Florida Veggie Garden in March

This past weekend I ripped all the remaining veggies/herbs out of The Box, amended and tilled the soil, then planted seeds and seedlings. It feels good to have the spring garden under weigh!

I enjoy growing herbs and veggies from seed. This time, I broke down and bought a bunch of Bonnie starter plants. Then of course, I also planted some seeds...watermelon, radish, slow bolt cilantro, green onion, etc.

I must say, I was once again disappointed with my tomatoes. They got caterpillars or worms and white powdery mildew. The peppers all did great. I love growing peppers.

In 2013, when I planted the fall crop, I tried to cultivate or till the soil. I also added 2 bails of peat moss and a few bags of manure, plus some granular fertilizer. This time around, I knew my hand tiller would break my back, so I broke down and bought an electric tiller. I really love it and I would recommend to anyone with a raised bed greater than 12 sq ft. My garden is 4 x 25. I made one pass to loosen the soil. Then, I dumped 3 bags of manure, 1 bag peat moss, 1 bag of fertilizer. I made another pass to incorporate the new stuff with the old stuff. I reconnected the drip irrigation and voila! So excited to see how it progresses this season.


Tequila Key Lime Bars

I just love these tequila key lime bars! Each summer/fall, my mom brings over bags of key limes and this is one recipe that uses up a lot of key limes, so that's why I like it.

Tequila Key Lime Bars
by Danielle Copeland

1 15 oz box graham crackers
1.5 oz nuts (cashew, pine, pecan, etc)
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup tequila
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
5 large egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Agave nectar or honey, for drizzling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the crackers and nuts in a food processor until well ground up. Add the butter and blend until evenly mixed. Set aside 1/3 cup of crumbs; press the rest evenly into a 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Place in the fridge to cool.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the tequila, lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk. Add a few drops of green food coloring if desired.
Beat the egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the tequila mixture. Remove crust from fridge.

Spread the filling evenly over the crust and bake for 25 minutes; cool. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight before cutting. Cut into squares then drizzle with agave nectar or honey.

When the key limes fall from the tree, they are often yellow on the outside and plump, juicy, and green on the inside.

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Green Tea Cupcakes

Yesterday I tried a new recipe...green tea cupcakes with green tea cream cheese frosting. It was good, but I'm not a HUGE fan of green tea. The office wasn't enamored either.

They were beautiful cupcakes...sometimes colored cupcakes lose coloring during the baking process, but these retained color beautifully!

Cupcake Ingredients
 2 cups flour
.5 tbs baking powder
.25 teaspoon salt
6 oz (1 stick plus 2 table spoons) unsalted butter, at room temp
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
2/3 cups milk
2-3 tbs matcha powder

Directions - preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a small bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha powder, whisk and set aside. In a electric mixer, beat butter and sugar 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time until each one is fully incorporated. Add dry ingredients and milk in 3 batches alternating between the two until all is incorporated.
Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake at 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Note: I didn't have fresh milk, so I used the Joy of Baking conversion chart to substitute evaporated milk.

Don't overprocess the batter!

Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting


6 tbs salted butter at room temp
8 oz cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
2-3 tablespoons matcha powder

Directions - In a electric mixer combine butter and cream cheese and beat on high 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar .5 cup at a time until full incorporated, adding in milk to thin it out. Mix in matcha powder and whip on high until mixed thoroughly (another 3-4 minutes).

I topped with crumbled graham cracker crumbs that were mixed with some melted butter. Yum!


Philly Cheesesteak from the Garden

In honor of my organic, homegrown bell peppers and green onion, I decided to make phill cheesesteaks last week. I must say, although not Philadelphia authentic, they were delicious!

I had the Publix butcher trim then shave 2 packs of ribeye. I marinated it for an hour in worcestershire, soy sauce, A1, and italian dressing. Not gonna tell my exact recipe...that's proprietary!

Then, I sauteed peppers, muchrooms, onion, seasoning. Then I sauteed the meat in batches, sprinkled with pepper, and served. I like provalone (not cheese whizz), so that's what I used.

I was delicious and I can't wait to try it again!


Day 100 of the Summer Garden in South Florida

Day 100 and the temps are hovering around 90-94 each day. We've been having lots of rain each afternoon (and Lake Okeechobbee keeps getting dumped into the Indian River because the water level is too high). The garden is nearing it's end and I've just bought 2 bails of peat moss and fall seeds.

At Day 100, the cilantro, parsley, sage, onion are showing no signs of heat intolerance. The cilantro bolted. The basil shrivelled up a month ago. So did the dill. Nexxt summer, I want to plant everything a month earlier and I also want to stage all the plantings...especially the radishes.

The pole beans did great and are still producng flowers at Day 100.

At Day 100, the bell peppers are ready to be picked.

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African Violets at The Office

A few months ago I stuck an African violet leaf in a pot. 

Today I noticed that lead has sprouted into a new tiny plant. I propagated it successfully!!

