Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Why I Love Gardening and Fresh Produce.

Growing up, we always had a vegetable garden. In fact, my father at age 80, still plants one every year although on a smaller scale. When he started, we had an average family-sized garden. Then, when I was 10 years old, we moved to a house with two acres of land and the use of an adjacent barn and many more acres to garden…errr, farm.

To give you an idea of the size, I remember planting 350 tomato plants one year. In fact, we ended up using one huge tract of land with two smaller tracts and we had enough produce to have a roadside vegetable stand every summer with plenty leftover for canning and freezing. The money we earned from the stand helped pay for family vacations (camping with our pop-up trailer).

We had four apple trees in our front yard: one Rome, two Red Delicious and my favorite, a Winesap tree. There really is nothing like a Winesap/Red Delicious apple pie! We also had a huge Golden Delicious apple tree in the back that looked like a giant snowball when in bloom!

We had a raspberry patch, a small rhubarb patch, a pear tree, and a plum tree on our property. We tried planting new cherry trees but the birds always ate the darn things before we could pick them. In fact, someone once told us that’s how you tell they’re ripe – when the birds eat them! :D

These beautiful red Cherry Tomatoes came from a truly scrawny plant.

These beautiful red Cherry Tomatoes came from a truly scrawny plant.

Over the years, we planted rows upon rows of corn (Silver Queen was a favorite), tomatoes (red, yellow, cherry, and big ol’ juicy Jersey tomatoes) as well as green beans, green peppers, yellow banana peppers, onions, radishes, carrots, lettuce, asparagus (not too much success with these), strawberries, celery (rabbits loved the young growth, so I don’t think we ever got a chance to grow those fully), cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, squash…and more!

We hoed, planted, watered, weeded, and harvested the produce. My mother froze and mostly canned the food, making our own ketchup, chili sauce, raspberry jam, pickles, and such to have during the off-season. There really is nothing better than homemade, seedless raspberry jam but I have to tell you, it is time-consuming to make.

It has always been a dream of mine to have a vegetable garden, not necessarily the size from my childhood but enough to provide for my family and maybe some friends and/or neighbors. I have come to the conclusion that, with Florida’s sandy soil and our root-filled yard, it will have to be a raised vegetable garden. I’d also love a herb and flower garden. I’ve planned it for a while now and as soon as we can afford everything we need (squirrel and cat-proofing included), it will be a welcome and fruitful project!

So far, I have had to satisfy my gardening urges with experimenting with flowers in various locations in our yard and in window boxes, transplanting established shrubs, flowers around the yard, and taking down a lot of trees to make room for some sun. Little by little, I’m learning what works best in this soil, climate, and yard…and what doesn’t.

Have you had any success with raised beds? I’d love to hear about them!

Copyright 2012, 2013 – All rights reserved.

Lying In Wait For Birds

I was washing dishes one afternoon last week and saw this in our backyard:

Extreme focus…on bird or squirrel?

We would prefer the cats out of our yard because my son and husband are allergic (our son even more so–hives from fur, dander, saliva), plus the darn things like to use any bare area/spot in the lawn as their own kitty litter box, especially the areas right next to our house. Ugh. Curse this sandy soil in Florida!!

What was amusing, however, was where this cat decided to lie down in our yard. See that pole in front of him? This is what it belongs to:

Lying in wait for birds.

Yup, that’s right. He was lying in wait for birds under our “new” homemade bird feeder stand. By the time we got the camera, he shifted his focus onto us. By the way, my husband made that steel baffle because the squirrels were climbing up the metal pole (it’s one used for plants) and jumping onto the bird feeders!

This cat isn’t interested in the bird seed. He wants to jump up and catch any one of the many bluejays, doves, wrens, and cardinals that visit our bird feeders. Little stinker!

Do you have any unexpected visitors to your backyard?

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Who’s Been Sleeping…Errr…Digging Up My Flower Beds?

I’m surprised I haven’t shattered our windows and given myself a bloody hand when I bang on them to scare these rascals away from my plants and flower boxes. Tapping no longer works. Unfortunately, they just keep coming back but man, can they jump!

I’ve been trying to capture a photo of the dirt-digging, dirt-flinging perpetrators for a while now. Finally, I got one!!! I actually ended up with a series of photographs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To dissuade these guys, I’ve tried chili powder in a soap spray, and a peppermint soap spray, all to no avail. Cute as they are, these darn squirrels keep coming back and digging up my flowers anywhere I plant: in window boxes, in containers on my porch, even the flowers I plant in the ground are dug up!

I know that sometimes they are burying the acorns from the oak tree in our front yard but most of the time, they’re not carrying anything in their tiny scrawny hands. I swear they can’t remember where the hell they’ve planted their stash, and they don’t care what they dig up to find it.

There are so many sandy holes in my yard, you could play miniature golf for hours.

For this reason, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have any kind of garden without some sort of cage around it to keep the squirrels out. Back to the drawing board…or sketch pad!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Mystery Animals Came Out After The Rain!

It’s still pouring outside from Tropical Storm Debby but yesterday when we had a brief break from the rain, I went to get the mail and discovered tiny creatures hopping all over the street!

When I first saw movement out of the corner of my eyes, I thought the fluttering was tiny bits of leaves knocked down from the downpours but my mind dismissed that almost immediately. My eyes zoomed into one dark spot an arm’s length away only to have it move before I got a good look. I followed and saw this:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As my eyes adjusted to their forms, I scanned the road for more. There were dozens of these tiny frogs all over the road. I yelled for my husband and quickly asked him to have our son bring out my camera.

I still haven’t figured out if they are actually frogs or toads yet and specifically, what kind. However, I am assuming since they came out after a rain, they’d be frogs…right? Or did the heavy rains disrupt a nest of toads and they had to flee for drier ground?

I’m still searching so if anyone can tell me which type of frogs or toads these are (here in Florida), I would love to have you comment. Thanks! 🙂

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Continuing Signs of Spring

One of the most pleasurable experiences about walking is finding some beautiful plants and flowers to photograph! I can walk throughout my neighborhood or simply drive to a new one and come home with fresh ideas, a sense of appreciation and wonder, and some great photos like the ones below.

This full and trailing honeysuckle is not only gorgeous to look at but fragrant as well. I love catching a hint of the scent as I walk by.

The above is, I think, some sedum, a ground cover with star-like flowers. If anyone knows differently, please comment below. It’s a wondrous mass of yellow color.

This bright red/orange amaryllis stood proud and tall next to several others that were not yet fully bloomed. How *does* it stay so straight with that much weight on top? Amazing.

Here’s a close-up of the fully bloomed amaryllis.

Here’s another amaryllis that was just showing off its magnificent bloom. The size of this flower is impressive!

Where do you take some of your best nature or flower photographs? In your neighborhood, in a park, or in your window? I’d love to know! 🙂

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Hail in North Central Florida!

Holy cow! Check this out! We had hail raining down on our home in North Central Florida. It eased up then our house was pummeled again, and now…it is quiet. I did NOT expect this tonight! Wow!

March 14, 2012 Unexpected hail storm in North Central Florida! Nickel to quarter-sized hail.

March 14, 2012 Our sidewalk is covered with this hail!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

After the Storm Passes, This is What You’re Left With…

After several days of enduring dark, gray skies then a sleepless night of high winds, rains, and tornado watches (two nights ago), this was a welcome sight today.

Mother Nature in all her glory!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.