Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pictures around Sunny Spot Gardens (Dec 29th 2012)

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Chocolate Mint in a bucket

Our patch of arugula, pesto here we come

Baby Broccoli

Cabbage plant finally growing after the chickens stopped eating it

Radishes ready to be eaten

Our cute chickens <3 this picture!

herbs growing in Brooke's old sandbox

Lettuce. Yum!

Here is our pond 2 weeks after constuction

Tomato ready for picking

Strawberry Bloom

Pond Building

2 weeks ago a lovely group of people came to my house headed by the amazing Jungle Jay. They proceeded to dig and create a pond in the back corner of my lot.

A warm December morning started one of my favorite things. Our pond. Waking up early I drove up to my work the grab cardboard to create a path for a wheelbarrow to travel without sinking into the sandy ground. Ronnie went and gathered pallets to put along the chain link fence to ensure our dirt piles didn't spill into anyone elses yard. We met back at the house and my stomach was turning with excitement. I went outside and started picking up empty pots and other misc trash that somehow finds itself scattered around my yard. At 930 Jay arrived with his trailer of goodies. Shovels of all types, rakes, soil sifters, buckets of plants, and other goods.

A little before 10am people started arriving, cars pulling up along the sidewalks out front, exchanging cash and smiles. We headed to the back yard and started preparing.
I set up chairs for people to sit in and Jay started talking as others joined, sitting cross legged in his wheelbarrow turned lounge he talked about his past and present giving us insight into who he is as a person. Then he talked about ponds histories and peoples interactions with them. He talked about growing food, and eating fish. We all sat eagerly listening, some scribbling notes down in notebooks they brought. When he finished we cleared the way and quickly went over what type of shovels were good for what type of application. We moved the chairs back and the men grabbed shovels and went to work.

The banks of the pond were slowly built as sand soil was pushed up, I raked it out smooth and even. Jay directed people where to dig and how to angle their shovel.
The rest of us stood back and chatted about everything from beer to pond plants and back. I introduced people to the fine taste of pumpkin ales and watched as shovel after shovel plunged into the ground with such a force pulling away sand that had sat still for possibly thousands of years.

One gentlemen found the score of the day: a dog grave site. First pulling up a ripped tattered plastic garbage bag then finding bones as well as polished teeth. We passed around the canine tooth which looked like a well polished gem in aw of how something so unpleasant like a dog tooth could become quite beautiful.

We moved on as Jay put final touches on the digging part making perfect angels, and a smooth even shelf to attach the liner to. The pond liner which was a old billboard out of the waste stream was brought over and opened up. The guys spread it over the newly created hole and jay jumped in the middle, forming the liner to the sides and bottom of the soon to be pond. We joked of pond plants being good names for alcoholic drinks like hot cabamba.

We dragged the hose over and started filling her up but that would take a while. We all hugged, exchanged handshakes, or another form of congrats and some started going home. A couple hours later just Jay and my family were left. The pond was complete and he started pulling the dirt back onto the shelf. I thanked him with all my heart and was thrilled at the giant pond (I think its giant) that lay before me. The PERFECT addition to our property and gardens. I was thrilled, I AM thrilled.

I cannot wait to plant the fence line with goods like kiwi and passion fruit, then the banks with wonderful plants like bananas, papayas, sweet potatoes, pineapple, elderberry, and other goods that will grip the soil and keep it from falling into the pond as well as enjoy the heating and cooling properties of water. *Heat in the winter, Cool in the summer*

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fast Fridge Bread/ Pizza Dough


~ 3 cups hot water (slightly above body temperature)
~ 1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast
~ 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
~ 6 cups flour

If you want to double the batch, just remember 6-3-3-12: 6 cups water, 3TB yeast, 3TB salt, 12 cups flour.

*I always use unbleached flour*


Mix up the ingredients in a large bowl, cover with a greased piece of plastic and let it rise for about 4 hours (could be up to 8 and I just let it go overnight) or until it collapses in on itself without you touching or messing with it.

Cover it loosely and put it in the fridge until you use it to make bread or pizza crust.(Let it refrigerate at least three hours before using it the first time.)

When you need some dough, take out the bowl, cut off a piece of dough (about a pound) and refrigerate the rest. Shape it into a ball on the counter (you might use a little flour to keep it from sticking. Put the shaped loaf onto the cooking surface and slash the top lightly with a knife to make three diagonal lines.

Cover with a piece of waxed paper & let it rise for about 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

When the dough is done rising, bake for 25-30 minutes.
*If you want a thick chewy crust on your bread, place a container of hot water in the back of the oven to add steam while it bakes or throw a handful of ice cubes onto the oven floor <- That's what i do most of the time* Cool before cutting.

This is a dense bread and will have a taste and texture similar to sourdough, the longer spent in the fridge the more sourdough taste the bread will have.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Strange and Intriguing

The Ladies Of Manure 2013 Calendar Kickstarter... For the weirdo in all of us ;)


Wishing these ladies the best of luck to achieve their composted dreams!

The Salt N Peppa Story

Its always hard getting rid of something you have had for a while, and when raising animals it might become even harder. You get attached to them, you learn their calls, the way they act, the way they move, you watch them, love them, hold them, care for them, protect them... then you have to make a hard choice. Sometimes its an illness that is putting them through pain, sometimes its that your child is scared of them. Whatever the cause it is always a sad occasion.

My story is about our hen Salt N' Peppa, a silver laced wyandotte. She was one of our original 3 chickens, the start of our small flock. We drove around to different feed stores looking for a breed we each wanted. Brooke picked out this tiny cute little chick, black and white. She didn't run away when we reached in to pick her out like the others so we knew she was for us. They put her in a box and sent her home with us. I held the little box on my lap the whole way home, cooing to our new chicks that everything would be alright. We stuck them in their little aquarium home warmed by a red heat lamp and watched them grow... and grow... and grow.

They were soon to large (and smelly) to be inside so they were moved to our porch inside a LARGE metal dog cage filled with coastal hay. We watched them everyday, taking them out to play with them and pet them. They grew fast and within a couple weeks they were ready to be moved outside. We found a coop on Phreecycle and drove it home slowly on top of our SUV. We set up their area, complete with their new coop and garden fencing to keep them outta the gardens. They were moved outside and seemed to like their new home. All 3 of them huddled together at night on the roast, walked around their area together and of course pecked on each other.

As they grew we saw Salt N Peppa get bossy, stand her ground, pick fights never to be mean but she was determined to be in charge of that pecking order. There was only one problem, Shawdow (my chicken) the jersey giant was bigger then her and she was the one handing down the chicken orders. There were scuffles and squawks,but Shawdow always stayed in the lead until a year later when she came down with a disease and perished. I loved that chicken. After a week of chicken mourning, not want to be held or seen, barely eating, always looking for her, Salt N Peppa took over as head lady hen. My grief for the loss of my shadow made me turn into a urban chicken lady wanting more and more chickens to replace the loss in my heart for my one. No matter who we brought in Salt N Peppa kept the head seat. Through more fights and pecks, through having her feathers ripped out my some unknown jerk. She has held her head high and stayed the queen of the flock.

For over 2 years now she has been a good lady chicken, never letting on of her own get hurt though she did let the ducks get attacked and pass. Always laying large brown eggs almost daily, and stooping down to let us pick her up and pet her. Her large red waddles swing back and forth when she struts around showing off her beautiful white and black speckled coat of feathers. Recently though she doesn't like Brooke, Pecking her if she comes to close and SNP feels cornered. I understand a little our cat does the same thing, but after the 6th peck Brooke no longer wants to visit the ladies, help take care of them, and learn about them which is one of the reasons we got them in the first place. I never considered giving her up until Brooke asked me to get rid of her. It hurt that she wouldn't want her chicken around anymore and she disliked her little lady. So sadly I typed a In Search Of request on facebook wanting her to go to a home where she will be loved, can grow old while being happy and not wind up in someones stockpot as stew. I hope that I found her that home, and when they come to pick her up I will be sad she has been apart of my life everyday for over 2 years but I will also be happy knowing she is going to a new happy loving home.

