Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving, gardens, and pesto dressing

My husband and I made the long drive up to Maryland
to visit with friends and family.

Pesto harvest includes garlic chives, meadow garlic, Greek oregano, and lots of basil--I cut it off near the soil line so I can get another harvest before our first frost.  Sweet basil has been prone this fungal blight. I used only the green parts of the leaves.
My plan for my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was to make some pesto dressing for a tossed salad made mostly from the chef's mix salad greens. I harvested all the basil, which I'd planted at the end of September and was showing signs of disease. I made the pesto using my variable, harvest-based recipe, which you can read in this post: A field trip, a Florida native plant hero and a pasta salad.
I ended up with enough pesto to freeze several pints. I harvested most of my first lettuce crop and other salad makings just before we left.
To make dressing from the pesto, I added olive oil and vinegar to make it more liquidy. I washed and bagged the salad makings, put salad stuff in our portable fridge, and then we were off.

But first Washington, DC.

Fall in DC Milkweed is ready to fly in DC's sidewalk gardens.
We rode our bikes up and down the length of the Mall and stopped a a couple of museums, but we really enjoy the gardens along the way. Fall is certainly beautiful in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Asters! (Symphotrichum oblongifolium) Asters and red ribbon grass (Panicum virgatum).
I love how the caretakers of the sidewalk gardens are using more natives or near natives rather than the formal seasonal plantings. I wrote about this after I visited the High Line Park in NYC and Lurie Gardens in Chicago. It helps to offset the thought that everyone needs perfect-looking landscapes. These native landscapes have dead flowers with seeds to feed the birds that might not be tolerated in more formal settings. Redefining what a beautiful garden should look like...

At the end of the day we had put 12 miles on our bikes and had satisfied our DC deficit.


My smart granddaughter Olivia. Behind my shoulder is a sketch of her mother and aunt when they were children. My son Dana and grandson Weber.
I make a point when talking to Weber as dinner
is declared ready for the group.

So we had a lovely dinner with traditional and vegan offerings. 20 friends and family made short order of everything.

We also spent time with my good friend Lucia Robson. It was so much fun to catch up.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

Monday, November 16, 2015

After the #FloweredShirtTour

I was leaving for a multi-day trip
at sunrise with my 3 flowered shirts.

"The Art of  Maintaining a
Florida Native Landscape"
I named my latest 11-week book tour (Sept. 1 to Nov. 10) the #FloweredShirtTour. My third book, "The Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape," was published by University Press of Florida in September. Back in May I was a speaker at the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) conference and at the end of my talk, I held up my calendar and asked the audience to fill up my dance card. Did they ever!

I sent emails to the contacts on all the chapters' websites and had also arranged to hold an all-day workshop of the chapters on outreach in September. In addition I'd contacted other groups that hold events in the fall and asked to be on their programs. All in all, I ended up with 35 events in 11 weeks. I've documented most of the events on my Appearances Page.

October was Florida's Native Plant Month, which featured proclamations from state, county, and local officials. My snarky guess is that many of the people reading the proclamations had never put the words "native" and "plant" in the same sentence before. 
It was a bit of serendipity when The Society worked on an initiative to declare October Florida's Native Plant Month. Some of the chapters created special events or they redesigned already scheduled events to celebrate the month. I was honored to be part of many of these special events. I love working with FNPS members—some of the smartest and most dedicated people working on behalf of Florida and her natural areas.

A poster for a 3-hour  Martin County workshop.  A poster for 3 events in SW Florida.
Organizers for my events created some great posters. Off to a local farmers market.
I've already written about a couple of the events: 2015 Master Gardener Conference; Florida Local Food Summit; and part of my Autumnal equinox post included details on my Wakulla County event.

A montage of some of the many flowered shirts I wore during the tour...
Some of the many different flowered shirts...

This was also a tour of Florida

I roamed along many backroads on my way to various events. This is "The Real Florida." Sometimes, if there was time and a safe place to pull off the road, I stopped to take photos, but other times I appreciated the view as I drove by. What a great state we live in.
Swamp sunflowers dazzled along the roadsides for a few weeks during my tour.
In Lake County, I stopped between venues to capture these reflections of Florida's mountains in one of her many lakes. 

A foggy sunrise at Wekiva State Park.
I wish to thank all the organizers of the events and am pleased to have met so many people in my adventures. Thanks to everyone who bought books from me or one of the book sellers. And a special thanks to my hosts for overnight stays: Loret, Gail, Rose, and Marlene.

So off to work on the next book projects and many other items on my ever-expanding to-do list...

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015 Master Gardener Conference

A book signing...

At my signing table I not only signed books that people purchased from the IFAS bookstore, I also passed out native plant society brochures with the message that we think Florida should look like Florida and not Hawaii.
It was fun to talk to so many Master Gardeners: many I knew, but others are now new friends.

Education is the name of the game

There were posters and information lining the corridors.
Florida Friendly sign part I.
Florida Friendly II
A Florida-Friendly plant guide is a available for a moderate price. I just wish that more natives had been included in the FF recommended plant list. Not sure what's in the app.
A bug info poster.

The vendors

Vendors included fertilizer and pesticide companies and also  Bonnie Plants. I talked to the 2 reps at length about how frustrated I am with their offerings.
I have been frustrated with Bonnie Plants for a long time now because they sell plants that absolutely don't work in Florida such as long-day onions, which I've ranted about before. I approached the two women working the table with the hope that I could speak to someone about their plant selection. I wrote down my complaint on the back of one of my bookmarks. I tried not get angry because this situation is not their fault, but as an educator, I wanted to show how I could help their company. This was a down time for the vendors because the Master Gardeners were attending the keynote, so I went back to my table and brought a copy of my vegetable book to show them I wasn't a hack and indicated that it was a university press book. Then I praised them for Bonnie's third grade cabbage program and how important their program is for kids. So we'll see if this leads anywhere...

