19 November 2022

Fall 2022 Seed Order

I placed seed orders with four different seed companies. Here's what I received.

November may seem an odd time to talk about new seeds, but where I garden, zone 9b on the Atlantic coast of Florida, we are in a cooler season to grow things others grow during the summer.

For this order, I have some herbs and vegetables I'll plant now, and others that I will start as we near our last average frost date in February.

Even if you won't be able to plant for months, it is always fun to look through seeds and think about what you want to plant when you can. 

Watch the video below to see what I received.

The seed companies I ordered from were:

Baker Creek

Botanical Interests

Seed Savers

Working Food

31 October 2022

Shrimp and Spaghetti - Quick and Easy Recipe

This shrimp and spaghetti meal is quick and easy to pull together. With only a handful of ingredients, you can have it ready to go in no time.

Last week my husband and I were trying to come up with something to have for dinner. We both wanted something "different", meaning, we hadn't eaten it in the last week or so. We each made suggestions when he said "why not do the shrimp and spaghetti thing you do with the Italian dressing."

Sounded good to me, and we were soon eating and enjoying it.

Note: I don't measure when I prepare this, so my amounts are estimates. If you are using leftovers, take what you have and go from there. Experiment and play around with it.


  • Shrimp - I used frozen, raw shrimp; you can also use cook shrimp and this would be a great way to use up leftover shrimp
  • Spaghetti or other pasta your family enjoys - if you have leftover pasta, start with that!
  • Green onion, chopped - regular onion bothers both our stomachs, but green onion makes a good substitute for us
  • Bottled Italian salad dressing - I have never found a homemade version I like better, but if you have one, please send it to me!
  • Butter or oil to cook the shrimp in
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder (again, garlic bothers both our stomachs, but garlic powder does not so we use it instead)


Metal pan on stove with a glass lid. Inside the pan, water is boiling.

Put the water on to boil to cook the spaghetti. 

Cast iron pay with shrimp cooking in butter with a wood spoon for stirring.

Melt butter in a cast iron skillet then add shrimp. Season with pepper and garlic and cook.

Metal pan on stove. There is water and spaghetti noodles in the pan, and a pasta spoon laying next to the pan.

When water comes to a boil, add salt and return to a boil. Add pasta and stir in well so it cooks evenly. 

When shrimp are almost done, stir in the green onion and cook them.

When pasta is cooked, drain well and return to pan. Stir in the shrimp, then pour in some Italian dressing. Do NOT add too much to begin with - add some, stir in well, then add more if needed.

Bowl filled with spaghetti and shrimp on a counter. A pair of glasses in in the upper left corner and a drinking glass in the upper right.

Spoon onto a plate or bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Serving note - I often serve peas or green beans with this, and I usually just mix them in with the pasta, coating the vegetable with the dressing as well. This would be another way to use up leftover vegetables.

Try It Yourself

That's all there is to it! If you have already cooked food, you only need a few minutes to warm things up and put them on a plate. If you cook everything from scratch, as I did, within 45 minutes you can be eating a homecooked meal. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

17 October 2022

Hurricane Ian Preparation and Aftermath on the Beachside Homestead

Living a block from the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, we are familiar with preparing for a hurricane. Here is what our urban homestead did to prepare for Hurricane Ian, and what we dealt with after.

In the nine years I've lived in Florida, I have been through several hurricanes and tropical storms. Thanks to my husband, who has lived here longer, we have a good plan to prepare for hurricanes. No plan is perfect; however, it is better than having nothing.

When we were first put in the "cone of uncertainty" by the National Weather Service, I began preparing by printing off my Hurricane Preparation Checklist. (Click to learn how I made mine and do one for your unique needs.)

Then I began pulling out things I needed: flashlights and batteries, candles and lighters, rain gear, and towels to soak up any water that came in. I emptied much of the ice from my ice maker, putting it in bags in the freezer. This has a dual purpose. If we lose power, the ice helps things in the freezer stay frozen longer. If we don't have water, we can melt the ice and use it to drink and cook with.

The garden has to wait until the last minute, so the plants get as much sunlight as possible. Some go into the garage while others are moved to a corner on the patio. The good thing about a container garden is most of the plants are easy to move.

We tied down the awning over the front door, and staked a tied a few of our decorative bushes and fruit trees. Most of the fruit trees I have grown from seed and don't want to lose them.

By the time the rain arrived on Wednesday, we were finished and safely inside.

Watch the video that shows some of the prep work and also the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on our home.

21 September 2022

Protect Your Summer Garden with an Inexpensive DIY Sun Shade

During the heat of summer, a sun shade may protect your garden plants. Here's an inexpensive DIY version that I tried.

Living in gardening zone 9b, I've learned that July and August are not good for growing crops. Even heat loving vegetables can slow or stop producing as the sun that beats down on them daily. No amount of watering can compensate for the brutal sun. 

Shade, however, can offer some relief. Please understand that this won't let you grow crops that northern friends grow with ease during the summer. What it can do is help keep plants alive and prevent damage to produce.

My Garden Needed Relief From The Sun

The off-season for gardening in Florida is the heat of the summer. July and August are not good times to grow things. Plants that produced well during the spring may still be alive, but production is diminished.

My garden is on the patio between my house and garage. It is south facing, and enclosed with a privacy fence and the concrete walls of the garage and house. During the summer, it gets hot in that area.

This year I noticed that my bell peppers, which normally love the summer sun and heat, were getting sunscald. I needed to do something.

One solution is to put up sun shade. The idea intrigued me, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money until I could tell if it helped or not. When I found this article, I knew I had a place to start.

My Sun Shades

I purchased several yards of nylon netting, cut it to (more-or-less) fit over the raised beds, and tied the corners to bamboo sticks inserted in the beds. 

Fenced in area containing raised beds and container plants. Over the raised beds are pieces of nylon net tied to bamboo poles inserted into the raised beds.


  • It was inexpensive
  • It was easy to set up
  • It was easy to take down when summer storms blow through

Close up of the nylon net tied to a bamboo pole placed in the raised bed.


  • It didn't cover the entire bed. I will need to get longer bamboo poles and put them in the ground outside the bed for better coverage.
  • It wasn't enough to protect all my plants - my green beans shriveled and died even with the sun shade (to be fair, I planted them much too late so they probably wouldn't have made it anyway)
  • It isn't the prettiest look (although my garden is behind fencing, so only my husband and I see it.

Raised garden bed with nylon mesh over it, held up by bamboo poles.

Overall Impression of my DIY Sun Shades

For taller plants, like my everglades tomato, I need taller poles. This also means that other things may not get enough protection, but careful planning of where I plant in the raised beds could mitigate that.

For other containers, I'm going to have to come up with a way to cover them. 

Will I Use Them Again?

Absolutely! My bell peppers, while still small due to the heat, did not have any more sun scald. 

I plan to buy more nylon netting and cut it to better fit over my raised beds. What I used this year can be cut down to place on container plants. 

I was late putting it up this year - mid-July - and want to try it earlier next summer.

If you notice sun damage on plants in your garden, give this easy and inexpensive DIY sun shade a try and see how it works for you.