Seeds of Friendship

I got to meet a fellow blogger last week! Through Florida Survival Gardening I found Sheila’s Little Experiments. Turns out both Sheila and I live (and garden) in the Ft. Myers area. I commented on a couple of her posts, she took a look at my Food Forest Inventory then graciously offered me seeds from my ‘wish’ list. What a treat! I stopped by her work and we were able to chat for a few moments. Look at all those seeds! There are a few things there I am not familiar with, so I am going to have even more fun learning about new varieties of edibles. 2014-06-18 Seeds from Sheila

It’s always nice to meet someone with whom you have things in common. Especially here in Florida, where the learning curve can be a little overwhelming. Sharing knowledge, experiences, tips- and seeds, benefits all of us. Sheila and I are talking about taking a trip ‘up North’ to visit David, the man behind the wonderful blog Florida Survival Gardening.

Categories: Food Forest, Garden | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Sailing School: Captiva Island Yacht Club

My sons, 15 and 13 are spending two weeks in sailing school at Captiva Island Yacht Club. I cannot say enough good things about this program. It is open to the public and there are several sessions throughout the summer. Our boys are in the beginner session. The kids are there from 8:30-4:00 for ten days. The program has small class sizes, is very well organized, and Lauren, the director of the program stays in close touch- sending photos and emails to let us know how the boys are doing. When the wind dies, they kayak. When it rains, there are classroom activities and instruction. I believe there are even some scholarships available for kids! The photos here were sent to me by Lauren- thank you for helping our boys develop skills they will carry with them for a lifetime!






Categories: Things To Do | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tropical Research & Education Center

I had the good fortune to visit UF-TREC in Homestead, Florida.  “The University  of Florida, Tropical Research and Education Center (UF-TREC) was established  in 1929. UF-TREC is dedicated  to research, extension and teaching in the areas of ornamental, vegetable, tropical-subtropical fruit and biofuel crops, and natural  resources.

UF-TREC is the premier research, extension  and teaching institution in Florida focusing on tropical fruits, vegetables, ornamental crops, and natural  resources in the warm subtropics. .The core programs  are divided  into five main categories: 1) tropical  fruit  crops ,2) vegetable crops, 3) ornamental crops, 4) biofuel  crops, and 5) natural  resources.”

The IF-TREC mission statement is as follows. “The mission of the UF-TREC is to develop and disseminate science-based information about subtropical and tropical horticulture and natural resource through basic and applied research, extension and teaching to sustain and enhance the quality of human life and the natural environment.”

Not only was I able to visit the tropical fruit grounds, but I happened to be in the company of many tropical fruit experts. What a wonderful day of learning! Here are the few photos I was able to take- I was so overwhelmed with learning, ran out of time to take photos!

July 2014

Roy Beckford at UF-TREC

July 2014

Frank O’Neill and Roy Beckford at UF-TREC Guava

July 2014

Mango at UF-TREC

July 2014

Pani Varaka Jackfruit macro UF-TREC

July 2014

Pani Varaka Jackfruit UF-TREC

July 2014

I cannot remember what this one is- the flower is huge and stunning! UF-TREC

July 2014

Velvet Apple UF-TREC

July 2014

Velvet Apple UF-TREC


Categories: Food Forest, Garden | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sanibel Food Forest Project

January through May garden tower 2014-05-14 18.58.44 (2)


March 2014 Passionfruit Edulis


March 2014 117 (2)

March 2014 Bananas, Avocado, Coconut background, Jujube, Fig, Jaboticaba, garden tower

March 2014 142 (2)

March 2014 Papaya in foreground


May 2014-05-15 12.57.20 (2)

May 2014 Papaya foreground, Barbados Cherry, Meyer Lemon behind, garden tower left

June 2014-06-03 10.47.31 HDR (2)_Snapseed

June 2014 July 2014 Passionflower Edulis and Incarnata, Red Salvia, Coreopsis, Water lily

July 2014-07-10 06.38.47 (2)_Snapseed

July 2014 Banana circle, Avocado, Jujube, Jaboticaba, various native wildflowers, sunshine mimosa, perennial peanut, Fig

July 2014-07-10 06.38.50 (2)_Snapseed

July 2014 Bananas, Figs, Jujube, dragonfruit, Jaboticaba, Meyers lemon, Coconut, various wildflowers, sunshine mimosa, Peanut butter tree, Orange geiger,