I did not approach the fertilizer and pesticide vendors. I know that conferences depend upon vendors and sponsors, but these products are causing harm to Florida's waterways and other ecosystems. How can you have a butterfly garden when you poison your landscape?

I signed books only for a couple of hours after the keynote speaker.
I was disappointed to see that Laurie Trenholm was speaking about fertilizers. That she recommends turf down to the edges of waterways and that lawns need fertilizing 3 to 5 times a year is so wrong for the health of Florida's waterways.
In my presentations, I talk about our "Freedom Lawn" (Free from fertilizer, free from pesticides, and free from over-watering). One time I mentioned that IFAS (Florida's extension service) is still recommending lawn fertilizer and received this rant on my Facebook page.

You threw us under the bus using your platform to say that Master Gardeners go out and TELL PEOPLE TO FERTILIZE their lawns. Um No,,, we have been trying to teach our community lagoon friendly landscaping, volunteering our time with lectures and training. I personally am out teaching composting, rain barrels and vermi-composting. The extension office has to train commercial landscapers THE CORRECT way and times in fertilizer and pesticide use for their licensing. If someone comes with questions on fertilization we do answer them because some HOAs demand St Auggy grass and as you know it is bad news for the lagoon. And then there are the golf courses, soccer fields, nursing homes and schools that need this help. I belong to the Native Plant Society as well as being Pres. of our IR Master Gardener program for several years. I found it extremely hurtful and discriminatory that you clump all MGs into category when they PAY for their training and volunteer their hours to be HELPFUL to the community. I don't doubt that there are a few old school MGs that may still say MIRACLE Grow is the way to go BUT,,,,, most of us are trying to push the natural methods. I think you owe the nature loving Master Gardeners an apology .

I pointed out that while I appreciate that she is doing the right thing, IFAS as an organization, is still featuring Laurie Trenholm on a regular basis, which was my point. This is yet another instance... I really do appreciate that Master Gardeners do pay for their training and they volunteer untold hours, it's amazing how many good positive projects they are able to complete..I'm just trying to convince people that lawns can do quite well without any fertilizer and our waterways would be in much better health..

Only a few events are left in my #FloweredShirtTour. I hope to see you at one of them.

Green gardening matters, 
Ginny Stibolt

Friday, October 16, 2015

Florida Local Food Summit 2015

I enjoyed the inspirational gathering of foodies, from farmers & chefs to educators & support groups, in Gainesville on September 19th. There was a lot of great networking going on and this event was structured to encourage these connections. What fun to be part of this.

The weather in Gainesville was glorious, which made the day more enjoyable since much of it took place in a covered pavilion at the end of the agriculture extension building.Next to the pavilion, edible plants were for sale in the parking lot: from tomatoes to blueberries.

The food was fantastic!

The caterer was excellent. The menu included only local foods.

Getting started...

Getting started in the morning.
After a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, grilled vegetables, freshly baked biscuits, and local juice, the first item on the agenda was a panel of 10 or 12 people from all over the state who are involved in some type of activity that fosters more fresh, local food availability in their communities.
Mary Hathaway, FOG (Florida Organic Growers). Young farmers talked about working with restaurants.

Some of the panelists talked about bringing farmers markets to under-served neighborhoods. some panelist talked about training opportunities to get more people involved in running small farm operations such as CSAs.

Group session: working together across the state

People sat at tables marked with regions of the state and networked with each other. 
Pads of yellow and blue post-it notes were placed on each table so people could write a product or service that they provided or knew about. All the notes were stuck to the large state map at the front of the room. The synergy of this session was amazing.
People posting their services & resources on the map. Notes on services & resources by area on the map.
Compiling ALL the information, which will then be distributed for all to use.

Afternoon sessions:

The class on Intro to Organic Gardening and Farming. Rick Martinez (in the blue shirt) was the co-presenter. Workshop on farmers markets
I talked about organic gardening, especially attracting pollinators, and covered the topic of transitioning out of your own yard with ideas for gardening for others and participating in farmers markets. Rick Martinez, a farm inspector, talked about the difference between gardening and farming. He said he'd seen people who were gardening on 3 or 4 acres but they never last long because they wear themselves out. You need to move to machinery to become an efficient farming operation. I hadn't thought about it like that. It's so educational to see a topic covered from another point of view.

I attended the farmers markets workshop in the second afternoon session. There were 5 sessions for each time slot. Then we all gathered again in the pavilion for the keynote speaker.

David Shields, Food historian

David Shields Keynote
David Shields had the perfect talk for this group of people including young farmers, chefs, and farmers market organizers. He talked about the historical crops in Florida and encouraged people to bring some of them back. One crop he talked about was coontie or arrowroot (Zamia pumila), a very slow growing Florida native cycad, which was harvested almost to extinction for its tuberous roots to make Animal Crackers and the like.

David is from South Carolina so I asked him if he'd ever seen a coontie. No he hadn't, so I took him just outside the pavilion where it was planted. We are now friends on Facebook so I could send him a link to Roger Hammer's article on the Atala hairstreak butterfly, which almost became extinct because its only larval food is the coontie.
Shields' topic was traditional Florida crops. David & the coonties...

Supper was grilling...

Grilling the beautiful Seminole pumpkin and peppers.
Breading the catfish for dinner
Benne kumquat cake: So delicious... Caterer and her staff were cheered after supper.

So this was more than just another stop on the #floweredshirttour; this was an inspiring event that gave me hope for the future of Florida, its smart and ambitious farmers, and all their support groups. Plus the food was fantastic!

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt