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Our rabbits are multiplying, and none of them have even bred yet. After our new addition yesterday, we're up to six.

This is Farina, a beautiful angora rabbit. We had been trying to find one for a while now, but without luck. Then, earlier this week we stumbled upon a flyer at the Stockyard, our local feed store. A breeder had three angoras for sale for $12 each.

We've named her Farina, after the main ingredient in Cream of Wheat. Cream of Wheat is my favorite breakfast food, and because she's known as "oatmeal" colored, we thought it was perfect.

So why do we want this furry little creature? The hair makes for wonderful spun yarn. Mixed with wool, cotton, or other spinning materials, it creates an elegant, warm, and soft fiber.


Slowly we keep adding on to our many works-in-progress here in our garden. We finally added the roosts to our coop. It took the ladies a little while to figure out what to do with them (they continued to sleep on the ground), but it seems like most of them have finally caught on. I can't imagine sleeping standing up on a little wooden beam, but if it makes them happy, awesome.

The first of our bounty

So poor little Seymore the Squash didn't really make it too long. The plants have really been overtaken by fungus, but we did manage to rescue this teeny little squash. He's not very big, but we've added him to the fall decorations on the dining table. We might cook him up and get a couple of spoonfuls of mashed butternut, but atleast we have something (however tiny) to show for our work.

A fall dinner

It's finally starting to feel like fall. Squashes are dominating the produce section, and jack-o-lanterns are found on nearly every doorstep. Last night's dinner was very seasonal, another one of our eating goals. On the menu:

Pork and gravy
Mashed butternut squash
Baked zucchini, carrots, and onions
Home-baked whole-wheat bread

The table setting was also gorgeous, decorated with edible and decorative squashes, colored maize, wheat, and pumpkins.

Dinner was followed up with some delicious pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream.

I was very happy to have a nice autumn dinner. The weather doesn't change much here in Florida, but it's nice to see the food represent the seasons.


Florida doesn't have the best climate for growing vegetables. It's very very warm, and terribly humid. The only crops that do really well here are citrus fruits, and strawberries. Some of our plants are suffering from the damp weather, and have developed fungus on their leaves. It started with the heirlooms, but has slowly spread to the commercial plants too. We're looking into remedies, and waiting patiently for cooler, dryer weather.

An epic aphid attack

The other day we went out into our garden to find that our black eyed peas were completely caked with teeny grey aphids. They seemed to be taking the worst hit, but there were also some on the Henderson limas. We decided to try using some soap suds to shoo them away, with plenty of help from Seleighna, the little neighbor girl.

Unfortunately, I think we may have used a little bit too much soap. The aphids were done for, but I think our beans may have been too.

They're kind of yellowing, and have dropped some of their leaves. We're going to pick what's left of the beans soon, and hope that the plants recover a bit.

And the snails go 'nom nom nom'

A while back we planted two strawberry plants in our garden. They were both doing very well, until one night. One of them was attacked by a hungry snail, and was completely annihilated.

The other one is still doing very well, and I wonder if this one will recover.

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart

All rhyming bean jokes aside, we have an abundance of beans beginning to ripen. We planted a bunch of Henderson Limas, and they're all coming to fruition. Some of them are teeny tiny, and others are beginning to really flesh out into actual edible-sized limas.

There's a bunch of small pods, large pods, and flowers that will quickly turn into pods. We're very very excited. Limas may be the first thing that we actually get to eat out of our garden.

Do you see what I see?

It's an itty-bitty baby radish! These Cherry Belle radishes were only supposed to take three weeks to grow, but we're coming closer to three months now. We're finally starting to see some flesh out into full-blown radishes. Our plans for these babies? Salads and baked chips.

The potatoes are up!

I have wanted to say that for so long now. In Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal Vegetable, Miracle, one of her most exciting moments came when the potatoes came up. She shouted it from the rooftops, and I always looked forward to the day when I could say the same.

What does this mean? Basically, after planting the seed potatoes, or little chunks of potato each containing an eye, they send out roots and shoots. Eventually the shoots make it up past the soil, and turn into visible plants. Our lovely purple potatoes that we planted about a month and a half ago have finally made it to that point.

