Friday, December 31, 2010

Record Setting Temps

Here in central FL we have already had 2 deep freezes and a number of other freezes. This is very rare of FL and we have broken all the December temp records.

Today though the high is in the lower 70's and is bright & sunny. The chickens are out shaking their feathers and enjoying soaking up the sun.

Yesterday I enjoyed a picnic on the beach with my mom who is in town from IL.
Today is payday so I will be ordering a bunch of seeds so I can start them next month..

I also will be hitting up our local produce stand so I can test out my new canning kit!! : )

Have a great new years eve everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In my prevous post....

I gave you all a challenge to transform a grassy space in your yard (front or back) into a garden bed at least 4 x 8.. take a before and after pic and send to me at bjaukett@gmail.com

you will each be given a post on my blog featuring your pics and you are asked if you like to write a short #escription about yourself your life and why you garden!!

I hope you all take this challenge upon yourself and I can't wait to see your pictures!!!

Send Pictures and a short story to bjaukett@gmail.com or bj_aukett@yahoo.com

Bad Soil and a Reader Challenge!


So today as I water my garden with collected water from the rain barrel I relize my goodness florida soil is awful. With my treatments of compost, bone meal, kelp meal... the sand keep rising to the top. Its time for drastic measures!!

In my non used beds I have piled straw bales to rot and decompose.. I also have compost almost ready to spread over top the straw. I have more kelp meal and am looking for a good price on worm castings as well as fish fertilizer.

I am scouring my seed catalogs for a green manure crop to sow during the hot months here in FL. I will no longer be turning soil each season just areating it and adding new organic matter to the top. After a couple years I should have about a foot or two of rich organic matter that will hopefully block this awful sand from rising to the top!

In the new beds I am planning (Coming this Winter/ Spring) I will set fire to chicken poop covered straw as well as rotted food parts (bio char)... the charred remains will be spread on top covered with straw and topped with newspaper and compost. Come Fall it should be rich decomposed earth that my plants will feast upon!

I am giving you all a challenge this winter season. Plan a new garden bed for your spring season.. make it at least a 4 x 8... take a picture of the before and after. Plant 2 veggies you use a lot and plan to use this bed as your putting by bed! (Freeze or can everything you get from this garden. Its a great way to start stocking up and a great reason to transform some of the wasted grass space into a beautful productive oasis!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kitchen Goodies!

Aw Christmas the most wonderful time of the year!

Well its now past and I sure have a lot of goodies to show from it!

I Got:
A hot cocoa maker
A roating waffle maker
A cast iron dutch oven
A huge cast iron skillet
A set of pots
New cookie sheets, muffin pan, and pie dishes

And my most awesome (yes I know that's incorrect grammer) is...
A canning set!

Up to this point I would blanch and freeze all my veggies/ fruits now I'm lucky enough to be the proud owner of all the goodies you need to water bath can!! The huge pot, rack, jars, and accesories! Plus a ball complete perserving book!!!

I'm ready for spring and the harvest!! Now that I have 2 ways of putting our food by I have even more reason to plant way more of everything this year!

So next time I have some extra cash its time to slap on a sweater and start making some new garden beds!!!

Hope you all had a very merry christmas!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All...


And a Happy New Year!!!

I will be on vacation from my job for the next week to spend time with family! Moms in from IL, Other family is in from Cali...

Busy Busy Season!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bok Choy

Today I harvested my first bok choy from the garden.. I cooked it lightly with ginger, onion, garlic, and soy sauce!
I served it with teryaki chicken and mashed potatoes. It was sooo yummy.


I also built our first fire of the season and turned on the candles and oil lamps. It was a wonderful mood setter for my seed searching!

I went through all my old seeds to find ones I wasn't going to use anymore and gave them to my friend that for a early christmas gift from her husband got a garden set (everything she needs to start her own garden arbor and all!!!

I can't wait to buy all new seeds and make more garden space!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas is coming!!

I always get nervous around the holidays.. is so and so going to like what I'm giving them, how many people are coming, is the house clean enough, is the little one unwrapping gifts, and so on... this year it seems worse!!

I'm hosting and expecting 2 grandmas, 2 moms, and us... yes I know a small family but a very important family that I don't want to dissapoint!!

Wonderful Ronnie cleaned the kicthen spotless and mopped the floors till they sparkled!! He is also helping me with my rearannging project!! I'm moving out dining room out of the carpeted fireplace room and into the tile.. moving the current living room into the fireplace room... its a lot of work but in my head its the right move!

My lettuce is still just a couple inchs tall but seems to be growing at a quicker pace now that the cold has settled in ( or not today was 70)... I think one of my turnips are ready to pick, ill be harvesting 2 beautiful looking bok choi anyday now and its time to thin out my carrots!

I am also waiting on my second planting of veggies to sprout!! Its very dry here as we enter the offcial dry season and the temps have been way below normal almost all month now.

The birdfeeders are filled but the birdbath either freezes or disapates to fast to keep filled..

The chickens are happy.. we let them out to range for around a hour a day right now bringing them in before the sun goes down. After the harsh part of winter is over they will be moving outside to their real coop and be allowed to range from morning till dusk!

Wishing a happy weekend to ya from sunny FL!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A special christmas gift!!!

So here's a brief story.

I have been working at Walgreens here in Tampa for a little over a year. Every night a homeless man sets up his chair and surrounds himself with his bags. This goes on everynight.. he appears around 8 and leaves around 9... the managers and workers all now him and the police don't bother him. He never asks for anything he just says hello how are you then minds his own business.

This year as I was leaving one brisk windy night I noticed he was sleeping but had nothing more then his big jacket to keep him warm.

So for the last week I went around my work and collected a dollor from each person willing to donate (some even donated more).. today we had enough and I bought him the warmest blanket we had and a $25 gift card to Walgreens so he could buy food, drinks, or whatever else he needed!
I had the manager invite him to come inside and I gave him the gift and a card I had everyone in the store sign with a little note.
He teared up and said this was the nicest thing anybody had done for him in a long time, he said he would treasure it all, and how kind and thoughtful we were...

I even teared up and gave him a hug!! This is what christmas is about bringing happiness to those with less!! I was very touched and won't soon forget him! His name is Julius!

Baby its cold outside!

Geez its cold... wind blowing over everything it can... making my door knocker bang on the door... gusts of over 40 mph cloudy and a drizzle following the pouring rain that filled my rain barrel yesterday!

Over the next 2 nights it going to be in the 20's here which means I better get outside tonight and make sure everything I can is covered! Geez!

Stay warm my friends!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Plans and Ideas for this coming spring


Yes its that time time to play with the little one and.. to dream of spring planting! Corn, tomatoes, beans, melons... its a wonderful dream on this cold wet windy day!

I have now recived my bakers creek, johnnys, pinetree, seeds of change and a couple more seed catalogs as well as midwest brewing (which has me intrigued about brewing my own wine)...

My bakers creek has been poured over once already and it seems at least half the book I want but only marked maybe a quarter ; )

I have also reimagined my backyard from a mostly grass (weed) land to a lush veggie, fruit, and tree paradise!
I want at least 3 banana trees, I want to build a large trelis against the fence for cukes and jicama... I want to build many little teepees for my crops of dry beans I want to plant, as well as tall wood towers for the cowpeas to climb... 2 narrow beds of wonderful juicy plump red strawberries... a small sitting covered area crawling with grape vines, a small pond with fish and water flowers... a huge sunflower patch that allows me to feed all the birds, I imagine rows of tomatoes that will produce baskets full of large small orange, purple, yellow, white, and of course red yummy tomatoes...

This of course is just my dreaming but darn it I will work my tail end off to make this a reality!!

After my last season of harvesting mostly dissapointment I relized one huge thing. I need to plant much more of each item.. it seems I'm only planting enough at this point to take care of our intial needs.. I want to store, can, and freeze my foods for future use!

So my goal is to turn my backyard into a true urban farm that can feed me and my family plus have enough to store and maybe some to share!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My clothing splurge!

I'm a thrift store junkie I will buy kitchen goodies, electronics, clothing, belts and toys (no stuffed animals though) from many thrift stores around the bay area I recived cash as a gift and splurged on myself. I'm a lover of the "hippie" style clothing its part of me but its hard to find that type of stuff in thrift stores as many don't seem to share my taste.

I went to soul-flower.com which is filled with goodies I can't help but fall in love with. Their prices though are a little high but many people spend $20 a shirt or $30 for a pair of good pants anyway!

A lot of their goodies are fair trade, and made with recycled fibers, organic cotton or hemp. At least the item I bought (Piece by peace long skirt) was very well made not to mention so comfy and beautiful I feel as if I could live in it!!
I have worn it out twice and have received over a dozen "I love your skirt"

If you have a urge to splurge and find yourself wanting a comfy good vibed outfit check out soul-flower.com!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Seed Catalog to Seed Catalog

Ahhh yes winter where my garden is alive with winter greens and other cold season goodies but where most of the country has put the garden beds to sleep and the seed catalogs for next seasons goodies start pouring in!!

I have already received 3 and am just waiting for bakers creek (which is my favorite and where most of our seeds will be purchased.) ..
on the homesteading group I'm a part of a couple people have already recived thier bakers creek so now I'm very excited and will be checking my mailbox faithfully every afternoon waiting for it!!!

Florida cold weather!

Yikes!

Here in central FL at night its been below freezing for over a hour each night sending waves of panic as the TV annoces "FREEZE WARNINGS" ... I took a drive around the neighborhood to see all the normally lush tropical plants brown, wilted, or covered in sheets, towels, and garbage bags... I myself was outside covering our hibiscus, fig, and guava and brought inside our container flowers, lemon tree, and blackberry bush

My chickens have been wrapped in a double layer of sheets on the sides to block the wind and have their red heat lamp turned on all day and night since our days aren't getting over 55 right now!
They are doing well in this cold.. they peck and play during the day and when the sun goes down the lay together under the heat lamp. They get warm water each night and fresh food since they sem to be eating more now as the temps go down!

So far I lost all the tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, amaranth, malabar spinach, and corn.. though my lettuce, turnips, carrots, and broccoli seem to be enjoying themselves.

Work has been crazy and I have come down with a ugly cold that has me stuck under the heated blanket when I'm not at work... luckily I had some homemade chicken stew in the freezer that I took out and thawed for dinner last night and tonight Ronnie made us spaghetti!

My little girl seems to like the cold but doesn't understand why she needs to stay bundled... she would much rather run around in just a diaper!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A update!

Ah yes another Saturday!

The chickens have lost almost all of their down now and have been replaced with beautiful feathers! They have prob gotten 15x the size they are when we got them and are approaching 2 months old! We now have a 2 room coop that can fit 6-8 chickens!! thanks to freecycle and a little creative genius!! So now as long as these continue to live happy lives we will be starting another 3 birds come feb/mar!!

Also today the L.E.C center had their art under the trees art sale! I bought my first original piece of artwork names country road! Very beautiful! Now just to find a spot for it!

Also went to the Ybor City Fresh Market and got a loaf of fresh baked sourdough bread, homemade blackberry jam, homemade beef jerky, a pint of yummy organic cherry tomatoes from a local grower, and some local honey!! YUMM

Over all its been a busy week since thanksgiving filled with cleaning, cooking, and a super busy week at work!