Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thrifty Thursday-Plant Markers

Last Friday, we started our fall vegetable garden.
We are blessed here in Central Florida
to be able to grow a generous variety of crops
at this time of year.
Our weather is much more conducive to growing,
and this gardener has found it to be the best time 
to be out in the veggie beds.
Another bonus is that the bugs seem to find another place to call home,
or maybe sleep the season away,
so pests are almost non-existent.

We love reusing items we already have around the homestead,
especially those destined for the trash or recycle bin.
There is just something so gratifying about finding one more use
for something that might otherwise be considered garbage.

 I'm a glass jar lover.
We use them for everything.
After a while, the lids can get rusty,
and that's okay if food is not being stored in the jars.
I recently replaced some of them with new lids,
and wanted to find a new purpose for the old ones.
Christmas ornaments came to mind as a good fit,
so they were just placed in a kitchen drawer.
Then it hit me!
With the upcoming fall sowiing,
they would make perfect plant markers!

Good 'ole duct tape and  weathered bamboo stakes
from a former bean tepee
brought them together in no time flat.

 They can be used over and over and the duct tape should be fairly weatherproof.

Every time I look outside at our humble veggie bed,
a smile crosses my lips.
It feels so good to be able to find new uses for old things.

What have you repurposed lately?

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 152

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

With the commencement of autumn on the calendar,
our small fall garden was started last week.

 During the summer months,
we took time off from planting.
It's usually too hot and humid to grow much then,
and the bugs are out of control.
Some newspaper was thrown onto the veggie bed
just to keep the weeds down.

The first step was to clean up what remained.
Whatever weeds that were left got pulled out,
and these bricks were placed in the center of the bed,
to act as stepping stones.
The baling twine you see around the perimeter
is to keep the Sandhill cranes who visit daily 
from trampling the bed.

These pesky weeds have popped up all over our yard.
They are a constant thorn in my side. 

 Using the handy-dandy (free) online garden planner,
 the spaces for the square-foot garden were divvied up.
This tool is so easy to use and helps folks like me
who haven't got that knack for garden design.

Most of our seeds came from Sow True Seed,
a company in Asheville that promotes heirloom and non-GMO seed.
We've had success with their seeds in the past.
Beets, broccoli, two kinds of eggplant
and sugar snap peas were sown.
There's also a separate area for basil.
We'll be adding carrots, lettuce and thyme later on. 

I made some new plant markers this season.
Thursday's post will be all about that.
We enjoy repurposing items around here.
A new DIY watering technique is going to be tried,
as I'm thinking some of my past inconsistent harvests have been due
to a poor watering system.
Another opportunity to repurpose everyday items. 
Check back with us on Thursday to see what we've come up with. 

Looking forward to enjoying some home-grown veggies.
It never ceases to amaze me that these little seeds
can feed a family.
That's what we're up to in Central Florida.
What adventures have you been having outside?
HOP on!



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumnal Equinox

by daisy
Welcome Autumn in all your splendor
Changing leaves and crisp, cool mornings.
Coaxing us to get outside
And drink in every fresh, deep breath.

Craft fairs and football games
Invite us to venture forth
To begin new endeavors
And share good times.

The harvest table will soon be full
Of favorites old and new.
Yam casserole and baked corn pudding
Sure to please most every palate.

The scent of fall stirs thoughts of youth
Piles of leaves to pounce upon
Hot cider and buggy rides
Relishing time spent with friends.

Autumn, we greet you with open arms
And thank you for your many gifts.
Be sure to take your time and linger
So that we may savor every moment. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 151

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Although we still have a good month of summer weather ahead,
we welcome autumn this week with open arms.

Here are a few of our late summer blooms.

We used sweet potato as a ground cover,
and within a few weeks, 
we should be swimming in sweet taters.

 Thankfully, this transplanted butterfly vine
came back and is covering the trellis to hide our A/C unit.

We have a lot of native milkweed growing,
making the monarch butterflies and caterpillars quite content. 

The remnants of this chrysalis 
are evidence of a recent visitor.
We are blessed to continue to host these critters
through the month of October.


 The porterweed continues to be an inviting spot
for bumblebees to frequent.

