instead of herbicides, I hand weed the garden and the lawn.  It is time consuming.  But I think about the birds that scour the lawn for insects and grubs and I feel so much better.  

I also believe that a lot of people drain their swimming pools into drainage ditches.  As you know, chlorine and other chemicals are used in the pools.  

Whatever you as an individual can do to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides will reduce pollution of our environment.  It does make a difference.  All you have to do is look in your own back forty to see the result--the healthy and happy birds twittering and flying about.

Check out a Press release from the

I hold sacred
the natural order of the earth
and vow to do my utmost
to help turn the tide
of our Earth's devastation.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day 2016

Today is a day for parades and picnics, 
a day at the beach to soak in the sunshine and ride the surf.  

Everybody, please have a wonderful day.  

Don't forget to fly your flag.

When you do visit the beach, please oh please, pick up after you.
Leave only your footprints in the sand.

Enjoy an adult beverage, if you like;
but, please oh please:

Do not drink 

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do you Feed the Wildlife?

The other evening, my granddaughter and I were sitting on the park bench in the front yard minding our own business when a mother raccoon and her three kits crossed our drive way.  We tried to contain our excitement/fear.

My granddaughter kicked her scooter over to our neighbor and told her about the raccoons.  To our surprise we found out that she fed them!  She considered them God's creatures and needed to be taken care of and fed.  She already had four Muscovy ducks (from the official city park) and a couple of Mallard ducks that she fed.

I have met the Box turtle many times and almost stepped on her/him when stepping off the front porch.  The turtle didn't panic.  It had seen me before and I had seen maybe this one turtle or its relative eating tomatoes in my garden and enjoying it.
 This is an anoli, a common critter in north east Florida and certainly in my yard.  They are extraordinary great hunters for insects.  I have seen them take on moths that have been rather large.  The anoli tries to scare me by puffing up a pouch on its chest that turns red.  Now, you understand that we really don't need insecticides.

Oh, Lord!  This is not poisonous.  It had sought shelter in our big garden box by the pond.  It liked to curl up on the patterned underside of the lid.  It will hunt for rodents and the like and we have a sneaky suspicion that it has feasted on our goldfish.  Who else could get in there?

These ducks roost in our neighbor's yard.  If they want variety, they go and find shade in another yard.  They are rather mindful of cars but they have the right away.

This is my feral cat that we picked up at the same time we picked up our riding lawn mower.  The cat was supposedly mine and the tractor to be used by my husband.  This has changed dramatically in the last few years.

We talked to her veterinarian about being feral and he said that she will always have that feral streak in her.  She loves being with us and often inspects the pond and eats grass from the garden.  The cat does not eat human food and she drinks water (not milk).  She does not hunt birds.

I don't feed the wildlife because I don't want any of the animals and birds that visit the Back Forty to become dependent on me feeding them.  What when I leave town for an extended time?

In most cases, the breads and other human food might harm the wild animals and birds because our food is not nutritious enough.  The birds might develop "angel wings" that is a deformation of some of their feathers sticking out, hence the name.

By feeding the wildlife, they will lose their natural instinct to hunt and gather food for themselves and they will also lose their fear of people.

Feeding the critters may also create a food fight among the animals and the birds--survival of the fittest syndrome.

There is absolutely no reason for me to feed the birds and animals that come to my Back Forty because there are  plenty of berries and seeds along with bugs and insects.  I reluctantly share my tomatoes with a few box turtles and water is provided.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Marinated Tomatoes

When the summer is at its best and warmest for me, the tomatoes won't bloom and produce:  it's too hot; however, the cherry tomatoes keeps on going and so will my blog.

This is a rather simple recipe that will use up some of the tomatoes. It is also rather delightful to take along for a summer get together:  a change from all the sweet things.

Depending on how many people you have in your party:  I have only one other so I coarsely chop a few tomatoes along with a finely minced shallot or in my case a small white onion.

I don't have whole fresh garlic so I use a full teaspoon of store bought minced garlic that I mixed in with the tomatoes and the onion.

For the marinade, I whisk 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons of canola oil (extra virgin oil, if you prefer).  In addition, I use 1 and 1/2  teaspoons Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste.  More or less to suit your taste.

