Homemade Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos): From Garden to Jar

My jalapeno plants are continuously pumping out ripe jalapenos. I don’t want to waste them so I went to an old standby recipe that I haven’t made in a few years: Cowboy Candy.

Check out this YouTube video where I demonstrate how to make this incredibly easy homemade recipe using spicy jalapenos straight from the garden and canning them in a jar with a sweet cowboy candy sauce. The sweet and spicy flavors blend so well together and make an incredible appetizer over cream cheese, as a marinade for meats, or as a complement to any of your entrees. This homemade cowboy candy (candied jalapenos) will impress your family and friends either eating it or as a gift to let somebody know how much you mean to them.

Preparation

Preparation does involve a bit of work to slice up the jalapeno peppers and getting all the other ingredients together.

All ingredients gathered and ready to go.
Slicing jalapenos
Sliced Jalapenos

Cooking it up

You basically throw all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. This includes the apple cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, celery seeds and garlic.

Adding apple cider vinegar
Adding garlic
Bring the candying solution up to a boil

The next step is to add in the jalapenos and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Sliced jalapeno peppers in the candying solution

Canning

Everything is cooked up so now we just need to transfer the peppers using a slotted spoon to the jars. You come back and fill up to the 1/2″ head space with the candying solution.

Filling the jars

Please remember to wipe the rims off with a wet paper towel to ensure the lids will seal better.

Wiping rims
Taking jars out of canner

Recipe

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos)

This incredibly easy homemade recipe uses spicy jalapenos paired with a sweet cowboy candy sauce. The sweet and spicy flavors blend so well together and make an incredible appetizer over cream cheese, as a marinade for meats, or as a complement to any of your entrees. This homemade cowboy candy (candied jalapenos) will impress your family and friends either eating it or as a gift to let somebody know how much you mean to them.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 30

Equipment

  • Pressure Canner or Boiling Water Canner
  • Gloves, Latex or other
  • Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs Peppers, Jalapeno (fresh)
  • 2 cups Vinegar, Apple Cider
  • 6 cups Sugar, Granulated White
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Celery Seed
  • 2 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Pepper, Cayenne

Instructions
 

  • Pick 3 pounds of fresh ripe jalapeno peppers from your garden. If not available, pick some up from the grocery store.
  • Wearing gloves, remove the very top and the stem from the jalapeno peppers.
  • Slice the peppers in 1/4" rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring apple cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, minced garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Raise the heat back to a boil and add the jalapeno pepper rounds and return to a hard boil. Reduce heat again and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  • Transfer the jalapeno pepper slices to your clean jars leaving a head space of no less than 1/2".
  • Using a ladle, transfer the syrup to fill the jars ensuring you leave a head space of no less than 1/2".
  • Wipe the rims with a clean and damp paper towel. Put on lids and screw on top finger tip tight.
  • Place jars in a canner ensuring the top of jar is covered with 2" of water. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, boil jars for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool. When safe, remove jars from water using canning tongs and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool for 24 hours.
  • Allow jars to sit for 2 – 3 weeks before eating as the flavors will mature in that time.
Keyword Candied, Candy, Canning, Cowboy, Jalapeno, pepper, spicy, Sweet

Pepper Jelly: From Garden to Jar

Pepper jelly is one of those treats that we just love to make, eat, and give away, as it just leads to good time and memories. I use Jalapeno peppers fresh from the garden to make it. If you don’t have any in the garden, then pick some up at the grocery store, or use some other kind of peppers, and make yourself some pepper jelly. Eating pepper jelly with Ritz crackers over cream cheese is just delicious. Plain and simple, its good stuff.

Click here to see the YouTube video!

Harvesting the Peppers

First step in this process is to go into the backyard and harvest some Jalapenos from my organic raised-bed garden. I have 8 Jalapeno plants in my garden including Craig’s Grande, Pumpkin Spice, Orange Spice, and Brown Jalapeño varieties.

Harvesting fresh jalapenos from the garden to make pepper jelly
Picking some fresh Jalepeno peppers
Harvesting fresh jalapenos from the garden to make pepper jelly
Picking some fresh Jalepeno peppers

Preparing the Ingredients

The two main items to prepare before cooking is to prepare the peppers and prepare the jars. There is plenty of heat in Jalapeno peppers so we will want to remove the seeds and membrane. Then we’ve got to dice them up. Note: Do yourself a favor and put on some gloves as you work with the peppers so you won’t burn yourself up every time you touch your fingers to your face (or elsewhere)!

Removing seeds from Jalapeno peppers to make pepper jelly
Removing seeds from Jalapeño peppers (use gloves)
Diced up Jalapenos (I doubled the recipe)

The other primary task is to prepare the jars by sterilizing the jars, lids, and rings in boiling water or in your dishwasher.

Cooking it Up

The recipe for cooking the pepper jelly up is really simple. You only have a few ingredients including peppers, sugar, vinegar, and liquid pectin. The basis for the recipe did come from a really good book, Complete Book of Home Preserving, where I learned a lot about canning and other preservation methods. I doubled the recipe as well since I had plenty of peppers. You pretty much bring everything to boil except the pectin. Then that’s added under boil for about a minute. Next, you are ready to transfer to the jars.

Cooking pepper jelly
Cooking the pepper jelly
Adding liquid pectin to pepper jelly
Adding the liquid pectin to the pepper jelly

Canning Pepper Jelly

The final part is to fill your jars with the pepper jelly, wipe the rim, place the lid on and screw the ring on finger tight. Next transfer them to the canner where they are to be processed (boiled) for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Transferring pepper jelly into 1/2 pint jars leaving 1/2" head space
Put pepper jelly into jars leaving 1/2″ head space
Removing processed pepper jelly from canner
Removing them from the Canner
Pepper Jelly over Cream Cheese with Crackers

Pepper Jelly

This pepper jelly recipe uses fresh jalapeños from my garden to make some excellent pepper jelly you can enjoy year around. It is a favorite at our house over cream cheese and crackers. It's a staple in south Louisiana for LSU football watching parties and holiday snacks.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 15 mins
Canning time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 12 oz Jalepeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and deveined Wear latex gloves while processing the peppers
  • 2 cups Vinegar, Apple Cider
  • 6 cups Sugar, Granulated
  • 2 pouches Liquid Pectin each 3 oz.
  • 1 box Crackers, Ritz Can be substituted with any other crackers
  • 1 box Cream Cheese

Instructions
 

  • Prepare canner, jars and lids. Makes about five 8-ounce jars.
  • Dice up peppers finely.
  • In a large, deep stainless steel or ceramic saucepan, combine peppers, apple cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat
  • Quickly pour hot jelly into jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until finger-tight,
  • Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
  • Serve over cream cheese with crackers.
Keyword AMERICAN, Appetizer, crackers, cream cheese, Jalepeno, jelly, pepper, pepper jelly, snack, spicy

This makes a great gift or serve your pepper jelly poured over some cream cheese, with crackers, and make memories with your family and friends.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. Please visit our YouTube channel as well.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Check out my other garden to jar post here (Salsa Verde).

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How to Get Ready for Fall Raised-bed Garden in Zone 9A


The Fall garden season in Zone 9A is right around the corner. Although it will still be hot for a while, there is a lot that needs done to prepare. Let’s talk about some of the things needed done to get ready for the Fall garden season.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

First, just a word on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map. The hardiness zones are based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. In Southeast Louisiana, we are in Zone 9A. Zones are provided by the USDA to help gardeners understand which plants can survive their region’s climate, especially winter frost/freeze conditions. This help the gardener determine what plants, especially perennials, will thrive in the weather conditions of their zone. This, combined with the first Fall and last Spring frost dates, are also critical. For late Summer, you will need to select and start vegetables (annuals) that you can harvest by the first Fall frost date unless they can withstand a frost.

USDA Plant Hardiness Map of Louisiana

See link to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps (National, South Central US, ).

LSU AgCenter – Planting Guide

The LSU AgCenter publishes a vegetable planting guide providing valuable information to help Louisiana gardeners understand the optimum time to plant different types of vegetables, spacing, depth, days to maturity, etc., along with recommended varieties. This information, combined with the hardiness zone and frost date information, provides critical information needed to plan which types of vegetables you want to plant in you Fall and Spring garden and when. All states have something similar so I’m sure you can just Google it.

Plant from Seed

In my garden, I plant everything from seed, because I like to plant more of a variety than what I can get at the local nursery. I already have seeds that I’ve saved or were purchased from last Fall. I typically buy my seeds from either Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or Seed Savers Exchange as I love their huge variety. However, any online seed vendor or your local nursery will work.

