10 Vegetables You Can Over-Winterize

Summer has left us and fall is here. You might be hesitant to plant a fall garden because you're thinking "how will I have time to keep up with a garden with all of the busy holidays coming up", or maybe you just don't feel like playing in the dirt during the cold and wet months that are rapidly approaching.  Well, it's very possible for you to have a low maintenance,  worry-free garden this winter if you plant some of these crops that tolerate the cold/frost and do well with over-winterizing.  

Many of these you'll simply plant and forget about until they start to emerge next spring! How easy is that?  Plant your garlic now and you'll be harvesting rich, flavor-full bulbs next autumn.  Sow your turnips and you'll have plenty of delicious roots to eat early next year.  Radishes grow quickly and you can probably get a harvest in before the snow gets here. (well, not here, I'm in Florida!) 

Here are 10 vegetables you should be planting for a low maintenance, near effortless winter garden.

1. TurnipsChoose a quick growing variety and you'll be sure to get a wonderful harvest of clean white roots. Turnips grow quick, easy and relatively trouble free and is a perfect crop when any beds are left bare from summer's harvest.  

2. Broad BeansBroad Windsor beans are the best for autumn planting and can sown from September until early November for harvesting a month earlier than a spring sown crop. Another perk of sowing broad beans in the winter is the plants protect the soil that would normally be exposed to wet winter weather. Think of this planting similar to a "cover crop".  Don't forget to stake your plants to protect from any harsh winds.

3. Onions- Growing onions from sets anytime in autumn will produce an earlier harvest the following spring. This is generally not recommended, however, if your garden is prone to lots of water during the winter months. Plant onion sets and shallots in Sept/Oct for harvesting around May. 

4. KaleKale is very easy to grow, highly nutritious and, tastes delicious when cooked or even raw in salads. It also can survive the harshest winter. If your plants are large enough you will get some beautiful winter greens but the main reward will be when the plants get back into action once spring arrives and there is little else in the garden.

5. RadishRadishes grow quickly and you can harvest them only about 4 weeks after sowing.  The trick is to get them quick while they're still small for a fresh peppery bite.
6. CabbageSpring Cabbage plants are sown during autumn for a harvest of tasty heads the following spring.  Just keep and eye out for slugs, they can still wipe out your new seedlings even during winter-time. 
7. KohlrabiIt’s fast growing which makes it a good choice for an autumn crop. Growing inside in a tunnel is ideal if you have harsh winters. 

8. Mustard GreensThese grow much more successfully in cooler temperatures. Mustards tend to be frost hardy and while they don’t enjoy being frozen they certainly tolerate it well.

9. GarlicJust plant the a clove in the ground and without much intervention you should end up with a full bulb the following autumn.  You can also plant garlic in the spring, however the bulbs won't be as large if you had started them in the fall.

10. Swiss ChardSome people do not care for the slightly bitter taste of chard, but this is where Autumn and overwinter planting are an advantage. Chard is less bitter in the colder months of the year because the plant puts out more sugars when temperatures are cooler. 

Original post can be found at: SeedsNow.com


Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case You Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

September 13th- October 22nd, 2015

We've got some really neat things planted since the last time we showed you our Instagram images!

We are officially growing a pineapple! Pretty neat huh? You can see two pictures above of our tiny tropical fruit growing. One of the fruit itself, and the other is the view from the top of the plant. The long pointy leaves are sharp and rich in color. Gorgeous plant!

The Hydroponics are kicking butt.  We're enjoying food from them on a daily basis and some of our neighbors are too. So rewarding and exciting to be able to share homegrown, organic food with our new floridian neighbors and friends.

We're eating a green smoothie everyday now. So yum!
We planted fall bulbs and annuals in one of our new small garden beds.  Neighbors have been gifting us plants since we moved here too so we added one of our new crepe myrtle trees into that bed as well. 

I take Noahh to the beach EVERYDAY. At least twice.   We walk the docks and boardwalks looking for fish and jellies.   The other day we watched the surfers ride the waves which was really fun! 

We've been enjoying many picnics and dinners on the beach. 

Spent the entire day last Sunday fishing.

Bought a new coral cactus plant and air-plant for the house! 

7 Reasons Your Body Wants You To Plan a Visit to The Beach, RIGHT NOW!

Ah, the beach. Is there anything better? There's just no place quite as relaxing, beautiful or pleasant, and no place that combines the simple pleasures of unplugging and enjoying nature in our otherwise tech-heavy and work-driven realities. The beach helps us recharge -- and we need to be making A LOT more use of it.

We know most jobs already offer vacation time, but considering these specific health benefits of the beach, maybe it's time they carved out days for their employees to spend in the sun and sand. 

Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D.

Sure, that milk your drinking is fortified with vitamin D, but the truth is most people get 80 to 90 percent of their daily dose from sun exposure. According to information provided by the Harvard Medical School, the most natural and substantial source of the vitamin depends on how much UVB light gets through to you. That light reacts with a cholesterol-related compound and metabolizes into vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, creates healthy skin and may even help improve mental health.

The sun's role in both health-promoting vitamin D and in the sun damage that can lead to skin cancer makes things confusing. Since sunscreens block the vital UVB rays needed for Vitamin D production within the body, most doctors advocate "responsible sun exposure" to get what you need. About 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure does the trick for most people, after which protection in the form of a sunblock with 30 SPF or higher (along with additional preemptive measures) is essential for the skin's longterm health. That said, everyone's needs are different and it's best to talk to your doctor about a sun plan that best benefits you.
Sand is a natural exfoliant.

Do you ever wonder why it feels so good to walk on sand? It's because there are somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 nerve endings in each foot that awaken when you walk across those tiny grains. Wet sand acts as a natural exfoliant and peels off dead skin cells from your feet (and really, anywhere else on your body), leaving them renewed and much softer.
To take full advantage of sand's rejuvenating qualities, take a walk near the water where the sand is "looser" and can wash over your feet. If you're thinking exfoliation is a luxury and not a health essential, think again. Your skin sheds about 50,000 skin cells every minute and sometimes they stay attached to your body, which can cause your pores to clog and lead to blackhead and acne. Exfoliation keeps the skin clean, healthy and rejuvenated.
So, what are you waiting for? Take a walk on the beach, if only to get rid of all those dead skin cells. Actually, you'll probably want to just start rolling around in wet sand at this point.

It could help rheumatoid arthritis patients feel better.

The minerals in the ocean could help reduce symptoms for those with rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study, patients who used bath salts made from Dead Sea minerals also experienced fewer symptoms, like morning stiffness and trouble with hand gripping. You know what else can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? Getting enough vitamin D, that's right.

Also, sunlight has been shown to decrease depression.

Common sense would tell us that people tend to be happier in the warmer months and less so in the gloomier months, but it's been scientifically proven that sunshine can make us happier. A study conducted by the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that the amount of sunlight participants' received directly affected their mood. The team also noticed that with increased sunlight exposure, their levels of serotonin increased, having a positive effect on factors such as stress, sleep and appetite.
Now, we're not claiming that a lack of beach outings in your life will lead to symptoms of depression. However, as with the previous points, the beach has got a lot of what your body needs, all in one beautiful place.

In the study's own words: "More sunlight meant better moods; less sunlight lead to symptoms of depression."

Seawater preserves elasticity of skin.

The ocean is full of anti-aging minerals that can counter the decline of your skin's elasticity among other things... this is great, great news!

As we grow older, our skin, as well as other things, tends to lose its tightness and suppleness. And while some people will do almost anything to look young, what we're recommending is far less invasive and expensive. Treating your body to a little bit of saltwater every now and again will obviously not have the same dramatic effect as cosmetic intervention, but it can aid in the process of keeping everything a little bit tighter.

A day at the beach gets you moving without even trying.

We're chalking this one up to probability more than scientific fact, simply because going to the beach usually involves some sort of physical activity, right? Whether you're swimming, jogging, surfing, playing soccer or beach volleyball or simply walking through the sand to find a nice spot to lay out, rare is the day when you go to the beach and do absolutely no exercise. Walking on the beach is already a better workout than walking on concrete, "walking on sand requires 1.6-2.5 times more mechanical work than does walking on a hard surface at the same speed."
Plus, it's not like you're just sitting pretty when engaging in some of these activities --you're burning major calories by just going for a swim, for example. A leisurely swim can burn about 200 calories. Surfing? Just over 100. Frisbee? About the same. And beach volleyball is nearly 300. So ditch the gym -- the beach is your new fitness friend.
And with a much, much prettier view. 

And perhaps most importantly, the beach decreases your stress level by helping you unplug.

Unplugging is good for the mind, body and soul. According to a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, staying constantly plugged in has been associated with stress, loss of sleep and depression.. Let go of the tablets and smartphones and allow yourself a technology-free escape to this oasis every once in a while to help you re-center. Seriously, don't even try to bring your devices to the beach -- as everyone knows, sand gets everywhere.

