Monday, February 20, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I think we've all been experiencing a mild Winter, up until about this week when finally some areas received snow. We get our share of cold days, but this year we've had about ... 2. That's it. Two days. One of them was exactly a week ago, but then each day we warm up, warmer and warmer, until another cold front comes in. Yesterday we broke records -- it hit 87 degrees. Today we got a cold front and it was 63 in the morning. That's about what it's like for us in Florida.

Did you know that we grow our backyard vegetable gardens the opposite time than the rest of the country? Being a Florida native, I hadn't really put that together. We can't grow a lot in the summer, unless you really work it, because it's too hot and buggy. We have to grow our vegetables from October through May.

Since we finished our pool in the backyard, we needed to plant new sod to cover the dirt yard from having 6 months of trucks driving back there. We planned a vegetable garden in the dirt, surrounded it with wood, and planted the sod around that. We put the seeds in a little before Christmas. We actually could have done it sooner, but that's how it worked for us.

This is our garden after about a month:

And this is it today:

So far, we've eaten and given away a ton of bibb lettuce, spinach, and mesclun mix. Recently we've gotten a few red and green peppers, and soon we'll have tomatoes. We've also planted corn, sunflowers, green beans, and snap peas.

We're loving making salads every day. I picked up a cookbook from the library that has some great, simple, salad dressings, and I've tried a few of them. It's called "Young and Hungry" by Dave Lieberman. He's a young bachelor who's all about making simple meals using fresh ingredients. The perfect book for someone with a garden in the backyard or a farmer's market down the street.

Here's a lunch I made one day using one of his dressings:

I don't remember all the cheeses that I used, but I have cucumber with cheese and fig jam, some Spanish Manchego cheese (love that! especially when it's aged and crumbly), roast chicken, sliced capiccolo and prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and fresh rosemary.

Are you enjoying your weather? Maybe you'll get to start your garden a little early this year.

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