Friday, May 31, 2013

Bye-bye Broccoli: Hello Summer!

Good-bye broccoli! What a bounty we've enjoyed. From the initial harvesting of the main curds (heads) at the end of November through the endless come-again spears until last week, there have been more than 40 harvests!
Broccoli sprouts from the root. I'd never seen or noticed
 this behavior before.  I separated them out and planted
them in a large pot that I put in the shade by the potting
bench.  It will be interesting to see if I can carry
them over until fall.

Transitions in the garden

There's always something going on in the vegetable gardens. I finally removed the old broccoli plants that had been keeping us supplied with all the broccoli we wanted for six months. When I removed these gnarly plants, I noticed that two of them had produced a bunch of sprouts from the roots. I have separated out the sprouts and have planted them in a large pot, which I placed in the shade. Will they last through the long, hot summer?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Only two public events left on the book tour

Talking to people at the Wildflower Festival in Deland
about my vegetables and my books. A fun event.

The "Flowered Shirt" Book Tour

June is upon us and that means that this whirlwind book tour is almost over, and of the six or seven dates left, only two are public.

1) June 10th I'll be speaking to the Cuplet Fern Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society in Sanford, FL at 7pm at 200 Fairmont Ave. 32773. My presentation is Ecosystem Gardening and it's open to the public. I will, of course, also be signing books afterwards.

2) June 15 An open house event at Sunrise Jubilee Farm in Baker County
An afternoon celebration on the farm at 4:30pm in Baker County. Jennifer Asbury writes, "This is an open house for the Farm. We were invited to be a part of Ginny Stibolt's book Tour featuring her new book 'Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida.' We will also have face painting, hoping for a hayride, looking for some local artisans to join us, a community potluck..(so please bring an amazing dish you can share)." There will also be music. Let Jennifer know if you wish to come to the celebration. Here is the farm's Facebook page where you can send a message so she can send you driving instructions. If wish to attend and you're not on Facebook let me know.

While I've loved the various gardenfests, most of my speaking engagements have been at Florida Native Plant Society chapter meetings and Master Gardener meetings. And what great audiences they've been! They've asked great questions and have bought a lot of books. I'm always in interested in these in-depth discussions about organic gardening and how important it is for the health of our state. Plus both of these groups do so much volunteering in their communities and provide great outreach and education, so I'm pleased that I can play a part in supporting their efforts.

It's been fun to drive all over Florida this spring. The scenery is often spectacular especially where the "no mow" roadsides have been planted with wonderful wildflowers and where the roads go through undeveloped wooded areas. But, as I found out recently, I didn't need to leave Clay County to find beautiful roadside wildflowers: There is a great display of wildflowers just south of Middleburg. I've also seen some interesting birds including bald eagles, ospreys, roseate spoonbills, crested caracaras, and various egrets and herons.  

Florida is a fantastic state!

A flowered roadside in Clay County.
Ironically, this is just across the road from the wonderful wildflowers in Clay County shown above.
Which side is more sustainable?

I was honored to receive the coveted Green Palmetto
Award at the FNPS conference. Yes, of course I was
wearing another one of my flowered shirts!

The Florida Native Plant Society Conference came to Jacksonville!

I was on the conference committee, the publicity chair, and it was a lot of work to put the conference together. We'd been planning it for more than two years. But in the end it was all worthwhile, because everything came off without a hitch. Yay!

To learn about some of the activities and see some of my photos, read my "live Blogging" posts from the conference: Live Blogging from the 2013 FNPS Conference; Live Blogging from the Conference Friday; and Live Blogging from the Conference Saturday.

I particularly loved the three-hour nature journaling workshop taught by Elizabeth Smith that I arranged for and then participated myself. We all received an FNPS bag with a sketchpad, pencils, a nice pen, some water colors, a water brush, which I'd never been aware of before. Now the question is whether I will make myself slow down and actually take the time to sketch nature as I see it. I wrote about it in the first post above.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The last cool-weather crops

It's my opinion that the best growing season here in north Florida is the winter because the cool-weather crops that grow right through to late spring. But now that season is transitioning to the warm/hot weather and those lovely crops that we've enjoyed through the winter are ending their cycles. I've loved that my husband and I have been eating from the same six broccoli plants since November! After harvesting the large curds (heads) shortly after Halloween, they've sent up side shoots with abandon--if we don't pick them every second day or so, they'll bloom, which would signal that they can slow down. I planted a second crop of broccoli in January that are now sending up their own side blooms, so we've been eating lots broccoli!
A harvest earlier this week created ... a whole meal salad.
In the photos above, I created a whole meal salad from this one harvest. Starting with the knife at the bottom and moving clockwise: butterhead lettuce, garlic chives, purple lettuce, curly parsley, chive flowers, come again broccoli. broccoli flowers, and carrots--both orange and cosmic purple. I fried some 7-grain bread in olive oil and wild garlic for croutons and then we created our own oil and vinegar dressing and topped it all off with some Parmesan cheese. Very nice meal. In my presentations, I mention that my husband and I have reduced our food bill by about 15%--whole meal salads are one of our favorites!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Edible Gardening Convert

A nice collection of lettuces.
A guest post by Claudia Graves, a college friend and now a new and enthusiastic gardener.

Zero to sixty in three years

My mother could grow anything. It seemed that her touch could bring a sickly plant back from the brink or encourage a healthy one to thrive. “The greenest of green,” is how I used to describe her thumb, but she passed that trait along to my brother only. His plants thrive. Entrance into my house is the kiss of death. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that I kill them with kindness and too much watering. No – I kill them with neglect and abuse. Why use “dirt” other than what lies right outside my door?  Why fertilize except for an occasional blast of some chemical so potent that it produces instant wilting… followed by a high probability of death. And watering? Once every few months should do ‘em. So I have “grown” a lot of lush “plastic plants” in my lifetime and not much else.