Here is SNP (on the left) with her first friend Red. The 2 remaining first flock members.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What to plant in December: Zone 9

Plant seeds of:

All Onion: Bulb, Bunching, Green
English Peas

* Provide plants with enough water if rainfall is scarce.
* Winter is a perfect time to work in your garden creating new gardens, adding features, and other misc work because it is cool enough to not kill yourself outdoors.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Garden Life

I am what people would call an addict, I eat, drink, and sleep gardening. Farming dreams, and garden books keep me happy. I am constantly thinking about what seeds to plant, rain to water the ground, if there is no rain it means lugging out the hose, what temperatures it is, what i need to order, so i need to add more mulch, why haven't those seeds sprouted, ugh how do the chickens keeping getting into my garden, what was that bug i saw, WTF what ate that plant....

It seems never ending but it keeps me busy and focused on something that I think is worth my time. Currently we are working on a garden plan using our current garden beds plus new features like more fruit trees, tilapia pond, a fence border, banana circle, new larger chicken coop, and other misc goods.

This busy work keeps me happy and driving forward, the more I learn the more I want to incorporate, the sad thing is I am quickly running out of space. BUT this will do for now, and as I look forward to my debts being paid off within a year, and slowly rebuilding my credit, I also look forward to owning farm land and creating a truly magical space I can forever call home.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich

For the bread I use french.

Use jellied cranberry sauce in place of a condiment.

Throw down a mix of white and dark meat on top of the bread with the cranberry sauce.

Top with a thin layer of mashed potatoes.

Close and enjoy... Mmmmmmmmm

Baking your sweet potatoes with your turkey?

Wrap your sweet potatoes in foil and stick in with your turkey!

Cooking your turkey at 350 degrees? Throw those potatoes in with a hour left to go!

If you are cooking your turkey at 325 degrees throw them in for an hour and 15 minutes with your turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Its the day where the turkey is stuffed and put in the oven with care, and the gravy laid to sleep in a bed of mashed potatoes. Its Thanksgiving! The day of the year where family gathers around the table with love and gives thanks for the wonderful treasures that have been bestowed upon us!

Continuing with family traditions we wake up and make cinnamon rolls while we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in our PJ's. Then as I tear up to all the sweet commercials and seeing Santa we stuff the bird and get it all ready. Then comes the dog show where my daughter tells me all the types of dogs she wants and I laugh at the poofy or dreaded dogs.

As I write this the turkey has just found itself rubbed with butter and herbs and stuffed with garlic, onions, and celery. The mashed potatoes were done yesterday and sitting waiting to be served this afternoon. The rest will be done later this morning.

Dinner shall be served at 3 a table lit with candles and set with love.

Today I give thanks for everyone and everything I have in my life. I am truly a lucky lady!


Herbed Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Asparagus with a Lemon Butter Sauce

Family are bringing pies and more veggie sides.

For our drinks we had pink fizzy which was 1 liter of sprite, 2 cans of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, and 1 bottle of white zinfandel wine!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Molting Chickens and Feather Clipping

Molting Chickens:
Once a year (ours always before it starts to get chilly) chickens molt. This is the process of losing feathers and regrowing new ones. During this period the chicken looks like its in severe distress. The very first time our hens went into a molt I panicked and thought they had some crazy disease, I spent hours googling chicken diseases to see what kind of crazy thing my flock could have come down with. It wasnt until I took a deep breathe and went back to my handy Stories guide to raising chickens book that i realized they were molting. Then I just had to laugh at them because they look so darn pathetic with clumps missing. I think they get self conscious because I see less of them during this period.

What happens:
Some chickens will lose a large amount of feathers at once google chicken molting for some funny ones but mine always seem just to thin out in certain areas regrow and lose another feathers in another area. That drags the process on for a while, mine takes about 1-2 months for a complete molt. Sadly most if not all chickens will also stop laying eggs during this period so make sure you freeze eggs for this shortage. Most the time this molting process takes place in fall when due to decreasing natural light a chickens egg laying slows down naturally. My hens and many flocks will go into molt at the same time.

The good news:
Once she returns to laying you will see an increase in laying and better quality eggs as this break from laying gives her reproductive tract a chance to be rejuvenated.

Feather Clipping:
Feather clipping comes yearly just after their molt finishes round here. Before anyone gets up in arms about this we do not harm our chickens, there is no blood or nerves in feathers, we do not pull them out or anything else like that. Now why we do clip the feathers is to stop chickens from flying the coop. There are feathers on the wings known as flight feathers after a molt and the chicken grows new flight feathers they must once again be trimmed.

I only trim one side of the bird which throws their balance off if they should try to fly. Most of my hens are GREAT and stay where they belong but the amerciuanas love to get over the fence and dig up my gardens and eat all my greens. So they are the FIRST to get a clipping after there molt!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What going on this week in the gardens!

So while my garden is ever evolving and I remove gardens, move gardens, etc I always have more then half of my yard planted.

Right now in my large raised center bed I have lime basil, eggplant, 2 types of tomatoes (a regular and grape), 3 types of peppers (chili, hab, and serrano), collards, carrots, broccoli, peas, chick peas, purple and green beans, perennial bunching onions unknown squash, and have nasturtium and celery seeds planted

In my other beds scattered around I have garlic, onions (yellow, white, red), scallions, super sweet onions, cabbage, more nasturtiums, arugula, more tomatoes, thai chili peppers, papaya, cassava (yuca), bananas, roselle, grapes, blackberries, peach trees, strawberries, turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, swiss chard, radishes, lettuce, and more

Within the last week I dug out most of the sweet potatoes~ we have 2 harvest baskets full of potatoes and I plan to weigh them.

We have a bundle of vidalia onion starts to plant out there somewhere within the next couple days. The bundle is of 50 starts (min) and cost us $5 at the local feed store. Strawberry farmers plant these as a border on their strawberry fields this time of year and harvest when strawberry season starts to wind down. Since these are not storage onions they will be diced and frozen once harvested!

We also have our tilapia pond laid out and ready for our class here December 15th. We will be learning and constructing a pond out of "trash" materials taught by a wonderful permaculture teacher who goes by the name Jungle Jay.

I really really enjoy sitting on the ground next to our little pond watching to now super happy 23 cent goldfish swimming around joined by a never ending amount of frogs and toads. Its very peaceful so much so I might have to make a little black bench to sit on! :)

Friday, November 16, 2012


Ah Pinterest the super addicting online pin board. No more cutting things from magazines or printing pictures from the computer now with one click that picture of the table you want to recreate is pinned to a named board and stored on the internet.

How can such a simple thing be so addictive, while the answer to this question im sure is what pinterest people live answer I myself am unsure all I know is I have it bookmarked on my laptop, an app on my phone, and now walk through thrift stores and yard sales saying hmmmm I bet I could find something awesome to do with that on pinterest.

1 minute stop to pinterest quickly turns to 15 minutes even sometimes hours. I pin recipes, craft ideas, home ideas, garden ideas... EVERYTHING... I am a pinning machine!

If you are on pinterest and wish to follow us we are HERE

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting Crafty: White Christmas Wreath

After spending a ridiculous amount of time flipping through thousands of pins on pinterest I decided I really needed to start acting crafty instead of just drooling over the things others are doing so I decided to ring Christmas in a little early and make a White Christmas wreath that we will hang on the front door.

I started using a 50% off one item coupon at Michael's and got a basic wreath, they have foam ones but I found a wrapped straw one for even cheaper.

I then used old basic white wedding tulle and thickly wrapped the wreath so you couldn't see the straw through it. I had tulle the had light stains on them laying around so i used that and tucked the stained parts so they couldn't be seen (being thrifty here)

A quick trip to the dollar store got me a 9 ft silver tinsel garland and 6 greyish silver plastic Christmas bulbs. I wrapped the garland as evenly as possible around the tulle.

Then used Christmas hooks pushed into the straw wreath to hang the bulbs, leaving the very bottom open.

I found little snowflakes that have been in our family for a while so attached those in the middle of the wreath.

At the bottom you can attach anything you would like~ A star, a santa, a sign, a bow, anything! I did a silver bow on top of a small pillow with the words peace on it.

This project cost me a total of $6 to make, using things from around the house and dollar store finds.

I think the completed wreath turned out nice! :)

Sweet Potatoes

Tis the season to harvest sweet potatoes, as the cool temps, and frosts come and kill off the heat loving vines of the sweet potato it is time to harvest all those lovely tubers hiding under the soil.

This year (2012) we planted a large bed of sweet potatoes out front those vines are still growing so they are still in the ground but in the backyard I planted 3 leftover plants. 2 red and 1 white. Those vines started dying back so it was time to yank them up.

Plant 1 (red) was in a weed free area and produced a couple tubers larger then my head as well as standard supermarket size and even smaller ones.

Plant 2 (red) was in a area where weeds had taken over you could hardly see the vines. This plant produced a much smaller amount of tubers and no large ones.

Plant 2 (white) was near the porch underneath the roof runoff and produced huge running vines that went EVERYWHERE. This plant produced a good amount of tubers large, medium, and small. Some split because of the large amount of late season water it received from the runoff, tubers reached 10 ft from the initial planting site.

Lessons Learned from year 1 of planting sweet potatoes:

~ Do not plant where plants will get an excessive amount of water
~ Make sure you do NOT allow weeds to take over plants
~ Keep vines you do not want rooting off the ground, maybe make some strong trellis like item
~ Plant starts about 3 ft from each other to maximize planting space
~ Plant will strangle out any other smaller plants in the area so keep them in their own bed

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup

I adore soup but can only bring myself to eat it during the fall and winter here in Florida.

Tonight for dinner I made stuffed chicken breasts, with Broccoli and cheese soup and biscuits.

Here is the recipe for the soup (ITS AMAZING)

2 cups chicken broth
1 small white onion, diced finely
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon greek seasoning
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small package on steamable Broccoli & Cheese


~ Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft.
~ Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.
~ In a separate stockpot, melt butter then add flour, and greek seasoning.
~ Cook together, stirring constantly until all flour is gone, then whisk in warmed milk.
~ Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken
~ Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended
~ Add cheeses and stir until completely melted.
~ Stir in broccoli package.
~ Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
~ Serve with fresh biscuits!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Looking for a little local christmas?

Hey local Tampa Bay folks!!

Are you looking to be a little more local for the Holidays this year?

Coming soon I will be offering our Cottage Food for sale!

~ Home Baked Bread
~ Papaya Mango Jam
~ Strawberry Wine Jelly
~ Blueberry Wine Jelly
~ Roselle Syrup

Once I figure out costs, etc I will start the sales!! :)


I dont know what happened but my blogging has slipped, some days I would click the link, look at a blank screen and just click to another page. I am going to make an effort to blog more often!


Sunday, November 4, 2012


Canning is fun, you can invite friends or family over to have some help, turn on the water canner and preserve many fruits and veggies. Tomato salsa, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, hot sauce, jam, jellies, preserves. The list goes on and on, and it doesn't take that much time. It perfect for storing that extra food you grew. I have made 3 batches of roselle jam from my 5 plants outside with enough left over to hopefully can roselle flowers in syrup.

Today my mom and grandma came over and we made lemon wine jelly from her meyer lemons from her little patio tree. It was easy took about an hour and came out a beautiful light shade of yellow. We had fun drinking, talking, and snacking while we worked. I kept a jar but most went with my grandma for her to give as gifts. Its perfect!

