Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And the winner is...

The winner of the fabulous Intensity Academy hot sauce giveaway is... Dollwood Farms.
Please contact me with your details! (bjaukett@gmail.com)

For the rest of you wonderful blog readers who want to give them a try..

Contact them at:
Email: IntensityAcademy@verizon.com
or
Facebook

This drawing was chosen at random by Random.org

What to plant: March (Zone 9)

March
Plant seeds of:
Beans: Bush, Pole, and Lima
Cantaloupes
Sweet Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Okra
English Peas
Peppers
Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin
Gourds
Squash
Tomato
Watermelons
Carrots
Collards
Kohlrabi
Beets
Lettuce
Mustard
Green onions and Shallots
English Peas
Radish
Turnips
* Mound up soil around potato stems to protect tubers from sun damage.
* If you are planting the cold weather leaf veggies listed above do so in partial shade so they can escape the mid-day sun here in FL

Okra in the garden

If i learned 1 thing from last year its that okra likes its water.

My plants seemed stunted not growing and not producing for half the summer but when those rains came they took off, to bad it was so late in the growing season and the plants had to go to make room for the cold season plants.

This year I will not make that mistake, I am planting my okra in the kiddie pool turned garden to make sure they stay moist. I figure the pool will hold about 12 plants which should (hopefully) give me enough to pickle and can.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another Garden

In my ever expanding attempt to totally transform both my front and back yard into a food paradise I created a new garden space, these spaces are smaller yes but will still produce wonderful goodies for my family. This newest space came to be after walking into my backyard and noticing the first thing that caught your eye was a open blank space near the fire pit.. not any longer.

Now when you walk into my backyard you are greeted by a stack of wood then where the porch ends and the yard begins is a scavenged metal shelf full of pots of herbs, behind that is the new garden space and just a little further our fire pit where we gather 'round to enjoy a nice night just us or with friends.

The new garden space has a thin walkway down the middle giving way to 2 beds on either side, towards the front yard you have a new herb bed where our lavender is already planted but will be consumed with many more herbs because honestly you can never have to many, the other half will be for misc veggies, right now we planted left over lettuce starts as a experiment, and since I always start extra seeds (just in case) after all is said and done in the main beds the extras will be planted in these beds so no plant or planting space goes to waste.

Im just loving how my yard is coming along and cant wait till the yard really takes off in full food paradise splendor :) this summer my front yard will be filled with yummy things like peanuts, sweet potatoes, Seminole pumpkin, and other yummy goodies as well as sunflowers (just because I love them) :)

Here the garden area is after a soil loosening and grass pulling.. its being worked over by the chickens so they can scratch, and fertilize it :)

Here is the garden after its been fully worked with compost and peat moss added.. the beds have been formed and the walkway made


Here is a view walking into the yard

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rocket Stove Update

So last time when I worked on my stove I created a really good base but it was losing a lot of heat and it took 5 minutes to cook a egg, after my defeat i covered it up and forgot about it.. Today i uncovered it and started fixing and updating, this is what I got...



A wonderful fire going in the stove!!

A lovely lunch of fresh laid eggs, garlic chives, and edible flowers!


The egg cooked in 1 minute and 7 seconds.. SCORE!!! Yay for update

Here you can check out other peoples homesteads here.

This is sickening...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pictures around Sunny Spot Garden (Feb, 25th 2012)

Freshly prepared garden bed

Our kitty kitty



Garden

Brooke's Garden

Kale

Mustard Greens going crazy

Flowers!

Peach Tree

Brooke in the garden

Marigolds

Asparagus

Chickens

Tomato in a bucket

Aloe ready to bloom

Leaves

New fig leaves

New Canna emerging from the ground :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

So I've been thinking...

Why do I really grow my own food, why am i diving so into this instead of something else..