July 2014-07-10 06.38.52 (2)_Snapseed

July 2014 Coconut, Amaranth, Jujube, Sunshine Mimosa, Day lily, Meyers lemon, Barbados Cherry, Papaya, Milkweed, Sesame,

July 2014-07-10 06.38.55 (2)_Snapseed

July 2014

July 2014-07-10 06.39.02 (2)

July 2014 Passionflower Edulis and Incarnata, Red Salvia, Coreopsis, water lily

Categories: Food Forest, Garden | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Connect With Natural and Wild Florida

If you love natural and wild Florida make that connection, no matter where you are in the world, through the photography and thoughts of Mark Renz

2014-06-18 21.11.12

Forget career, riches and fame
Give me a lowly position
as a single soft strand of broom sedge
growing next to an island of palms
where I can spend a lifetime
experiencing the sun
as it rises
in the wilderness
and again
and again
If not a sedge
then the next best thing
a lowly human
with the desire to live simply
and witness the wild
with all my human senses
to hear the silence
taste the dew
and feel that vast yellow ball
as it begins to bathe me
and welcome me to the morning
This is the gift of life 
that I will embrace
until my final sunset
And if it’s not an imposition
to the living
Do you think you could scatter
my ashes 
in the broom sedge grasses
facing an island of cabbage palms
where I can continue
to know what it’s like
to really live?

   -Mark Renz
Categories: Photography, Things To Do | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foraging with Green Deane

Took a stroll with “Green Deane” in Port Charlotte a few weekends ago. Spent a few hours walking through Bayshore Live Oak Park and the surrounding neighborhood, checking out what Florida natives and non-natives were growing- identifying edibles and non edibles. For anyone interested in gardening with edibles and/or foraging, I highly recommend Deane’s classes, blog “Eat The Weeds” and videos.

2014-05-24 10.04.14-3

Green Deane discussing attributes of Epazote, Chenopodium ambrosioides. Available year round in Florida. Leaves, flowers and unripe fruits are edible and used in soups and salads. The most common usage is, however, in bean dishes, for it’s strong anti-flatulent powers. To me this plant smells like bug spray.

2014-05-24 10.22.27

Hydrocotyle bonariensis, better known as Pennywort, or dollar weed. Can eat raw or cooked. Has medicinal value.

2014-05-24 10.24.24

Cladium jamaicense, Sawgrass Edible Inner bottom white core of stalk, raw or cooked. WARNING- cuts flesh easily. Use to find fishing worms and fresh spring water.


Green Dean talking about Sea Purslane, Sesuvium portulacastrum, edible raw, cooked or pickled. Available year round.


Abrus precatorius, Rosary pea- TOXIC reported to be the most toxic seed in the world. Avoid, as contact with an open seed can cause death.


Bidens Alba, Spanish needles or beggar tick. Edible raw or cooked. Parts used to make tea, fermented for wine.

I usually approach life from a positive perspective, but because I have chewed on my fair share of ‘unknown’ plants, main thing I learned from my first foraging class with Green Deane is- DON’T field test plants-EVER! Verify, verify, verify what you are sticking in your mouth. There are a multitude of plants out there with edible and/or medicinal properties. There are others that can kill you or make you very, very sick. Some plants make you sick right away, others take days or weeks to make you ill. Others have a cumulative effect. There are plants that are perfectly edible when cooked, but make you sick if eaten raw; and others that have both poisonous and edible parts. Some fruits are edible when ripe, but make you sick when eaten before they are ripe. Not all plants in the same genus or family are edible- There are some edible Jasmines, but make sure you know which ones! All of this aside- I am astonished at how many ‘weeds’ growing in my backyard are edible or usable in some fashion. I recommend Green Deane’s  Eat The Weeds as one reliable resource for learning about the many native and non-native edibles growing in your area. Had a great time participating in this class, and I see myself signing up for more classes in the future!

Categories: Florida native, Garden, iphoneography, Things To Do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunset Walk and Family Photos

2014-06-10 18.26.11 2014-06-10 19.09.24


Thanks Milissa for letting me grab one of your beautiful family photographs! Just so you know, if you come to Sanibel and want a great family or wedding photograph, Milissa Spreacher Photography is based on Sanibel/Captiva and she is so creative- great with kids and groups! I will be making an appointment with her in the near future for my own silly family!