Set aside for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, I add 1 cup finely chopped fresh sweet basil and 1/4 fresh cup parsley.   Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Continue to have a great summer!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Oils and Soaps for Plants

There is no doubt that summer is here with hot and humid weather.  At the Back Forty, the garden is almost in a dormant stage: it is much too hot to plant new seedlings and plants but to harvest and enjoy what was planted earlier this spring.

We are keeping a watch out for insects, bugs, and mildew on the beans and tomatoes as well as peppers and eggplants.  Here are some homemade and safe solutions for landscape and houseplants:

Horticultural Oil is so labeled in garden centers and these products are used as sprays.  Mix two (2) tablespoons liquid dish soap and two (2) tablespoons vegetable oil in one (1) gallon (about 4 liters) of water.

Spray trunks thoroughly and spray leaves and cover the underside too.  It is important that the insects be contacted directly by the solution.

It is supposed to control mealybugs, scales, and spider mites; however, this may be repeated several times.

Insecticidal Soap:  Mix four (4) tablespoons of liquid dish detergent in one (1) gallon of water.  Spray liberally on affected plants.  It is supposed to control aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites.  It may be sprayed several times.

Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags:  I found this to be most interesting.  I save and use the coffee grounds and used tea bags in the compost pile.  The tannic acid prevents mosquito larvae from hatching.

This information was taken from a flier by University of Florida IFAS Extension.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, June 13, 2016


We were having a leisurely breakfast with our granddaughter in Pensacola and we discussed a hero, Captain Jeff Kuss USMC, who lost his life by going down in his plane to avoid crashing into a residential neighborhood.

This morning the sky was clear blue. The sun was glittering over the waters and warming the sand on the beach.  It was the promise of a wonderful day in the making when we heard about the grim and senseless massacre in Orlando, another fun loving city in Florida shattered by gun fire.

We were devastated and chocked to hear the news.  

We are saddened for the families and friends and the community in Orlando.  

One more time, we have lowered our flag to half mast 
and we will hoist the flag again on Thursday at sunset.

Let us be kinder to each other and nurture each other and keep us out of harm's way

Friday, June 3, 2016


I try not to stray away from the Back Forty too often but sometimes there are events and happenings that have a great impact on me, e.g. # 6 and its Captain.

As you may have heard, a Blue Angel in the number 6 plane, crashed at a practice flight in Tennessee and Captain Jeff Kuss USMC perished in flames as he stayed with his plane to avoid crashing into residential areas.

Captain Kuss USMC was married and the father of two children.

Early last fall, the Blue Angels zoomed and looped and screeched  up and down a crowed Beach near Jacksonville, Florida.  They made some of their flights over the Back Forty.  We heard them and they were gone before we could spot them.  Apparently Captain Kuss USMC was the pilot on Number 6.

We are truly sorry for the loss of one of the finest.

The Blue Angels got their start at Craig's Field, a small airport in Jacksonville. They eventually moved to the Naval Air Station on the west side of Jacksonville.  They now make their home in Pensacola.

The first photo is borrowed. The Blue Angels in formation is my photo from the Naval Air Station a few years ago.

Rest in Peace 
Captain Kuss

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

The Memorial day is a federal holiday in the United States and the purpose is to remember the people who died while serving in this country's armed forces.

On Memorial Day, fly your flag at half-staff from sunrise until noon.

At noon on Memorial Day, smartly raise the flag to the top of the staff.
Leave the flag at the top of the mast until sunset.
If you chose to keep the flag flying during the night, it should be highlighted  by a spotlight.

Honor and remember those who died for our freedom

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Simple Summer Salad

The yellow squash is still ripening in the garden and so are the various tomatoes.  We harvest the tomatoes before they are completely red and let them ripen on the kitchen table or where ever there is room available.  Unfortunately, bugs are also finding our tomatoes and that is one of the reasons we are picking them as early as possible.

The Memorial Day is fast approaching and it is time for family gatherings and picnics.  Here is a simple and delightful recipe for a simple summer salad:

Yellow Squash, thinly sliced
Red Tomatoes, cut in wedges or sliced
Cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

The above is a good start for the salad and it is fine to leave at that but I could not resist looking for a white onion in the garden to add to the salad along with a banana pepper.

