Darden Harvests & Darden Wildlife

Several posts made reference to ingredients from our garden.  I like to grow things.  I can confidently say that 12 months out of the year, we have something edible growing in our yard.  Now, I will also say, we don’t always get a large bountiful harvests from said plants.  But hey, we don’t need it.

The previous post mentioned several times that our tomatoes showed up in a meal.  We are at the end of our tomato growing season.  We had three tomato plants in pots and only the yellow-fruited tomato plant has continued to adapt to the Florida heat and keeps producing fruit.

The cherry tomatoes picked for our grilled pizza last week were near the end of the season and only a few were left on the vine.  I was waiting for these last few cherry tomatoes to get ripe before removing the plant.  This is the last harvest.

Tomatoes are one of those things you cannot typically grow in Florida during the summer.

Factoid:  hot summer nights prevent the tomato flowers from setting fruit, hence you can (sometimes) get lots of growth, but no fruit to harvest.  

We pretty much have some type of pepper plants growing year around.  Currently we are harvesting japenlos.  This plant was overloaded with fruit and these needed to be harvested.  Otherwise, we pick them as we need them.

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The swiss chard is another plant that is almost done for the season.  It doesn’t love the Florida heat so we only grow it in our winter.  I was able to find some seedlings that were three distinct colors for us to grow these past months:  purple, yellow and pink.

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Cabbage is also a winter crop.  We grew ours in pots.  Three heads have been harvested and three more are going to be turned into kraut.

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Eric cut the heads one morning in preparation for this upcoming task.

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We’ve also been growing ‘greens’: collard greens, mustard greens and kale.  Eric got this photo early one morning when I was harvesting the leaves.

These French radishes have been used several different ways (as mentioned in a previous post) and this is the end of them.

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We have a Key lime bush growing in a half barrel.  The fruit are fairly small and ripe when yellow.   Oopsie, the green ones fell off when I was trying to get a photo.

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We also harvest herbs.  I have a ‘hedge’ of rosemary that gives definition to one of our planting beds and use the branches in bouquets.

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We have a pot of English thyme that is the best ever yet.  Eric uses this herb in a lot of his cooking, primarily soups. To give you some context, this pot is 14″ tall.

Otherwise, we still have basil, Italian parsley and curly parsley growing in the garden and used frequently in Eric’s cooking.

This next herb started as a potted plant purchased 20+ years ago and once we finally put it in the ground, it flourished.  People typically use bay leaves in soups and probably buy dried leaves at the grocery store.  I cut our bush back heavily this spring and the subsequent sprouting looks great.

I’ve also dried some of the branches and they’re hanging in our kitchen.

Unfortunately, this may be one plant that I don’t get anything to harvest.  The squirrels are eating the growing tips off of my beans.

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So, the title mentions Wildlife.  Man – with all of the attention we’ve been giving the yard and all the time at home during furlough………………….we’ve had the chance to really see what’s going on, mostly in the backyard.

Moving a birdbath to the backyard and repairing the birdfeeder has attracted bluejays and a pair of cardinals.  The birds love to splash the water!

Probably the most amazing was seeing the pair of nesting red-shoulder hawks.  They also like both of the items seen above.

There’s a garden trellis that had not been put away………………….and it’s turned into their hunting perch, so  now it’s staying!

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One afternoon, I got extremely lucky.  Wow!!!

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We also have these pesky squirrels which like the bird feeder.  If you look in the bottom left corner, you can see a male (red) cardinal waiting for the squirrel to leave.

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Seeing red cardinals always reminds me of my Grandma. They were one of her favorites.

One day I couldn’t believe how gutsy this squirrel was.  I have yet to see ‘the circle of life’.

We also have some rabbits, usually seen in the front yard.

One morning, he/she was in the back yard.  Nope, still haven’t seen the ‘circle of life’. It lived to see another day.

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Occasionally we get small flocks of ibis rooting through the yard, looking for insects to munch. We like them because their beaks punch through the grass, essentially aerating it.

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Eric’s been reading about crows.  And he’s feeding them.

He says he’s training them.  I think it’s more accurate to say they are training him.  He got a shot with one of his crows gathering a peanut.

Seeing wildlife and having the time (and energy) for focusing on the Darden Garden has been a silver lining in this unprecedented time we’re living.

Ginny

Daily I receive these ‘chirps’ from Natural Life. I really liked this one and wanted to share.

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