Can You Believe I Won?!

I’ve won the occasional online giveaway of a Kindle book here and there and a couple times, won an actual book, as opposed to a digital one. And truly, I love those gifts, because I love to read!

But this is the first time I’ve won a GARDEN GIVEAWAY! And I couldn’t be more thrilled!!!

Brijette over at the San Diego Seed Company‘s channel on Youtube recently celebrated her 10,000 subscriber mark by hosting a giveaway.

We’re fairly new subscribers to her Youtube channel, but we’ve been enjoying the content she puts out. It’s extremely educational and – bonus for us – it is targeted to those growing in Zones 9 and 10 of the Plant Hardiness Zones. That is perfect for us here in central Florida.

I was super ecstatic to receive the message that I won that giveaway!!! I giggled and squeeeeed and clapped and kept saying, “I won! I won!” Honest…you can ask my husband. I was *that* excited!

My box arrived yesterday. It was full of awesome goodies that I can’t wait to use.

So…first thing…this insect spray.

I’ve been so nervous to choose something to use in my garden. I don’t want to use chemicals and I don’t want lose my crops to bugs either. But I had no idea which product to use. Well, now that problem is solved. I’ll be using the Insect Killing Spray by Safer to spray on anything that’s munching on my garden babies.

These lovely plant clips were also in the package Brijette sent.

The reason they’re so cool is that they are made from corn and are biodegradable. If they accidently get caught up in any spent vegetable matter that’s headed to my compost bin, they won’t be leaching plastics into the compost.

These awesome things are called Tomahooks! They’re for growing tomatoes!

These gadgets are used to grow tomatoes in the lower and lean method. Brijette does a video to explain what that means, and I can’t wait to try these out.

Next is this awesome white shade cloth.

We used shade cloth this past summer to cover our sitting/potting area and to cover some of our veggies that were in 5-gallon pots. It does an incredible job of dropping the temp in that area by several degrees. That is a great thing during the hot spring and summer days here in Florida. The cloth Brijette sent is white, which will reflect that sun even more, and there’s a really good-sized piece of it.

And the calendar! Oh my goodness…it’s a thing of beauty!

Every month’s page is full of tips, information and helps for planting in our Zone. She lets you know which seeds should be sown each month and how to adjust for the weather as it warms up. It’s a treasure trove of info for the backyard gardener!

And lastly – these seeds!!!

Brijette was incredibly generous with this seed collection. There are veggies, flowers, fruits and gourds. I was just overwhelmed by the variety. I told Doug we might need to lay out new garden beds just to get them all in for this season.

And here’s the really cool thing about these seeds, the San Diego Seed Company has grown each and every one of these seeds. Much of their farm is designated for growth of plants to harvest the seeds. They grow heirloom, non-gmo, organic plants in a sustainable way for their area. These seeds are adapted to their growing conditions and are therefore healthier and stronger for farmers in those same zones. I’m excited to try them out!

All in all, can you believe this awesome package of goodies I received??? I am just so grateful for small business owners who reach out to help others grow and improve their skills. It’s a very generous practice and it will grow a successful, loyal customer base for their products. Pretty smart, if you ask me!

Thanks for checking out my prizes! I’ll let you know how everything goes.

In Him,

Alesha Kay

Florida Freeze 2022 Aftermath

We fared well with this past week’s cold weather. Some things did great, some did poorly and some we’ll just have to wait and see how they do. I’ll give you the rundown.

We actually had Hard Freeze Warnings for 2 nights in a row – January 29th and 30th. We hit 29* (or lower) the first night and were just at 32* the second night.

We grouped and covered and lighted various plants in the garden. My husband was very creative with his groupings.

He used sheets, tarps, buckets, cardboard boxes, milk jugs, buckets of boiling water – anything that would protect and hold in a little heat. It looked pretty when we turned the lights on at night.

