Vertical Garden Inspiration …with measurements included

July 7, 2012 by Rickb

 

A project that brings beauty up to eye level

You can also fill it with Succulents that will live for many years in a hanging planter like this.

Classic Living Walls are available at most Florida Home Depot Garden Centers and filled with the ideal succulents for this application.


Fall is for Vegetable Gardening in Florida

August 4, 2011 by Rickb

Now is the time to get your garden started. Fall and Winter gardening can be the most productive time to garden. It is the best time for strawberries, broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach and more. If you plant soon you can get a good crop of tomatoes, peppers, squash and other warm season crops as the weather cools off when the crops near harvest. Watch this video for the ‘how to’ and to get ideas for your vegetable garden success. UF-IFAS Extension Training Video Vegetables

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Combine vegetables and annuals or perennials in large pots for the patio

Here is the link to the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide that you will want to print and carry to the garden center when shopping for seeds, plants and soil conditioners, fertilizers and amendments as it has most info in an easy to carry format…other than on your smart phone.

Solutions For Your Life is Florida’s resource for gardening and much more. Check it out.

 

Try something different this year with Pot-in-Pot gardening. DSCN0611

Veggies work great in this system and you can replace them with flowers

as you harvest them.

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Incorporate a drip system for water saving and efficiency.

 


Vertical Garden for Home Vegetable and Flowers

July 13, 2011 by Rickb

Really cool and easy way to garden vertically and avoid weeds and soil pests.

If you are a small farmer or a home gardener that wants a proven system to grow crops and flowers you will appreciate this one.

Vertical Vegetable Garden U of F Design

4 tiers of painted cola bottles on a 4 x 4 post.

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Drip irrigation and a timer make this a real water saving system too. You have to find someone who drinks lots of high fructose corn sugar AND is willing to donate their bottles for recycling.

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The other components can be purchased at Home Depot and the parts list and instructions are online to print here for this system. Have fun!


Compost, Drip Irrigation and Haitian Agronomists

June 10, 2011 by Rickb

Haitian Agronomists paid us a visit this week as a part of their Florida tour of farms in an effort to learn how we implement growing practices that are based on scientific methods developed and taught at the University of Florida. USAID’s WINNER program in Haiti has contracted with the University of Florida to train and help implement agricultural best management practices with the farmers and these state agronomists that work from stations around the Haitian state.

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Typical Furcy area terraced farms

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Furcy Station School

 

10 Ways That WINNER Is Changing Haiti

Why The Watershed Initiative For National Natural Environmental Resources Reflects America's Best Development Practices and a Path Forward For Haiti

April 8, 2010


WINNER IS:

* A FIVE-YEAR MULTI-FACETED PROGRAM begun last May and designed to comprehensively build Haiti's agricultural infrastructure, capacity, and productivity by providing concentrated and transformative support to Haitians in a large area north of Port-au-Prince. It is focused on building and strengthening Haiti's agricultural foundation, particularly in the areas of Cul-de-Sac, Cabaret, Mirbalais, Archaie and Gonaives and is backed by $126 million in funding from the U.S. Government over the next five years.

* MANAGED BY A MOSTLY HAITIAN STAFF that works with other Haitians to develop watershed management plans, strengthen farmer associations, provide access to expertise and vital supplies (seeds, fertilizers, credit, tools), and restore protective tree cover.

* DEDICATED TO CREATING AGRICULTURAL GROWTH that can be independently sustained and flourish, while contributing to the growth of secondary poles of development. WINNER is focused as much on providing materials and expert guidance as on developing civic institutions and networks.

* BUILT ON A NETWORK OF OVER 200 FARMERS ASSOCIATIONS which work in conjunction with local government officials, NGOs and other entities to form public-private partnerships and prepare the maximum amount of land possible for the planting/harvesting season which runs from March through October.

* A CRITICAL WAY TO REDUCE RISK TO VULNERABLE POPULATIONS through innovative flood control work in Riviere Grise and La Quinte which will be implemented through labor-intensive projects.

* PROTECTING NATURAL RESOURCES, such as watersheds and tree cover, which must be restored in order to ensure that meaningful agricultural development can take place. WINNER provides the funding and education Haitians need to sustain and grow their environment.

* WIDESPREAD AND EFFECTIVE enough to deliver an efficient response to the country's food security emergency and meet the needs of the dispersed population in the wake of Haiti's earthquake.

* THE CULMINATION of best practices derived from project experience from USAID and other donors over the last 30 years and is now the model for watershed methodology being used in Haiti and around the world by Canada, Spain, France, Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

* A MAJOR SOURCE OF PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYMENT for Haitians displaced by the earthquake. It will help to integrate 15,000 people into specified areas and provide jobs, shelter and services in collaboration with local authorities.

* A PARTNERSHIP between the U.S. Government, Government of Haiti, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

 

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We spent time showing them all the facets of our Florida operation.

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A main focus of the visit was to learn how we compost to create growing

media using microorganisms and local materials.

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Our low volume watering systems were also demonstrated to their delight.

They helped us understand more about Haiti and the size of the country, diversity of growing regions and economic and cultural challenges.

It is worth a look at this video from Double Harvest to get a sense of the problems and scale of the issues facing Haiti and what they have done. You can also visit and Like Double Harvest on Facebook. Knowing the VanWingerden family has given me a sense of the sharing of their ideals and the impact they have made on communities in need around the world. Give their pages a look. Contributions to Double Harvest are likely the most efficient way to get aid to people in need that can benefit most by learning to be self sufficient through this organizations intense and charitable effort.


Lupines? in Florida? Yes Indeed

March 5, 2011 by Rick

Sky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.com

I captured this Sky-Blue Lupine, Lupinus diffuses across the street from the gate of Sun City Tree Farm where I was meeting J.C. Tort and picking out some olive trees for our office landscape project.

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Rows of beautiful Olives grown on drip irrigation that pulses according to need determined by probes that sense moisture. Olives are drought tolerant and will thrive here as an ornamental. We plant them to remind us of Italy. Such a beautiful place. Olive trees stay relatively small and will provide shade while staying in balance with the structure. Right Plant Right Place. This variety will not produce fruit but they have others that will even in Florida.

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Sun City Tree Farm has won many awards for their environmental practices and stewardship of the land. They have the largest selection and best quality trees that I know of. If you bought a magnolia recently in Florida there is a good chance it was grown at Sun City Tree Farm.

A Few Links on Florida Lupines:

http://www.wildflorida.com/wildlife/plants/Sky-blue_Lupine.php

http://hawthornhillwildflowers.blogspot.com/2010/01/scrub-lupine-lupinus-aridorum.html

http://www.easywildflowers.com/quality/lup.per.htm

http://myfwc.com/getinvolved/Volunteer_Ridge_Rangers_Lupine.asp

http://goo.gl/YtZub

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Florida Friendly Demonstration Gardens - The Discovery Garden

February 19, 2011 by Rick

This week I visited The Discovery Garden at the Hillsborough County Extension Office

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as the Master Gardeners did a spring cleanup and planting.

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It should be ready for prime time Monday but call before you go or check the status on their web site.

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They decided to employ the Pot-in-Pot method for their most colorful plantings of seasonal flowers.

In the Pot-in-Pot containers they have selected Voltage Yellow Osteospermum which is the first truly Florida Friendly Osteospermum. Voltage Yellow is available most of the year at your local Florida Home Depot Garden Centers. As a permanent border they planted Sedum Florida Friendly Gold which is becoming one of the most popular chartreuse groundcovers and combination container plants.

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At the Discovery Garden you can see the 9 principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping in action and learn how they can help you design and maintain a home garden and landscape that is easy to maintain, beautiful and has a positive effect on the Florida environment.

There are many of these similar U of F Demonstration Gardens around the state and much of the funding comes from Florida Yards and Neighborhoods programs and the plants are usually all donated from growers like Riverview Flower Farm.

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Rocky was captured that morning at the Discovery Garden and is ready for transplanting elsewhere.

 

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Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Plant Selection Guide

December 11, 2010 by Rick

Hot off the press, the new Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Plant Selection Guide.

You will be very impressed with this downloadable publication that shows you in great detail how to design and implement a Florida Friendly Landscape. The experts at the University of Florida Extension Service have combined their talents and years of experience. The links are missing to the numbered EDIS publications for the critical proper planting of trees, turf and landscape plants so you will have to do some further searching on the Home Lawn and Landscape Section of the extensive EDIS Site to complete the implementation of your plan.

I consider this knowledge essential to professionals you may hire and a valuable resource for you to check the credibility of a contractor’s knowledge. Too often folks tend to trust a ‘yardman’ to select and properly install the Right Plant in the Right Place only to later find that the selection was inappropriate.

Bookmark these references and turn your garden into a functional Florida Friendly Landscape. Here are the 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping.

