Dinner From the Garden – Mustard Greens and Baby Bok Choy

I finally got to harvest some of my dwarf baby bok choy and mustard greens from the garden.  The Bok Choy seeds came from a contest  I won over at Greenish Thumb last year.  When I won them it was no longer bok choy planting time in zone 8, so I have anxiously been awaiting the time I could plant them.  Thanks Wendy, it was worth the wait!  🙂

Mustard Greens and Baby Bok Choy

I cut up the bok choy and mustard greens washed and dried them in a salad spinner.  I then put a little olive oil in a pan added the greens and then topped it off with balsamic vinigarette.  They cook quickly so if you cook this don’t turn your back.  Yum!


Vegetables to Plant in November

Today is election day, I hope everyone goes out and votes!  Regardless who wins, I hope we can all just get along.

I don’t know about you?  But, my garden is full.  I will be pulling up most of my summer veggies soon and to make room to plant new veggies.

If you garden in zone 8b, here is a list of veggies to plant in November:

Vegetables to plant in November for zone 8b:

  • beets
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • chinese cabbage
  • collards
  • garlic
  • kale
  • kohirabi
  • leek
  • mustard
  • onions
  • radish
  • spinach

I’d love to hear how your gardens are doing.  I am planning on enlarging my garden this winter, I just don’t have enough room.  But I will probably never have enough room, regardless how big my garden gets.  🙂

Garden Update for November

I wish the weather everywhere in the country was as nice as the weather we have been having.  We had a bit of a cool down mid October with temps dipping into the 40’s at night, but for the most part we have been having 50’s and 60’s at night with low to upper 70’s in the day.  Needless to say, the garden is happy.  My late summer garden has done quite well.  I’ve gotten lots of cucumbers and beans, and a few tomatoes.  I’ve gotten no squash, peppers, or eggplant.  If the first freeze comes late this year, I may get get some squash, I think they are delayed from the battle with the worms, but the worms are gone and there are a few tiny squash.  The peppers still appear to be very immature, maybe they need higher temps to do well.  Also, the eggplants has been blooming but have no fruit.  I don’t think it is a lack of pollination as I have seen bees and my cucumbers are getting pollinated.  I did plant them late so I’m guessing that is the problem.  But overall I am quite pleased with the results from my second summer garden.  The fall veggies I planted are doing very well, but that will be another post.

Garden November 5, 2012

Cucumber and beans from the garden

Kahlo loves beans, though she didn’t appreciate having her picture taken as she was getting her “treat”.

The chickens love, love, love beans.

Gardening 101 – Hardiness Zones

I had someone email me and ask if they were in the same hardiness zone as I am.  I thought I would take this opportunity to post a hardiness zone map.

This hardiness zone map is from the USDA Agriculture Research Service. Click here to go to their site.


I live in Navarre, Fl which is in zone 8b.  At this time, the “things to plant” monthly posts are for zone 8b.  Before doing any planting learn what hardiness zone you live in.  Then start paying attention to the weather and learn your microclimate.  I emphasize this because I have had to deal with this, especially in the winter.  I have learned the hard way, that even if it’s only supposed to get to 35 degrees according to the weather predictions that chances are it will hit freezing at my house.

By knowing your hardiness zone, you will not waste time, energy, and money planting vegetables at the wrong time of year.  Also, by learning your microclimate you can cover your tender vegetables and protect them from frost extending your harvest.

Vegetables to plant in October

I can’t believe October is upon us.  Where did the summer go?  If you live in zone 8b I hope you had a chance to plant a second summer garden in August and September.  From now till spring it will be all cool season crops.  Cool season crops are wonderful but there is just nothing about a fresh tomato from the garden.  It took me until last week end to finally get all my September seeds planted, but even with the squirrels digging in the beds I see they are beginning to sprout.  I’ll post pictures in my next garden update post.

This time,  I will put a * next to the vegetable that October is either the only or the last month this year to plant them.  This way, if it is a vegetable you really like, you will know not to procrastinate but to go ahead and get it planted.