Without fail, anything that was covered and had a string of lights under the cover survived. This included the following:

  • Mango tree – in-ground
  • Tomatoes – several varieties – in buckets
  • Strawberries – in pots
  • Longan tree – in pot
  • Cranberry hibiscus – in pot
  • Peppers – several varieties – in buckets
  • Oregano – in buckets
  • Carrots in buckets

The things that were covered with tarp also survived, even without lights. But to be fair – we also had several of these plants in buckets, uncovered and unprotected and they are ALL just fine. Who knew chickpeas were so hardy?!!

Some things under the 5-gallon buckets did well, especially the ones that were near the house. However, those in the farthest bed with no wind protection did not survive. These 2 tomato plants are the only things we know for sure that we lost. The peppers, however, look great.

Two of our tropical trees we wrapped with ground cover cloth around their roots and stems. We didn’t cover their tops. The banana looks completely dead and the chaya looks fine – even has its little blossoms still intact. The leaves look a bit stressed, but will probably recover just fine. Our other bananas are under the canopy of our oak tree. We mulched them heavily with leaves and they look well. We will leave this little banana tree alone and see if he can recover.

Things under cardboard boxes and plastic milk jugs were a mixed bag. The chicory did great, but the cassava didn’t fare well. Only 1 of the 3 has remaining green leaves.

Three other tropical were wrapped well, one even had boiling water added under its cover, but they are looking pretty sad. The Spanish Hog Plum will surprise me if it comes back, but I think the Jamaican Cherry juuuuuust might make it. (It’s behind the blue wagon, but you can see it’s leaves are very withered and drooping.) The Longevity Spinach is going to have to live up to its name to recover. It just looks like a pile of mushy brown leaves.

All things considered, I am super-duper pleased with our survival rate. The strings of lights definitely seem to be the secret, so we’ll probably invest in a few more of things, along with a few more extension cords.

I’m also amazed at the hardiness of many of the things we didn’t protect at all. They all survived. The list is impressive:

  • Garlic – in ground
  • Onions – in ground and in buckets
  • Sweet potatoes – in ground
  • Collards – in ground
  • Brussels sprout – in ground
  • Blueberries – Florida varieties – in pots
  • Carrots – in ground and in buckets
  • Turnips – in ground
  • Mulberry tree – in bucket
  • Fig tree – in pot
  • Loquat tree – in pot

And the surprise survivor is this:

Tiny baby lettuces that we’d planted on January 21st! They had just begun to pop up on the 27th. These hardy little babies weren’t even covered. Just took on the freeze like champs! Can’t wait to see how they do as they get bigger.

You know – God’s creation never ceases to astound me! There is such an overwhelming variety of plants and trees, veggies and fruits, but they all seem to obey His laws. Each has its own hardiness level and it will respond exactly how God intended it to. It’s a constant reminder to me to grow where God planted me, as I’m here for a purpose by His own design.

The Master Gardener may allow the harsh winter winds to blow us about, but He also gives us the Light of His Word and the Covering of His blood to protect us.

May you grow well, wherever He has you planted.

In Him,

Alesha Kay

He Hears What We Can’t Say

Genesis 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Genesis 6:5  And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

GROANING,  Uttering a low mournful sound.

GROANING,  The act of groaning; lamentation; complaint; a deep sound uttered in pain or sorrow.

In the Old Testament, when the children of Israel groaned because of the hardships that their disobedience had caused, God heard the sound of their groanings, and He remembered His promises to them, and made a way of deliverance.

In the New Testament, because we have the indwelling of the believer by the Holy Spirit, God the Father takes it even further: when the pain is too deep and the grief is too overwhelming to have breath to make a sound, God HEARS our cry. His Holy Spirit calls out to God the Father and communicates what our prayer should be. 

Romans 8:27 says “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

On days when we can’t find the words to tell God how much we hurt, how broken our heart is, how overwhelmed we are, how deeply we are wounded, and we groan out our prayers to Him – He remembers! And when there are days that the pain is so sharp and so deep, that we can’t even summon the breath to groan – amazingly – He hears!

Do not despair, my sweet friend. You are heard by the Almighty God. He knows your voice. He sees your pain. He remembers His promises. He will use this present suffering to work His glory in your life. 

(For further study and edification, I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Romans 8.)

In Him,

Alesha Kay

Garden Progress

Just thought I’d share a little progress note with you.

We are starting seeds for the new fall garden. I’m excited to be able to grow things now that wouldn’t grow during the hot summer here.

Lots of sprouting going on!

And we’ve been prepping our beds for some special seedlings. These are our Seminole Pumpkins! I’m so excited to be growing this Florida native in my garden this fall! If you look closely, there are nine little seedlings in that bed. We’ll be giving it some more mulch a little later on.

And I thought I’d share some of the ways we get things accomplished here at our house. I’m not able to go outside for hours, helping with all the gardening tasks. And there are SO many, you can be sure! When it’s cooler, I can sit and help outside, but it’s still just too hot for me to sit out there now.

So, this is how I help. We cover the floor with sheets and cardboard, set up a table, bring in dirt and pots and plants and I help get things done. These were our strawberries. They’ve grown and multiplied for several months in this wagon and needed to be separated in order to bloom in the fall and winter. It felt so good when that job was done. Doug rolled them back outside and brought in our other wagon to load up all the pots.

There would be no garden if Doug didn’t help. I am so thankful for him! He says I’m the brain and he’s the brawn…LoL! Not really, but it does sort of describe our strengths. I do all the planning, plotting, choosing seed, buying supplies, laying out the garden; and he supplies the brute strength. I’m so grateful the Lord put us together on the same team.

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our day.

In Him,

Alesha Kay

Growing Along

I know you’ve been waiting a long time for a garden update.

Here’s a picture post to hold you over until I can sit down to do a proper post.

Pickling cucumbers
Lima bean pods.
Zucchini and yellow Squash.
Orange bell pepper.
Purple Hull Pea blossom.
Cantaloupe & Watermelon seedlings.

It’s been quite an education out there in the garden. It’s so odd – the things that don’t grow & the things that do. I am constantly surprised.

We plan to harvest our first set of potatoes buckets in the next day or so. I’m hoping we won’t be disappointed. The first bucket we harvested when they should have been ready only had 2 little potatoes in it!

We’ve got cattle panels to set up for all the melon seedlings that are ready to be transplanted. We’re planning to make arches with the panels. It’s so exciting to see the back yard come together as a food forest!

We had to take Isaac for some medical tests this week in Orlando. When we told the tech we were from Haines City, his next question was “Oh, so you guys have a farm there?”

We just laughed & said no. But then we thought about it.

I told him, “Well, we do have a garden this year! It’s not quite a farm, but we are growing things.”

It was funny that he thought of our area as farm country. It is very rural, I guess. I don’t mind that at all. I’m so glad the Lord didn’t “plant” me in the big city. I’m grateful I have lots of nature & clear blue skies where I live.

That’s it for this update! I hope to be back soon!

In Him,

Alesha Kay

The Promise of Things to Come

Just as the garden gives us glimpses of wonderful things that are in the future, so does the Word of God:

1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The Master Gardener is at work in your life. Don’t give up hope. He has beautiful things in store, just for you!

In Him,

Alesha Kay

Garden Update

Happy peppers & potatoes
Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes
Blue potatoes
Blue potatoes
Soon-to-be Rattlesnake Pole Bean blossoms
A perfectly twirled tendril – so amazing!
A new cucumber blossom!
And he has friends!
Cantaloupe & watermelon seedlings
A sprouting field of wild flowers planted in an old tire. Can’t wait to see what pops up!
Happy little fig tree!

Everything is growing so well. I’m surprised every day by some new growth or blossom or bug or snake… you just never know what to expect in Florida!

We’ve had some disappointments, too: yellow peppers that refused to germinate, cilantro that has only grown four tiny leaves, & tansy that never grew. Our sugar baby melons are struggling & the oregano never even popped its heads up out of the seeds. The loquat tree is being munched on by weevils & out of 8 plants, I have only 1 tomato growing.

But the process had been so rewarding and I’m learning SO much! I love being outside right now before the horrible heat arrives & the Lord is showing me many Spiritual truths out in the garden as well.

Thanks for following along.

In Him,

Alesha Kay