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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Winged Beans: why to love them

Winged beans (Psophocarpus tetra-gonolobus

First photo: I forgot to take a photo of the plant before picking. Second photo: the harvest of just a few plants.

Here is why you should consider loving winged beans.
  • Fire ants don't appear to like them; however they are all over my yard long beans. 
  • Disease-free. I have -yet- to have had any disease overtake my winged bean plants. 
  • The entire plant is edible, however we only eat the beans. 
  • Short days of South Florida fall, winter, and spring are when winged beans grow best. 
  • As with all legumes, winged beans fix nitrogen into the soil.
Great article at Mother Earth News to read more:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Profiles of Plant Viruses and Viroids

Thanks to Gene McAvoy for posting this link. The photos help a lot for the inexperienced home gardeners like myself.

Profiles of Plant Viruses and Viroids – is A project of PLP6223C  “Viral Pathogens of Plants” a graduate class taught in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

The following profiles were composed by students in the class from 2011 to the present.  Most of the profiles are in the form of a narrated presentation, designed and narrated by the student author.

Each profile is designed to be an overview of a plant virus covering basics of particle and genome structure, replication,  transmission, host range, detection and management.

The narrated presentations are 10-15 minutes in length, although they can be viewed without narration.  The format of each profile varies with the creative abilities and energies of each student.

See profiles at

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Everglades Tomatoes

This is ONE happy plant. I left the 7-gallon potted plants in the picture for scale. If you bought an Everglades tomato from me at Edison Ford Winter Estates a couple weekends ago, this is the plant I made cuttings from. There are tons of tomatoes on it even though green tomatoes don't show easily in the photo. As of today, there have been no signs of insects or disease on this plant. It was sprayed it twice in its lifetime with my combo insect/disease/micronutrient mix, fed monthly with 10-10-10 slow release fertilizer, grown in compost-amended soil on drip irrigation.

I do have a few Everglades tomato plants leftover that I will be selling at my class on Saturday. Seeds are also available from me via eBay.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saving a papaya

My daughter sent this video to me. She thought of me and hurricane IRMA.

Just to be clear, I was not outside during IRMA. Everything I could have done, had been done already. My papayas either tumbled to the ground or snapped in half. The stumps are sprouting new growth and I look forward to my weird looking papaya plants producing fruit.

Friday, November 24, 2017

GREAT Christmas Gift

4-H AG BUS TOUR: January 20th, 2018

This fundraiser is for two 4-H clubs: the VegHeads (my club) and Teen Leadership.

Here is what is what I can state as of today:
  1. Confirmed: Gene McAvoy, 5-County Agent as our guest speaker on-board the bus.
  2. Confirmed: Light breakfast and tour of Sakata Seed
  3. Confirmed: 50/50 raffle on board the bus: winner announced before lunch. "Mr. John" armful of tickets for $20. 
  4. Working on: Tour a large home garden.
  5. Confirmed: Gourmet lunch at Veterans Park at large pavilion
    Served by the youth benefiting from this fundraiser
  6. Confirmed: Bee presentation at lunch (working on more)
  7. Confirmed: RAFFLE. RAFFLE. RAFFLE. Great donations of tickets and gift cards. "Mr. John" armful of tickets for $20. 
  8. Confirmed: Lipman produce with Scott's "over-the-top-tour"
  9. Working on: Vegetable packing house 
  10. Confirmed: Return to cars with goodie bags items from Rural King, Lee County Solid Waste, and more (working on this).
See you then!

To buy tickets:

EASY Gardening reminder

Saturday, December 2, 2017
Veterans Park Rec Center
55 Homestead Road South
Lehigh Acres

Learn easy food to grow instead of struggling with fruit and veggies that are labor intensive for SW Florida. Master Gardener Karen Harty will provide lots of tips for success.

$10/pp or bring a youth with you and you both are free.

Sponsored by Lee County 4-H.

Call or email Karen at (610)530-8883 or to reserve your spot.

Lovin' it

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mark Your Calendars: ECHO Festival

Saturday, March 17, 2018
9:00 AM 3:00 PM
ECHO Global Farm (map)

For 27 years, ECHO has been host to Southwest Florida’s premier festival focusing on sustainable living, agriculture, and food. Partnering with local organizations and businesses, ECHO’s Global Food and Farm Festival has provided thousands of attendees with the opportunity to taste exotic foods, experience life in a foreign country, and explore the Global Farm, learning about food and culture in a new way.

Spend the day at our 50-acre Global Farm and tour a tropical rainforest demonstration, the 300+ variety seed bank, take an educational tour of the fruit tree arboretum, or learn about alternative energies as they are demonstrated in the appropriate technology area! Kids of all ages can taste, touch, and experience their way around the world as they learn about world hunger and ways they can make an impact!

Tickets are just $5.00 per person, 8 and under are free if purchased in advance. You may also purchase tickets the day of the event for $7.00 per person, 8 and under free.

Event website:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Barbados Cherry Stemming

Barbados Cherry. One of two cherries that produces in SW Florida. One cherry fruit provides an entire daily requirement for vitamin C. Trees are self pollinating so you only need one to produce fruit however having two doesn't hurt if you have the room. The Barbados Cherry tree is "weeping" in appearance can produce fruit all year long on a small tree. The cherries have a few seeds inside, not just one pit. Top Tropicals lists a dwarf that is only a few feet tall but whenever I am there they don't have it.

Protect Barbados Cherry frost areas. We grow ours close to the house since we are frost-prone. The trees can take quite a pruning too. When we had our generator out for hurricane IRMA, the branches of one of our Barbados Cherries were in our way and I did not hesitate to hack it back to a couple feet. It is recovering nicely and becoming bushier than it was previously.

Removing the stems can be frustrating because pulling the stem off often still leaves the calyx embedded in the cherry. Here is what I do: First allow cherries to ripen if you picked them a bit unripe. This usually takes 1/2 to 1 day on the counter. Gently pull stem and sometimes the calyx comes out. When it breaks off, just use a corn holder to "pop" the calyx out. The fruit must be ripe. This takes a bit of practice, but the rewards are great.

Beautiful pink flowers with green, unripe cherries.