We have three up so far, but we're expecting about fifteen. They're in an especially deep bed, so they should have enough room to grow.

Thirsty chickens

Down at the Stockyard, our local feedstore, automatic feeders and waterers for poultry run about 50 bucks a piece. We haven't really been able to stomach that cost. While we were on vacation, Mr. Dennis and Mr. Phils went out to the local big-box store and purchased a set of automatic food and water dispensers for pets. The chickens love the waterer, but they kept scratching all of the food out of the food bowl, which we've since given to the rabbits.

The chickens kick all kinds of things into their water, but it serves its purpose.

Our little fatty rabbits love the never-ending supply of food too.

Invader in the garden

Every once in a while, we'll hear a dog barking in the backyard, and go out to see what all the noise is about. Rarely do we actually see anything, but finally one day I was out there and caught the intruder in the act.

He was hanging out near the rabbits, barking at them. Every once in a while, we find evidence of something digging into the rabbit cage, and I wonder if this is the culprit. Either way, the pen is pretty puppy-proof, so I don't fear for their safety.

A wonderful birthday present

For my birthday, which was October 7th, Taylor and I took advantage of Disney's free admission and visited Epcot. We were in for a wonderful surprise when we went on the Behind the Seeds tour of the experimental greenhouse.

Here is a step by step of the entire tour:

The first stop was at the sterile lab where they create tissue cultures to clone a few different species of plants, including cinnamon trees, redwoods, and dragon fruit. We weren't actually allowed to go in, but we got to see all of the different cultures growing in the agar gel.

This cinnamon tree was made from one of the cultures in the lab. We got to smell some of the crushed leaves, and it smelled exactly like the spice!

We then got to actually go into the greenhouses! Our tour guide is in the blue shirt on the left. He actually graduated from a high school about thirty minutes from where I grew up.

In the first room of the greenhouse we got to see a bunch of different "ponics"--- aeroponics, aquaponics, and hydroponics.

Here we see brussel sprouts gliding through a wall filled with nutrient sprayers. The roots continually get doused with a liquid that contains all of the nutrients that they need to grow. Because the roots also have constant exposure to air, they get enough oxygen.

A close up of the roots passing under a sprayer

This is kind of a similar idea. These tubes contain absolutely nothing but air, and they pass under nutrient sprayers. The spray hits the roots which grow inside of the tube.

Another really interesting setup. These Styrofoam planters can easily stack a dozen high, and provide great insulation against temperature changes. It also makes low-laying crops much easier to harvest, because you don't have to crouch over.

We then got to release some beneficial insects. These ladybugs gobble up harmful pests that damage crops in the greenhouse.

Rockwool was one of the coolest things that I saw on the tour. It was perlite that was heated and spun like cotton candy to form this fluffy medium. It's formed into seedling trays which can be broken apart and planted directly into the soil.

Then we were in for another treat! We got to taste-test some delicious cucumbers grown in the greenhouse. We went back for seconds.... and thirds.... and fourths...

This was also really neat. By creating this triangular structure, they could grow four times the number of plants in the same area. This was another aeroponics setup where the empty interior is filled with roots that get sprayed with nutrients.

This spiral was another really cool vertical aeroponics system. Nutrient solution drops down the spiral to soak the roots. I'm not sure how well it works, but it sure does look pretty!

Now this little innovation was absolutely amazing. It's probably pretty unbelievable without seeing it, but it was essentially layers of cardboard that made up some of the walls. By keeping them sprayed with water, they cooled the air that passed into the greenhouses. It actually worked, too! If you put your hand up to the wall, it was cold to the touch.

This gigantic poster shows one of the huge tomato "trees" grown in the greenhouse. By choosing indeterminant varieties and trellising them, they can create a plant that grows just like a tree. I think this one particular plant grew something like 35,000 pounds of tomatoes.

Here, our tour guide demonstrates another aeroponics system. Known as a nutrient "film", plants are grown in the holes, and nutrient solution runs through the trench, soaking the roots. The solution can be recollected and reused over and over. They're looking at a similar method to grow food in extreme environments.

