Restoration Kitchen: A Journey of Home, Food, Family, History and Restoration


Restoration Kitchen Blog Series Intro

What happens when a backyard farming author, recipe developer, and advocate for Florida’s historic architecture buys a 110-year-old abandoned, historic "Old Florida" Victorian in nearly original condition but needing a lot of TLC? It's Restoration Kitchen! Author Kim Pezza offers MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers her unique combination of food, gardening, history and DIY restoration all tied up neatly in a fun and informative blog series. Read all the Restoration Kitchen posts here.

As I anticipate closing on my historic Florida home purchase, I already have begun to collect plants and seeds to put in at my new, old home. I will be putting in a backyard farm, however, because the yard area around the house remains almost unchanged from when the house was built over 110 years ago.

In my mind, I “need” to put the food gardens and trees and plants in, siting these backyard-farming components in ways that it will be seamless, not noticeable. And I believe that I know exactly (well, almost exactly) what I will be doing and how. But, this will be just one job among many in the restoration of this wonderful old home.

Garden Planning for an Historic Florida Home

But first: back to the food gardens. I've decided that I will most likely put a good many, if not all, of the food gardens in as raised beds. Partly out of laziness and partly because even though I will be putting the gardens in a “hidden” area from the main road, I really don't want to dig up the area. I also want to put in a few fruit trees, but going back to limiting myself as to where I am putting things, I am going to go with dwarf varieties of fruit. I will also leave the chain link up that is around one corner of the yard, for vines, such as berries and grapes. I'll also be putting in various vegetables, herbs (culinary and medicinal) and dye plants.

I will be starting to look for any heirloom plants of Florida as well. After all, you can't work at restoring an historic home and forget about adding heirlooms to the garden as well. I already have ‘Seminole Pumpkin’, a delicious squash that the Natives were planting before the Spanish arrived, to plant from seeds that I saved from a few pumpkins passed on to me.

I'm also considering how I might be able to use the expansive porch for growing. At this time, I'm thinking about using the lightest soil I can and hang pots and/or boxes from the railings. It would be good for some of the herbs and maybe even some potted strawberries. But that is also a little ways off, mostly because the railings, which are original to the house, are in need of minor repairs, including reattachment in a few spots.

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