Strawberries

6/1

I got my strawberries in the mail today. They had been in my mail box, which I am little concerned about. Not sure how long they were there. They did not look terrible, so I don’t think it was too long but still very warm in there!

I wanted to go ahead and plant them. As I looked around the house for a good pot, I noticed an old garbage can with some hole patterns going up the size. Well, it looked enough like a Strawberry pot that I decided that is what it would become! I cleaned it out really well. The bottom was turned into a self-watering system. I used hay to block up some of the sides and then poked the strawberries out the holes. Fingers crossed it is big enough for all the plants I put in it! I don’t think they need a lot of space given the DIY strawberry towers I have seen.

Currently, it will live on the porch. I think my porch has become my nursery for the newly planted plants and seeds. Hopefully, they will get established soon. I am sure it will be a few months until they start to produce.

** About a day or so after I planted these, I started to notice mold in the hay. I am not sure if this is actually a problem yet, but I am pretty bummed. It is REALLY wet in FL right now. We were having a drought, but now, it has been raining every day for about 4 days. The forecast has it raining for another week. So I am not sure if it is the weather or something in the hay. I hope the plants are already strong enough to handle the problem! I did spray the planter with Neems Oil, but with all the little holes and all the hay, I am not sure this will work.

***Two weeks later, I did not think the strawberries were getting enough light, so I moved them outside. 7/1 I brought them inside. about half of them on one side did not survive. Not sure what to make of it.

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Growing Tomatoes (and other things) inside?

Well, over the past few weeks, I have learned some interesting things about gardening in Central FL. Things like tomatoes and other nightshade plants do not do really well in temperatures over 90. Not that the plants cannot take the heat (although that can happen too) but that their flowers will not set and might fall off. That was not fun to learn given that my plants were just starting to really produce.

SO PLAN B! I brought my tomatoes inside and put them under a grow light. About a week after bringing them inside, I picked some of my first ripe tomatoes. It felt good! Since they have been inside, I have had 4 more tomatoes develop, so I am happy about that. I have not seen any new ones in about a week, though. I did find some green caterpillars on the plants about the same time. Over the next 3 days, I checked my plants over and over to pick them off and rid the plants of the little buggers! I have also had some dry leaves and fungal gnats. The fungal gnats are my current battle I am determined to win.

Since bringing my tomatoes in, I decided to plant a few other vegetable plants inside. I also brought in a few of the olds that have been struggling with the weather. I will keep some notes to see how they progress inside.

Currently inside with big grow lights:
Tomatoes (Full plants and cuttings)
Black beans
Winter Squash
Zucchini (Full plant and seedlings)
Strawberries
Cucumbers (seedlings)
Hydrangeas
Peas (seedlings)
Carrots (seedlings)
Broccoli (seedlings)
Brussel Sprouts (seedlings)
Tomatillos

Under a small grow light and kitchen window. About 3 weeks old.
Basil
Cilantro
Kale
Minor leaf lettuce
Chives

Porch
Beets (3 weeks old where inside until 2 days ago, although read they like cold so might be moving them back inside. FL is in the 90s now)
Turnips (3 weeks old where inside until 2 days ago, although read they like cold so might be moving them back inside. FL is in the 90s now)
Russet potatoes

Outside in parking spot
Peppers (has full-size peppers and still set fruit about 1 week ago)
Eggplant (setting fruit but 2 blossoms fell off in the past week. Might be getting too hot)
Winter Squash (just starting to produce flowers)
Tomato (small and has never flowered)
Lemon tree
Pineapple
Potatoes

Companion Planting List

I started a Google sheet doc to track the information I find out about companion planting. There seems to be so much information out there but not necessarily all the information I want in the same place. I will continue to edit this doc as I find out information.

To find this doc, click here!

Sauces

  • Yogurt Sauce
  • Chimichurri
  • Pesto
  • Mushroom
  • Garlic and oil
  • Herbs and oil
  • Pepper
  • Tomato
  • Cilantro Garlic
  • Korean BBQ
  • Alfredo Sauce 
  • Sweet Chili
  • Green Sofrito
  •  Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
  • Peanut Sauce

Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Sweet Pickles

I made Mozzarella yesterday using The Kitchn’s recipe. So simple and yummy. I was really hoping that I would have ripe tomatoes by now to eat with this, but mine are still green. I made a quick salad of store bought tomatoes, mozzarella, and my quick sweet pickles.

I used one Roma tomato salted. I let it sit for about 10 mins to drain.
About 1/3 cup of the mozzarella
1/3 cup for the cucumbers and onions from my Sweet Pickles Recipe

I mixed these up with a little bit of the brine from the pickles. It was a yummy quick lunch!

Yogurt Sauce Base

The cream sauce I use is always changing just a bit. The basic ingredients are:

½ cup yogurt
a squeeze of mayonnaise (for me, I use just a little as I am not a big mayo fan)
a couple of cloves of garlic (around 5/6)
Juice of a Lemon or Lime (can also use zest )
Salt and Pepper
Blend all these together in a magic bullet or blender until smooth. You might need to add just a little water or more juice if the mixture is not blending well.
At this point, I taste and adjust the seasoning.

