Growing Tomatoes in Zones 9 and 10

My first vegetable garden in South Florida was a crop failure. I thought I had a green thumb because I was able to grow many productive gardens from scratch in Michigan and Illinois. But there was the root of my mistake: I planted as I had done up north, in the spring. 28 years ago…

Do I Have to Get My Hands Dirty?

“Here. It’s a rock.” My wife held out her hands with hesitation. “Um…thanks?” She wondered what was the big deal with this dirty piece of limestone. “Look closer” I encouraged her. When she examined the rock she found a crack along its circumference. Then she separated the two halves and discovered the crystals inside. “Wow,…

God and Gardening

What is it that draws us outdoors? What is it that stirs us deeply when we breathe in fresh air? Answer: When we are surrounded by plants, we are reconnected. Whether you consider the Bible fact or fable, it describes our intimate connection with nature. When God created the universe and the sun, moon, earth,…

A Gardener’s Life

A gardener’s life is an action-packed, fun-filled adventure. Our heart skips a beat when the new, colorful seed catalogs arrive in the mail. With sweaty palms we caress each page, admiring the photography and imagine introducing these new flowers and vegetables into the next planting. Soon, with jubilation, we open that fat, brown envelope containing…

Nasturtium shadows

Afternoon light penetrated these nasturtium leaves, revealing shadows of the petiole (leaf stem) and tight flower buds behind.

Tomatoes in November

I gave a talk at Riverland Nursery in Ft. Myers this morning about vegetable gardening. My favorite part is showing giant photos of ripe tomatoes sliced in half and describing their flavors: Cherokee Purple, smoky and complex. Yellow Pear, like tart yellow grape that pops in your mouth when you pop it in your mouth….

High on Hibiscus

I enjoyed speaking to the James Hendry chapter of the local Hibiscus Society. These people are passionate about their plant(s)! We met at Famous Dave’s in Fort Myers on the 13th of this month. In the past they met at Terry Park but won’t any more due to Lee County budget constraints. I spoke about…

Diggin’ in the Dirt

In October there is a flurry of intense activity in the garden. Making your bed takes more time, money and perspiration than the easier step of planting. “Plan in September, plant in October”. So before tearing open the seed packet there is soil preparation. Over the years I have various organic fertilizers in the garden. I used to…

Slices, dices, chops in seconds.

Mayer Berg, owner of Riverland Nursery in Fort Myers has a commitment to educating his customers about gardening. Most weekends they host talks on topics like roses, herbs, butterfly gardens, container gardening, etc. He asked me to guide home owners though the topic of pruning their landscape plants. His garden center is unique in many ways:…

Do pesticide applicators die young?

I have handled pesticides all my adult life and wondered if this affects my health and that of genuine handlers like pest control operators. This link clearly answers that question. “The pesticide applicators were consistently and significantly healthier than the general population of Florida.” That makes sense. These men work hard out in the fresh…

Full moon, wrong month

Seasoned gardeners say that the last threat of frost in our area is the full moon in February. But last night’s (Mar. 28) full moon brought us 45 degrees in Fort Myers! Here are our tomato plants staked and draped with frost fabric last year.