Friends of THE DIRT - Field Trip to the Farm

October 31, 2009 by Rick

Penny and Kim, The Dirt girls, organized a trip to see Riverview Flower Farm in operation today as we planted and packed orders to go to 144 of The Home Depot stores throughout most of Florida. All of our plants go to Home Depot and we couldn't sell any at the farm even though many folks asked.

Penny and Rick get 190 Friends of the Dirt Field-trippers organized in groups for the tours.

The Packing Belts The Dirt Field Trip 03 Oct 31 09

Enthusiastic FODies learned how we grow Florida Friendly Plants using a blend of local yard waste compost and drip irrigation to use the least amount of water and fertilizer while growing the best plants. This cuts waste and eliminates irrigation runoff and reduces the need to spray because the leaves and flowers stay dry.

They also learned how to save the most amount of water and fertilizer while maximizing growth and health of their own plants in their home gardens by using the Pot-in-Pot method.





The succulents FODies saw today can be identified using these links:

Virtual Plant Tags        The Cactus Collection     Cactus & Succulent Id

and this image..

Succulent Names 

Hawaiian Portulaca         Portulaca in Maui              A new species 1987

Hawiian Portulaca Portulaca molokinensis 

A field of blooming Muhly Grass and another of Butterfly Cassia about to explode were also highlights as well as detailed information about new and existing varieties of Florida Friendly Plants.

Butterfly Cassia 

FODies learned how to recycle The Tampa Tribune by making paper pots and planting milkweed and sunflower seeds. Paper Pots are a big part of growing better starter plants and the method is very sustainable.

Making Tribune Pots The Dirt Field Trip 07 Oct 31 09 

This is a great idea and a fun way for introducing children to gardening as we did last week at A Kids Place in Brandon.

PaperPot Making Kids 

From all of us at Riverview Flower Farm, thank you Penny and Kim and we hope you plan another field trip to our farm next year.

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Beautiful Water-Wise Garden

October 29, 2009 by Rick

Pamela Crawford's Water-Wise Garden in Georgia is going to be featured in a spring issue of Southern Living.

Pamela wrote several Florida books while living in south Florida. Here is a link to her special containers, videos, books and designs.


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Mama Mia - Garlic Extract Controls Garden Pests

June 4, 2009 by Rick

Garlic_cloves clip_image001

When thrip or aphid insects blow in at Riverview Flower Farm we use Alsa once per week, a garlic extract, to control these pests. We add it to irrigation water that is applied to the soil at the top of the pot through our drip irrigation system. It is in a solution of the 8 ounces of water we give each gallon pot on hot sunny days when pests are in the plants. This is absorbed into the plant roots and translocated throughout the plant and flowers and stays active for about a week.

Alsa is a natural crop protection product that relys on the odor and taste compounds derived from garlic. These compounds, effective against harmful insects such as thrips and aphids, are present in garlic and effective when they are correctly dissolved in oil.

When garlic extract is applied, the scent and flavor of your plant changes in such a way that insects no longer find it attractive. The insects become restless and leave their hiding-place. Natural predators are then much more effective in the fight against pests. Preventative use of garlic extract ensures your plant remains in healthier condition. Garlic extract is not 100% effective and no pesticide is but it significantly reduces the use of synthetic Chemicals so there is less impact on the environment.

Garlic extract remains active in the plant for approximately 7 to 10 days. After this active period, the compounds are transformed within the plant which are recycled and used in natural plant metabolism. Thus, weekly doses of garlic extract are recommended when you have thrip or aphid infestations. Garlic extract can be used on any plant, any stage of growth, and cannot be mistakenly over-used. Garlic extract is natural and safe.

Chili thrips are a problem on roses in hot weather. Garlic extract disrupts their destructive feeding tendencies. You will find ready to use garlic extract in stores and online. Homemade garlic extract recipes are easily found with a Google or Bing search. Look for ones that recommend soil drenching for absorption by the plant roots. The trick is to allow the crushed garlic to steep in the oil long enough to release effective levels of odor and taste compounds. Pay attention to their cautions and warnings so you are not destroying beneficial insects or your plants by misuse. You can learn much more reading these books by Jeff Gillman. Brings Us Some Timely Info

April 20, 2009 by Rick

A new web site that has the information for making wise decisions has been published by Toro at

Drip with Pot in Pot

Drip irrigation tubes can focus the water to each plant. Using the Pot-in-Pot method you can focus less water directly into the pot with very little waste and optimize the performance of your plants.


Roses do particularly well with drip irrigation since they are less prone to disease if the foliage stays dry.


Drip irrigation in raised planter beds makes watering easy and efficient.


Our container production benefits from drip tape irrigation by keeping the foliage dry, saving water and fertilizer and allowing us to water all the plants only when they need it.


Florida-Friendly 101

April 15, 2009 by Rick
  • Saturday, April 25, all day
  • Hillsborough County Extension Office, 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner

Despite a few rain dances in the backyard, the drought continues to be a topic of concern.

Residents are invited to learn how to manage their lawns and landscaping at the next Florida-Friendly 101 gardening conference at the Hillsborough County Extension Office on April 25.

For a mere $30 registration fee, residents will hear the best and the latest from University of Florida specialists and local Hillsborough County Extension horticulturists:

  • How plants deal with drought
  • How to choose the most drought-tolerant plants
  • Smart landscape and irrigation technologies
  • More!

The conference also includes a “goodie” bag with resources to take home, lunch and refreshments.

Space is limited, so register early!

The detailed agenda and link to the online registration can be found on the Hillsborough County Extension website at:

Still have questions? Call the Extension Office at (813) 744-5519 or visit

We Provide Answers

Hillsborough County Extension Service offers the educational resources of the University of Florida to Hillsborough County residents. Programs include 4-H and youth development, agriculture, natural resources education, and the Master Gardener volunteer program. In addition, training and resources are available in the areas of parenting, food and nutrition, and money management.




Lynn Barber, Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Agent






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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Environmental Awareness Education | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Environmental Awareness at Epcot

April 14, 2009 by Rick

Epcot Floral

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is always a hit every spring as gardeners from around the world are amazed by the floral displays. Throughout the years the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association members and Florida Master Gardeners have volunteered at demonstrations set up for Flower Festival visitors. Nearly 1 million Florida Gardeners visit the Festival each spring and learn how to beautify their home landscape using the latest environmentally friendly practices and products.

Welcome Sign

Volunteers greet interested folks who want to learn ways to cut down on waste and save water and energy using the methods and products on display in the demonstrations.


RU Wasteful Mailbox RU Wasteful House

RU Wasteful Sign Look for the Leak

We had the most questions from homeowners in central Florida looking for alternatives the St. Augustine grass featured at the R. U. Wasteful residence along with other good Florida plants planted in the wrong place.

The display at the adjacent I.M. Green residence featured turf alternatives like Beach Sunflower and many plants that require low amounts of water to thrive in Florida. It also featured Empire Zoysia turf that can survive without irrigation after establishment.

IM Green Sign IM Green Mailbox

Pesticide Use Drought Tolerant Bulbine at Epcot Demonstration

Compost Bin Compost Sign

Harvest Rainwater Rain Guage Sign

Rain Guage Rainbarrel

Water Saving Demo at Epcot Drip Irrigation Roses Epcot

Rainbird Watersaving Demo at Epcot 09

Rainbird staffs a booth demonstrating the proper way to set up and use efficient irrigation systems with timers, nozzles, drip emitters and rain shutoff devices. There is still plenty of time to get to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival before it ends June 1.

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Categories: Turf Substitute | Design | Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | Turf Substitute
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Drip and Low Volume Irrigation Conversion

March 25, 2009 by Rick

Here are a few links to stimulate your thinking about saving water and converting to more efficient irrigation systems. At the bottom of ths post is a site with some good graphics and kits you can study and a link to a new post from that shows you how to do it and how it actually works. Kits are available online or you can get similar kits and components at your Florida Home Depot. The water you save will be worth the effort and expense. Planning is key. You can modify these setups later and add to as you expand but it is more efficient to design it right before you start.

Typical sprinkler systems are very inefficent. The University of Florida did statewide homeowner surveys of existing systems and found that the majority of waste comes from poor design. Only 25% were designed with proper spacing and overlap. That's a lot of waste! With the cost and value of water you might consider an expert for your sprinkler, drip or micro spray design but even then it may not be as efficient as you need. Set up straight sided containers of equal sizes in grids and catch water from a 20 minute run of an existing zone just to get an idea of how to measure uniformity.

Lawn Sprinkler Selection and Layout for Uniform Water Application

Drip irrigation for individual plants is effective but you have to design it properly and calibrate run times and duration so you are not wasting water while using an efficient system. Low volume spray jets may be what you need depending on the size of your targeted plants and considering the sandy soil that lets the water seep vertically so quickly. Drip irrigation can be very effective for landscapes that are planted from gallon size containers if the drippers are properly placed.

Microirrigation in The Landscape

Landscape Irrigation and Fertilization


 From your Faucet Drip and Low Vol Graphics

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Drip Irrigation | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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New Vegetable Gardening Presentations from U of F

March 11, 2009 by Rick

If you have a vegetable garden or have the bug to start one or just want to grow a few tomato plants, follow these links to the latest information. There are 4 new videos showing you how to get the most out of your gardening efforts. In the series you will learn how to use organic matter to increase yield and reduce chemical cost and inputs. You will learn how to garden in various ways that have less impact on the environment while lowering the amount of effort and increasing your harvest success. You will hear that 75% of your efforts are in the planning. Take a listen and before you know it you will be feeding the whole neighborhood and sharing new techniques and eating healthy.

Click on the videos on this page:

Vegetables Pot in Pot

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Container Gardening | Container Gardening | Drip Irrigation | Drip Irrigation | Florida Friendly Landscape | Florida Friendly Landscape | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | U of F Cooperative Extension Service | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Drip Irrigation - Easy - Comes in Kits - Lasts for Decades

March 9, 2009 by Rick

You can have the best flowers and the lowest water bill in the neighborhood with a one time investment that will pay you back for years to come. This is probably the one gardening task that gets put off more than any other but is the most rewarding once you have it in place. It is one of those ‘flat rock’ chores. You won’t believe how easy it is and how much it saves. There are a lot of choices and most of them are simple and all are extremely cost effective. Check your water bill for confirmation on this. Drip Irrigation will be a catagory of focus for this blog with many more posts to follow. Help spread the word of it's value and importance to Florida and gardeners. Click the Pass it on Florida tab at the top and spread the word about water conservation and protecting our wetlands and waterways from runoff polution.





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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Drip Irrigation | Florida Friendly Landscape
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Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

February 26, 2009 by Rick

For the 11th year, FNGLA will participate in the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival with an all-new concept and theme: Green Gardening for the family.  Focusing on two typical households, the garden will focus on two “families”: the I.B. Green household and the R.U. Wasteful family and the common practices of each.  

The “Green” family will showcase the concepts of “Right Plant, Right Place,” composting, water conservation, gardening for consumption and will include an area focusing on bio-fuel plants while the “Wasteful” family will highlight some commonly found non-green practices such as improper use of plant material, excess recyclable waste not being recycled and the like.  This new, cutting-edge, contemporary theme showcases FNGLA as a leader in the green sustainability movement bringing easy-to-implement green practices, focused on plants.

Opening Day is March 18 of the 10½ week festival ending on June 1. We will be volunteering along with other Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Associate members to share the wealth of knowledge available to go "Green"

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Container Gardening | Design | Drip Irrigation | Florida Friendly Landscape
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