Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Fickle Florida Weather.

We have a saying here in Florida about the weather - "if you don't like it, stick around for fifteen minutes and it will change." That is so very true! Earlier this month I was worried about my lettuce and pea seedlings getting too hot and wilting on forward to now - we have had some pretty chilly (for Southwest Florida) nights the past ten or eleven days and I have been bringing the seedlings in on the lanai. Two nights ago I covered them with sheets; I know the little leaves were shivering. :-) They are troopers so far, not a one of them has met their demise as of this writing.

We had a great Thanksgiving yesterday traveling to my aunt and uncle's farm to enjoy what is always a wonderful spread of food and visit with family. My uncle took the kids (and some adults) on a hayride around the property, they all had a blast. A black fox squirrel came up on the porch to see everyone then jumped down in the yard and waited on my aunt to take it some food. He just stood there on his hind legs munching on his tasty treat...about 5:00 the deer came out of the woods and into the pasture, there were about 6-8 of them and they were pretty. We weren't very close to them but we had binoculars so we saw them a lot better. Two resident sand cranes were close to the front gate and there were all sorts of birds flitting about. It is so much fun to go up there; it reminds me of my youth when we would go to my grandma and grandpa's farm, which was also in Arcadia. As I've heard on the Disney Channel, "good times, good times." Tomorrow is a soapmaking and gardening day, I'm calling it a mini-marathon. If I'm not back in three days, please send out a search party :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

And we have sprouts!

My seeds have sprouted! Seeing the tiny little green leaves emerge from the soil always makes me happy because I know that with love and care they will provide a delicious harvest in the coming weeks. I can't wait to cut some fresh lettuce leaves and make a salad. It will be a while before the cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers are ready, so I must be patient. We are supposed to have temperatures in the mid 80's this week, I'll have to make sure the lettuce stays in the shade after about 10:00 a.m. I think it will be fine if it's out of the midday heat.

We transplanted some young citrus trees about a week ago - a Meyer lemon, a key lime and a calamondin tree. They aren't looking too spiffy at the moment but I hope they will all adjust to their new home soon. I am going to do some reading on our state's ag extension site and see if there's anything I can do to help them. Some of you might be asking "what the heck is a calamondin?" Well, I'll tell you - it looks like a baby orange or tangerine that has ripened and it has a tangy, sour flavor that I just love! They are small, about 1-2 inches in diameter. I discovered them when I was about 8 years old; my great aunt had a tree outside her back door at her house in West Palm Beach (Florida, of course), and my grandfather (her brother) had a nice tree on his farm in Arcadia. A hard freeze in the early 80's killed Grandpa's tree; we both had high hopes that it would recover but it wasn't meant to be. Calamondins make delicious jelly, if I can find enough this year I plan on making several pints. I may give some of them away as gifts, but most of the jars will happily take up residence in my cupboard waiting to be spread on a warm piece of toast or partnering with creamy peanut butter for a Saturday afternoon sandwich.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'm back after a long break and it's time to get growing.

My blog has been on hiatus the past several months. Actually, I guess I have been on hiatus from posting on my blog. Poor neglected thing, I am determined to give it the time and attention it needs. So starting today I'm clearing out the dust and cobwebs...let there be a new post at Heart of the Garden!

The weather here in Southwest Florida has started to cool off a bit. It's a tad early this year, but we had temperatures in the upper 40's last week at night. The weather has been so glorious that we have had our windows open for a whole week; I am looking for a substantial decrease in the amount of our next electric bill. We sowed some seeds today and transplanted several plants that we brought from our other house (we moved across town in August). We have a Meyer lemon tree in our backyard and the lemons are ripening now - they are absolutely delicious and taste nothing like the little lemons that you buy at the grocery store. A wedge in a glass of sweet tea is something to savor! I plan on planting several different varieties of tomatoes, peppers and beans this year. It worries me that the United States' food supply is not as safe as it should be, and the cost of produce continues to increase while the quality of our food decreases. I am on a mission to grow as much food for my family as I can; and to buy the rest from local or regional small farmers. There's not a lot of those around here anymore, but you can find them if you look hard enough. Today I sowed mesclun, snap pea and radish seeds in a long plastic "deck planter". Cilantro, chives, Genovese basil and Italian frying peppers are on tomorrow's agenda, and some tomatoes if I can get to them. I am gardening in large containers to help with pest and weed control - our bugs here in Florida are very hardy and determined critters so we have to be diligent in our efforts to keep them from getting to the harvest before we do. I hope you'll join me here in blogland as I begin my 2008-2009 gardening adventure, it's going to be a lot of fun!