Catching Up

Make It Green

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Virtually everything that is happening in the 'green world' crosses my path via mail or email or word of mouth or web link. This week, let's take a look at a few things items that have come to the top of the list.

From the admirable Dr. Doug 'Bug Dude' Caldwell, who is at the Extension Office on Immokalee Road, comes the dire news that Ficus spp. has acquired a serious bug, now apparently most prevalent in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Worse, though, is the discovery of a new disease infecting Sabal palmetto, our state tree and a favorite design element in many of my projects. Much remains to be learned about both of these items, and as usual the University of Florida is the place to go for information. Start here and initiate a search: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/.

And on the subject of UF, I cannot sufficiently stress the depth of information available on that web site; it is very deep, very wide, and consistently updated. A recent site revision has made searching easier and the site even more useful. The writing is a little dry, but the articles are authoritative and written by top scientists.

I note that the arborists have been quite active in the past year. You should know about the Florida chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), as they occupy the pinnacle of tree-care information. Recently, the ISA has been offering very high quality presentations; and there is a wealth of useful information on their web site: http://www.floridaisa.org/. I like the advice they give on how to hire an arborist–great advice and well written.

Similarly, it is difficult to over-state the value of the Master Gardener clinics at the Extention Office. These clinics are staffed by experienced (and volunteer) experts, whose main function is pointing you in the right direction to solve an issue you might have. The MG program deserves a spot in the arsenal of every gardener, serious or not. I graduated the program several years ago and am proud to be part of the program, which is led by the excellent Cathy Feser.

My vegetable garden has been taking shape and I am very happy with it! There is a large raised bed in the middle that is populated with soil made almost entirely from compost. I am populating the garden a little differently this year with mounds that are perhaps a foot tall, eighteen inches wide, and 2 or three feet on center. Over the years I have added compost and organic potting soil to the point that the available soil is abundant.

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This year I've gone overboard on tomatoes, for sure, with six varieties; I finally resolved not to go to Driftwood again. And, to keep track of what I have planted, I made a small sketch, along with the date and whether I used a seed or a 4" pot. Also in the garden are all of our favorites: Arugula, cantaloupe, strawberries, collards, sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, gold turnips, red lettuce, daikon, mustard, cucumber, yellow beans, and mehti.

And sprouts. Every time I pay more than $5 for a small container of sprouted seeds I question my sanity: "how hard could it be"? I wonder. Well, it's not entirely simple. We tried a few different ways to do sprouting with results that were less than stellar. Finally, I started sowing sunflower seeds on one of the garden mounds and I snatch them just when the cotyledons are full and rich. Sure, I have to clean them, and perhaps one of my readers has a better way to do sprouting. We love to experiment.

This is my third year with vegetable gardening and I am still very green [sorry…]. Many mistakes were made last year but the enthusiasm never wanes.

And finally, for my Yankee readers, of course you know that our seasons are reversed, and as little as you want to go out on a cold winter day I just do not like working outside in summer. But now that winter has finally arrived and the vegetables are growing all is well with the world.

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