Let me first answer my first questions, why do I grow my own food... really it boils down to the face that I am highly suspicious of the government and them wanting the "best" for us.. I don't like the studies that are kept out of the public eye about GMO foods, or the fact that they refuse to label them, I don't like the fact that we in America waste so much including our food products, I don't like the fact that we dump chemicals onto the foods we then consume, in fact there's a lot that I don't like.. but what I do like is having total control over what I put into my body, the fact that I can walk outside into my front yard or backyard and pick food that I can eat right then and there, the fact that my daughter can run in between the rows of beds filled with her dinner and eat whatever she wants without having to take it inside and wash it then hope there are no chemicals left on it, I like knowing that I can provide for my family whether money is tight or not we can still eat and I can still provide, that nature is welcome to my yard rather then killed, that I can work with nature instead of against her..

Now for my second question.. Why am I diving into this vs something else...
I think this really has to do with my personality and is a 2 step question, first I throw myself into any project I set my mind on.. there is no pace yourself Brittany it is a go hard or go home attitude, my mind gets fixed on it and its go go go.. if I don't have the money I scavenge what I need on the road side, on Craigslist or freecycle.. anywhere I can. This has always been how I am, sometimes its good sometimes its not and yes sometimes it is a process but just 2 years after I moved into this house I have almost converted all my grassy area into gardens or chicken area including in the front, I have planted fruit trees, installed a small pond to grow water edibles in, raised 6 chickens, and felt the best I ever have. The real question then is why this.. why did i choose to devote all mine and my families free time to a urban farm, I think the better question might be why not? Yes you can raise animals, yes you can knit or sew or home brew or any number of productive homestead things and I do a lot of those (currently learning about the home brewing thing) but my first and foremost goal is to be as sustainable as I can and that starts with a large and productive, happy garden so that's where my prime energy is being spent, the cheese making, brewing, sewing, knitting, and other goodies come second for me :)

Tv Update

They moved my TV premier to this coming Thursday February 23rd once between 5 and 530 am and again between 6 and 630am.
Its news channel 8 which is our local NBC.
If you don't have access to a TV or live in a different state I will hopefully be posting a internet video later that day!! :)

Whats the big deal

I don't know why everyone keeps posting or saying hateful things about Monsanto, I mean they only create food that kills insects, women, children and men, that seems reasonable to me.
Its not like they wont label their products or sue farmers who don't use their product and have a monopoly on our food... right?
Whats the big deal?
LOL!!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Down and dirty in the gardens

So this weekend was all apart cleaning, family, and gardening.

It started with a good soaking friday afternoon setting the mood for the gloomy but fun weekend. First we set up and built a basket for delivery to a dentist office filled with local produce (who needs harry and david's $250 baskets when you have my local goodness) so we went around to farmers markets.
While out we picked up a bunch of herbs, 2 lavender plants, thyme, oregano, and garlic chives.
Bags of leaves were picked off the street and spread into gardens, empty beds were filled with leaves and topped with compost, buckets were filled with dirt and compost to plant a couple roma tomato starts, tomatoes were planted in Brooke's garden as well as seeing more volunteer beans popping up in there, peppers were planted (both sweet and hot), eggplants were planted, seeds were started, seeds were ordered from bakers creek for items like Seminole pumpkin, and a couple canning tomatoes.
The chickens were moved from the porch to the chicken area and into the coop, Salt and Pepper hated them and chased them down into a corner pecking them nonstop so they were placed into a separate coop area were they can be seen, smelled and heard but not attacked they will stay in there for about a week then let back out, if salt and pepper is still attacking she will be removed and put into quarantine for a week while the pecking order gets readjusted.
All in all it was a hugely productive weekend and cannot wait to get those seeds sprouting and planted in the gardens!! :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Once upon a time someone said they wanted me to grow food like they get in the supermarket, so I raised up a little seed, watered it everyday, then once it started producing I dumped every chemical pesticide killer, fertilizer, and other "helpful" chemicals I could find on it. The person stared at me in horror.. I turned around and said what do you think you get in the grocery store..

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Growing Hypericum perforatum (aka: St Johns Wort)

COMMON NAMES:
St. John's Wort, Klamathweed, Goatweed.

This plant is a lovely Perennial with showy flowers that can tolerate and likes sandy warm soil! Back in the day they believed that St. Johns Wort could ward off evil spirits :)


PARTS USED:
Herb tops, flowers.

