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  • Backyard fruits and vegetables

    Last summer I decided to grow some fruits and vegetables at home as a teaching experience for my two little girls.  I think it's very important for children to know where their food comes from.  It all started with a trip to Lowe's.  They had a raised bed on display at their garden center entrance.  As soon as I got back to the market, I couldn't wait to tell Jim about my "summer project".

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    These "raised beds" are fairly inexpensive if you are handy.  There are lots of raised bed tutorials online.  I wish I had pictures of Dad and Jim putting together our raised bed.  I have asked them to build me another one, so maybe I can do another post on how to build one.

    I filled our raised bed with the potting soil we sell at the market and picked some fruit and vegetable plants right from our market: blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes.   We also planted sunflower seeds.

    Late last year, we tried broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, swiss chard, strawberry onions and peppers from starting plants.  We also planted carrot and lettuce from seeds.  I take a very relax approach to my garden.  I mostly leave it alone.  I let the sprinklers water the plants unless it was a real scorcher of a day.  I can say we had good success with the broccoli, cauliflower, and the swiss chards.  The pepper plants died in the first freeze we had, but at least they were fun to pick.

    We've eaten a few "baby" carrots and some "mini" strawberry onions (nothing like you see at our market).  A few weeks back I saw this and could hardly contain my excitement.

    Those are raspberry flowers!  I couldn't believe the "wait" was over.  You see, we planted blueberries too and had enjoyed a few of them already.  But it has taken the raspberry a year to bloom and produce these beautiful berries.

    But the best part of it all, was having the girls come rushing in last night to tell me we had raspberries growing in our backyard.  To hear their little voices filled with excitement and accomplishment is priceless.  Have you tried growing veggies or fruits in your backyard?  Were you successful?

     

     

  • Take me out to the...Circus?

    For the past 3 years, it has been a tradition to take the girls to the Shrine Circus in Tampa.  We look forward to a night of surprises under the big red and white tent and all the sweet treats.   The Egypt Shriners in Tampa have been around since the early 1900s.  Their philanthropy, Shriners Hospital for Children, provides medical care to any child under the age of 18.  Shriners Hospital provide medical care at 19 orthopedic units and 3 burn centers throughout North America.

    Our trip to the Shriners Circus always begins at the petting zoo.  For $2 you can feed carrots to a hungry giraffe, wallabies, llamas, goats, and donkeys.

    After feeding the animals, and feeding the girls, it was time for the Circus.  You want to get there early because there are no assigned seats.  However, we've gotten there late too and there really isn't a bad seat under the tent. :)

    The show started with my favorite: Camels, Arabian Horses and Llamas.  I couldn't help but think about the book and feature film "Water for Elephants".  Other acts that follow were the stilt walkers, jugglers, and the girls' favorite the Hula Hoop Girl.  This year, the Hula Hoop girl brought a friend.  It was amazing to see the agility needed to spin a "cube" on their bare hands.  The best way to describe it is to picture a metal frame cube moving through the air at high speed.  I really should have taken a picture!

    Right before Intermission, we decided to go on to the midway.  There's a few rides and no lines!  What's not to love!  This is definitely one of our family outings which I enjoy the most.  Not only do we get to spend some time with our kids, but we are also helping other kids in need.

    The Shriners Circus will be in town through Sunday, April 22, 2012.  There are three shows on Saturday, April 21 at 11:30 am, 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm.  On Sunday, April 22, there are two shows at 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.  We have 2 extra tickets to raffle off today.  Please leave a comment here and on our facebook page by 1:00 pm for a chance to win the tickets today.  The tickets can be picked up at our market in Plant City.  When was the last time you went to the Circus?

     

     

     

     


  • Strawberry Shortcake...everyone's favorite dessert

    Our business is a seasonal business. But how can I say "seasonal" when the market is open year around? Well, as the largest strawberry and citrus market in Florida, our market is busiest during strawberry season. In the month of October, the farm gets millions of bare root strawberry plants to be planted in our fields. (Yes, you can purchase bare root strawberry plants in bunches at our market). Then we wait. And the phones will start ringing: "Are you serving Strawberry Shortcake yet?". Sadly, we'll respond not yet. Strawberry Shortcake season has always been January thru mid April, which follows the winter season of Florida strawberries.

    For the past few years, we've been able to start our World Famous Strawberry Shortcakes in December. People from all over the world continue to enjoy our fresh Strawberry Shortcakes in our garden every year.

    Another common question we get, is how many berries do we go through in a day. That's a tough one. Some days we'll go through one pallet filled with full flats, other days we'll go through two pallets. This past season from December 2011 to March 2012, 44 tons of fresh Florida Strawberries were used to make strawberry shortcakes and milkshakes. Forty Four tons! That's two dump trucks filled with fresh Florida Strawberries.

    So, now comes the sad part...April brings warmer temperatures, which means the berries will not be able to withstand the Florida heat. This season's last day of Strawberry Shortcake will be April 22, 2012. And why you ask? The answer is simple, you need fresh Florida strawberries to make the best Strawberry Shortcake in the world. Our beloved Strawberry Shortcake will disappear from our menu for a few months. Although, to some customers it may seem like an eternity. Our Summer menu, will bring back fruit filled milkshakes, our tangerine-vanilla swirl ice cream and the Parkesdale Banana Split. But even as tempting as those may sound, we can't deny we'll be missing our Strawberry Shortcake.

    What's your favorite Parkesdale treat? Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Milkshake or both?

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