A study conducted by the University of Exeter took it a step further and found that simply living near the beach can also be beneficial to your health and well-being. They took into account people's proximity to the beach and their self-reported health to conclude that living seaside may actually result in better health.
A short walk (on the beach, or anywhere else) is also known to decrease stress and help you reset. So, if you'd really like to feel at ease, unplug AND go for a leisurely walk on the beach -- you've just treated yourself to the ultimate de-stressing combination.

The beach is a magical place that can recharge you and help you stay fit physically, mentally and spiritually. For those reasons, we conclude that beach visits are seriously healthy, not to mention pretty pleasant. Just remember to wear your sunscreen.

Original article on HuffingtonPost.com

Fishing Off The Sugar Islands

Sometimes on a Saturday or Sunday, if Erick is home and not working at the boat-yard, we like to get away.   We are always down at the beach, at least twice a day but if we've got gorgeous weather, we love to pack up the boat and go out for a fishing trip at the Sugar Islands. 

 It is just gorgeous here.  Emerald clear water, bright white sands... it's paradise really.
...and LOOK at the fish! This was the prettiest fish I caught all day. Look at the colors that run through this beauty. The bright teal and deep peach really stole my heart. Can you blame me? 

We pulled about a dozen or more fish, each one completely different from the last. Nothing we could bring home and eat but it didn't matter much to us. We were just enjoying the variety of fish that were out there and the weather, well...it couldn't have made for a more beautiful day on the water. 

 Pork rinds. He's fitting in to the southern culture with no problems, can ya tell?

 Squeaks, aka Farm Baby working on her farmers tan.

This little guy followed us all the way from home! His name is "buddy" and he apparently lives on the boat now.  He stayed with us on the boat the whole time, except for one quick swim but we pulled him back up with a fishing net.  He enjoyed sunbathing on the motor... must have been nice and toasty up there.

 Noahh calls them her "aligators".  They are everywhere here in Florida. You can't walk out the front or back door at the house without seeing one scurry by.  They're fun to look at, and harmless. I wonder what they eat?... hmmm...

 Caught some baby flounder.  Fun looking and strong little buggers...
One day we'll catch a big ol' one. I just know it. ;)

 This yellow fin was caught by something else after we already hooked it. See the chunk of it's rear end missing on both sides? Ouch.

 The heron here are hysterical. They'll hang out right next to you all day, and then when you're not looking they'll sneak up and steal your bait or catch of the day! He had his eyes locked on this yellow tailed guy.

 Puffer fish! Seriously his teeth are frighteningly strong. When he chomps down you can hear the loud sound of his upper and bottom teeth hitting together and let me tell you, I want my finger nowhere NEAR that set of chompers when they close.  They may look little, but they are fierce. 

 The biggest catch of the day was a sting-ray.

 Again, we didn't catch anything to bring home but we sure had a ball! 

Exploring Historic Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens is the largest of four forts built to defend Pensacola Bay, Florida, and its navy yard. The fort was begun in 1829, completed in 1834, and was named in honor of Major General Andrew Pickens of the South Carolina militia, who fought with distinction in several Revolutionary War battles including Cowpens and the Siege of Ninety-six. He also led several campaigns against the Cherokees, who called him "Wizard Owl."

Fort Pickens was one of only four forts in the South that was never occupied by Confederate forces during the Civil War, thanks to a heroic stand by Lieutenant Adam Slemmer with one company of artillery and a few sailors, aided by one U.S. Navy ship, the Wyandotte. Fort Pickens was as important as Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C. during the crisis between Abraham Lincoln's election in November, 1860 and the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12. 1861. The fort was reinforced the day after Fort Sumter surrendered, preventing the Confederates from controlling Pensacola Bay and using the Pensacola Navy Yard.
Confederate troops under General Braxton Bragg crossed the bay and made a night attack on the camp of the 6th N.Y. Infantry Regiment about a mile east of the fort on October 9, 1861 in the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, involving around 1800 men and resulting in about 150 casualties. In retaliation for that attack, Federal artillery from Fort Pickens, along with the USS Richmond and USS Niagara, bombarded Confederate positions at Forts Barrancas and McRee, the navy yard, and several independent batteries spread along the bay shore on November 22 and 23, 1861. Almost 5000 shot and shell were fired at Confederate positions, causing heavy damage to both Fort McRee and the navy yard, and leading to Confederate withdrawal from Pensacola Bay in May of 1862.