SOIL REQUIREMENTS:
Does best in light, warm, sandy soil.

SUN:
Partial sun is ideal but can be grown in partial shade.

HEIGHT/SPACING:
1 to 3 feet High, plant 12 inches apart.

GROWING ZONES:
Zones 3 through 8, I am trying it here in zone 9 as a experiment.

USES:
Sedative, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, astringent, and expectorant. Used for soooo many things like urinary and bladder conditions, lung conditions, dysentery, parasitic infestations, diarrhea and most recently as a modern-day treatment of depression.


PLANTING TIME:
After danger of frost has passed. Transplant when seedlings are around two inches tall.

STARTING:
Propagated from cuttings, seeds, or division of roots.

FLOWERS:
Late summer of second year.

HARVESTING:
Harvest when flowers are in full bloom. Both the leaves and flowers can be harvested. Cut off the upper 1/3 portion of the plant for harvest

DRYING METHODS:
Dry flowers and leaves in bundles, upside down, in a cool, dry place indoors.


PRESERVATION:
Dried flowers may be stored in an airtight glass container for up to one year. Infuse the flowers into a carrier oil for topical use. The oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

***CAUTION:***
People taking the herb over a long time should avoid direct sunlight. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take this herb. DO NOT take with alcohol. Severe depression should not be treated with St. John's Wort.

DRUG INTERACTIONS:
ALWAYS ask your doctor before using any herb.
This herb should not be taken if you are currently taking any form of anxiety or depression medication, as it may interfere with the action of the drugs.

TINCTURE RECIPE:
To Make Tincture
You will need:
~ 8 oz. 100 proof Vodka
~ Pint Jar with lid.
~ 2-3 oz. Dried St. John's Wort Tops or Whole Herb fresh or dried (enough to fill jar)

Starting Garden Plans

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sink or Float: The tale of a good egg vs bad egg

One upon a time there was a very bad egg where it once had whites it now had just air pockets, all because it lost its moisture and carbon dioxide. One day this bad egg took a trip to a bowl of cold water for a dive.. it dove in but floated to the top unable to dive to the bottom it got mad and left. Then along came a good egg to take a dive, It jumped in and dove to the bottom of the bowl of cold water, once it got to the bottom it decided to sit there for a while and rest, later that day the good egg and some of it friends were nice enough to feed a wonderful happy family breakfast!

The End!

The morale of the story:
A bad egg will float to the top while a good egg will sink to the bottom, all eggs but the floaters are ok to eat.

Photo Courtesy of Google.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

A late winter freeze

This winter has been very mild and when i say very I mean it.. in most parts of the country everyone has been warm, here I had 3 days of freezes and many days of 80+ degrees, the last couple years its been freezing for many weeks at a time. After the last 4 weeks of really warm weather I planted out my warm season veggies to get a early start.

Last night we had a freeze.. I lost everything... Beans, basil, nasturtiums, eggplant, tomatoes, fennel.. FRICK!!!

Oh well lesson learned

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A fresh dinner

Its amazing what you pick from your garden can be on your plate just a hour or so later. No transport, no washing chemicals, nothing.. just picked from the garden, cooked, and eaten.


Above this is the before, freshly harvested from the garden...

And for dinner chicken from a small local meat shop on a bed of wilted mustard greens with chickpeas, onions, garlic tops and decorated with a few edible violas! :)


I love this, thats why its so exciting to grow!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rain

There is nothing nicer then sitting in your living room with all the windows and doors open wide listening to the calming sound of rain hitting the ground and roof.

With the chicks cheeping in the background it is a fantastic night!

Tomorrow in the nicely soaked soil I will plant seeds of squash and beans, plant edible violets, plant jalapeno starts outside and start more seeds. I also need to draw up my garden plans.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

So you want to lasagna compost

Fantastic! You are on your way to simple easy no care composting!!

Lets start!

First pick out the spot where you will garden, this is where you will compost.

Here are the basics:
Lasagna composting is the easiest form of composting, you compost directly where you will plant. You do this by starting with a bottom layer, normally cardboard boxes or newspaper then continue to layer your goods. This is a no dig no hassle method.

