Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pictures From My Backyard Garden

We've planted radishes.

We've planted carrots.

We've got some lettuce.

Here's some broccoli.

And,'s some cauliflower.

It's surprising how much you can grow in a simple (and inexpensive) 4 feet x 8 feet above ground grow bed.  A deeper bed would be better and allow for growing more egg plant and squash. Our efforts for those have suffered and the best I can tell, it's due to the soil depth being too shallow. Below the above ground bed, it's just ordinary Florida soil which in my yard is about  65% sand.

We're planning to add an additional above ground bed for next season. With a little organization and fore thought we can plant something every two weeks and have fresh vegetables to eat for four of five months during the winter and spring.  Since our prime growing season begins in September, we'll have plenty of time to add lots of compost material to build up the soil fertility.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Florida Vegetable Garden

If you want to start a backyard vegetable garden and you live in Florida, this website is a valuable source of helpful hints, tips, and tricks.

The site has a lot of square foot gardening advice and resources for all things gardening.

There are even some links and pictures of 1,800+ lb pumpkins grown in BiotaMax treated soil.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Outside Worm Bin

I've been composting with red worms for almost a year now with good results. Until now, I've had inside worm bins.  A couple of weeks ago I set-up an outside worm bin. The picture at the left was taken on the first night after the worms were placed in the bin. Three pounds of red worms are in the process of composting fifty pounds of rabbit manure for my garden.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Backyard Garden Week 6

Our square foot garden after about 6 weeks of growth.

Here's a close-up of the squash.

The banana pepper plants are starting to bear peppers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

I spent 5 minutes at the local grocery store this afternoon conducting an informal survey. This survey was meant to validate an article I read on Huffington Post earlier today.

A short quiz (answers below) --

1. Where does salmon come from?

2. Where do artichoke hearts come from?

3. Water chestnuts?

4. Cactus?

5. What about mushrooms?

6. Mayonaise?


1. Thailand or Chili, 2. Peru, 3. China, 4. Mexico, 5. Indonesia, 6. Mexico

Granted these represent only a few brand names and two aisles in the entire 24 aisle store, but I purposely chose brand names to validate the point that a heck of a lot of food you and I eat every day is imported from who know's where. I suspect the scope of the problem would be magnified if I checked more foods and more aisles. This is a MAJOR grocery store chain folks. How does this make you feel?

Backyard Garden - Week 5

Here's an updated picture of our backyard garden. I'm not sure the scare crow is having a practical effect, but Linda seems to like it.

The squash and peppers are prospering and the broccoli, collards, and cauliflower have grown significantly. The coconut coir mulch, perilite, compost, and worm castings has proven to be a very viable growing mixture.

We've survived our first pest attack. We added some fly strips and used a minimal amount of OMRI listed Organicide on some of the individual plant leaves, but all appears to be well now.

Imported Food - Troublesome

According to Tony Corbo, a columnist for Huffington Post, U.S. food imports are rising dramatically.

"U.S. food imports grew from $41 billion in 1998 to $78 billion in 2007. The growth has come in consumer-ready foods, such as fruit and vegetables, seafood and processed food products. It has been estimated that as much as 85% of the seafood we now consume is imported, and depending on the time of the year, upwards of 60% of the fresh produce we consume is now imported. Officials from the FDA have stated that about 15% of the average American diet is made of imported food products." Read more at Huffington Post.

I first became aware of imported beef from Canada, but more recently seafood, fruits, and vegetables. I think this is a very dangerous proposition since most of it is untested. The volume simply prohibits it.

An online acquaintance of mine and publisher of a popular bbq forum posted an item last week regarding his experience with canned fruit from a Midwestern grocery store. The respondents were generally apathetic about it (except for a very small minority).

Has it come to this? Does the prospect of eating dangerous and harmful imported food that is not inspected for contaminants not concern the average American? It definitely should.

Here are some of the measures we have taken to reduce the amount of imported food we eat:

1) joined a local CSA for purchasing vegetables
2) support a local food buying club to purchase locally raised eggs, pork, beef, and bison
3) planted a backyard garden to begin growing our own squash, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and collard greens
4) joined a Meet-up Group to learn more about locally grown food
5) exploring online information about farming at Florida Farm Link

We plan to add more as we learn about them. If you'd like to learn more about sources of local food to help avoid food imports, please visit

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture

I was invited to attend a new member orientation at Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish, Florida this morning. We joined the farm membership program to ensure that we have a reliable source of locally grown vegetables.

The farm has a large variety of hydroponically grown vegetables with weekly harvests beginning within the next couple of weeks. It was eye opening to see the large quantity of strawberries, egg plant, lettuce, okra, squash, and so many others that are available.

There is also a sister farm - Geraldson Community Farm - located closer to Bradenton, Florida.

If you are concerned about the way your food is grown, then check out your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. Local provides a search function to help you locate a farm nearby your home.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Backyard Scarecrow

We were awakened by several crows perched in an Australian pine on the neighbors property behind our back fence (and near the garden). That inspired Linda to visit the local Old Time Pottery and purchase this scarecrow. Hope it works.

Backyard garden - Week 2

Here's a picture of our raised bed garden beginning in week 1. We water it daily (mornings) and keep an eye open for predatory insects.

Backyard Garden - Week 1

Here is a picture of our backyard garden planted last weekend. It's an 8 feet x 4 feet raised bed garden design. The mulch is coconut coir to keep the weeds down. The individual plants were dressed with several handfuls of vermicompost.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paddlin Through

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Build a Hydroponic Garden

Hydro Harvest located in Ruskin, FL grows, markets, and sells produce via hydroponic methods. The video above demonstrates how you can also grow hydroponic produce in your own backyard.

Buy your own system from

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Do It Yourself Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System

I've been wanting to experiment with a home built hydroponics system for quite sometime and today I found some plans to build an ebb and flow hydroponic system at

This same basic design could be used for an aquaponics growing system.

Simply Hydro also has some pictures of home buildable systems that might provide some ideas if you decide to build your own system.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Backyard Bird Feeder

Linda has been urging me to set up the camera on a tripod and use the remote control to take some bird photos for weeks now. Last week she set it up herself with pretty good results. A faster lens would have taken even better photos, but for complete shade and a slow 300 mm 4 - 5.6 lens I thought these turned out well.

We were hoping to catch the cardinals, but they're apparently pretty camera shy. it's funny that they are not shy at 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings while we're trying to sleep in.

I spent five minutes on Photoshop and came up with this "cleaned up" version of the 3rd photo above.