Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Moringa Harvest and New Growth

April and May are busy months in our Florida garden.  The winter crops must be harvested as soon as temperatures reach 85 degrees several days in a row.  For us that means kale, carrots, cabbage, broccoli...  At the same time we have the Spring garden which is beginning to yield as well.  The harvested beds also need to be planted with a cover crop to prepare them for another winter season starting in September.  

This morning, Mr. Don decided to powder our moringa stash, which was harvested and dehydrated in January.

In the video, you can see how we vacuum seal these cans to preserve the moringa powder and how we grow it.  The moringa trees are taking off again in the garden, which means fresh moringa to use in the kitchen.  I use moringa in soups and it is also good mixed with rice.  

We will use the moringa powder in smoothies and also in capsules, which we take for mineral and vitamin supplements.  

We grow moringa for its health benefits.  This study lists a few of them.

Although moringa is supposed to be a tropical or sub-tropical plant, it is well worth growing in a greenhouse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Our New Nigerian Dwarf Buck

After doing some research we decided that we will be moving away from pure bred Nubians. We found that there are other breeds that produce delicious milk, which was what first attracted me to Nubians. Unlike Nubians though, there are breeds that are also known for their calm and sweet temperaments. We settled on Nigerian Dwarfs because they are also very efficient in terms of milk production vs. feed consumption. So, they produce about 3/4 the amount of milk of a full grown Nubian and consume about half as much grain. We took a trip to Brooksville and came home with a new buckling, take a look!


True to form, our Nubians have been less than welcoming.  Rocky is a sweet buckling, but as you saw on the video, they were head-butting him and pushing him around.  We will be supervising short visits to get him integrated to the herd.  He will be kept separately for the most part any way.  We will be selling our Nubian buck sometime this Fall.  We may breed him one more time, as he really produces very nice babies.  Nubians have a breeding season that starts in the fall and ends at the beginning of Spring, which would be about now.  Another advantage to the Nigerian Dwarf is that they have no breeding season.  This is helpful because you can stagger your breeding better and have milk all year-round.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Earliest tomatoes ever!

One of the first things I do every morning is check on my tomato bed.  Some days I just walk by and make sure there aren't any critters causing damage or leaves touching the ground, which is a big no-no.  A couple of times a week, I take care of suckers. They cause the plant to throw many new branches which invite disease for us in humid warm climates.  To prevent wilt, we need good air flow between the branches, especially when it rains.  We want the leaves to stay dry also to avoid leaf spot, a fungal disease that spreads from the bottom leaves up.  We try to keep the leaves about ten or more inches up off the ground, so supplying a good support structure is important.

I will be planting the other half of this bed tomorrow.  I started tomato seeds in mid-January, so when the first row of tomatoes was planted at the beginning of February, they were not ready.  Normally, we don't plant our spring garden until the third week of February, but this year I checked the extended forecast and saw that there was no hint of a cold front coming our way in February, so we planted the first week instead.  What a difference this has made.  Last year, we had the opposite thing happen.  When I checked the extended forecast, I saw there was a late freeze coming our way, and this helped save our seedlings but the harvest was late and smaller due to the late planting.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Spring Walk Through

Spring has come early this year after a cold month of January.  We had quite a bit of damage caused by several hard freezes this year.  As we looked ahead by the end of January, the extended weather forcasts predicted a warm month of February, so we decided to plant our Spring garden early.  We are now out of the woods and safe from freezes, and we did get a head start with our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash.

Yesterday, Don and I filmed a video about our homestead in collaboration with Deep South Homestead in Mississippi and Liz Zorag-Byther Farm in Wales, UK.  It shows some of the new garden beds we added last year and some of the work in progress we have going on currently.  It's an introduction video because it's our first video in YouTube, fun!


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Permanent Resident

Since planting a hummingbird garden last year, we've had a permanent resident.  

This Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits every day, morning and night.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Florida Cranberry

Last Spring we decided to add something completely new to our food forest, so we started these Florida Cranberry bushes from seed.  We are now having a bumper harvest and enjoying very delicious relish will be taking the place of the usual cranberry sauce during the holidays.  

Our daughter Emily and Grandson Elijah - part of our harvesting crew!
Both the fleshy calyxes of the fruit and leaves are edible.  You can make a beautiful red tea with the flowers, and the leaves have a citrus flavor that goes well with fish or chicken and can be cooked like spinach.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What's Happening in March?

We have been busy with gardening this Spring.  The blog has been slow as we've been sick.  Thankfully, we are all recovering.  We have not made much progress growing out herd because of health reasons this past year.

Still, Kahlua gave birth to triplets!  Jerry is our new wether.  

Our pineapples have been producing fruit and lots of pups, so we are expanding and forming more pineapple patches.  These are super easy to grow, low maintenance, although they don't like freezing temperatures, they will come back but slowly.

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