Planning a Small Backyard Garden in My Florida Yard

It’s January and now that the weather here in Florida is cooler, working in the yard has become a priority.

Yesterday I began to tear out vines from the back corner to see what type of trees and shrubs could be saved. The vines are everywhere and they grow up into the trees covering branches and bending small trees down.

Overgrown mess to clean up
Overgrown and neglected area of the yard

This little area of our small yard has been used to toss palm fronds and yard debris ever since we moved in. I never really knew for sure where our actual lot line was. Piles of dead branches and palm leaves can become a haven for small animals so I’ll have to be careful when cleaning up.

Backyard
Backyard lot line with neighbor’s white fence and travel trailer just beyond our hedges.

When the people behind us did some landscaping to move a big travel trailer behind their house, they tore out all the vegetation (on their side) which divides our properties. It opened up the view a lot, but they also put up a fence which required a survey and finding the lot lines.

New garde spot in my yard
Location of new garden area

Now that I can see the markers back here for our property line, I can better decide what to do with this area of the yard. First thing is to clean up the unwanted vines which are entwined all up in the trees.

Florida vines in the trees
Vines strangle the trees

Within my property line there is a large oak, tall palmetto, and another tall tree I can’t identify – it is red now, in January so maybe a red maple??? There are also smaller trees growing beneath a ton of vines. Many ferns act as ground cover in the area. I want to leave it as natural as possible while making it neater.

Overgrown mess in the yard
Yard cleanup

Yesterday I began pulling out the vines and tall grasses to uncover some growth. I don’t really know my Florida trees, so I’ll have to do a bit of investigating to identify what’s back there. I’ve begun a page listing photos of the trees, vines and shrubs to identify.

UF Florida Tree Species List

The University of Florida site also has lists of shrubs, and other ways to enhance a Florida yard for wildlife. I want this new garden area to be bird, butterfly and bee friendly. I will plant Florida native plants that attract our native wildlife.

Florida tree with dark green leaves
Unknown bush / tree – what i this???

I filled my two trash barrels with yard debris that won’t be picked up until Wednesday. Then, I will fill them again. I now have two additional piles of vines to drag down to the road.

I used to be very nervous working in my Florida yard – the yard from long ago. Back then, there were loads of snakes – some poisonous – but now most wild animals have lost their wilderness and I never see that type of thing these days. In the 4 plus years I’ve lived in this neighborhood I’ve seen three snakes. I rarely see a green lizard, and a turtle shows up now and then – not a gopher tortoise, but a water type turtle.

The worst thing I might encounter these days is fire ants hidden down in the tall grass.

I don’t like where I live, but I’ve decided to make the best of it. Cleaning up a little section of the yard will be a nice thing.

At the End of 2020

The year has been a pretty lousy one for me, and not just because of Covid. I lost a couple of important people.

First, I had to admit that my sister’s strange behavior was not going away. Living far from her meant that our conversations were over the phone, and talking with her was becoming more and more stressful. She would dwell on things and talk about them constantly as if they were the most important things – like a snowstorm. She repeated herself a lot. She told me she was paying her bills twice, or not paying them at all. She was having trouble at work and decided she needed to retire. When I spoke to her son, he knew all about her issues. He took her to see a doctor and she has a form of dementia.

I believe it began years ago, but it creeps up. I dealt with my mother who had Alzheimers and that was a challenge. When I sister began to repeat herself without realizing it, or acknowledging it when I pointed it out, I worried. It’s one of the first things I had noticed about my mother’s behavior.

My sister is younger than I am, but already she has stopped calling or picking up her phone. She does not reply to texts either. I have lost my sister. She was the only thread tying me to our distant family members and she is my only sibling. We talked on the phone nearly every day. My mother died years ago, and my father is estranged from us so my immediate family is now gone.

Another friend, who is much older, also dropped out of the picture and I have no idea why. Her phone is disconnected, and I figure either she went into the hospital and died, or went to live with one of her children. She has not contacted me, so I am left in limbo, and assume she is simply gone from my life.

There is no hope for a happy new year any longer, and I won’t kid myself, but I will be traveling to see my kids in Spring. Masks or not, I am going for an extended trip to make up for the two years I’ve been away. So there is something to look forward to.

