How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all my family and friends a very Happy Thanksgiving. This year has gone extremely quickly and I cannot believe the holidays are upon us again. This is going to be a very quiet Thanksgiving as my children are not able to fly home this year. Hopefully some of them will make it down for Christmas. My husband had gastric bypass surgery in July and since he is not really able to eat his usual amount of food this will be a very small preparation for Thanksgiving. I am very grateful that he is doing so well and he has lost over 100 lbs at this point. He is looking so much better. I still bought all the traditional food, but since it is going to be just the two of us there will be no added fuss. It is very different being empty nesters. No pressure!

The last few weeks have been extremely busy. I have completed two craft shows and have three ahead of me. The first two have been extremely successful. I am not referring to monetary success, but personal fulfillment. I have thoroughly enjoyed selling my soap. I have especially enjoyed helping people that truly have skin issues choose the right bar of soap that might help them. I also feel like my product is excellent and enjoy explaining to people about beekeeping, making soap and the importance of an organic product. I have two more Craft Fairs in December. I have one this weekend November 30th, and December 1st, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, in West Kendall. It is their annual Christmas Bazaar. I also have one December 7th, next weekend at Killian Pines Methodist Church. I was invited to participate in the Fruit and Spice Park Heritage Festival January 11th & 12th. I am very excited about participating in all these craft fairs. In preparation for these craft fairs I have been making lots of soap. I made a really pretty Lavender soap that I made with Goat’s Milk and scented with Lavender Essential Oil. It turned out really lovely and smells so relaxing. Lavender is one of the most relaxing essential oils. I also remade several of my recipes like my Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Goat’s Milk Soap. Goat’s milk is very nourishing for your skin and it makes a great bar of soap. I remade my calendula soap, and calendula sunshine soap. I need to remake my Caffeinated Coffee Soap, which was a very good seller. Several of my soaps that I made over the last several weeks are almost cured and ready to sell, i.e. Christmas Soap, Kombucha & Honey, and Natural Sugar Soap. One of my favorites that I have made over the last few weeks was a Coconut Lime soap which I made with organic Coconut milk, and some very skin nourishing organic oils. I scented this soap with Coconut Fragrance Oil, and Lime Essential oil, then topped it with organic unsweetened coconut and grated lime rind. I also made a Goat’s milk soap that I scented with Lemongrass essential oil and put some lemon balm herb in the soap. I really want to try making some more soap with beer. I have a ginger beer and a chocolate stout beer that are just calling me to create a really great bar of soap.

Despite being extremely busy with work and making soap, I somehow found some time to finally plant my garden last weekend. The weather here has been extremely warm. Our average temperature at night has still been in the 70’s. We have also been extremely wet for this time of year which is supposed to be our dry season. November has been behaving more like October. October can be one of the wettest months of the year. Cold fronts do make it though the state but back up on us as a warm front bringing rain. My tomato seedlings are struggling and I am not sure if they are going to make it. I have some new seeds replanted but it is getting late in the fall season to plant. Most people have their gardens started at this point. I have read many articles that support not planting tomatoes until the night temperatures are in the 60’s. Tonight will be the first cold evening for Miami. It is actually getting down to the 50’s tonight. Finally this will be our first cool weather in 283 days.

This year in my garden I planted lots of kale, radishes, lettuce, beets, peppers, okra, eggplant, and Swiss chard. I also planted lots of herbs, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chamomile. And I planted mint, lemon balm and calendula. I decided to try a new variety of spinach this year that my son Kevin got me from the Baker Creek Seed Bank when he was in California. Malabar Spinach is supposed to grow very well in a more tropical environment and is more vine like in the way it grows. I will take some pictures of it and let you know how it does in South Florida. I am still following the Square Foot Gardening Method. I had to replace my wooden grids with string. It was very easy to measure out 12x12 areas and use nails and string to mark each square. Here are a few pictures of my garden as I prepared and planted. I already see some seedlings starting to sprout through the ground. It has been a really rainy week here in South Florida, I was worried that it was almost too rainy but it seems like the garden likes it, and the seeds are starting to germinate.

I just wanted to give a little update on my busy life. I am grateful for all that I have and for all the many talents that I have nurtured. I recently harvested many jars of honey and my beehives are doing well. I am very grateful for all that my beehives give me. I am grateful that my allergy shots are working and that although I still get stung by my bees their venom has not had the same effect on me. I am grateful for many things in my life most importantly my family that are happy and healthy.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
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