1. DIY- Build Your Own Mason Jar Herb Garden

    With BBQ season in full swing and Easter cooking around the corner, we thought it might be fun to start growing your own personal herb garden! There’s nothing quite like having fresh ingredients to add to a tasty salad or main dish! Not only will it add a pop of color to your garden, it also tastes great, too! This DIY project is quick and easy and is one that the whole family to get involved with. For a list of materials and simple instructions click here! Visit our Pinterest page for more fun DIY ideas!

    (Photo: http://camillestyles.com/uncategorized/transformed-mason-jar-herb-garden/)

     


  2. Growing Your Gardens

    Are you familiar with the term “curb appeal”? Basically, it is a phrase used to determine how appealing your home is from street view. Don’t be turned away from landscaping your yard because of the challenges Florida’s tropical climate creates!

    Having a beautiful yard in Florida is possible with a little tender loving care. With just a few pieces of knowledge, a couple gardening tools, and a little time, you can be on your way to a well-manicured lawn full of beautiful flowers, trimmed shrubs, and fruits and vegetables to fill your fridge (and belly!)

    To start, Real Simple put together a checklist to help you through each step of your gardening adventure, from beginning to end.  Once you have determined what you want to plant and where, gather basic gardening tools like a spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe, hand weeder, and a basket to begin. Don’t forget those gloves!

    But once you have the needed tools, what’s the next step? Living in the tropical climates of Florida, you are aware that landscaping can be a little trickier. The soil is made up of mostly sand, the heat and humidity are higher, dry season can effect plants, and the sea salt from the ocean may compromise their growth if they don’t have a tolerance for it. Don’t let these things keep you from creating a beautiful yard you will be proud to call your own!

    Find out first where you want to get started. Do you want to incorporate flowers, shrubs, trees, or vines? How much are you willing to spend?  With fall just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning for what you will incorporate into your garden!

    For southern Florida gardens, Florida Gardener provides a breakdown of the vegetables, herbs, flowers, and bulbs that are best for you to grow.

    Vegetables: Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Collards, Corn, Cowpeas, Cucumbers, Celery, Eggplant, Leaf Lettuce, Mustard, Okra, Onions, Peppers, Pumpkin, Squash Tomatoes, Turnips, and Watermelon.

    Herbs:  Basil, Chives, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Sweet Marjoram.

    Flowers:  Asters, Balsam, Begonias, Black-Eyed Susan Vine, Blue Daze, Cat’s Whiskers, Coleus, Cosmos, Cockscombs, Dianthus, Forget-Me-Nots, Gaillardia, Golden Globe Impatiens, Marigolds, Melapodium, Moon Vine, Pentas, Periwinkles, Petunias, Phlox, Porterweed, Portulaca, Purslane, Salvia, Scabiosa, Strawflowers, Sunflowers, Tithonias, Torenia, Verbenas and Zinnias.

    Bulbs:  African Iris, Agapanthus, Amaryllis, Cannas, Crinums, Daylilies, Gladioli, Gloriosa Lilies, Society Garlic and Zephyranthes (Rain Lilies).

    For inspiration on where and how to grow these items, view HGTV’s John Gidding video in which he shares tips on how to improve your home’s curb appeal with a few landscaping ideas.

     


    With so many delicious things growing in your garden, what will you ever do with them!  Visit Pinterest, The Food Network, Cooking Light, or your favorite recipe website for inspiration on how you can turn your pickings into a wonderful family dinner.

    Happy gardening!


  3. Garden Fever- Crafts for Your Spring Garden

     

    Spring officially begins next week making us dream of gardens full of flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

    Have you been considering starting a garden? Do you have a garden already? Whether you are a beginner or expert, we put together a list of garden craft ideas for all ages to create.

    • Paint rocks- Decorate rocks and label them with what is planted in that section. For example tomato, parsley, or lilies.
    • Decorate popsicle sticks- If you don’t have any rocks nearby, use popsicle sticks instead. Place them in the ground so you can remember what you have plated where.
    • Adorn a garden house- Many craft stores sell kits to make bird feeders or small garden houses. Decorate them however you would like and leave one in your garden for extra character.
    • Set aside a Kid Zone- Let the kids select a few things they want to plant and set aside an area in the garden for their plants. They can water and care for this section while you handle the rest.
    • DIY Bird Feeder- Making a homemade bird feeder is easy! Take a pinecone and tie some twine around it so it will hang. Rub peanut butter on the cone and sprinkle seeds on it.  Be sure to check out all the birds that come to visit!
    • Create Stepping stones- Find large slats of rock or stepping stones at a craft store near you. Decorate the stone with paints, mosaic glass, and other tools then place in your garden.
    • Build a Welcome sign- Using stones, flowers, paint, wood, and other natural elements, decorate a Welcome sign that can sit at the entrance of your garden.
    • Paint your potters- If you place any items into pots, paint them with bright colors, pictures, or artwork.

    There are so many ideas and crafts that can be done by all ages to make your garden an even more beautiful and welcoming place. What are some of the crafts you and your family do for your garden?


  4. Planting your January Garden!

    The weather is finally cooler in the Sunshine state! It’s time to get outside and enjoy these ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Florida days! Now is an excellent time to plant herbs and vegetables in the garden! Many herbs will thrive now that temperatures are cooler, including tarragon, thyme, dill, fennel, and any of the mints. If vegetables are more your thing, why not experiment by planting cool season crops including beets, cabbage, turnips, lettuce, and broccoli.

     

    There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your labor and using your fresh herbs and vegetables in preparing sumptuous stews, soups and other culinary delights! Here is an example of one of our favorite soup recipes!

     

    Winter Vegetable Soup recipe - This quick one-pot soup is perfect after a busy day.

    Everyday Food, November 2009

    For more recipe ideas visit http://www.marthastewart.com/food

     

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 1 pound acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 1 bunch kale ( 3/4 pound), ribs cut away and discarded, leaves torn
    • 5 1/2 cups (43.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 can (14 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed
    • 3 sprigs thyme
    • Grated Parmesan, for serving (optional)

    Directions

    1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Cook onion and garlic until fragrant, 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add squash and kale and cook until kale is wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add broth, beans, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash and kale are tender, about 12 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper and serve with Parmesan, if desired.