For my Fall gardening, I usually start vegetables like cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower off in small 4″ plastic seedling pots outside. They are placed where they will receive some sun but not too much. I do this so I can grow them without pressure from the intense heat then I’ll transplant them directly into the garden as they get a bit bigger (and hopefully, it cools off a bit).

Fall Garden seedlings for Zone 9A
Fall Garden Seedlings
Fall Garden seedlings for Zone 9A
Fall Garden Seedlings

Amending the Soil

We need to make sure the soil is prepared to support another season of plants. The soil must be loose and friable, drain well, and provide both the macro- and micro-nutrients that the plants need. Remember that I had plants here during the Spring/Summer so they “used up” nutrients so we’ll need to put some back. Because of this, I’ll work in some of my own compost from my compost tumbler, along with composted cow and chicken manure, mushroom compost, some perlite, and some sphagnum peat moss to increase quality and volume of soil. I usually mix in a little Azomite Rock dust because I want a micro-nutrient boost.

Note: The magical mix for great soil is 1/3 sphagnum moss, 1/3 vermiculite or perlite and 1/3 compost (3 – 5 different sources of compost). My raised beds that started with this mix still outperforms those where I used garden mix from the local nursery. I have been amending the soil in those beds so they are catching up but the original beds with this mix still have the best performance.

Amending the Soil
Amending the Soil
Amending the Soil
Amending the Soil

Direct Sow or Transplant

Some seeds do better if they are planted directly into the garden soil as opposed to being planted in a pot, then transplanted. The root structure of some plants will not withstand the impact of removing it from the pot then re-planting into the garden soil. For example, most root plants like beets, radishes, etc., will do better if sowed directly in the garden soil and not in a pot.

Direct sow seeds in garden
Direct Seeded in the Garden Soil

Darrell’s Lineup for the Fall Garden

I will plant a variety of vegetables over the next number of weeks. For some, I will plant again a few weeks later (succession planting), so I can keep harvesting throughout the winter, especially plants like lettuce, peas, etc. This includes:

TypeWhen to PlantDays to Maturity
Beets8/15 – 10/155 – 60
Broccoli8/15 – 10/1570 – 90
Brussel Sprouts8/15 – 10/1590
Cabbage8/15 – 10/1565 – 75
Carrots9/1 – 11/170 – 75
Celery10/1 – 11/1210
Cauliflower7/1 – 10/1555 – 65
Chinese Cabbage7/15 – 10/160 – 80
Garlic10/1 – 11/30210
Greens, Collard3/15 – 10/175
Greens, Mustard8/1 – 3/1535 – 50
Kale9/2 – 3/1560
Kohlrabi8/15 – 10/3055 – 75
Lettuce8/15 – 9/3045 – 80
Peas9/1 – 9/1560 – 70
Radish9/1 – 11/122 – 28
Spinach10/1 – 2/2835 – 45
Swish Chard8/15 – 10/3045 – 55
Turnips8/1 – 2/2840 – 50

Success in Fall Gardening

We can grow year-round with the mild weather we have here in Zone 9A. As a gardener, be aware of what plant hardiness zone you are located in and become knowledgeable of what that means, along with the first and last frost dates. In addition, find out what local planting guides are available that will give specific direction for your location. Therefore, if we know what and when we can grow, we’ve amended our soil, started seeds when needed, and take care when transplanting plants, then we will have a successful Fall garden.

Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. If you have any questions on any of the plants discussed, feel free to drop a comment.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

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Chicken Fricassee over Puff Pastry Shell, Garlic Green Beans with Pancetta, and Stewed Okra

We love to cook and get family together to celebrate any time we can. We had good reason to celebrate as it’s our 34th (Erin and myself) and my Mom and Dad’s 61th wedding anniversary. Wow, how time flies when you are having fun! Right, baby? My mom and dad, along with my in-laws, came to the house to celebrate. We decided to go old school and cook a chicken fricassee served over a puff pastry shell, garlic green beans with pancetta, and stewed okra. Amanda also pitched in with some incredible divinity pie and Louisiana pecan balls. Not exactly Keto/low carb, but heck, we deserved to be treated with the anniversary and all!

Chicken fricassee is a pretty simple recipe and even one that I can’t hardly mess up. It’s basically a chicken stew without all the carrots and potatoes that are in a traditional chicken stew and but starts from a roux. Let’s take a look at the ingredients:

Note: I didn’t put out the white onions, green onions, garlic and bell peppers. I prefer fresh from the garden but I didn’t have any green beans and a limited supply of my Orange Jing Okra. I also didn’t put out the can of roasted diced tomatoes for the stewed okra.

The first thing you need to do is cut up your seasonings (GG’s terminology) so you are prepared to add it as you get your fricassee on! This includes 2 white onions, 1 bunch green onions, 1 sweet bell pepper, 1 stalk of celery and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic.

Cutting up seasonings (chinese pink celery from the garden)

I use a whole chicken hen for this recipe. Go ahead and cut it up. I did pretty well as I didn’t cut myself this time!

Season your chicken before browning it. I used some fresh ground pepper and some “Slap Your Mama” Cajun seasoning.

To get things going, pour four tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil into your cast iron pot and bring to medium-high temperature. Once hot, go ahead and put your chicken in. Brown it on all sides and remove.

Next step is to add 4 tablespoons of all purpose flour to the oil in the cast iron pot, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix in the flour so no lumps are left and keep moving around the flour so it doesn’t burn. You will have some tidbits from the chicken in the roux. Don’t worry about that, just keep moving the flour around until it gets dark brown.

Once you’ve got your roux to the right darkness, its time to add 4 cups of chicken broth. Add the 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Add all the seasonings and cook until soft.

Cut back to med low and and add chicken back to pot. Cover and cook for 2 hours or until meat is coming off the bone. About 15 minutes before serving, add some chopped green onion and some chopped parsley (fresh from the garden).

For the sides, I used some green okra from the store mixed with some of my Orange Jing okra from the garden. I put a can of diced roasted tomatoes, 1/2 a small onion, and okra in a pot, with a little beef broth and let that cook down. It needs a good bit of time to stew so don’t wait to the last minute to start this. For the green beans, I fried up some pancetta in a sauce pan. I added some beef broth to deglaze the pan. Add the green beans and an entire clove of elephant garlic (minced) and put the top on the pan and let that steam until ready.

One of the unique ingredients is the use of the puff pastry shells. Erin’s grandmother, GG, served her chicken fricassee in the puff pastry shell and it both looks and tastes great. Throw those in the oven for about 20 minutes to get ready to plate.

Now, we are ready to plate. Let’s add some chicken fricassee into the puff pastry shell.

We can now add some garlic green beans with pancetta and our smothered okra.

Voila! It looked and tasted out of this world.

Show the final plating

And finally, after eating all this great food, Amanda served her divinity pie and Louisiana pecan rolls for desert.

We love to get together as a family and make memories. The wedding anniversaries were a great excuse to cook, eat, and celebrate together. The food was delicious and the company was even better. Even with COVID-19 around, take the time to make memories now, when you can. You can do it in a smart and social distancing manner, but go ahead and make memories with family and friends.

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Chicken Fricassee Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp All purpose Flour
  • 4 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 large chicken (cut up)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 – 3 white onions (diced)
  • 1 bunch green onions (diced)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (diced)
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 4 or 5 sprigs parsley (diced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Cajun Seasoning to taste
  • Puff Pastry Shells (frozen)
  1. Chop up your vegetables and put them in a bowl, cover and place them in the refrigerator. Hopefully, these are fresh vegetables from the garden!
  2. Put oil in cast iron pot and bring heat up to medium-high.
  3. Prepare whole chicken by cutting it up into individual pieces. Season your chicken using salt and pepper, along with “Slap Your Mama” or other favorite cajun seasoning.
  4. Place chicken into hot cast iron pot and brown your chicken on all sides. Once browned, remove chicken and set aside.
  5. Next, we need to make a roux. Add 4 tbsp of all-purpose flour to the oil 1 tbsp at a time. Keep stirring the roux using a wooden flat edge spoon (preferably) or whisk so you keep moving the particle of flour around and so that it doesn’t stay in the same place and possibly burn. Note that there may be some skin and some meat from the chicken in the oil and that’s okay. That’s flavor. Keep cooking your roux until it turns a medium dark brown color.
  6. Combine 4 cups of chicken broth with the roux. Bring it back up to a boil.
  7. Add in the cut up seasonings (vegetables). Cook until seasonings get soft.
  8. Add the browned chicken back to the pot, along with the juices. Cut heat back to medium -low and cook until meat is falling off the bone which usually takes at least 1 hour.
  9. With about 15 minutes to go, add the parsley and some additional chopped green onions.
  10. Serve over puff pastry shell or white rice.

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family and friends. Celebrate whatever the occasion and make memories.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Garden Update (08-21-2020)

Our backyard organic raised-bed and container garden is doing pretty well considering it’s getting to end of the summer. I’ve already pulled most of my Spring/Summer plants as they just won’t continue to produce and thrive in this heat (95 F with heat index over 100 F). We had tons of tomatoes, tomatillos and cucumbers already this spring/summer. We also got to enjoy some squash, eggplants, cantaloupes, (new) potatoes, ground cherries, beets, carrots and some fresh green beans. Erin will have some good fall decorations from the ornamental corn we grew, although the sweet corn didn’t do too well this year. The squash plants produced well early but the squash vine borer grubs killed those plants and some succession planting of squash as well. They also killed some gourd plants. All in all, we had a good spring/summer garden harvest with peppers and okra really enjoying the heat now!

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Partial view of the raised bed garden

We need to start preparing for the Fall garden. One of the things that I always do in the Spring and in the Fall is put pine straw down in the walkways to keep the weeds down. I’ve used red pine bark in the past but that tends to float away from where it was placed due to the heavy downpours we often have.

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Placing pine straw on walkways to help keep weeds from growing
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Croix likes the pine straw

We’ve also need to start thinking about planting some seeds for our Fall garden. I’ve gotten started with some Cauliflower and will plant some Broccoli and Cabbage seeds this weekend. I will be planting some garlic like the last few years but will wait until around Oct 1st. Other plants for the Fall garden include beets, turnips, lima beans, brussel sprouts, chinese cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweet peas and spinach. What else do you like to grow? Hint: Check your state’s recommendations on when to plant crops. For example, LSU’s AgCenter has a planting guide for Louisiana.

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Cauliflower plants from seed (almost 2 weeks old)

Finally, to get ready for Fall planting, I’ll work in some of my own compost from my compost tumbler, along with composted cow and chicken manure, mushroom compost, some perlite, and some sphagnum peat moss or coco coir to increase quality and volume of soil. I usually mix in a little Azomite Rock dust for a micro-nutrient boost.

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Fall garden compost and pine straw

As for the existing plants, the jalapeño peppers are doing quite well. I’ve got a couple of varieties including Craig’s Grande, Orange Spice, Pumpkin Spice and Brown Jalapeño peppers. I’ll make cowboy caviar (a sweet and spicy mix) and can them along with stuffing some with cream cheese and sausage and maybe wrap some bacon around them for appetizers.

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Craig’s Grande Jalapeño Pepper
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Pepper, Orange Spice Jalapeño

I have some Ozark Giant and Purple Beauty Bell Peppers growing as well.

Pepper, Purple Beauty

I planted a couple of varieties of mustard greens and they are coming up fast. There’s also a some collard greens mixed in. I’ll wait another few weeks and plant some more (succession planting)

Japanese Giant Red and Green Wave Mustard Greens, along with a few Georgia Southern Collard Greens

I have some cucumbers on a “cattle panel” trellis that have been very productive but are slowing up now due to the heat. Earlier in the summer they were so productive we couldn’t eat and give enough of them away.

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Tokiwa “Tokyo Green” Cucumber

I planted two varieties of watermelon, Sugar Baby and Stars and Moon (Cherokee). I have this Sugar Baby but can’t wait for the Stars and Moon watermelon to get to size.

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Watermelon, Sugar Baby

The okra is doing well as it loves this time of the year.

Okra, Jing Orange

The squash vine borer has already taken out all but one squash plant and it is has been invaded as well (see picture). I cut 6 of these grubs out from this squash plant. Do any of you have this problem? How do we stop them? This bug is so frustrating!

I have a number of items planted in containers including a Tamarillo tree, Improved Meyer Lemon tree, Goji berry bush, Calamondin Orange, Sam Sweet Cherry tree, figs and blueberry bushes.

Tamarillo fruit on the tree
Goji Berry (looking kind of rough but has been fruiting all summer)

I always have around some herbs as well and use them often in our cooking.

Basil, Thai and Purple
Sage

I always ensure to intersperse various flower varieties to attract pollinators. Without them, most vegetable plants would not fruit. Some flower species, like Marigolds, actually deter certain pests from getting on your good plants so that’s a good flower to plant in the middle of beds.

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Salvia, Victoria
Zinnia
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Strawberry Fields Gomphrena
Tornado Red Cockscomb

I will provide a garden update post every month or so. Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. If you have any questions on any of the plants shown, feel free to drop a comment.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.