White onion, thinly sliced
Banana pepper, remove seeds and thinly slice

Dressing:  Mix canola oil and red vinegar.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
Fill a small container.
I usually let my trusted companion add the dressing and I do the same.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Yellow Squash Bread

One more season and again I am writing about squash in my blog and one more season, we have eaten cooked squash with onions morning, noon, and night.  The squash is still coming in, rain or sunshine.  I am actually happy (and blessed) to have this vegetable in my garden and this year it has been free of bugs and rots.

Here in northeast Florida, we have had a great growing spring season with cool nights, warm days, and a moderate amount of rain.  As far as yellow squash goes, my garden has produced much more than ever.

I made Yellow Squash Bread one batch, one loaf, at a time mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another after swishing oil around in the baking dishes as well as dusting the dishes with flour to prevent the bread from sticking when baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C and bake for about 55 minutes

Dry Ingredients:  Mix 1 and 1/2 cups of white flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and a pinch of salt.  2 tsp of ground cinnamon will add a delicious taste to the bread.

Wet Ingredients:  Beat together 2 eggs, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup canola oil, and 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Combine the wet and the dry ingredients in one of the bowls and carefully fold in 1 and 1/2 cups grated yellow squash (with skin and seeds).

I hope that you will enjoy your squash bread

Happy Gardening!
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Corn is in the Meadow

I prepared the 10 x 10 ft. garden plot for the Silver Queen corn by tilling and removing weeds and other debris.  It came out to be room for five (5) rows of corn with plenty of room in between.  In each row or farrow, I added commercial compost, Ironite (trace elements), and common garden fertilizer and mixed them together.

The farrow is now covered with soil and I need to make a small trench to sow my seeds of corn.  The Silver Queen is my favorite white and sweet corn.

I dropped three (3) seeds together in the new trench, about 2 - 3 inches deep, and about a foot apart.  When I finished with the sowing, I covered the seeds and patted them down gently with a garden rake.

The corn was planted the 2nd of May and yesterday, I removed all but one plant in each group.  I let the tallest and best looking plant stand.  At this time, the corn has shallow and fragile roots so I hilled each plant up and tapped the soil down with my hands.

At this time, I also made small trenches on each side of the corn so that I could side dress the corn.  The side dressing ensures that fertilizer does not get on the plants to avoid "burns" on the plants, any plant.

I am amazed that each seed germinated or so it seemed.  It helped that I watered the corn in the meadow on a regular base.  In about 80 - 90 days after planting, I should enjoy my Silver Queens.

In between the rows of corn, I had initially put down a generous amount of hay to keep the weeds down and after now hilling up the corn, I moved some of the hay closer to keep the tender plants moist.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Here at the Back Forty, we wish all the Mothers a very Happy Day.  We also want to thank you for all that you have done.  To brighten your day, accept the freshly cut Evelyn Roses from my garden.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gardening in May

According to the Seasonal Planting Schedule for northeast Florida, we are still enjoying spring with cool nights and warm days but it is also imperative to get plants and seeds into the soil as soon as possible.

Silver Queen Corn:  There are many different kinds of corn, but we prefer the sweet Silver Queen at the Back Forty.  We plant them three seeds to the hill with a foot apart.  We amended the soil with commercial cow manure, Ironate, and garden fertilizer because we had previously planted potatoes in what is now going to be the corn field.

The seeds for the corn will germinate in 8 days and the corn will be ready for harvesting  in 80 - 90 days.

Clemson Spineless Okra:  We only sowed one row about 20 ft of okra after preparing the soil as for the corn.  The Okra will germinate in 10 days and will be ready for harvesting in 50 - 60 days

Sieva Butter Beans:. The Sieva Butter Beans are our favorite.  We prefer the Beans that grow 6 to 8 ft high and they need to be staked.  Sieva Bush Beans are also available and do not need any staking.  The beans will germinate in 6 days and will be ready for harvesting in 60 - 70 days.