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Water Saving is Global and Personal

October 12, 2010 by Rick

Floridians average 159 gallons of water per day for personal use which includes the potable water we spray on our lawns. We use 15 times per day more than people in developing nations. It is a great thing that our children are being taught in school about conservation, recycling and environmental awareness. Reducing the use and waste of water in our communities that are within 20 miles of our coastline is especially important because the aquifer is becoming salty as we over draw the fresh ground water. Reducing the amount of irrigated turf areas in your yard reduces this pressure and reduces your cost of water. Installing or retrofitting drip or micro irrigation on your flowers and shrubs instead of high volume sprinklers is another way to reduce your water usage. The Hillsborough Extension Garden Blog has this post describing Micro Irrigation for Florida Landscapes.

  

We have been using Chapin Drip Tape on our farm for 27 years to directly water our containers with 6-8 0onces of water per irrigation. The Chapin Company has developed and distributes small inexpensive Simple Drip Irrigation kits for small farms that undoubtedly has saved many lives.

 

Water filters, small pumps and sanitation kits are desperately needed in developing nations and UNICEF has many programs which need our help in procuring these basic essential items.

 

Join us and contribute to Facebook - I Wet My Plants and help us develop interest in spreading this word and knowledge of responsible water use, conservation and methods for efficient irrigation.

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School Garden Classroom… Model for Florida Schools?

September 28, 2010 by Rick

Occasionally you get to see something that inspires you so much you can’t stop thinking about the possibilities. I met teacher, Mark Painter, and his enthusiastic volunteer staff of parents and admirers on a recent trip to Dallas at Stonewall Jackson elementary school garden. Mark’s philosophy is that you have to teach the younger children the importance of good nutrition and how healthy food is grown so they get the right appreciation for it before they have too many other distractions when they get older. At the elementary level, children all enjoy the garden and can easily grasp the concepts to develop a love for the environment and growing their own food. Then as they grow up their expectations are properly aligned with the kind of food we all need for a healthy diet.

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Mark told me the kids love to eat the tender raw okra right out of the garden. It is fast growing, prolific and a great southern crop to sink your teeth into. Mark teaches them to use lots of compost and an efficient no-till method. Free mulch from neighborhood arborists keeps the garden weeds to a manageable level. The students plant the okra in pots of compost enriched soil buried in the garden and use a micro sprayer in each pot to teach the value of water and how to concentrate it where it is needed with the least amount of waste. Mark says the children are fascinated by all the beneficial and pest insects attracted to the garden. Children get to share, work and learn science together in an educational setting they will remember for the rest of their lives. Read their recent blog post and you will see what I mean.

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With drip and micro irrigation and plenty of compost, Stonewall Gardens produces lots of food for it’s small size. More than that, Stonewall teachers work together with their science curriculum to inspire children for a lifetime of healthy eating and an understanding of good nutrition. There parents become involved and inspired to grow some of their own food in a small space at home. Imagine getting extra credit for growing some healthy vegetables at home for your family.

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You have to appreciate the large sums of cash from The Gates Foundation and Facebook and other private concerns going toward improving they way students learn with computers. This effort is more beneficial, in my opinion, because it does a better job of instilling a lifetime connection with science, nature, nutrition, management and learning. Instilling these values and knowledge in similar programs would be a great thing for the food industry, food retailers and agriculture to fund and connect their products and names to improving health, education and society. School boards need to be made aware of the Stonewall Garden project and how it can raise the education levels of their students.

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At Stonewall garden they plant herbs, eggplant and peppers in large buried containers to confine the compost and focus the irrigation and organic fertilizer.

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The parents volunteer with some of the weeding and composting to keep the garden neat and organized.

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In this exercise the students are taught to record their crops progress and to recognize the leaf shape so they can distinguish their seedlings from the weeds.

 

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The classes feed and tend the chickens which stimulate them to ask many questions as they become immersed in the garden and farm while learning where food comes from and how it impacts their diet.

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Students study and plant wild flowers and the butterflies and hummingbirds they attract. This close link to the environment broadens the understanding of these children raised in this urban area.

The Stonewall Jackson Garden website will answer more of the questions I hope I have stirred in this post. Read back through their blog posts to get a feel for how they interact with the community and the students. I hope you are as inspired as I am. This ought to be a feature on 60 Minutes.

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9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscapes

September 18, 2010 by Rick

Austin Outdoors has a classy video to help you learn and remember the University of Florida’s 9 principles. Once you have studied them a few times these principles begin to sink into your way of gardening design and the way you decorate and maintain your outdoor rooms and gardens.

 

We have more articles here to help your gardening success with the principles.

 

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