Sunday, May 17, 2015

Growing Roses in South Florida? Of Course You Can!

Many years ago when I lived in southern England, our next door neighbor grew numerous prize roses. The heavenly scent from the multitude of various roses  stayed with me throughout my adult years.







Like most people, I love roses but grew increasingly disappointed with their lack of scent.

Since I have an aromatherapy background I knew that real, Damascan roses, the oil of which is called rose otto, or rose absolute, has an incredible aroma. A delightful and powerful fragrance which is both uplifting and yet calming to the modern frazzled working person.

While living in the USA I tried to grow roses with no success at all. That was until I found the Chrysler Imperial Rose, which has a vibrant, upbeat and delicious fragrance from it's 5" crimson, velvety, blossoms. It will bloom all year long. This rose bush likes full morning sun, aeration and good drainage. I feed ours with coffee grounds and fish emulsion and it repeat its blooms very well as a result. I have noticed that a fresh rainfall seems to invigorate the production of buds more than the garden hose could ever accomplish. Roses also like banana peels and most preferably horse compost. My rose has a half sunken pot right next to its ball root where I pour the cooled, left over water from boiling vegetables.







This is not a rose bush for folks that have children. The bush can get very large and the thorns on the canes are quite wicked.

I had noticed a few years back that the leaves got a little spotted and I added a few drops of Tea Tree essential oil to the sunken pot alongside the rose bush which appears to have taken care of that problem.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Mother's Day Project or Gift: Creating A Table Top Garden Using Succulents

Now that the Florida heat is beginning to kick into high gear, sitting outside on the patio looking at our beautiful garden is great in the morning and late evening but exhausting at noon. It's time to bring some plant color into the house to enjoy!

This is such an easy project to create and all for under $40!

Succulent care is easy, and succulent gardens and terrariums will brighten any indoor space. Learn about the best types of succulents to grow in the home at bhg.com.

First of all find an attractive container to put your indoor garden into, I really love this oversize pottery shell! Just perfect as our family collects shells and display them in enormous jars.



Get some quality potting soil, the Nature's Care brand retains water. Don't forget succulents do not need very much watering at all.



Choose attractive succulents that vary in texture and color, don't plan on putting too many in one container.



Fill the container half way, so the plants sit in the soil and you still have enough room to top up.










Put your plants in, top up with soil, I used blue aquarium rocks to keep the soil in place and create additional visual texture and color.



Add a little whimsy. A Fairy house would also be really pretty.

....and voila! 

Note the huge jar of shells in the background, we love the beach!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Juicing On Thursday - Mr. Blue Sky - Blueberry & Apple Smoothie

My handy-dandy, Hurom slow juicer recipe book had this recipe (with just the apples and the kiwi fruit) as a "skin cleanser." My recipe expands upon theirs.



You will need:
2 Golden Delicious Apples, or Roma - scrubbed and washed, leave peel on
4 Kiwi fruits - scrubbed and washed, leave peel on
8 oz Blueberries
2 Large ripe tomatoes
Slice of lemon

Cube apples, remove core and seeds. Top and tail the Kiwi and slice.


An octopus, cleverly disguised as a tomato!
Remove the skin from tomatoes - Boil water in a pan, cut an X in the top of the tomato and follow the X line all the way around the tomato, just cutting through the skin. Place tomato in boiling water and then remove almost immediately and place in an ice bath. The skin can now easily be pared off with a sharp knife. Slice tomato, no need to remove seeds.





Squeeze the lemon juice over all the ingredients and Just Juice It!


Such a pretty color!
My verdict:
Sweet and deliciously fresh, with a slight zing from the apple/kiwi tartness.
Makes 32-floz or 4 cups.

Enjoy!



Monday, August 18, 2014

Meatless Monday - Beet-A-Leekie Soup


I know....it's Tuesday. Yesterday our internet connection was not working again. We are absolutely fed up with our internet provider here in South Florida and have had to invest in a cellular hotspot on the iPad. 

No matter, I think this soups tastes a little better on a Tuesday anyway.....

You will need:
3 leeks, just the white part, and sliced very thinly
1 Stick of celery, with some leaves if you wish - chop into tiny pieces
Bunch of organic dandelions, readily available in Publix right now
Two vegetable bouillon cubes
1 beetroot - scrubbed and chopped finely
10 stems/leaves of fresh parsley, washed, and snipped into little pieces
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, freshly ground black pepper, powdered garlic
Can of garbanzos/chick peas - thoroughly washed to removed sodium content

Optional ---- also used 3 stems of leftover raw broccoli, discard the tough bits and chop finely.

Heat a little water in a large saucepan (no oil) and add the thinly sliced leeks, with the optional chopped broccoli.

When tender add 6 cups of water the bouillon cubes, celery, beetroot, and parsley, and simmer.

Now blanch the dandelions - plunge them into a boiling pan of water, remove almost immediately, and place them into ice water bowl, this removes the bitterness. Now add them to pan.

Add all the spices - but no salt!!
Add the garbanzos and just simmer on low.

At this point you can add a peeled, raw potato, cut into 3 pieces (apparently this will draw the salt out of the soup). After the dish is cooked, remove the potato pieces ---- Or.. you can just leave the potato in and cut into smaller pieces.

It is really delicious, hope you enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Growing Pineapples in Florida

A few years ago I wrote about growing pineapples just using the left over stalk of the pineapple once you have cut the fruit off. I include the link to that previous post here.  Coming to Fruition - Pineapples

It really is so easy to grow your own pineapples, I thought a follow up blog was in order, especially since we are having such a hot, humid and rain filled summer here in South Florida - the timing is perfect.

So you bought a pineapple at the store and you cut the top off and used the fruit......don't throw that stalk away!!

The  left-over top of the pineapple
Pull the bottom leaves off. I find they come off very easily if you go in a clockwise direction, rather than just pulling them downwards. You want to remove about 2" like the picture above. This is called a slip.


Plant your pineapple slip in a well drained, sunny location. It is important to remember that pineapples grow quite large - both upwards and their diameter can be well over 3 feet - and since they have rather sharp, spiky leaves that will nick a bare leg, so best thing is to not plant them too close to a pathway. Put a little well rotted organic compost in the planting hole. Pineapples do not need much water, they take in water through their leaves and, like the bromeliad family to which they belong, they do not have a very deep root system at all. Don't fertilize them with commercial fertilizer. Check on your slips every day for about two weeks, because any left over pineapple on the root stem can attract critters. If you find it has been dug up, just replant, no worries.

After 3 months your pineapple will look like this.

3 months growth

6 months growth

6 months growth

Somewhere between 18 to 24 months (yes they grow slowly), you will first notice, nestled among the leaves, a little flower floret. That is your 'baby' pineapple!! Then the floret develops into this - see picture below - looks almost like a pine cone, doesn't it?



Above - The baby pineapples loses no time in developing its own little head of leaves above the developing fruit.


Progressing nicely, but it hasn't yet flattened out those buds and is a way from being ripe.


Almost there.....


I tend to cut mine a little early and then let them sit in the fruit bowl with a few apples to ripen it off, otherwise the result is this....



"Aarghhh!!" - chomped on - eewww... who wants to eat that!

Growing pineapples is ridiculously easy, especially in Florida. Indeed, someways south of where we live, in Lake Worth, alongside the lagoon, there was once acres and acres of pineapples.

Do you have any experience of growing pineapples? If so what is your success and failure story?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Juicing on Thursday - Summer Breeze

With the abundance of really fresh and cheap summer fruits available in the stores, I dusted off my Hurom slow juicer and started putting it to good use on a regular basis.

Drinking freshly pressed juice is just so healthy for you, and with a little effort you will soon be guzzling down a glass or two of this delightful concoction.


You will need:
1/3 fresh seedless watermelon
pint of washed blueberries
8 organic carrots, well scrubbed, but not peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
2lb tub of medley of fruits from Publix, already chopped because I am feeling lazy, under a time constraint - my tub had honeydew and cantaloupe melon, pineapple, and a few grapes and strawberries. I am not crazy about strawberries in a juiced drink, but 3 hardly counts!
Squeeze of lemon, suggested but not necessary.


















Because the carrots are rather fibrous I make sure that I put a few pieces in and then follow up with softer, juicier fruits, repeat, repeat. This way the juicer doesn't come to a grinding halt - excuse the pun, couldn't resist.


Here is a mere snapshot of the reported health benefits of the various fruits used in this recipe.

Watermelon - from medicalnewstoday.com
"considered a nutrient dense food...high amount of vitamins, mineral and antioxidants for a low amount of calories." "One cup provides 17% Vitamin A, 21% Vitamin C, 2% Iron and 1% calcium needs for the day........Watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable."

Cantaloupe - from livestrong.com
"Cantaloupe serves as a good source of folate."
"Cantaloupes contain carotenoids......can decrease a patient's risk for the development of cardiovascular diseases."
"Cantaloupe serves as a rich source of Vitamin C."

Blueberries - from health.com
"Blueberries, like cranberries, contain compounds that prevent bacteria from adhering to bladder walls..."

Carrots - from juicing-for-health.com, this website has great juicing recipes to try!
"..excellent source of pro-vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6."

Well then....enough said! Cheers!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sundae hears a ribbitt.....

Sundae, our adopted Cockateil hears a strange sound in his water bowl...'ribbitt'

Sundae: "Yikes!! Better hold onto the cage...will it bite me? MOM! MOMMA!! MOMMY!!!"


A reptilian had decided that eminent domain applied to Sundae's water bowl...

"I'm not taking up that much space!.. ribbitt....ribbitt."

Here comes mom...."OK what's all the fuss about?"



"ribbitt....ribbitt. Lady if you think I am moving out you better rethink that..."


Mom: "Well why don't we go outside and look at some alternative housing options?"

"ribbitt....ribbitt as long as it doesn't include as room-mates a hawk, owl, snake, raccoon, etc.  I'm up for a look-see."


Mom: "We can offer a delightful, compact, bachelor pad available and complete with slightly and completely free,  stagnant water, lots of places to hide, and free grocery items on hand - like mosquito larvae, water bugs and the like, will that work for you?"

"ribbitt....ribbitt - oH this is perfect, and the shabby chic decor is just so me."

Mom: Thought so.
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