Jacob (my 15yr old) grabbed my phone and did take a couple of very nice photos-

2014-06-09 20.13.20-1


2014-06-09 20.25.32-3


Categories: Photography, Things To Do | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Taste of Lee Fruit Festival

Capture 2


Taste of Lee Links

Taste of Lee

IFAS Extension Office Calendar




Categories: Garden, Things To Do | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Affordable Garden Information Markers and Placards

I am committed to turning my Sanibel home property into a food forest. People always ask- why? I am particularly interested in Florida native plantings. Neighbors ask- why?  One goal for my yard is that every plant be usable to people or animals in some way; as a source of food, shelter, a textile, or companion to other plants. Why you ask? I want to create a way to educate you, and anyone who visits my garden why- and maybe inspire you to do something similar with your yard.

There are several reasons I decided to tackle the ‘food forest’ project. First, I love dirt and I love growing things. I love the creatures that visit my garden for food, water and shelter because of what I grow.

I nurture my connection to God through my stewardship of the earth. I grow intellectually by learning about Botany, Ecology, Wildlife Biology, etc. I am concerned about the quality of food my family consumes.

There are other reasons for creating a food forest. Growing your own food saves money,

significant amounts of money. Residential property is expensive to purchase and maintain! There are property taxes and landscape maintenance costs. Until moving to SW Florida, I had never used a yard maintenance company.. As a master gardener, I’ve always taken great pride in creating and keeping my own gardens. But that was in Southern Maine, and SE Idaho. Keeping a yard neat and tidy in zone 10 is a whole ‘nother world! Maintaining an ornamental property takes A LOT of work, money; and it’s not necessarily an environmentally friendly endeavor.

Creating a food forest using “native” edibles is another goal. It’s good for the planet, good for our health and for my pocketbook. Natives need less water, fertilizer and pesticides than a traditional lawn-scaped home. The more food you grow at home- the less you spend at the grocery. Less fertilizers and pesticides means healthier people and animals- and more habitat for wildlife.  The benefits of using a residential property as a food forest far out way any reason to maintain a traditional lawn-scape. Now I need to fulfill another goal- sharing the value of the food forest with others.

My landscape does not look traditional but it is beautiful. When something is different, it attracts attention. Good! When you look at my yard, you see the beauty as well as educational plant markers and placards that share the benefits of planting a food forest. After the first round of plantings for our food forest in January 2014, I purchased a few professional grade plant markers for the fruit trees. They are fantastic, great looking, easy to read, samplerdurable…and expensive! To stay within my budget for the rest of the project, I have to find an alternative way to label plantings and make placards.



Photo Jun 08, 10 58 37 PMOnce printed, I will use a decoupage technique  to affix the sticker to either a high quality stake, or to a flat metal plate I can use as a tag on a tree or bush.

Curious to get feedback from you about the information I have included, and the readability of the font and layout.

Photo Jun 09, 1 23 00 AM

Photo Jun 08, 8 19 27 PM

Do you prefer a traditional black background, or would you like to see the labels in color?  Would appreciate any feedback, and I will post again with a tutorial once I have made the first markers.

Categories: Florida native, Food Forest, Garden | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Florida Native Wildflowers and Their Seeds

Got some wildflower seeds in the mail and decided to photograph the seeds of each variety I purchased.

Florida Wildflower Seeds

Florida Native Wildflower Seeds

Verbesina virginica, Frostweed

Verbesina virginica, Frostweed


Polygonella Polygama var brachystachys, Thinleaf October Flower

Polygonella Polygama var brachystachys, Thinleaf October Flower

Solidago sempervirens- Seaside Goldenrod

Solidago sempervirens- Seaside Goldenrod

Ludwigia octovalvis, Mexican Primrose-willow

Ludwigia octovalvis, Mexican Primrose-willow

Carphephorus odoratissimus var. subtropicanus- Pineland Purple, False Vanillaleaf

Carphephorus odoratissimus var. subtropicanus- Pineland Purple, False Vanillaleaf

Eupatorium mikanioides-Semaphore Thoroughwort

Eupatorium mikanioides-Semaphore Thoroughwort

Lythrum alatum var. lanceolatum-Winged Loosestrife

Lythrum alatum var. lanceolatum-Winged Loosestrife

Pluchea odorata-Sweetscent, Salt Marsh Fleabane

Pluchea odorata-Sweetscent, Salt Marsh Fleabane

Euthamia carolinliana, Flat-topped Goldenrod

Euthamia carolinliana, Flat-topped Goldenrod

Eryngium yuccifolium- Rattlesnake Master

Eryngium yuccifolium- Rattlesnake Master

These seeds came from the Florida Wildflower Growers Cooperative. All images are taken with an 8x macro on an iphone 5s

Categories: Florida native, Food Forest, Garden | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: