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.
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 →
I don’t know if I’m unusual about this, but I rarely use celery unless I’m making soup or stew. When I do, I need to buy a bag of celery, use two sticks, and promise myself to find a use for the rest. Then I forget, and have to compost the rest two weeks later… Continue reading →
Today, the weather was a bit warmer (albeit with a chill breeze), so I decided to plant the first of my seeds to start indoors. Since last frost is estimated to be around May 8 this year, I figure I’ll start my seeds in several sets. The first set is the seeds that take a long time to start, and the seeds that can be planted out early. This includes brassicas, herbs, and tomatillos. The second set will be seeds that grow faster, including the squash family. Around last frost, or maybe a bit before it depending on the variety, I will plant any seeds that have to be direct-sown, such as carrots, beets, and a few others. Continue reading →
Now that the weather is warming up (it still snowed this morning) I’m thinking about starting seeds indoors for the season. Thanks to our good friend, Global Warming, this year’s average last frost is predicted to occur around May 8. As such, it’s time to start my early transplants. In preparation for this I took a look at my stock of seeds from last year, and made a plan for this year’s garden. Continue reading →
Today, I tried to see how much bread I could possibly bake in one day in my tiny oven. I estimated that I could do about six loaves in a day, and that turned out to be spot on. I tried two loaves each of three types of bread. This was a neat experiment because I have never baked this much before, and i hadn’t done any of these breads before either. Continue reading →