Collard Greens: Plant once and get greens all season!

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Looking for an easy starter plant to test out your green thumb? How about a plant that keeps on giving for months? Collard greens are not only easy to grow, if the leaves are cut correctly, you will continue to harvest greens from the same plant for months.

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Collards are traditionally a cold-hardy plant but there are some varieties, such as the Georgia Collard, that do well for most of the year even in warmer climates. While they can be grown almost any time of the year, it is said that the colder temperatures give the collards a sweeter flavor.
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Plant the seeds about a 1/2 inch deep and about 3 inches apart. As plants grow, thin out to about 12 inches in order to give the collards plenty of room to grow their beautiful wide leaves. When collards are ready to harvest, you do not have to cut the whole plant down to harvest the leaves. Once the leaves are at least 10 inches long you can harvest individual leaves. Start at the bottom of the plant and work your way up until you have harvested the desired amount. The collard plant will continue to grow leaves long after you have started harvesting and will look like a mini tree by the end of the season.

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Here in central Florida, our Georgia Collards grow best during late fall and all through winter. They will continue growing through the spring but tend to struggle a bit during the hottest months of the summer (June-September).

I would love to hear some of your recipes with Collard Greens! Please comment below with one of your favorites!

Until next time!

Eva

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Ripen Tomatoes Indoors

Well the weather man finally called for winter in Central Florida. While many parts of the country are feeling the wrath of a blizzard, here in Florida we are all up in arms because we actually had to wear socks this weekend. Oh the horror! ๐Ÿ˜€
After I grew my first home grown tomato I knew there was no going back to grocery store tomatoes, if I could help it. There is nothing better than a fresh homegrown, vine-ripened tomato. The only problem is that tomatoes really do not like it when the weather is too cold. Tomatoes grow best between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit and the threat of frost can kill the entire plant. No matter where you are growing tomatoes in the country, when the forecast calls for the first frost of the season, it is time to bring your tomatoes indoors. So this weekend that is exactly what I did.
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What many new gardeners don’t know is that tomatoes will ripen indoors even if you pick them very green. There are a few ways to do it. Some gardeners don’t pick the tomatoes off the vine but pull the entire plant and hang the whole plant upside down in a location that will not reach frost temperatures. Others individually wrap each tomato in newspaper on a flat surface, making sure to space them a few inches apart and store them in a location between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This method requires checking on them every day to see if they have ripened or not and re-wrap them if they are not ready. I say, hey! If you have time for all that, it is probably your best bet. As for me, well I am a busy and quite lazy gardener! I cannot be checking each tomato all of the time to see if it is ripe, if it has rot or mildew then re-wrap them and repeat every day. So I came up with my own way. It involves two steps: leave them on the counter and watch them ripen. That’s it! I place the tomatoes in a basket and put a towel over them to keep out as much light as possible. When they have ripened enough, I use them. That simple.

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You can ripen tomatoes indoors for more reason then just cold temperatures. Many gardeners ripen tomatoes indoors to keep pests, birds, squirrels or rabbits away from the tomatoes they worked so hard to grow. Animals are smart and always seem to get to the harvest before you do. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Will ripening tomatoes indoors give you tomatoes that are just as good as picking them ripe off the vine? Probably not. However any homegrown tomato will still be 100 times better than a store bought tomato. Growing your own food is one of the most rewarding feelings and a little bit of winter blues doesn’t have to stop you. After all, spring is just around the corner! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until Next Time!

Much Love,

Eva

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Last Harvest of 2015

Is it really New Years Eve already?! This year has flown by and what an exciting year it was! 2015 was the year that I decided to put “Phase 1” of my dream of full self-sustainability into action. I had never successfully grown ANYTHING before and this was the year I decided to jump in head first and start growing my own food. I have had some failures but have had many more successful beautiful harvests! This is just the beginning of my journey and I am so glad all of you have come along for the ride!

Here is my last harvest of 2015 and I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful! I can not wait to make delicious meals with this food!

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God Bless all of you and have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Much Love!

Eva

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Cast Iron Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

Goodness gracious this recipe is delicious and SO EASY to make! This cake never last more than 24 hours in my house! :) I found this recipe online a few years back and made a few tweaks to make it perfect.

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Here is what you will need:

For the Pineapple:

2 tablespoons real salted butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
One 20-ounce can sliced pineapple, drained and juice reserved
One 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup pineapple juice (reserved from the cans used to make Pineapple layer)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (liquefied)
1 large egg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the pineapple:
Melt the butter and brown sugar in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts.
Remove from the heat and arrange the pineapple slices in the skillet.
Use the crushed pineapple to fill the spaces between the sliced pineapple.
Make sure the bottom of the skillet is completely covered with a layer of pineapple.

For the cake:
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, combine the milk, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice.
Use a blender to combine the granulated sugar and coconut oil until it has a thick and creamy consistency.
Beat in the egg.
Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.
Add the milk mixture and stir until combined.
Add the rest of the flour and mix until combined well.

Next, pour the batter over the pineapple slices in the skillet and spread evenly.
Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted, 25 to 35 minutes.

Let it cool for about 15 minutes. Use a knife around the edges of the skillet to make sure the sides are not sticking.Then place a cutting board or serving dish over the skillet and flip the cake over.

That’s it! I personally like this cake still a little warm so this is the perfect time to start sampling ๐Ÿ˜‰

Let me know how your’s turns out!

Until Next Time!

Eva

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Garden Therapy

With all of the hustle and bustle of the on-coming holiday season, stress is often passed around like a a bad cold during flu season. Well, not only have I caught the stress-bug it has been an all around tough month for me both mentally and spiritually. I tend to be one of those people who bottle up emotions and put them on a shelf to “deal with” later. The problem with this is that I never get around to dealing with those emotions. I just keep piling hurt, annoyances, pain, stress, etc, on that shelf until one day there is no room left. On that day something as small as running out of ketchup for my french fries makes the whole shelf come tumbling down. If there is ever a time when I pity those within my direct line of fire, it is when mamma’s shelf falls. Thank God for my husband who always does a great job helping me work through all of my bottled up junk and my best friend Jenny who doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear but rather what I need to hear. However sometimes we need to seek peace before that shelf gets full. So today I walked outside and worked in my garden as I prayed.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/98515902/gardening-its-cheaper-than-therapy-wood

https://www.etsy.com/listing/98515902/gardening-its-cheaper-than-therapy-wood

I was immediately reminded of Job. Job 12:7-10 says “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” As I look out on my garden and the nature all around me I am constantly reminded of how beautiful His works are. All I can think about is that this Earth is a priceless masterpiece from the greatest artist of all time and if I am a living on this Earth than I am a part of that priceless masterpiece. As I sit on the ledge of my raised bed, pruning my tomato plants I am given peace knowing that this too shall pass.

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 โ€œFor our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.โ€

Much Love!

Eva

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