Category Archives: Gardening

Growing plants in my garden and indoors.

Leaves on the Homestead

I love mulch. Not the red piney stuff that stinks to high heaven when it rains, but the natural layer of leaves and twigs that is provided year-round by our trees. Some people believe that the leaves are a gift to us from the trees. I think that one plant’s trash is another man’s treasure, and I recycle the plant’s waste. Whichever way you choose to look at it, leaves are very useful to have around. If you bag and discard your leaves, you may want to stop and pay attention.

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Yardlong Beans

Maybe I cheated a little. This photo should be familiar to every fisherman since the invention of the camera. While not truly a yard in length, these beans are still huge compared to my Old Homestead and Rattlesnake beans. They are Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis, the yardlong bean. Also known as snake beans or asparagus beans, this south Asian crop is actually a variety of cowpea, closely related to our black-eyed peas, and is not even in the same genus as our green beans. Continue reading

Fast-Growing Fruits

So I take great pride in my bananas. Yes, my wife points out that I don’t even like bananas. Yes, I probably don’t deserve to be proud because the trees are doing all the work. Yes, I don’t actually have bananas yet, just rapidly growing flowers. I can still be proud.

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Welcome to the Garden

Last week I told you that my first homesteading step at our new home was to put in a vegetable garden. This time I’d like to go into more detail regarding what I’m doing, as well as the usual assortment of how’s and why’s. We live in zone 9b in central Florida, which means that I’ve had to shake up my knowledge of gardening a little bit to make this work. The winters here are very mild, with only a slight chance of frost in December, January, and February. In the last two winters there had been no frost here at all, and we had only two frosts this winter. This means that most vegetables do great here all winter long, and others need only a little frost protection. On the other hand, the summers here are brutal. The temperatures don’t rise as high as some parts of the country, but from May to October the average high is above 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and in this period we we also switch from bone-dry to steam oven, with nothing in between. So, most folks here garden from September to April.

The other thing for me to get used to is the soil, or lack thereof. The ground here is sand, and dries out very quickly if I’m not careful. Both of these issues, along with the fact that I’m not home much to weed or water, have shaped the way I plan to do my gardening here. I’ve borrowed strategies from the organic and permaculture folks, as well as local conventional agricultural practices, to build my garden.

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Welcome to the Homestead

Well… It’s finally happened. It’s hard to call yourself the Homesteading Hippy without a homestead, especially while living in an apartment or a friend’s spare bedroom. It’s hard, even when you rent enough space to make a garden, when you move every other year. Last fall, my wife and I made the step into homeownership, buying a place of our own. Now, I can finally get homesteading for real! All my practice runs, which some of you have followed over the years, can finally be put to proper use. Let me give you a tour.

House-Cropped-Edited-Resized

This is our house. It’s cute, isn’t it?

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Backyard Medicine: Aloe

Of the medicinal plants, it seems that none is so well-known among the general public as Aloe vera. This species is a bit of a mystery, since it does not occur in the wild, and biologists have been unable to determine its origin. What we do know is that some 500 species of Aloe occur in the wild in Southern Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia. It is likely that Aloe vera is a hybrid of more than one of these wild species. Continue reading

Tropical Plants

I’ve shared a lot recently about my gardening and edible plants, so I figured that I would talk about ornamental plants today. I have quite a collection of tropical plants that I keep indoors during the winter, and it was time to give them a springtime pruning! Continue reading

Cabbage, Chives, and Broccoli

I know it’s a bit early in the season, but the weather has been so mild that I went ahead and planted out my broccoli and cabbage plants today, and plan to plant my kale tomorrow. This also means that two of my four raised beds are fully planted! Continue reading