 I just kept it watered each week and haven't fed it any fertilizer. It sits on the windowsill at work and gets north exposure.


Day 54: The Box Progress

I've been very pleased with the progress on the box. I've been harvesting parsley, basil, sage, cilantro, and thyme since about Day 30. I've already planted more radishes so I'll get two-three crops of those. I'll trim up the marigolds soon because they are stealing light from the pepper plants.

The rabbits are eating the sunflowers and bush beans, so next year, I need to figure out something for that situation. One of four sunflowers made it. The biggest problems are the cornworms and cabbageworms. Also, I have to stay on top of the aphids on the cucumber and squash. It's a lot of work to keep this Box organic. Neem oil requires a lot more work than mainstream pesticides (poison) that can be found at nurseries and hardware stores. Oh well. I'm committed to it being organic, so I will deal with it.

Next year, I'd like to find a different kind of corn. I would love to get a cabbageworm-resistant variety, but I think that would mean it's GMO. Oh well. I'll pass on that too.

Day 54: The Box

I neglected the garden for almost 2 weeks...boy was that a mistake! At least I didn't find a snake...I just found tons of other pests.

I had lots of black swallowtail caterpillars all over the parsley. I let them live, even though I'll probably have no parsley tomorrow. Oh well, they are beautiful butterflies.

I found some young and some mature black swallowtail caterpillars. I used this site to identify them. www.butterfliesandmoths.org.

Then, I found some horrible cabbageworms on the arugula and cucumber. Those got a good dose of neem oil. I also had to chop back the arugula to 4 inches. It was getting too tall anyway.

Then I found cornworms on the corn. They got a good dose of neem oil too.

I'll be back tomorrow to see if it needs to be treated again.


My application to the Florida Friendly Yard Club

Today I sent in my checklist to the Martin county Extension office. I believe our new landscaping qualifies to be accepted into the program. 
 I had to answer a number of questions about the yard, irrigation, plant choice,maintenance routines, etc. I intentionally designed the landscape plan with this list of items in mind. My only concern is about the plants and grass that abut the seawall in the back yard. The 10-30 feet leading up to the water are supposed to be "maintenance free." We had to sod that area so it NOT maintenance free. We'll see how the inspection goes. Tbc...


Summer in South Florida

We had a great day today gallivanting all over South Florida! First, we toured the West Palm Fisher House. They provide a home for veterans' families while they are recovering at VA hospitals. www.fisherhouse.org
A cool statue right inside the main entrance. Local volunteers give handmade quilts to all the guests too.
These turtles are all over Florida. This is the Fisher House turtle. 
Then we headed to The Bull for some lunch but they were closed. The good news is that we saw two GORGEOUS trees in bloom.

Royal poinciana near Fisher House in West Palm.

Ponytail palm outside The Bull near Spencer Palm Beach Lakes Blvd

Then to top off the afternoon, we had lunch at Brio in Cityplace. Of course, I had a Sobieski Lemon Basil Martini. The other drinks are Sobieski Sangria and Sobieski Bloody Mary. Yum. What a fine Polish Vodka!

I just wish the weather hadn't rolled in on the way home.


Tinsel in the Box

Tinsel is loving to check n the garden lately. Today we found a half crab and a rabbit. The rabbit chewed off the top of three of four sunflowers. Ugh. 


Ikebana Inspired Arrangement

I recently watched a few great Youtube videos on how to do Ikebana arrangements. I plan to download a few books to learn more. In the meantime, I bought a 2 inch Kotobuki Rectangular Kenzan Flower Arranging Frog from Amazon for $10 and went to town. My first arrangement is called "Old Tropical."

As you can see, I just used a shallow baking dish, but had I gotten even a little creative, I think I could have found something beautiful around the house to use.

I'm excited at how much more I have to learn about this ancient practice called Ikebana. If you'd like to read up on it, click here.


Day 35 Harvest: More Radishes

Why do radishes crack? This is what I looked up, even though I knew the unfavorable answer. If the fruits/vegetables are otherwise healthy, they crack due to uneven watering. This happens frequently with tomatoes and strawberries too.

We have been getting TONS of rain from Tropical Storm Andrea over the past three days, so I think this crack (shown above) is fairly new. It's still pure white inside, so that's another reason I think the crack is fairly new. I think it will taste just fine despite the cracks.

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Day 32: The First Harvest from the Box

Tonight at dinner, John and I ate the first radish from The Box! We were so excited. It was very peppery and completely delicious. We planted Burpee Organic Cherry Bell Radishes this year.

The radishes were among the first to germinate. In fact, they showed up on Day 3 along with the marigolds.

So, it took 32 days from sowing the seeds to when we ate the first radish. Next time I plant radishes, I will follow fellow gardeners' recommendation to sow a row each week...that way, they don't all ripen at the same time. (UPDATE: THAT ROW OF RADISHES IS ACTUALLY ARUGULA)

Yay to organic, raised bed gardening in South Florida!!!


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