Category Archives: Vegetables

Time to Pick the Lettuce

Our winter harvest is coming.  Although I was in no mood for a salad, the first head still got plucked yesterday.  The single-decker turkey clubs were fab.  Now we wait for the carrots…

Breakfast at Rye Preserve

I planned breakfast with Cooper at Lake Manatee State Park but am thrilled to have ended up at Rye Preserve instead.  As far as nature walks go in Florida, this is a good one and a new one to us.  The 125 acres located in Manatee County off of State Road 64 offers five walking trails, the remnants of a post Civil War era settlement, and people, dogs and horses are all welcomed visitors.  Coming off a sun-blazed trail, it was a treat to take off our shoes and stomp through the cool water of the creek.  On our way back to the car, Cooper caught the tail of a skink.  The rest of it got away. That detachable tail—what a defense mechanism!  It looked like a baby snake wriggling through the weeds.  The spasms lasted so long that we finally got bored and walked away.

I’ve seen a lizard lose its tail more than once…when your method of catching them is to stand on a chair tossing baskets and hats at them as if it was a carnival ring toss game, a tail is bound to come loose. But the lizard tails have nothing on skinks!  Really hoping not to see any more of those slimy skinks but looking forward to my next trip to Rye Preserve.Not our skink tail…YouTube’s:

Summer Garden?

I’m not at all convinced anything will grow, but I’m going for a summer garden anyway.  A Google search on heat-resistant plants and here’s my list:

  • Yard long beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chili peppers
  • Calabazza pumpkins
  • Ping Tung Long eggplant
  • Pretty much any herb

To find the actual seeds, I took the search offline and did the best I could around the corner at Hibbs Farm and Garden.  My choices were long beans, Purple Petra basil, Long Purple eggplant, and Sugar Baby watermelon–not on the list, but the seed packet says they can be planted from April through June.

And I happen to have a sweet potato sprouting on my kitchen counter.  My expectations for everything are low, so no disappointments if the seeds shrivel instead of sprout.  Still, there are plenty of plants that thrive in the hot, rainy Florida summers, at least one has to be edible.  Let the search for summer sustenance begin!

What’s Growing…

Loving the garden right now.  It’s presenting gifts every few days…

Zucchini

Lettuce

Jalapeno peppers

Today's Harvest

From Damage Control to Dinner

The powdery mildew removal is complete…or maybe more like as good as it gets.  I cut the most infected leaves off during the morning shade and sprayed the milk and water mixture on the remaining leaves under the afternoon sun just like Appalachian Feet told me to. Now we wait and see.

In the mean time, I got stinging arms and dinner out of the process.  I forgot how prickly squash and zucchini plants are; our plants last year never produced so there was no reason to get in close.  After clipping and pulling on those powdery stems, my palms and fingers looked like pin cushions…if placed under a microscope.  But the small size doesn’t lessen the sting.  I had to scrub past my elbows to get them all off.  I’ll let you know how the milk works as a mildew resister, but for now, the most valuable tip I can give you for growing squash or zucchini is to go back inside and grab your gloves when you forget them.

I suffer for my squash, but it’s worth it.  The most mildewed plant was also the most mature.  Before plucking it by its roots to get it far away from my younger, healthier plants, I clipped its remaining fruit.  Dinner was delicious – Couscous-stuffed Summer Squash.

Quick and easy too!  Boil 1 cup chicken broth with 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Add 1/2 cup couscous, remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes.  Mix one clove crushed and chopped garlic, chopped bell peppers, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into the couscous.

To prepare the squash for stuffing, first cut off a small piece of the bottom to make a flat surface for standing.  Then cut the top off and spoon out the seeds.  Fill the squash with couscous, replace the top and place on an olive oil-greased baking sheet.  Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  The couscous mixture will fill two-plus squashes.  Bon appetit!

Powdery Mildew on My Squash

With the first harvest comes the first problem.  My last blog post was about the fat, round and hardy summer squash we pulled out of our vegetable garden, the first product of our February planting.  Then last night, I found powdery mildew starting to form on the leaves.  Ugh.  The plants are loaded with squash and zucchini yet to fully ripen, so I need to get on it…organically, of course.

I just stumbled upon this blog called,  Appalachian Feet, and loved it immediately because of their tagline.  It’s actually a question, “Are you a sustainahillbilly?”  You know what, I think I am.  We recycle, compost and favor practices like crop rotation over chemicals, so sustaina-, check.  And we used to walk a dog and a chicken around our neighborhood, so -hillbilly, check.

Beyond the tagline, the blog offers good green living tips and this particular tip is backed by scientific studies: milk can help prevent powdery mildew.  Prevent not necessarily cure, but I have nothing to lose and a lot of squash to salvage.  Here are the instructions:

The best solution for powdery mildew is a spray of 1 part milk to 9 parts water coating the leaves every 1 – 2 weeks. Use the spray when there is full sun (morning is best) before the disease sets in and you’ll have a 90% prevention rate.

First Squash of the Season

Mystery solved: the something growing is round summer squash, and we picked our first one today.  There’s still one more to follow from that plant and several more to follow from surrounding plants, albeit different variations.  Zucchini looks to be up next to ripen with some plain yellow squash right behind.  Well, I think it’s plain squash; we ate the spaghetti version not too long ago, so only time will tell.

Something’s Growing

I don’t know what, but something’s growing.  It came from our compost, so there are several possibilities. My first impression was zucchini, but it’s looking a bit bulbous for that now.  My hope is acorn squash, although it doesn’t have the signature ridges of an acorn squash…yet?  Maybe it’s summer squash…enormous zucchini?  Whatever it is, the guessing is more fun than the waiting.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Spring Garden

With the exception of the lettuce, which I’m staggering to extend the harvest, all my seeds are sown for the spring garden.  Tomatoes and sweet peppers went into the dirt today; and the summer squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, and lettuce are already popping up through it.  The waiting begins…

Lettuce

Chianti-colored Sunflower

Cucumbers