This Christmas I will be home with one of my sons and we’ll cook food and have drinks and enjoy the day, just us two. Last Christmas I was dog-sitting and spent the holidays alone – well, with the dog – who was a sweetheart. I didn’t want to commit to that again. It was very lonely. Their neighbors knew the circumstances, that the people were traveling to be with family, and I was alone watching their dog. Yet no one dropped off a meal, or thought of me sitting alone in the house eating a frozen pizza for Christmas. They spoke to me and should certainly have thought that a plate would have been appreciated. It’s quite amazing how strangely people behave.

People have their own busyness to deal with. Family and friends and good times abound, and they all assume that everyone is doing the same types of things. I don’t believe they think too much about it. No one wants to ruin their happiness with thoughts of the poor and lonely.

For those of you who may read this and will spend the holidays alone, or in a very low key situation, know that I am thinking of you. I’ve spent plenty of lonely holidays and some have been downright miserable. This year I plan to make the best of it, which is all we can really do.

2021. It’s coming. I don’t know what to think.

I Am Focused on Ending My PKD With Diet and Fasting

This is my story and I am not advocating any type of diet or advice, just sharing what I’ve found and read on this subject.

I didn’t want it, had never heard of it, and discovered I had it out of the blue at the age of 55. Cysts on my kidneys – lots of them. I can still remember the awe on the doctor’s face when he told me of all those cysts.

No wonder I had so much trouble trying to lose weight. It was not necessarily fat, but cysts that were crowding my insides.

I liken it to little (and big) water balloons bouncing along inside my gut day and night. They don’t pop or ever go away, they grow. And more of them show up as they please to add to the weight and expansion of my belly. They hurt too. My lower back aches most of the time. I wake up in the morning feeling full and heavy. It’s miserable. But for those who have PKD, you know this, because you feel the same. We have consistently been told that there is no cure – yet, and therefore no hope for relief.

My New Eating and Fasting Plan

Now there is hope folks! I was so excited to begin my new diet and fasting plan. I wish I could have found more information, but I think I get the gist of it. Eat for a short period of the day. All the food and drinks (other than water) will be taken between 11:00am and 5:00- 6:00PM – for me, my plan. That is the timeline I have decided upon. After my time limit, I will be fasting and drinking only water, black coffee, or tea for the next 18 hours.

If it’s good enough for mice, rats and cats, then I can try it. Coincidentally, I watched a show called “Fat Fiction” on HBO the other day. After that I watched a show about fasting. Then, I read that research shows that a combination of a variation of the Keto diet (eating to cause ketosis) combined with fasting, has shown a reversal of kidney cysts in test subjects (animals). That’s a big coincidence! I am amazed and excited to discover this hope!

The documentary, called “Fat Fiction” tells how good fats are necessary for health. I knew this. My Homeopathic doctor had mentioned this years ago. Do not buy low fat, or fat-free foods because sugar is added when fat is removed. Sugar is the culprit. Carbs turn into sugar and then our bodies burn that sugar, instead of burning the fat from our cells. This is how I understand it, and you can read about it for yourself. One explanation can be found at What is Ketosis.

PKD and Keto

The problem with eating a Keto diet when dealing with PKD, is that not all the food suggested is okay. Also, large amounts of sodium are not accounted for when cheese makes up the bulk of many foods – and Keto diet followers tend to eat bacon, which I avoid like the plague.

Also with kidney disease, potassium can be a problem, so food like avocados, which are big with Keto, might not be good for PKD sufferers. Then again, maybe I was getting the wrong info all along. When I look at the PKD website, there is no mention of this possible “cure”.

Fortunately, I’ve been changing my eating habits for the better over the past nine years and I think I can generally follow a low carb diet while eating enough to keep my kidneys from getting worse. I’m very used to checking labels for sodium, but checking carbs is new.

I’m going to try to stick closely to the Keto Diet guidelines for at least a little while. I’ll be careful not to load my kidneys with salt and lots of meat protein. Mainly I will eat the way I have been, with a check on the carbs as I go.

Carb Wake-up Call

Strikethroughs shows the food I ate that were not low-carb, but I had no idea. My morning fast (which began the night before): Coffee black, drank until 11AM. Then: Blender drink of carrot juice, unsweetened cranberry juice, kale, and strawberries. Baked a quiche containing eggs, Swiss cheese, spinach, broccoli and onion, in a pie crust. Ate a big piece of quiche, also toast (using up my homemade bread) with butter, almond butter and ground flax seeds. Drank a cup of goat’s milk.