Vegetables to plant in October for zone 8b:

brussel sprouts
chinese cabbage
onions, bulbing and bunching

Chic Update

As promised here is the latest pics of the not so baby, baby chics.  They have all acclimated well to being in with the hens and are getting a long fine.  The Naked Necks, commonly called Turkens, and Plymouth Barred Rock babies are 15 weeks old and the Golden Lakenvelders and Blue Wyndottes are 13 weeks old.  I can’t wait till they start laying, but I know that is still weeks away.  So with no further ado…

Elvira a black Turken.

One of the two golden Lakenvelders. These two are very skidish. I had a hard time getting this picture, which is not great.

This is Mo, one of the hens, with Elvira in the background. Not sure you can tell but they are almost the same height. The hens are just stockier.

One of the three baby Barred Rocks. They are very hard to tell apart. Hopefully as they get bigger they will get easier to differentiate.

They think they are big and bad because the can jump up on the top of the nesting boxes. They thought they were going to be in trouble for jumping up there.

These are the two black wyandottes. I love these two, they are short and have no distinct tails.

I’m not sure what colors these turkens are. They come in black, blue, buff, cuckoo, red and white.  I’m guessing they are red on left and buff on right,  If anyone could tell me I would be grateful.

It seems unfair to only show pics of the babies so here are a couple of the hens.

See she’s mad because she thought I was going to leave her out.

You didn’t think we were going to go a whole chicken post without showing Georgie did you?


Garden Update and Vegetables To Plant In September

Wow, I can’t believe fall is right around the corner.  The temperatures are falling and the days are getting shorter.  I replanted my garden in August, for the second round of summer veggies along with a few winter veggies.  It seemed that I had no more gotten the garden planted and the rains started.  We had more rain in August then I can ever remember in the 20+ years I’ve been living in the area.  I don’t have an exact figure, but according to The National Weather Service we had between 10″ to 15″ of rain.  That is about 150 to 200 percent above average.   Needless to say, my garden was extremely water logged and I was worried I was going to have fungus running rampant.  I did lose some of my veggies from the excess rain, but now that we have been drying out the garden is doing very well.  With this second summer garden I have been fighting the catepillars on my squash and cucumbers more now then I did in the spring.  It has been a daily battle, hand picking them but I will prevail, I hope :).  I had also planted corn back in July, but I have no pictures as it did not do well and has been removed.  The tiny cobs were given to the chickens. who did appreciate my effort.  I told them to enjoy it, because that was my last unsuccessful try at growing corn.  Below are pictures of most but not all of the garden beds.

The beans and cucumbers love their larger beds.

This bed has bush beans, squash and a few tomato seedlings I just planted yesterday.

Okra on it’s way out. I got tons of okra this year. I seasoned it then froze it on cookie sheets then bagged it up. I have 3 gallon bags. If you come to dinner, okra could easily be on the menu.

This bed has turnips, tomatoes, eggplant, and pepper seedlings, which I also planted yesterday.

This bed is a bit hodge podge. It has basil, which had reseeded itself from the earlier garden, squash, more pepper seedlings, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes that came back from the last garden. Sweet potatoes are not on the August list so we’ll see how they do.

What did like all the rain? Gourds. Here is a small sampling of the gourds.

More gourds, even a couple apple gourds, which are one of my favorites.

I am very sorry to be getting this list out so late.

Vegetables to plant in September for zone 8b:

  • beans, bush and pole
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • collards
  • cucumbers
  • endive/escarole
  • garlic
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • leeks
  • lettuce
  • mustard
  • onions, bulbing and bunching
  • radishes
  • rutabaga
  • turnips
  • summer squash

As you can see the list for September is very large.  Hope you can find some of you favorites to get out and plant.


Here’s a sneak peak of the next post which is an update on the chics. Aren’t the “babies” getting big.