Here is how you will rotate:
Greens
Browns
Greens
Browns
etc..

~ Greens: vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, grass clippings, manure

~ Browns: fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, pine needles, hay, twigs, sawdust

Try to make your brown layers 2x thicker then your green layers don't be to picky about it though.

Example Bed:
~~Top~~
6 inches of rich soil
Hay
Garden trimmings, and no longer producing plant
Newspaper & Sawdust
Grass clippings
Fallen Leaves
Veggie scraps
Hay
Cardboard Boxes
~~Bottom~~

SO work your way from the bottom if you use this example in your garden.

Keep adding more and more layers because as everything decomposes it will settle down cause a 2 ft tall bed to become something like 6-8 inches of wonderful compost.

(Note: As with most compost do not add meat or meat products)

You can start your lasagna compost garden at anytime if you plan to use it right away make sure you top it with about 6 inches of rich soil to plant in as the rest decomposes.

This is a fun and simple way to compost easily!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Going Green Tampa

Once upon a time not so long ago a wonderful website was born. The name is Going Green Tampa and may I say it is quite fantastic! A resource for "green" businesses and events this website has taken off! Filled with everything from organic restaurants to clothing businesses and even some hair stylists this is your one stop website to gain the knowledge you need to shop responsibly.

Wonderful Listings Include: ("like" these guys)
GreenDreams ~ that designs & installs urban farms, backyard homesteads, community gardens & learning gardens for schools in the Tampa Bay area. They also provide consultations/classes & also have an edible nursery at their office.

Fisher Honey Bees ~ Providing 100% raw, all natural, never heated honey from the local area. They have bees in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough county. They do not use any pesticides of any sort on our bees.

Intensity Academy Gourmet Sauces ~ Intensity Academy is an all natural local award winning sauce company. The owners’ commitment to supporting their local community with the best that spice has to offer is apparent in their choice of bottling their products in Tampa Bay.

Down2Earth ~ Offering sensible gifts for earth-minded people, highlighting reusable bags and bottles, organic cotton graphic tees, soy candles, re-engineered goods, and more!

But its not just their wonderful listing of businesses that attracts me to them they also have useful articles, list local blogs, and seem to care about really trying to make Tampa Bay a better greener place for all to enjoy!

Not to mention a killer list of green events in the local area!!

If you havent yet "like" them on facebook and bookmark their website!!

and we will be on the news....

So today a little after 9:30 AM I began speaking about my gardens to a lovely pair from News Channel 8 (WFLA). Her name was Leigh Spann and she was so sweet and pleasant to be around, making my nerves and stomach calm a little bit. She asked me some questions on gardening which is of course my passion so they were easy to answer but my mouth was so dry form the nerves causing my to choke on my words a couple times.

They were around a little less then a hour, touring the gardens, taking shots, asking questions!

I will be aired March 1st twice, once between 5 and 530 am and again between 6 and 630 am

YAY!






Heres some blogs of friends mentioning me and the news:

Connected Roots Garden

Gardening for Newbies

Local Spotlight & Giveaway: Intensity Academy Gourmet & Hot Sauce Company

If you want some saucy goodness this is the stuff to get. Filled to the top with love and spice, sealed and wrapped in a awesome label, put into your kitchen and used in every meal.. then you have a intensity academy hot sauce.

I have tried a lot of their saucy awesomeness and just LOVE the hot cubed, it is really a remarkable hot sauce, not to mention the thai sweet chili which gets mixed into our stir fry dishes all the time!! This up and coming company are ever expanding and being sampled around the world now! WOW!

I found them one summer night at the Green After Dark event in Odessa, sampled their goods, stuck around for a chat, and fell in love, after that i have been scouting them out, and our fridge is never without a open bottle.

Producing carrot based hot sauces & organic tea infused gourmet sauces that wow everyone, that's what they have perfected!!!

Company Overview:
Intensity Academy sauces are all natural, award winning gourmet & hot sauces. In less than 4 years of being in business they have won 50 national awards including their Chai Chipotle Chup' being named the #1 ketchup in the NATION thru the 2010 Scovie Awards.