Quiche with spinach and onion
Homemade quiche

Supper will be leftover zucchini boats which contain: ground beef, parmesan cheese, onions and of course zucchini, smothered in organic tomato sauce.

Noticed: I got tired after I ate my big quiche meal. Guess it could be due to the fact that spinach, eggs and cheese all contain tryptophan! Pie crust, toast and goat’s milk all contain carbs, so does that “healthy” juice I drank. I definitely did not go low-carb with this meal. In fact, when I looked, I was surprised to see that pie crust is FULL of carbs, with no benefit to me.

  • Goat’s milk – 11 grams in 1 cup milk
  • Pie crust – 12 grams carbs in one piece…!!!!! Yikes. Eat the middle but throw the crust away ;(
  • Carrot juice – 20 grams carbs in 8oz., and unsweetened cranberry juice has 18 grams of carbs in 8 oz. Keto says juice is bad for it’s carbs – yes, it’s true.

Total carbs listed above that I ate comes to 61 and that is without counting that little piece of toast. I can assume that gave me at least 10 grams of carbs. Now my total carbs for today come to over 71 grams, because I’m sure other foods had some carbs as well.

If I have a glass of wine later, and of course I will, that will also add a few carbs. Normal carb intake suggested on a regular diet is over 200, but the Keto diet suggests that number stay below 50 grams. I failed, but I will learn from my mistakes, and do better . Staying below 50 carbs is going to be tough.

Monday Morning Weigh In After a Month on Keto

I began my Keto eating plan with intermittent fasting on August 24th. I am now finished with week five.

This month (September) I’ve lost a total of six pounds. My waist is smaller by about 1.5 inches. I’ve begun taking my blood pressure once again just to keep track of it now that I’m on this eating plan.

Because of my kidney cysts, my BP is usually high. I recently went to the dentist where they took my blood pressure and it was 155/92 – yup, high. I will be taking it on Monday mornings only to compare as I continue the diet. This morning it was 133/92. I’m not on any medication.

There are ways to measure the ketones in the body. One of the cheapest, and least reliable (so I’ve read) ways is to use urine test strips. I bought the Perfect Keto strips at Amazon (I am an affiliate and could make money from this link) and have been testing my urine at various times of the day. They are relatively cheap.

Keto test strips bottle
This is the brand I bought

At first I was getting a negative color, but soon after – like the next day – I began getting the 1.5 to 4.0 colors. From what I’ve read, that is all you need.

There is a lot of information online about measuring for ketosis and which types of monitors to use. The strips are definitely the cheapest, but after a while the ketones won’t show up in the urine – so “they” say. In other words, the strips won’t be accurate always.

If I had diabetes and really needed to know my levels, I would invest in a good meter, like one that uses blood. I’m not that serious about it. I won’t link to any sites here because so many are just out to make money. If you carefully search good sites (that are not full of ads) you can find decent info.

Ketone urine test strips
Level indicator on side of bottle

My Overall Feelings

I think I was going overboard with the cheesy meals. I do stress a bit about getting my calcium and nutrients. About a week ago I didn’t feel as good as I had been feeling. I lost only a tiny bit of weight that week too. The culprit was cheese and dairy, I believe. Now I have cut down on the cheese.

I’m still adjusting to this new way of eating and with only six hours of the day spent cooking and eating, it feels like I just about get two meals in! Since I don’t eat until about noon time, I have lots of morning hours to plan my two meals for the day.

I’m eating a lot more vegetables these days. I guess that without potatoes and onion rings as sides, I need to fill the gaps, and veggies it is. I really did eat a lot of potatoes. And yes, I miss them! Baked with yogurt, fried, potato pancakes, french fries….it’s probably my biggest craving.

These Keto biscuits are really good. I plan to make more.

Low carb Keto biscuits
Low Carb Yummy Biscuits For the Keto┬áDiet Simple and delicious – really

But I am losing weight, so good things are happening. Even though I eat less food, I never feel tired. Bread and carbs can do that, and I’m eating very few.

I’ve cheated a few times. I made pizza one day – real pizza with normal crust. But all in all I have done well. I’m not saying I plan to eat this way forever but I could follow this plan for quite a while. I want to see kidney changes, blood pressure dropping, and my waistline get smaller. Until then, I’ll keep at it.