 Zinnias keep popping up 
in both the front and back gardens.

cactus zinnia

native salvia

gloriosa lily


 There will still be plenty of berries for the birds to enjoy
through the autumn months.

This morning glory was allowed to fill in the former butterfly box.
It treats us daily to beautiful purple blossoms
and heart-shaped leaves.

The blooms are as amazing when they are closed
as they are when they open to the sun.

As summer bows out to make room for cooler temperatures
and the magic of the fall season,
we feel thankful for the beauty that has given us so much pleasure.

That's what's happening where we are.
What's going on in your neck of the woods?
HOP to it!



Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Pasta Night!

Every Wednesday night at our house is pasta night.
The usual fair is linguini or angel hair with homemade gravy
or dressed lightly with butter and olive oil.
We had some sour cream left over from another recipe,
and I wanted to create a creamy, 
melt-in-your-mouth kind of sauce.

Using what we had on hand, 
this came together in a jiffy.
The bonus?
It was exactly what I'd had in mind.
Creamy, silky and very satisfying.

It was paired with peas and carrots,
because, really, 
what doesn't go well with peas and carrots?!
Any veggie would be a great addition to the meal.
This recipe would make the perfect side dish 
for a roasted chicken. 
We changed a few things.
We didn't have any Parmesan and we swapped out
the chicken broth for vegetable broth,
and the cow's milk with unsweetened almond milk. 
It was scrumptious anyway.
This was a great way to ensure that the leftover sour cream
wasn't wasted and it came together in less than 20 minutes.
Thankfully, I had doubled the recipe, 
so we were able to have leftovers.
All this deliciousness in record time?
It's a keeper!

Creamy Bowtie Pasta

1 C uncooked pasta (we used shells)
1 1/2 t butter
2 1/4 t olive oil
1 1/2 t flour
1/2 t minced garlic
dash (each) salt, dried basil, red pepper flakes
3 T milk (we used almond milk)
2 T chicken broth (we used veggie) 
1 T water
2 T shredded Parmesan (we omitted)
1 T sour cream

1.  Cook pasta according to directions.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter.  
Stir in oil, flour,  garlic and seasonings until blended.  
Gradually add milk, broth and water.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir two minutes.
2.  Remove from heat; stir in cheese and sour cream.
Drain pasta; toss with sauce.
Makes 2 servings

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 150

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Our house has been for sale (on and off) for 3 years.
We are all so ready to move further north
and are willing to do what we need to
in order to make that happen.
Although we aren't sure why we are still here
while neighbors have been able to sell their homes,
we trust that there is a reason.

We recently took our home off the market
because we needed a break and wanted to try a new approach. 
We've been working on a project for the last few weeks
to make our home more appealing
to a larger audience.
We are downsizing the garden.     


Although we haven't received negative comments from realtors showing our home,
we think that simplifying the yard will make it look bigger
and help buyers feel that it's easier to maintain.

star jasmine

Even though all of our plants are either natives or
Florida-friendly and therefore don't require much care,
the sheer number of plants may seem overwhelming
to someone who is not a gardener.


 So, for the month of September, every other weekend,
we are hosting a plant giveaway.
We have done this periodically over the last few years,
but we are working on redesigning the garden
which requires less plants overall.

flax lily
It just doesn't sit right with me to toss healthy plants,
so the giveaway is the perfect solution.
Greenthumbs get something new for their garden,
and we get a clean slate to start over with our simplified design.
The beneficiaries do the digging, hauling and loading,
and we get the empty space we are looking for. 

Everyone wins.

passionflower vine
We advertised in our local Craig's List under "free"
and asked that those coming to partake bring canned food 
for our local Meals on Wheels program.

Another win.
It's been our experience that folks often bring more than expected.
Gardeners are known for being generous spirits.

African Iris
Our plants will get good homes and make someone happy
and we can remap our yard to appeal to buyers.

So far, so good.
We've had several folks come by and take part in the event.
With one more Saturday to go,
we already have lots of new space.
Now that fall is closer to bringing cooler temperatures,
I may be able to get out there more
and tweak things a bit.

Let's HOP!