Built in the age of wooden warships and cannons firing round balls, the fort underwent changes in response to advances in weapon technology following the Civil War. Armored warships (like the "ironclads" Monitor and Merrimac) with steam engines and screw propellers, as well as larger and more powerful rifled cannons, made brick and stone forts obsolete.
Ten concrete gun batteries, including one in the middle of the historic fort, were built from the 1890s through the 1940s, each a response to a particular threat. Atomic bombs, guided missiles, and long-range bombers made such forts obsolete by the end of World War II and the Army abandoned the forts. The fort became part of a popular Florida State Park until the creation of Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1971. Following extensive repairs by the National Park Service, the fort was reopened in 1976.

Original post can be found at: nps.gov.

Our Lives Via Instagram (In Case You Missed It!)

Our lives via Instagram last week! 

September 28th- October 12th, 2015

We're recapping the last couple of weeks here because we've been so busy we didn't have a chance to do this last week!  We've been here in Perdido Key at our new home for over a month now and we're finally starting to really "get settled" and into routines.   It's hard to stay focused sometimes on chores and tasks that need to be completed when you live in paradise and the beach is literally just steps away.  

Noahh and I have been enjoying our daily walks. We begin every morning by walking around at the boat launch for "fishies" and "jellies".  

We've been planting, planting, planting around here! Adding lots of bright perennials around the homestead to cheer the place up a bit. 

The hydroponic beds are doing better than we've ever seen. They must really like the weather down here. We thought things grew well in Washington, but man, things are just thriving down here right now.

Noahh took her first canoe ride!

We pickled garlic. A LOT of Garlic.

We traveled to the Master Gardener's Fall Plant Sale and scored big! We purchased 22 new plants for the homestead and have since gotten all of them in the ground.

We've been to the beach, EVERYDAY. Several nurseries hunting for tropical plants, historic Fort Pickens and even made another trip to the Gulf Coast Zoon, AGAIN! :)

I celebrated a birthday and was showered with lovely gifts. An orchid was my favorite gift, my first one ever!

Received an order of Seeds in the Mail... getting ready to plant plenty of Swiss Chard! 

Getting to Know The Shampoo Ginger Plant

It's easy to overlook this somewhat ordinary plant. The "shampoo ginger plant" is a short, herbaceous plant belonging to the ginger family. It looks much like other relatives of the family, with leafy stems that grow from horizontally creeping rhizomes (underground stems). Its scientific name, Zingiber zerumbet, refers to the spreading, antler-like appearance of the stems.
In the summer, the plants that have largely gone unnoticed since the previous winter suddenly perk up. New leafy stems emerge from ground level and grow to be about 2 to 3 feet tall. Leaves are followed by the emergence of flowering shoots, also from ground level.

About 1 to 2 feet tall, the flowering shoots develop expanded tips that look like pine cones. The swollen flowering tops actually are composed of modified, overlapping leaves called bracts.
From between the bracts, white to yellowish flowers emerge, a few at a time. Even the 1- to 2-inch-long flowers are easy to overlook, blending into the surrounding greenery.
After several weeks, most of the flowers wither into barely visible dried threads. But the flowering heads gradually turn a bright, eye-catching red. The shampoo ginger then gets a lot of attention!
Squeeze the bulbous flowering heads and out gushes a gingery-fragrant, watery sap. The slightly slippery liquid has long been used by Polynesians as a natural shampoo. It also was used as a refreshing drink.
Thought to be native to India and widespread in Southeast Asia, the shampoo ginger, or 'awapuhi kuahiwi, was introduced to Hawai'i by early Polynesians. They found many other uses for the versatile plant. Dried and powdered rhizomes were put between kapa, or bark cloth, for storage. Leaves were used as flavoring for foods.
Rhizomes and leaves also were used medicinally to treat cuts and sores, toothaches and headaches, and upset stomachs. Fresh rhizomes were ground, placed in cloth and tied to a sprained limb to give relief.
Modern chemistry has given a name to this anti-inflammatory oil of the shampoo ginger: zerumbone.
Today, the shampoo ginger is an important ingredient of some popular commercial shampoos and soaps. It also makes an attractive addition to a floral arrangement.
The shampoo ginger is a seasonal plant. After flowering, it dries up and becomes dormant. The following year, the cycle is repeated.
For first-time growers, propagation is by division of the rhizomes. Plants do best when grown in slightly acidic soil in a partly shady, evenly moist area.
This plant spreads quickly, so be sure to allow for enough room in your garden!

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