I highly suggest for everyone to get a little cheap set up to water bath can, its so much fun and the end product turns into wonderful homemade gifts you can be proud of!


~ 2 rags (1 large on small)
~ canning funnel
~ glass jars
~ canning kit (magnetic lid lifter, jar holder, tongs, jar lifter)
~ large stockpot
~ canning rack to fit inside pot
~ Ball canning book (its yellow with jars and fruit on the front)~ this is full of recipes~ start with a basic jam on the first 10 pages

The total above set up will cost you about $60 to get started

What to plant in Zone 9: November


Plant seeds of:
Brussels Sprouts
All Onions: Bulb, Green, bunching

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ever Changing

We are like the seasons, ever changing.

We test things and as they work or dont work we change to meet those needs, mother nature can work very well for you if you have a general idea of how she works.

Winter winds tend to come from the North West but always from the north, so plant your cold loving or tolerant plants on the side. Warm winds come from the South and many times the South East, so you need to plant you cold sensitive plants towards that area.

The sun rises in the east with a less powerful sun, and it slowly builds in strength as it travels over us, leading to harshest sun directly above us till before sunset.
Some plants do best in morning sun, some are ok with all day sun. Learn about your plants needs when you plant!

I have made many mistakes and that is how I learn. I think its the VERY best way as every person yard, patio, etc is different, faces different ways and lives in different regions. I have peach trees in the southern end of my garden that needs to dug carefully and moved, I recently moved garden beds that were in our southern corner to the northern side for plants like onions, lettuce, broccoli and other winter veggies! We are ever changing and that is best because if you fail at something over and over its time to reexamine your gardens and plants needs and be open to change!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wed. Morning (10-24-12)

Its a lovely morning here at Sunny Spot Gardens. The sky has been misting all morning, with light grey clouds moving across the sky, letting the morning sun peak through only for a moment making to water drops sparkle on the green on the plants.

We woke up and took our daughter to school, then went outside to start work, we pulled a large pile of grass and weeds and put them into the compost area, we then laid out a HUGE black tarp which will eventually become our tilapia pond, right now it is killing all the grass and left over weeds so we have a much easier time digging. I cannot wait to be able to raise and harvest our own fish! :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today: 10-23-12

Today was busy! We were told Brooke couldn't go back to Pre-K until she had a physical so we ran around like crazy trying to find a place who would take her in on a walk in, we ended up finding a place close to my work. So we filled out the forms and got her clean bill of health and ready to return to school tomorrow!

Then I went to work until 6:30 when I rushed home to catch the last rays of light as the sunset. With my work clothes still on I grabbed my seed packs and headed to the garden where I sprinkled lettuce seeds in my kiddie pool gardens. I then moved on to the garden beds where I had created little rows in the mulch and sowed carrots, kale, swiss chard, and radish seeds.

I hope they all germinate well and give us a bountiful harvest.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hibiscus radiatus an amazing flower

I'm a edible plant girl through and through, but there is something about watching bees fly flower to flower or the butterflies flitting through the garden that lends an air of need to flowers.

I am recently discovering you can have a happy mix, planting flowers and edibles together but some edibles have such amazing blooms themselves.

My now favorite is the short day blooming Hibiscus Radiatus. I call it lemon hibiscus because they leaves have a tart lemon flavor.

The leaves are very cannabis like in looks but it has no relation.

The Blooms are the most glorious shade of reddish purple...

I am in love with these blooms!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pictures around Sunny Spot Gardens (10-19-2012)

Daddy and Brooke:

Black Racer I cut free:

Front Yard:

Ronnie planting our creole garlic:

Ronnie making friends with a bird at out feed store:

Tomato Flower:

Tortoise at Holloway Farm Feed Store:

Seminole Pumpkins:

Date Night in the Gardens (set up by the DH):

A lovely flower out front:

Mulching are garden beds with halfway decomposed mulch:

Who needs Salt Life when you have: