House painting in progress


We’ve been in Florida since November. The time has flown as we’ve been taking back a house that had been a rental property for six years. We tore out the kitchen and replaced it with new cupboards, counters, and appliances. We painted most rooms and had renovations done in the bathrooms. And then in January, we tackled the exterior of the house turning it from gray to barn red. We love the results.

But through it all, my gardener husband, Robert, studied and planned and then he built. He sowed seeds and planted. We now have a 20 x 4 raised bed garden, a small herb plot (that was already here but filled with weeds), and three fruit trees planted.


Peas climbing


He’s been pulling seedling trays outside and then back in at night under grow lights. These will go to our cabin in Murphy, which he plans on putting in next month. Finally, this week he built a cold frame, which is large enough to be a guest bedroom, so those plants can just stay outside permanently until they’re ready for the ground.



The Cold Frame

We only have a few months left to enjoy the Florida garden, but that’s all right. It will be a delicious two months. We’re eating lettuce and spinach every day now. Herbs are lush and green and grace every meal. Pea pods are forming, and the broccoli and cabbage appear to be doing well. Bush beans will be ready for consumption soon. What we can’t eat, will be blanched and frozen.




Beans and Herbs

When I prepared to roast a chicken the other day, I chuckled and hummed, “Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,” and that’s precisely what I put in the pot with the chicken.


Robert has found the best of all possible worlds for a gardener–year round gardening. And I am the lucky recipient of all his hard labor. It’s a good life.

Saving Herbs

basil and sage

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Two of our herbs have done remarkably well this year. I have basil planted in the ground and in pots and all seem to love to heat and alternating dry and wet conditions. The sage took over this year in the same spot where we’d successfully grown parsley in the past two years, even through our mild winter. However, the parsley has done very little this spring and summer and I miss it!

We’ve been drying our sage for burning in the house as a purifier. When I went to find a page for the many wonderful uses of sage, I discovered the burning of it does more than cleanse our spirits and our homes – it also has medicinal properties for sinuses and headaches. Maybe this is why my migraines have finally disappeared this week. We pulled the sage down from the light fixture a few days ago and have been burning it in a large shell all over the house. I’m very impressed. beautiful sage drying Basil is one of my favorite herbs. It’s easy to grow and works in just about any dish. It is beautiful cut and placed in a vase with water. I cut off the leaves as needed. In the past, it seemed the leaves wilted after a few days. However, this summer I filled a small container with water and cut stems and it lasted for more than a month. It even rooted so now I have another basil plant in a pot outside. I hope to keep that going through the winter.All of my basil plants were headed to seed recently, so I gave them a trim. I ended up with this vase full, plus eight cups of leaves. Time for pesto. I’ve adjusted this recipe over the past two years, and it works wonderfully. Here’s my version of a large batch of pesto for freezing. Please note: Add the Parmesan cheese after thawing and before using.

Patricia’s Pesto (for freezing)

8 cups packed fresh basil leaves

4-6 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup pine nuts

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor (you will probably need to do this in batches) and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until mixed in and smooth. (If you want to use immediately add 1 1/2 cups of cheese at this point. DO NOT ADD cheese if freezing.)

I fill ice cube trays with the mixture. This batch took about a tray and a half (making approximately 24 cubes).pesto cubesFreeze the cubes and then place in a zip lock bag. Whenever I want to use pesto on pasta or in a sauce, I pull out a cube or two or three, add the cheese and it’s good to go. I’ve been told these should be used within six months. That’s about how long they lasted in our house so I’m not sure it that’s true or not. Enjoy!

pesto for winter