Sweet Potatoes:   Recently, I could not resist temptation at the Standard Feed where they had green and beautiful Beauregard Sweet Potato plants and I believe there were 9 plants in the container.  I had to provide a new place for these potatoes and I planted them against the woody area so that the greenery may spread and cover the area.  Sweet Potatoes will be ready for harvesting in 180 days.

Southern Peas:  Southern Peas are also known as Field Peas and we are going to hold off on sowing them until the Spring harvest is complete and bare spaces are available in the garden.  The peas are nourishing but we will use them as cover crop which will be good for the soil, weed control, as well as water conservation.

Tomatoes:  It may be too late for regular tomatoes that require 60 - 90 days to harvest which will be in the heat of the summer which is the time that tomatoes do not do well; however, cherry tomatoes will do well (even in containers).

Happy Gardening!
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zen Moments

Zen means so many different things to so many different people.  For me, Zen is just fleeting moments of peace and harmony, symmetry, tranquility, inner peace, and solitude while searching for a hint or a touch of Divinity.

I am taking this moment to say Thank You to all who have read my blogs.  My A to Z Challenge for this year has come to an end and it is back to the Back Forty and my garden.  T.S. Elliot wrote:

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

It may be easier to say what Zen is not.  "Zen is not a theory, an idea, or a piece of knowledge.  It is not a belief, a dogma, or  religion."  From What is Zen on

"If you wish to know the Divine, 
feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand."


Friday, April 29, 2016

Yard Work

April is a busy month for yard work and we have been sprucing up the yard, back and front, on the Back Forty.

Early on, we started by raking up the pine straw to be used as mulch around a scraggly hedge of Red Tops.  The hedge, of course, had to be weeded out first before the mulch could be put down.  So it goes.

What do you do first and where do you start?  Somehow, we feel that it is important that the Back Forty present a neat and clean public face which means that the when a visitors, mailman, sanitation workers, and delivery men see a well kept place.

The reason, I added "Park" to my blog title is that so many people said that our back yard was like a  park--a naturally kept park.  There weren't any manicured lawns or well trimmed hedges.or trees in a perfect row.

As you walk along in the back yard, you discover an overgrown pond with goldfish swimming around and greeting you.  They know that you will feed them.  Keep on going and you end up by the small tidal creek where you may discover turtles, a heron or two, and other water birds.

I like the yard to be a surprise to visitors.  It is always a surprise to me because I don't know what I will do when I leave the house.  There is always something to explore.  There is always something that needs weeding, cutting, or trimming.

There is a bench in the woods where you may sit a spell and do a little bird watching.  You are well immersed in the wilderness of the Back Forty.and I thank you for visiting.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
One more time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Xeriscaping, or water conservation in the landscape, sounds like a great idea if you live in a place where water conservation is imperative or the climate is dry and arid.  In my blog, it is basically smart planting using drought resistant plants and those plants that are appropriate for the area, not necessarily native..

Some time ago, I heard about this neighbor who used xeriscaping and I went to take a look and, indeed, it looked interesting and different from other yards.  These homeowners used a lot of rocks, pebbles, sand and a lot of cedar chips and pine barks.

If you do live in a neighborhood with a "homeowners association," there may be a problem with xeriscaping because it does not adhere to the association's rules and regulations.

Also, it you live in an area that is not conducive to xeriscaping such as Florida where it rains just about every day, the sun shines strong and hot, and it is hot and humid.  It seems to me that no matter how much mulch you use, the weeds are eventually going to make themselves known.

The picture is snagged from Wikipedia depicting a Japanese Rock Garden

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wind Chimes

Our wind chimes are soothing with no harsh or high notes grating on our frayed nerves.  Sometimes the chime is so faint that we can hardly hear it and other times it is distinct, loud and furious, depending on the wind.

The wind chimes are calling us to slow down and listen to the wind play its songs for us.  It is calling us to our sanctuary that is surrounded by tall pines and blooming bushes and trees.  It's a place where many of God's creatures as well as my true love and I find solace, comfort, and shelter.

Susan Griffin wrote:  "Will we let the wind sing to us?  Do our whole bodies listen?  When the wind calls, will you go?"

.Thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vegetable: Swiss Chard

The Swiss Chard is a colorful vegetable that is loaded with vitamins and minerals.  "Eating chard regularly has the potential to lower high levels of cholesterol and blood sugar", writes Milo Shammas in Dr. Earth Home Grown Food.  Such a statement will ensure that this vegetable ends up in my garden next fall.

I was not sure about the chard after a failure last year, but I sowed seeds this time and they did well.  But now, what do I do with it?

It is suggested that you tear off the leaves because cutting with a knife makes the stems bleed.  Leave the bulb in the ground and it will continue to produce edible leaves.

I also found out that I could pickle the stems, so I did.  For the brine, I used one cup f white vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of water.  For spices, I used mustard seeds and coriander seeds and a pinch of dried red pepper.

I heated the brine and then poured it over cut up stems in a jar and put it into the fridge for later use.

For cooking, I treated the laves like any other greens e.g. kale and collards.  After removing the leaves from the stems, I cooked them for 3 minutes as stated in one recipe.  Oh,no!  It was too tough for my tender palate.  It does require a much longer cooking time.  I tried 8 minutes and kept cooking.

The chard is still growing in the garden and I am afraid the huge bulb is going to explode.  
Boom!  Boom!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Utility Shed

Early this spring, we had a spell of warm weather but it was too early in the season to plant a garden; however, the utility shed was in need of a paint job.

It took much longer than I had expected to prepare the shed for a new coat of paint.

We had the shed power washed about a year ago so it was fairly clean and free from debris.

The old spackle needed to be removed and new applied.  The nails had rusted so I sanded them down and filled them in with Rustoleum--a tedious undertaking.

When we first bought the shed, we went all out to have flower boxes and shutters--cute, you know.

A cute utility shed to store our garden and yard equipment:  tractor and carts along with fertilizers and Christmas goats and bucks.

We had some discussion about the color for the boxes, shutters, and doors.  We finally settled for Persimmons.

I had old paint left from another project that I used for the inside of the doors--a hint of lilac.

We removed all the utilities to make room for a chair and my husband helped me hang lacy IKEA curtains at the main entrance just to see what a she shed may look like, if I should get one some day.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Three-storied Tree House

When my granddaughter visited for for New Year, we found that our neighbor across the so called scenic creek was building a three story tree house.  We were both impressed with it and we began to make plans for our own tree house.

She could play with her dolls in the tree house and serve them tea while her grandparents could climb up to the top, have a glass of wine, and see the sun set while listening to some songs by Prince.

What a lovely view from the top story.  What a great place to sit and see the sun disappear in the west and leave a lovely yellow and pink hue.

Soon after our discovery, all work ceased on the tree house.  What happened?  Did the neighbors on this side complain?  Did they not have a permit from the city?  Did they leave the country?

Like a nosy neighbor, I kept my eyes on the tree house that is nestled among the tall pine trees.

"Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world."--John Muir

Last week I heard hammering from across the ditch eh, I mean the creek, and I saw workers bringing in cedar shingles and boards.  The building of the tree house is going strong again.

Thank you.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Snakes and Sulfur

Snakes and sulfur are both above my pay grade but to be a gardener you have to be a bit of a chemist, a botanist, a philosopher, or how about believing in old wives' tales?

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting out on the porch reading a book, minding my own business.  The cat was under another chair in the shade, minding everything that crawled.

Lo' and behold, she was chasing a small corn snake under the carpet!  This resulted in a lot of screaming and yelling on my part (imagine that!).

My husband, the brave one, determined that it was a corn snake and I was supposed to be relieved.

He also told me that he had seen "Snake Away", a granular, at the Seed Store the other day.  Well, maybe we can pick a bag up at Ace; however, the price was prohibitive.  We decided to go back to the Seed Store.

We wanted to protect the Cardinals that had a nest in the Crepe Myrtle.  Snakes are known to curl up in tree branches and bird eggs are certainly a delicacy.

We talked to our favorite and most helpful person at the store and told her about our problem.  She suggested that we dust with Sulfur, mix in ground up mothballs, and distribute in a ring around the drip line of the tree.

Caution:  If you should decide to use Sulfur, please read and follow the direction carefully and do keep away from children.

Thank you for visiting my blog.
Be kind to the environment today and every day.
Happy Earth Day!