Update from the Garden – A cool new raised bed to get kids excited about gardening

December 16, 2016

Someone recently shared with us this neat little concept to engage and get kids excited about gardening, all alongside mom or dad. Meet:

Little Sprouts Gardens specializes in kids-sized raised garden beds. These are perfect for giving the little ones their own space to cultivate and grow in order to nurture their love of gardening and growing food. A gift that that will keep giving well throughout their adult life. 

About the Raised Beds

Made from in the United States with Western Red Cedar it is destined to last for many years of enjoyment. It is a perfect height and size for little ones. The standard bed is: 24″ L x 24″ W x 20″ H x 9″ Deep and holds approximately 3 cubic feet of soil. The long bed is:  36″ L x 24″ W x 20″ H x 9″ Deep and holds approximately 4 1/2 cubic feet of soil. They require no tools to assemble and can be put together in less than 5 minutes. They also come with a custom fit fabric liner. Overall, we think these are pretty neat little beds and are excited about this product. 

As always, keep your hands dirty.

Love, LuLu 


Update from the gardens

September 30, 2015

Today I want to write about one of my favorite plants…bleeding hearts…AKA glory bower, bleeding heart vine or Clerodendrum thomsoniae.Mature Bleeding Heart Flowering Vine

This sub-tropical plant is from Africa. It needs a inter rest,but easily covers a large area if you

let it roam. It has been an absolute delight as it produces hundreds of flowers. To get so many blooms it does need several hours of strong light, but hot Fl. Afternoon sun makes it droop.

Bleeding heart seedsI’m surprised at the really shallow root system. We planted it in a bad with a max of 6-8 inches of rich composted soil and horse manure. It loves the afternoon rains and will tolerate several days even a week of drought. Very important here since who knows for sure what we’ll get. (What happens to our set your clock everyday at 3:00 rain?)

Bleeding Heart Seeds AppearingIt has been especially pretty because we mixed it with red passion vine. Wow our rampant run away child..another story.. Another  time. I was shocked to see the unusual seeds the vine produces….really looks like fall. Each flower products the potential of 4 seeds, but usually only 2-3 mature. We allowed the seeds to dry for a few days and then planted 9 seeds and within one week 5 of the nine germinated and are becoming small plants.

Mature bleeding heart seedsInstead of a trellis for the plants to climb on I chose to do a string art. I ran black nylon string (NOT cotton rots too quick) from a lag upper limb toa lower limb probably 8 feet apart. It has been a good idea, but I haven’t pruned the vine to see the strings which are ½ inch apart in the shape of 4 large hour glasses. It will give interest in the garden in the winter months when the vine dies back and rests.





Summer Update from the Garden

July 10, 2015

After a long delay, Bob and I are back and anxious to share some of our latest adventures in the dirt. We finished our master garden course through the University of Florida. It was a lot of work, 50 class hours and a minimum of 75 volunteer hours, including the Brevard Botannical gardens and working at the different Master Garden Information desks at varied locations around the county. Whew!!! But along with the work it was a lot of FUN too. Talk about humbled, we thought we knew a lot about gardening (50 years tends to make one self assured), but a lot of corrected ideas (later) and new ones too. We have experienced some great perks such as our invitation for a private tour of Sun Harbor nursery in Indian Harbor Beach, Fl. They have some of the only colors of plumeria in the WORLD!! wow!!! It was like paradise. It dwarfed my 30+ colors. Enjoy the pictures, we will be back in touch with more soon.

Goodies from the Garden!

January 23, 2015


How interesting! We bought a funny looking squash that had a small sprout at a local produce stand. Just for kicks we planted it in a 5 gal bucket (Be sure and have drainage holes). Quickly a vine appeared (see pic of vine below).

Chayote Squash Vine

Chayote Squash Vine


It grew and grew and made us think that maybe jack and the beanstock was based on this plant. We have vines everywhere, but that was it. For several weeks even into a couple of months nothing but lush vines, huge leaves (see pic of leaf below), 8-10 inches across.

Chayote Squash Leaf

Chayote Squash Leaf


Suddenly small clusters of insignificant flowers everywhere. Finally fruit set on and grew at an unbelievable rate. We commented that they reminded us of Mosquitos. Find one, but because of lush, dense vines disappear and then have to search again to find. Fast growing 3-4 weeks to mature fruit. A beautiful fruit (see below pic of fruit), truly looks like a vegetable pear (common name).

Chayote Squash Fruit

Chayote Squash Fruit


Don’t peel, just wash and eat. Prepare any way you would cook a potato. We served it in wedges at the master gardeners luncheon as fresh slices with garlic or roasted bell pepper hummus for dipping. BIG HIT!!!! Try sautéing with sliced onions and garlic in olive oil. YUMMY  did you like it? See you soon in the garden!

Update From the Garden

January 21, 2015


One of the most surprising plants that we grew over the summer seasons was our first attempt at growing luffa. What a LONG growing season.  Just 2 sLuffa_04eeds in a 6 inch pot grew vines clear across our screen room at least 15-20 feet. When we left the end of sept for 3 weeks we didn’t have a single flower. We returned the end of October to find lovely yellow flowers all over the vines.Luffa_03 While we were gone it had rained almost every day. In short order we had little zucchini looking fruits. A friend of ours from Guyana came and picked a few and said at that stage they are good to eat????? They grew like weeds and ended up looking like watermelons hanging on vines all over the trellis even up on the roof. What a hoot! Talk about a conversation starter. In December we started picking a few pulling the ends off and beating the dickens out of them inside a 5 gallon bucket to collect the seeds. Now we are proud owner of homegrown luffa seeds. After drying we have planted 14 seeds in each of 3 pots. The reason we chose 3 Luffa_02pots was 3 different fruits with the seeds different colors some completely black. One group black and white and the third group mottled. So far it doesn’t seem to matter the color of the seeds (which I’m sure denotes maturity) because each pot has 4 new plants… Maybe as weather warms up more germination will take place. Ahhh the mystery of life continues!!!Luffa_01

Winter Garden Update

December 30, 2014

Tower Garden

It ‘s winter in zone 9b (80 degrees?) and we have been busy trimming and dividing plants and starting and harvesting our winter garden.
I am learning more and more of tower gardening.   At first I didn’t like. I am a hands on person and it seemed just not much involvement. But with time and learning to daily watch for bugs check ph, and keep track of nutrients starting to be a challenge. I love a challenge.

This fall a wild peahen adopted our garden. She had 2 babies. Well she didn’t seem to bother anything so we didn’t discourage her. Then out of blue mom and one of babies vanished. The last baby has continued to hang around and now she is getting quite large. We bought her wild game bird food. Now she shows Tower Gardenup every am and sits in her dish and honks for room service. If we drag our feet she comes up to screen room and honks. We named her goober. Thoroughly enjoying her visits.

Let’s Jump Into Spring!

March 28, 2014

Wow! Here it is Spring, Already!

We have had several days this week of unusually cool weather (Brrr 48-50 degrees) for East Central Florida.  But, who can complain after watching the never-ending winter in the North?

Raised Bed and Keyhole Gardens

Our raised bed gardens have survived the cool months in great shape. We are experimenting with a variation of “Keyhole” garden this year to keep the free-roaming chickens from decimating ALL at ground level. See the picture of the gardens taken earlier this week and come back for a future post outlining our construction methods and results.

Neem Tree Farm

Several months ago, we attended an open-house at the Neem Tree Farm in Brandon, Florida.  They carry a number of plants used in “Ayurveda” health systems. In addition to Neem trees, they have Gotu Kola, Bacopa Monnieri, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, and Chaya. We will post much more on these unusual plants and their recommended uses in the next few weeks.

Worm Farming

The red wigglers made it through the cold in good shape. The worm bins and all of the marvelous benefits of using worm tea and worm castings were the “star of the show” when the local gardening club came by for a tour of the “Keyhole” gardening beds we are using. We later, shared information in their monthly newsletter on the importance of building your soil through composting. Of course, our goal was tostress the use of worm castings and worm tea.

As in all other aspects of life, the more you share of your time and talents, the more you will receive. With that in mind, we hope you will enjoy our sharing some of our ideas and experiences, both success and failure. The definition of a “Gardener” is “some successes and many failures.” So, let’s get DIRTY- it’s SPRING!

Lulu and Bob