This gives me the base for this sauce. I add herbs like cilantro, basil, or chives. Other ideas are onion, cucumber (salt and drain before adding),  hot sauce, honey or anything that sounds good to me at the time. When adding new ingredients that I have never used in this, I add them slowly and blend. Taste to see if I want more of that flavor not. Adjust as needed.

Salmon and Cucumber Rice Bowl

Salmon and Cucumber Rice Bowl
So, I was excited to think about how to use some of the yummy things coming out of the garden but also use some things I had in the fridge to make a yummy dinner! I had some frozen Salmon, and thought a rice bowl would be fantastic! I knew I wanted to use fish or shrimp since my Hubby was not going to be home and he dislikes seafood.

This was very simple and easy!

So, I had half of one yellow zucchini (from the garden), zucchini flowers (from the garden), half a cucumber (from the garden), carrots, green onions, and rice. This also gave me a reason to pick the bell pepper that got sun-scorched before it when bad. I also had some limes in a bowl that I wanted to use.

I also usually have a few homemade sauces on hand. One is oil based, and the other is a garlic yogurt cream sauce. I chose to use the cream sauce here, but I think the vinegar one would have been great too.

This rice was from yesterday and was cooked with coconut oil, so it had a sweet floral flavor which went nicely in this. I put this on parchment paper to reheat it. I let it cook long enough where some of the rice crisped up and got crunchy for some texture.

I really like my seafood cooked with my sous vide. I prepared it by thawing it and then marinating it in the bag it would be cooked in. I did a garlic salt dry rub on this. I used more salt than I normally would use to season my fish. Once that sat for about 20/30 mins, I poured the juice of one lime in the bag and swished it around to get some of that salt off. I let that sit for 10 mins while the water came up to temp. I poured the lime juice out of the bag before submerging it with the fish inside in the water. I let that cook for 45 min at 120 degrees. I wanted this to be cooked but not overly so. You could cook yours to whatever temp/texture you wanted.

I cut all the veggies into thin rounds or strips. I decided I was going to eat all the veggies raw.

Once the rice and fish were heated, I assembled my rice bowl! I topped my bowl with my cream yogurt sauce! This was really great! You could use salad dressing instead.

The cream sauce I use is always changing just a bit. The basic ingredients are:

½ cup yogurt
a squeeze of mayonnaise (for me, I use just a little as I am not a big mayo fan)
a couple of cloves of garlic (around 5/6)
Juice of a Lime (can also use zest from the lime)
Salt and Pepper
Blend all these together in a magic bullet or blender until smooth. You might need to add just a little water or more lime juice if the mixture is not blending well.
At this point, I taste and adjust the seasoning.

This gives me the base for this sauce. You can add herbs like cilantro, basil, onion, hot sauce, honey or anything that sounds good. When adding new ingredients that you have never used in this, add it slowly and blend. Taste to see if you want more of that flavor not. Adjust as needed.

This was great! Very fresh tasting and healthy! I will definitely do variations of this as my vegetables start coming in!

 

Cucumbers are really starting to produce

6/3 – I have a few great looking (and growing) cucumbers! SO hard to wait for them to get full size! I decided to pick the biggest today and make Lime and Cucumber water. I am a big flavored water and sparkling water fan. I ran out yesterday, and I did not feel like going to the store. Think this will be a great solution and a way to use some of my extra cucumbers! With the other half of the cucumber, I think I will make Salmon and Cucumber Rice Bowl tonight!

Sweet Pickle Brine – AKA Joan’s on 3rd knockoff.

I lived in LA when I was 24/25. It was there that I had some of the best pickles of my life! These were from a deli/bakery shop called Joan’s on 3rd. However, I no longer live in LA, but I still think about those pickles. I started to look up what type of pickles those were; low and behold, I come to find out, I am not the only one thinking about those Pickles! There are a few versions of this recipe out there. They all seem to have the same basic ingredients.

Brine for 1 16 oz Mason Jar:
2 tablespoon salt
1/3 cups white vinegar
3/4 cups cold water
1/3 cups plus 2 Tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery salt/seed (I had celery salt but not seed. I think it worked just as well. Use what you have)
1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries (I bought mine on Amazon since I did not see them in my grocery store)
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
¼ cup fresh dill or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill (I used dry since that is what I had)
1/3 small onion, sliced thin

What I have brined in this mixture:
1 Cucumber and 3 small zucchinis (Just items I had from my garden that day)
You will want to cut up your items and LIGHTLY sprinkle some salt on them (too much salt here will end up giving you very salty pickles). Let them sit and drain for about 30 mins before adding them to the brine. You can also do this to the onions.

Other ideas to add to this? How about sweet and spicy? Add a pinch of red pepper flake to this!

Most recipes have you bring this mixture to a boil and then pour into the jars. I don’t really think this is necessary, since I plan to eat mine within a week or so. I do not recommend using this method for long-term storage. I just poured all my ingredients in the jar, closed the lid tight, and shook it until all the sugar and salt had incorporated. Plus, one less thing to clean!

This is NOT a long sitting pickle recipe. In fact, I did not wait more than 30 mins before I had some.

**This was the first time I made this. I will refine the mixture when I do it again.