Making the Raised Garden Bed

I’ve been in my new house for a couple of months now.  We’ve made headway, but after spending money for a new HVAC system and a new dishwasher, money is getting tight.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the yard, and the position of the sun, to figure out the best spots for my raised garden beds.  Because Florida soil is mostly sand, dumping good, organic soil into a box may be the best way to begin a garden.

The other day, spur of the moment, my son went out and bought some pine wood and made this raised garden bed! He read some “how to’s” online and then bought everything and put it together (with the help of his younger brother). I think it’s great! It’s made of pine boards and is about 18 inches high.  (See this raised bed, full of dirt and plants, in May 2018)

pine wood raised bed
Raised Garden Bed

Getting dirt into the bed may be a challenge. We have a sprinkler system and a drainage area around the front of the house. It’s a bit like a dry moat which won’t allow for a vehicle to drive over. My son can fill his truck with garden dirt but it will have to be shoveled into a wheelbarrow and dumped into the raised bed. (Read my solution to this problem on this post.)

My parsley and lettuce in the small box is doing well. If I had a bigger garden this time of year (December) I would be planting peas, onions, spinach and kale. Hopefully by next year this garden bed will be ready.

parsley and lettuce
Cool weather crops in a small garden box

I use my beautiful parsley daily by adding it to my omelets, homemade salsa, soups, stews, pizza, spaghetti sauce and meatloaf – to name a few.  It adds such fabulous flavor and is good for the kidneys, in moderation.

It was one of my favorite things to grow in New Hampshire, as it lasted right into the first snowfall. I used to have deer come into my yard and nose through the snow to find it!!  Beautiful…..!  I didn’t mind sharing.

deer in winter
This little deer is searching for leftover parsley, and anything green and good, in my former backyard in New Hampshire.

At the end of the growing season I would store parsley by drying or freezingRead how I do it.

I have noticed, since I moved back to Florida, that there are no seeds, and few decent vegetable seedlings, to be found in the stores.  I managed to save this parsley from a neglected Home Depot shelf in August.  It looked pathetic, but I know how resilient parsley is, and sure enough it grew in nicely.  There is plenty, even though I pick many branches every day!

The lettuce was a recent purchase and it didn’t look too good either, but it seems to be doing well in this recent cool weather we’ve had.  I’ve even used a few leaves to add to a sandwich.  I prefer buttercrunch or the variety lettuce, but I’ll look for seeds next year.

Apparently this is not the time of year to buy seedlings and seeds.  In early spring I will most likely have more luck. For now, I will fill my fabric pots, which I used with much success up north, and grow a few things in there. I found a nearby garden center which I must visit soon.

Black Mangrove Honey Made by Bees in a Remote Area

honey
Honey from Mosquito Lagoon – My photo

On a recent visit to Pells Nursery in Osteen, we came across some unique honey called “Black Mangrove” that comes from bees in the Mosquito Lagoon!  The Lagoon is widely known for it’s fishing, but I’ve never heard of honey coming from there. We had to buy it.

The Black Mangrove honey is darker in color and not as thick as other types I’ve had, but it’s delicious.  It’s made by Sun Splash Nursery of New Smyrna Beach.   They are an organic farm and the place is not too far from where I live now.  Their Farmer’s Market is open 8am till 3:30pm Monday thru Friday.  I must go there soon and see what they are selling for produce.  (Update – this place does not seem to exist!  We drove over and found nothing there.  Site must be old.)

Back to the honey.  Raw honey is far superior to store bought generic brands and I love to find new types to try.   This one also has an interesting story behind it.  The company has the right to access the islands filled with black mangrove trees in the Mosquito Lagoon.   All during the Florida summer they collect honey while the mangroves bloom.

We have fished out on the Intracoastal, and have heard bees buzzing on the islands. Now I will be able to picture them working away to make us their fabulous honey!  Below in my photo from another blog of mine (Seashells by Millhill), you can see what those mangrove covered islands look like.

mangroves
There are many, many islands like this out on the Intracoastal Waterway, which includes Mosquito Lagoon.

What a great idea to collect honey from that area! The Sun Splash company will ship their honey to customers, so click the link I provided above if you are interested in trying some for yourself.

Read an article by the Daytona Beach News Journal, written September 2016 about the owner and how he came to help out the bees (and himself) by putting beehives out on the remote Intracoastal islands.

As a side note, I noticed that the Sun Splash Nursery website also has a page containing gardening advice, which will be helpful as I plan my vegetable gardens.  I look forward to visiting their nursery soon.

Getting Ready to Grow Veggies in Florida

gardening
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I’m not there yet, but soon I will be learning to grow veggies in Florida.  I’m quite aware of the central Florida climate, as I lived there for over twenty years.  I didn’t have much time to grow my own vegetables but I plan to do a lot of that once I move back.

I’m wondering how well certain things will grow, and if there is no point in even trying to grow crops that prefer it cool.  I have a good, informative gardening book, but it doesn’t say too much about choosing crops for Florida.

So I searched for Florida vegetable gardening blogs.  A well-written blog can be better than a book.  Personal experience with local gardening can be extremely helpful.  I’m coming across a lot of blogs that prefer to show off their tropical shrubbery and well-manicured landscapes and fancy backyards, but have little in the way of helpful information about choosing and growing vegetables.

I think there are a couple of reasons for this.   Continue reading “Getting Ready to Grow Veggies in Florida”