This was another one of their huge trellised eggplant "trees".

And what is that huge thing? A four pound lemon. Supposedly it has about a one-inch-thick rind, which means a LOT of lemon zest.

And look! A pumpkin tree!

Here we are in their aquafarm. They raise a bunch of different fish, as well as some alligators. While we were their, two of the gators were doing some very un-Disney-like things as they tried to rip out eachother's throats.

A bunch of tilapia swimming around in one of the tank. We got to feed these guys.

That pretty much wrapped up the tour. It was a really awesome experience, and cost about $15 per person to go. If you're ever in the area, check it out!

We're back from vacation!

Sorry for the incredibly long period between posts! Taylor and I have been gone for the past two weeks on a wonderful trip all over the south east. The highlight of the trip?

We went caving in Georgia! Last year I got a $1000 grant from the explorer's club to learn about human impact on cave ecosystems. This was our first time trying out our vertical gear as we prepare for our big trip later this winter.

It was sad being away from the garden for so long, but Dennis and Philip took care of everything while we were gone. All was well upon our return!


We're trying to add some more perennial kinds of plants to our garden, and started with a blackberry! We're keeping our hopes up for some warm, sun-kissed berries at some point.


We've discovered a fun new past time.

Hand-feeding our chickens. Except for Princess (Saleighna's chicken). She pecks at everything but the feed, and it hurts.

New beds

So a while back we added a new 16' x 4' bed by simply loosening up the soil, adding compost, and layering with hay mulch. It's much much cheaper than installing raised beds, but doesn't offer quite as much loose soil. After liking the results of the first bed, we've since extended it an additional 8 feet, for a total of 96 square feet.

We've added more collards, some tomatoes, gourds, and squash to the bed. The tomatoes are kind of a gamble, but if it doesn't work out, we've only lost six seeds.

Our plans include at least three more beds of this size by next spring.

Miura's Nest

Even though we can't feel "marbles" in Miura's tummy (a sure-fire way to detect rabbit pregnancy), she's showing plenty of signs that she's getting ready to give birth. A rabbit's gestation period is only 31 days, and she's been with Toby since mid-August. We're definitely not sure of it, but she's nesting, which is a good sign.

We've seen Toby attempting to mate with her, but we're not sure as to whether or not he's actually done the act. He's still a little young, so we've definitely got high hopes---- it'll happen eventually. Either way, Miura is pulling out the hair on her chest to line her nest, and pulling in a bunch of hay and grass too, both signs that baby bunnies, known as kits, might be on the way.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

.... er.... smell like Christmas.

This morning I walked out into our garden, and noticed something awful.

Do you see what I see? Check out all of those gray spots all over the bean leaves.

I picked out for analysis, and searched the Google machine to see if I could figure out what was wrong. I came to the conclusion that it was some sort of fungus, and it was quickly spreading. It definitely wasn't there (or at least not nearly this noticeable) yesterday, because I was looking for flowers on the beans.

After a few moments of panic, I decided on a plan of action. I had heard from a couple of places that cinnamon is a very effective fungicide, and a completely organic alternative to chemicals. I grabbed a bottle, and dashed to the garden.

I sprinkled all of the infected beans, and to be safe, doused all the other beans in a generous shaking as well. It smells like gingerbread out there.

Hopefully this takes care of the problem, but I'm still a bit nervous.

So many books needing a home

Last week, Taylor and I noticed that there were stacks of books everywhere. We've checked out over 30 books on gardening from the library, and had a decent collection ourselves to start with. Things were just way too crowded, and we decided we needed a better method.

Incidentally, we also had a pile of scrap wood left over from the picket fence we built for our chicken run. Because it was pressure treated, we couldn't really use it to build vegetable beds or a beehive.

Suddenly, we had a moment of insight, which resulted in something really awesome.

It was a fun little project, and it only took an hour. I love looking at our wide variety of interests represented on the shelf. There are books on business, gardening, cars, knitting, art, architecture, beekeeping, and herbs among other things.