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Florida Gardening in February Cool Weather Crop Planting

I am new to this Florida vegetable growing thing, but today I decided to plant some cool weather crops.  Because my “garden” is made up of soil-filled fabric bags, I don’t have much space for planting.  But I will do what I can.  I’ve only lived here for a few months, so garden building is an ongoing process.

My son made me a raised garden bed a few weeks ago. Because I had used fabric pots when gardening in New Hampshire, I filled what I had with organic soil and placed them inside the wooden frame.
raised garden
Today I looked through my Florida Gardening book to see which crops could be planted in February. Cool weather crops are still cool weather crops, no matter where I live. But down here in the south, winter is the cool time instead of early spring and fall.

So I bought some seeds and today I planted carrots, potatoes, and bib lettuce. The carrots came in seed tape form, which I had never used. The potatoes came from my kitchen. I’ve been eating lettuce from the backyard but it’s getting old and tasting bitter, so I need a new batch.

Now potatoes are easy to grow, but I can never remember exactly how to do it. I should buy “seed potatoes” but I only have what came from the store. So I’m growing them. On the website Rodale’s Organic Life, I found an interesting paragraph about growing potatoes in a bag, like I am doing.

He says to put just a little soil in the bottom and then plant the potatoes. Cover with 3 inches of soil, and continually cover the growing potatoes with soil until the bag is full. I cut the sprouting potatoes I have, and put them near the bottom of my largest pot and covered them with organic soil. As they grow I guess I will cover them, leaving just a bit showing. I never grew potatoes this way, so it’s an experiment.

black fabric pots
7 Gallon Grow Pots Filled with Organic Soil

The pots I recently purchased are 7-Gallon size. I believe the ones I have from before must be 10-Gallon. The 7-Gallon bags have handles which is very handy if you plan to move your pots around. They were very affordable at $12.95 for 5 bags at Amazon. FYI: They can be reused, and will last for years. I left mine outside filled with dirt over the winter and they held up fine!

At the time I bought them, other sizes were also available. The 7-Gallon size was a little small for me, but it’s manageable when filled with dirt. Plants grow really well in this type of pot because air can get through to the roots from all sides, whereas in a plastic pot it cannot.

(Disclaimer: If you click the link to the bags and buy them, I will make a percentage through the Amazon affiliate link.  I only link to items I use and recommend.)

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Pictures of Berries for Breakfast

I love to eat berries for breakfast. Usually I mix strawberries and blueberries into my yogurt and top with walnuts and coconut. Recently I have begun drinking fruit or vegetable smoothies, but later in the day.

Raspberries used to grow along the side of my house in New Hampshire. I only picked a few at a time because the birds would usually eat them first. The flavor of raspberries cannot be beat, but all those seeds get to me. Strawberries are my favorite fruit.

raspberries bowl on table
Photo by Daria Yakovleva @ Pixabay

At the end of June the blueberries would begin to turn blue. My favorite place to pick them was around Gregg Lake. It’s a quiet area and I was fortunate enough to live just up the road for three years of my life. Although the house was a rental, I enjoyed that area of New Hampshire immensely. The Girl Scouts ran Camp Chenoa which ran along one whole side of the lake, which meant that the area was mostly wooded with few residential houses. I used to write about that area at my old blog New England’s Narrow Road. I was not familiar with blogging back then, so the blog is a bit of a mess. I liked to share photos of that area of the country and I still link to it from time to time.

Photo credit: jill111 @ Pixabay
Photo credit: jill111 @ Pixabay

As I’ve said, strawberries are my favorite fruit. My grandparents grew them in their big garden and I remember helping pick the berries in summer. Now that I live in Florida, this (January and February) is strawberry season. Maybe the season hits twice here, I don’t know. There are many boxes of strawberries at pretty good prices in the store, but they are not organic. I buy organic everything as much as possible, but especially when it comes to the “Dirty Dozen”, and that means strawberries.

bowl of strawberries
Pretty table photo by jill111 @ Pixabay

Are you craving berries yet?
The photos here are all credited to their photographer, and every photo is free to use for any purpose. They can be found at Pixabay, or click on the picture to go there.

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Spring Home Fixes For the Handy Woman, Part 2, Replacing a Screen

Here I will continue with my handy-screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-4-10-05-pmwoman Spring fixes list.  If you missed the first article, you can read it here.

When I lived in the northeastern United States the spring season couldn’t come soon enough.  Watching all that snow melt away meant the flowers would be growing soon and the sun would be up higher and longer.  It also meant the Black Flies would keep me indoors throughout the month of May.  I’d prefer to be outside getting my gardens ready, but once the weather warms up it’s a good time to clean the windows, and clean the screens too if they need it.  If screens can easily be removed, take them outside on a nice warm day and spray them with the hose.

Some window and door screens may need to be replaced.  If you have naughty cats that like to climb up the screen door (yes), or generally tear at them for no good reason (yes again).

Go to the local hardware store and buy some animal strength screen, (or regular screen if you have good kitties, or no kitties), and a roll of spline.  Spline is that black stuff that holds the screen in the frame.  Also a spline tool which will be needed to hold the new screen in place once the old stuff is removed.  To get the old screen out, you will need a screwdriver.

I have done this, but with help from my son.  It may be tough to do alone.  But after watching this You Tube video, I’ll bet you can do it alone if you have to.  This is not a super expensive fix, but it will take a little time and effort.  First you must take the door off the hinge, or the window screen out of the window.  Pay attention to how you do that so putting it back will be easy.

FYI, when I replaced my back door screen with animal strength screen my naughty cat would climb up to the TOP OF THE DOOR using the screen, and it didn’t damage the screen at all…. It’s totally worth it.  The screen is darker than normal screen, but I didn’t mind it at all.

When the weather warms up it’s a good time to get some indoor painting done.  With my daughter’s help I painted my bedroom, bathroom, stairs and hallway.  My next article is about painting a whole room, or doing some touch ups.

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Growing Bell Peppers

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-12-51-10-pmI would love to say that this is a photo of my bell pepper plants, but sadly my peppers never grown well. It’s a quest I’ve had for many years now – to grown a decent bunch of peppers.

I’ve read about growing them. I’ve tried to pay attention and fertilize them as needed, with not much luck. I might get one or two funny looking peppers a season but that is it! Now I live in a different climate, where it’s much warmer, which I think peppers like. Maybe my pepper growing luck will change.

I’ve read that the nutrients peppers need are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For that I can use a 20-20-20 fertilizer. Once the flowers show, add additional nitrogen. For that I can use Ammonium sulfate or 21-0-0 blend.

Bone meal is something I have used in the past when planting my flowers and vegetables. The calcium in bone meal is especially good for developing a strong root system, which is why I usually mix it into the hole when planting almost everything. The “Maximum Yield” site has a very good article about Bone Meal Basics, which I found very enlightening.screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-12-49-24-pm
Green peppers have their own special flavor and I use them in salads, sandwiches and omelets. Red Bell Peppers are sweeter, and are delicious when mixed into chicken salad or sliced to eat raw with a healthy dip. From what I understand, green peppers will eventually turn red if they are not picked.screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-12-50-25-pm
Eating a variety of brightly colored fruit and vegetables gives us optimum health, and picking it from the yard is as fresh as you can get. One day I WILL eat my own yummy peppers… maybe this season.

(Image credits:  Find all these wonderful photos at Pixabay.com)