I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Wet RV and Picking Cherries during a Tropical Storm

This morning it was absolutely blissful to sleep in knowing that it was the first day of our vacation. The hubby went for a nice long run and I curled up and slept for a couple more hours getting up only when I was wide awake and could not stay in bed a moment more. Our plan was to get our second hand, much labored over RV packed and ready for our trip to GA tomorrow. 

Unbeknownst to us, a tropical storm was moving in off of the coast bringing a deluge of water and more work than we had planned. This is proof that, maybe,just maybe, we should consider a daily newspaper or actually watching the local news. Opposed to being earth friendly and frugal and reading the national headlines online daily.

Sadly, the RV leaked. Yes, it leaked. Getting the mattress wet and causing a considerable amount of unplanned work. It didn't leak when we took it to the local state park camping and it rained!!! Tropical Storm Debbie turned it from a cute little RV into a sieve.

It rained, and rained and rained. Sometimes coming down in sheets and at other times a slow drizzle. While it was coming down we ran errands and attempted to mitigate the damage. Buckets, a fan, paper towels, a beach towel.... all tools in our endless battle to keep the RV dry. Sadly, our efforts limited but did not stop the water from coming in. We can not fix the leaks ( yes, plural) we found until it is dry. SIGH!  

The mattress came in and is now dry in the back room. A small fan is in the RV drying the damp couch. The air purifier is pumping away. We even managed to load everything else we needed for our trip this week. The new plan is to fix the leaks when we get to GA as we bought everything today to do so but are unable to due to the continuing rain.

While taking the scraps from the kitchen to the compost pile the cherry tree appeared to be full of ripe sweet fruit. After getting a plastic bag from the kitchen I went out to pick the cherries. The storm had let up considerably. The rain was now a gentle steady dripping of large drops feeling cool against my warm skin.

Our tree was covered in bright fragrant barbadoes cherries. The smell of cherries was rich in the air accompanied by the soft aroma of summer rain. Breathing in deeply of the scents surrounding me the stress of my day simply melted into nothing. For a short while the rain continued to fall, and I kept picking. Rainwater ran down my arms cool and soothing washing. It hit my hair and splashed down my neck causing me to shiver in the warmth of the tropical storm. All too soon the cherries were picked and my time playing in the rain was over.  I was calm. Relaxed. A feeling so rare in our stress filled work oriented world. 

Slowly, I walked to the house and toward a warm shower and a glass of bourbon. The cherries are in the freezer waiting to be jam when the limes and calomondines are ready to be picked and we are relaxing until we leave in the morning.         

Happy Vacation! 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tropical Gardening

Lately, my time has been spent working, traveling for work or simply not being home. At least until  this weekend. This is my first weekend with lots of free time and time to relax. No rushing anywhere, no babysitting and no going to a triathlon. Just down time. Lovely.

My ideas for the blog were overflowing until actually sitting down to type today. Poof all gone!  Thus my writing will be what I know. My Garden.

My garden is in Zone 10.  Having grown up in Zone 5, it can honestly be said that this is a whole new world of gardening. In the gardens first year I remember reading when to plant tomatoes and peppers. We bought bags of topsoil and built a single raised bed. The plants were never thinned and the peppers grew gangbusters. The tomatoes grew lush and green and once they set and the tomatoes started to turn a light red color they all succumbed to blossom end rot and god knows what virus.  Overnight my lush garden turned into a bedraggled mess. It was almost enough to make me give up.

In the seasons since there are a few things that have stuck with me and have helped me through the past few years.

1) Raised beds are a priority. With nematodes as an ongoing issue raised beds are a must. You will get one year of good tomatoes on a new bed. Then you must solarize the soil to kill both nematodes and pathogens or fumigate the soil.

2) Varieties that grow up north may not grow well here and in some cases they may not even grow at all. Summer squash, may not do too well.  Italian cocuzzi has been a prolific item as has crookneck squash.

3) Rhubarb- not going to happen. We get no chill time and the nights are exceedingly hot. Add that to the humidity and it rots in the ground.

4) Onions. Bunching onions are the onion of choice in this climate. Short day length onions are an option and my success has been limited thus far. Northern onions will not grow here as the day length is not long enough for the length of time necessary for the onions to bulb.

5) Spring planting does not apply. My garden goes in throughout August and September. A second planting can go in during February or March. Hot months the options are limited but one can grow sweet potatoes, collards, some peppers, and some tropical vegetables. Herbs do well year round if they are protected.

6) My garden grows items that can't be grown in the north. It contains persian limes, calomondines, barbadoes cherries, figs, carambola and avocado. There will never be apple, plum or pear trees in my yard.  

7) Beans grow like crazy here. Italian flat, Pole beans, Purple Pole Beans, Asian Yard Long Beans...they all grow well in this climate. So much so that my husband groans toward the end of the season when they are on his plate for dinner.

8) Plants in the bug box stores are not bred for this environment nor are they in the store at the proper growing times. Last week they had cabbage in Lowe's. Really??? That goes in the garden in December or January.  

Gardening in the tropics forces you to learn a new way of thinking about the food you eat. New varieties are a must. It has made it easier to try one or two new items each season to figure out what exactly will grow in the climate. Doing so also gives me time to figure out how to cook the new items properly an the hubby time to determine if he likes it or not.

July will mean getting seeds started for the upcoming planting season. Then the whole cycle begins anew.  And I can't wait!!