Vegetable Gardening in Naples

300 people on a Thursday morning

300 people on a Thursday morning

Thanks to the Collier County Master Gardeners for the opportunity to talk about my favorite topic: Growing vegetables. Like last year this program attracted a large crowd that fit comfortably in the sanctuary of Unity church.

Most of the audience were experienced gardeners from outside Florida and wanted to know when, how and where best to grow their favorite veggies. Their timing was excellent because now is when to plant the second crop (to follow the October planting).

I concluded the talk with a salsa tasting. I made a large batch of mild, a medium bowl of spicy and one of green made from tomatillos. Students from Lorenzo Walker culinary school were there to see how the locals turn produce into to food.

'Flexum' starts ivory-green then ripens orange to red.

‘Flexum’ starts ivory-green then ripens orange to red.

Landscape Plants for South Florida

New Plant Book!

I thought my library of about 200 plant books was enough. Then my friend Cullen Walker (owner of Work a Holics Landscape Management, Naples) suggested I get this one. “Landscape Plants For South Florida” edited by Dr. George K. Rogers. It’s an excellent addition because:
1. It has 500 pages, almost every one with color photographs.
2. These are south Florida plants. Granted, they are from S.E. Florida but I have seen most of these in S.W. Florida. If I get excited about a new plant I read about I don’t have to go to Fiji to see one.
3. It is well written. Dr. Rogers explains how to pronounce the scientific names of thousands of plants, tells where the names come from, then suggests landscape uses.

Just when I thought the internet was going to replace books comes a valuable, tangible resource.

P.S. I love the smell of fresh ink.

Miniature Garden (o.k., Fairy Garden too)

My wife and her sisters wanted to give another sister a special gift for her birthday. They started with this aqua colored ceramic ball and we got creative around it. Thanks to Driftwood Garden Center in Estero, FL for the fairy garden inspiration. Thanks also to Sundance Orchids and Bromeliads in Ft. Myers, FL for having such a huge collection of bromeliads to choose from.

Click on a photo for a better enlargement.

FNGLA Annual Convention, June 20, 21, 2014

How I spent the first day of summer: at FNGLA’s annual convention. Robert Olinger, his wife Mary and I enjoyed two days of activities at the Marriott Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach (north of St. Augustine, south-east of Jacksonville, Florida). The first business meeting went smoothly with our organization ending the year with a surplus. Robert (our new State Representative) will be meeting with the board next month to decide on spending decisions and direction.
After the meeting we toured the Jacksonville Zoo and Botanical Gardens. That evening the Frontrunners Chapter opened their hospitality suite, stocked with plenty of food and drinks.
The next day we enjoyed applauding the winners of FNGLA’s awards. There we gave our annual donation to FNGLA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) and to the University of Florida Research Endowment Fund.
That evening concluded with the President’s Gala reception and banquet.

Finished project.

Garden Bench

Thanks to FNGLA for the inspiration. During our annual meeting last month we toured the Jacksonville Zoo/Botanical Garden. In the butterfly exhibit they had two rustic benches made from local Pecky Cypress. I tracked down the sawmill, just two miles from the garden and bought a mixed stack of pure cypress. Thanks also to Mario, owner of ABC Tree Service, Fort Myers for some of the other interesting woods like Live Oak and Java Plum.