Meet Some Of The Girls

It was just recently decided that all the chicks would get names.  The names are crazy but I try to find names that suit them.  With some of them it may be as easy as their color, others because of their personality.  For me the naming is a slow process, because the name has to stick.  So with no further ado …

Georgy (She is my girl, she follows me everywhere)




TC (short for town crier, she is the one who alerts them all to danger)



Demon (Holly’s favorite)

This is by no means all of them but I’m still working on names.

Dinner From The Garden – Okra and Butternut Squash

After spending much of the morning in the garden planting my second summer garden, it only seemed fitting to have a dinner from the garden.

Okra is the only veggy harvested today.  Thankfully, I still have quite a few butternut squash in my root cellar, aka cardboard box in the closet.  No root cellars in florida, thought I sure wish I had one.

On the menu was okra, butternut squash and meatloaf.

butternut squash, burgundy okra and clemson spineless okra

My favorite way to have butternut squash is cut in half, with a little salt and butter, then baked.  I sliced the okra tossed it in a little salt and flour, coated it with egg, and then tossed it in Panko breadcrumbs.  Then it was fried.  Took the healthy out of it but it sure was delicious.


Dinner is served

Head over to  Greenish Thumb for some other great garden to table ideas.


Gardening 101 – Raised Beds

Raised garden beds are, in my opinion, a gardeners best friend.

Benefits of raised beds:

  • Allows the gardener to use the best soil possible.
  • Allows for a garden to be planted on an incline.
  • Keeps soil for eroding.
  • Keeps soil from compacting.
  • Allows for nice neat paths between beds.
  • Provides better drainage then conventional row gardens.
  • The sides can even be used as a bench to sit on while planting, weeding, or harvesting crops.
What materials can be used to make garden beds:
  • Natural stone
  • Brick
  • Concrete blocks
  • Composite wood
  • Wood
  • Bales of hay
The big debate is whether or not a person can use Pressure Treated Lumber to make raised beds.  PTL sold in lumber stores is no longer treated with arsenic, which is what raised the red flag.  It is now treated with copper compounds and/or fungicides.  This treated lumber is considered by most to be fine for use in the garden.  However, the USDA certified organic producers are not allowed to use pressure treated wood of any kind in their beds.  So whether or not to use PTL is still a hot topic up for much debate.  I will tell you that I have used PTL in all my raised beds and do not lose sleep over it.
Steps to making a raised bed garden:
1.  Select you site.  Pick a site that gets at least 6 to 8 of sunlight.

Select your site.

2.  Decide your lay out.  Make sure you have at least 24″ for all paths.  I used 32″ so I could easily get my wheelbarrow in and out.

Decide on the layout.

3.  Build boxes.  Boxes should be no more then 4′ wide.  This allows you to reach the center of the bed from either side.

Build boxes.

4.  Level beds.  This is important to ensure neither runoff nor puddling of water becomes a problem.

Level beds.

5.  Prep the boxes.  Either remove sod or to make life easier lay newspaper or cardboard down in bottom of beds.  If you are impatient like me and plan on planting right away, it is best to remove sod.   This will allow more room for roots to grow.  If you live in an area where nematodes are a problem, lay landscape fabric down before filling the box.  If you are going to do this make sure your boxes are at least 12″ deep to give roots adequate room.

Prep beds by either removing sod or laying newspaper or cardboard down in bottom of beds.

6.  Fill boxes with soil.  Hopefully you have some compost ready to put in beds.  If not, fill with the best organic soil your pocket book will allow for.

Fill boxes.

7.  Let the fun begin.  Start planting your garden.

Garden is ready to plant.


Here are just a few tips from experiences I have had with raised beds.

  • Make the short length of your trellis beds 2′ wide not 1′.  The reason for this is in the summer time they heat up and are constantly drying out.
  • If possible mulch paths rather them leaving them grass.  Mulching paths just makes for less maintenance.

If you have any questions about this, email me at charsgardening@yahoo.com.

Join me on Facebook.