Contact
Email: IntensityAcademy@verizon.com
or
Facebook



The Giveaway:

To enter:
Check out their facebook page, "like" them, then click a share button or post on facebook for this blog, and leave me a comment that you have done so. This will enter you into our drawing!

What you get if you win: A saucy pack!

This drawing ends: Feb 29th 2012 @ 10pm


"Creating flavors to make the world a saucier place to live...one bottle at a time." ~Michele Northrup, Founder

Above: Shrimp made with hot cubed

Below: A Saucy arrangement of their sauces

Above: A cute little gift pack!

Barn hop here!!

Below: A very YUMMY pot of chili made with their new spice mix (heck yes i bought a pack)

Above: A box of assorted sauces (these were Christmas gifts around my house this year)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What to Plant: February (Zone 9)

February
Plant Seeds of:
Beets
Carrots
Celery
Collards
Endive
Kohlrabi
Leek
Lettuce
Mustard
Parsley
English Peas
Potatoes
Radish
Turnips
Beans: Bush, Pole, and Lima
Cantaloupes
Sweet Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Peppers
Sweet potatoes
Pumpkins
Gourds
Squash
tomatoes
Green onions and shallots
Watermelon
* Make sure Fall-planted strawberries are getting enough water so they produce fruit.

A garden where there was once a path

Doing a good look at my yard I relized I had perfectly square raised beds with walkways on all sides, and not tiny walkways, large you can sit down in them walkways which is really unneeded in my space, so my most recent goal is to remove a lot of the wasted walkway space.

The plan:
Of course we still need walkways, you need to be able to get around, pick veggies etc but we must get rid of wasted space!! A peach tree in the chicken area starts the transformation, there is no reason a chicken area should be bare, so we planted a floriprince peach surrounded by compost and enclosed with a circle of chicken wire to keep them from digging while it gets established. The second thing we did was create a small garden area in front of the blueberries and behind the rocket stove, there was no reason that had to remain empty, so i laid down newspaper to serve as skinny walkways so you could harvest from all sides and raised up soil and compost to create a uplifted garden space, this created 3 small planting spots, 1 area we already planted some collard starts. Im am very excited about this transformation, it will help turn the ENTIRE backyard into a lovely food forest at some point, full of grains, veggies, and fruits!
BEFORE:


AFTER:

Seed and Plant Swap

Once a year Diggin Florida Dirt arranges a plant/ seed swap. This was my first time attending (and their 2nd ever). I was very excited to see flowers, and plants I didnt know about, chat with some local gardeners, and just enjoy the atmosphere. As a mostly edible gardener I was sad to see no edible plants for trade but hope people make use of the edible seeds I brought, I picked up a couple shade flowers, and some seeds of flowers like the blanket flower and a type called belamcanda chinemis otherwise known as a blackberry lily.

All in all it was a very enjoyable time had by all, and maybe next year I can get a bunch of edible local growers to join in the fun!!!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Class

After 4 cancels I had one person show up to my first ever class here at the gardens, thats ok I was happy! We chatted toured the gardens, and made a killer batch of fresh strawberry jam. She went home with a pint and a half of strawberry jam!!

I hope I was able to show the basics about canning and start her on the way to put up for her family :)

I hope to have some classes in the future where more people will join us!

Pictures around Sunny Spot Gardens ( Feb 4th, 2012)

Lemon Grass

Phone Book Pots

Honey Suckle

Part of front yard

Asparagus

Just sprouted bunching onions

Celery sprouted from a cut bottom (day 10)

Part of the backyard

Mulberry Tree

Lemon Tree

First Leaves on Peach Tree

Our big hens (just over a year old)

Pea Flowers

Potatoes

Kale

Mustard Greens

More winter greens

Garlic

Strawberries

Blooming Tomatoes

Turnip

Compost

Tomatoes

Chickens (1 1/2 months old)

Blueberries

High Chair Parsley Garden

Chicken Face

Strawberry Jam from my first ever canning class

Our week and a half old buff orpington chicks

Strawberry Lemonade (homemade)

Check out what going on at others homesteads