Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Home gardeners are using less water, pesticides and fertilizers thanks to the Seminole County Agriculture Extension Service's newsletter and educational programs, a survey concludes.

Most people who responded to the survey conducted in the spring changed their gardening practices after attending seminars and workshops or reading the Greenthumb newsletter.

Most said they had saved money, and several claimed savings of more than $500 as a result of new gardening methods suggested during the programs, said urban horticulturist Celeste White.

Of the 1,011 surveys mailed, only 74 were returned.

According to the survey, more than 70 percent of the people said they reduced water use because of information they received in the Greenthumb publication. About 70 percent said they also use less pesticides and fertilizers.

The quarterly publication includes information and tips on organic gardening, plants, vegetables, upcoming agriculture events, composting, water conservation, fertilizers, Xeriscape, native plants, landscape uses and other environmental issues.

Only 30 people who attended seminars and workshops in the past year returned surveys. Most said they had reduced water and pesticide usage, but only 11 said they use less fertilizer.

The results also showed that 35 people received information about composting from the center or through one of its programs and that 31 started a compost pile within the past year.

Slightly more than 47 percent of those who responded said they saved $50 last year using information from the center or volunteer master gardeners who assisted homeowners and businesses with gardening problems.

The survey revealed that 24.3 percent saved between $50 and $100 using new gardening practices, 10.8 percent saved between $100 and $500 and 2.7 percent saved more than $500 last year.

"The survey results have proved to be very educational to us," White said. "We are pleased the information offered has had such a significant impact on the environment. Hopefully, we can improve on that even more in the future."

'Show and tell' to feature gardening tips

Some people keep their small gardening tools - pruners, trowels, knives, etc. - in pots or buckets filled with sand with a little light oil mixed in. The sand helps keep the surfaces clean and the oil lubricates and wards off rust.

This is only one of the gardening tips and more that will be shared during the "Corrine Bromberger Expanded Show and Tell" at the November meeting of the Redlands Horticultural and Improvement Society.

The meeting is 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Redlands Church of the Nazarene, 1307 E. Citrus Ave.

There is no charge, and the public is welcome to attend.

Gardeners share illegal gardening tips

- Two couples who apparently exchanged indoor gardening tips were arrested in a pair of simultaneous drug raids on two east-end apartment buildings in Sherbrooke Wednesday morning.
The raids on apartments located at 232 and 229 7th Avenue netted about 250 pot plants ranging from seedlings to ones with stalks four- feet high.
At 232, police uncovered 150 marijuana plants and arrested a couple including a 45-year-old man and his 25-year-old spouse.
Meanwhile, across the street, another team of police uncovered 100 pot plants and arrested another pair. This time, it was a 35- year-old man and his 39-year-old spouse.
The two couples were expected to appear at the Sherbrooke courthouse on Wednesday afternoon.

Police get gardening tips from drug-grower

olice have been receiving gardening tips on how to improve their tomatoes from a man awaiting sentencing for an illegal cannabis farm, Exeter Crown Court has heard. Gordon McAulay was jailed for 15 months at the court last week after pleading guilty to producing the class B drug between September and December last year in a warehouse at an undisclosed address in Bideford.

McAulay's last official address was Hyfield Place in Bideford but the court heard he is now living in Gunnislake in Cornwall.

Defence counsel Richard Crabb said: "He has been signing on at Tavistock police station while on bail. He has been giving police advice on how to improve their tomato growing and has brought them in a cake."

Prosecutor Lee Bremridge said there was a yield of 69 plants, weighing 6.68kg, with a potential street value of Pounds 30,000. Just under 4kg of this was stronger 'skunk' cannabis.

Mr Bremridge said: "He told police that he was a heavy cannabis user, growing it to smoke, using about 25 joints a day... The drugs liaison officer estimated that there would be around 33,000 cannabis joints from the yield and it would take three years to smoke so it was completely ludicrous to say it was for the defendant's own use."

Police also found text messages on McAulay's phone with phrases including, 'Got any smoke?' and 'I need a few ounces of your nice garden'.

Mr Bremridge added: "He's clearly an organiser, user and supplier."

The court heard McAulay had no criminal record.

Defence counsel Richard Crabb said there was no suggestion that anyone else was working for McAulay's illegal scheme or that it was for largescale supply.

"It's a small holding in one building," said Mr Crabb. "He only started growing it nine months before his arrest," said Mr Crabb. "It's his third crop. He was getting better as time went on, this was the best crop."

He added the defendant had many good character references and was a likeable person, demonstrated by his friendly behaviour at the police station when reporting for bail.

The court heard the defendant was not living a luxury lifestyle on the proceeds of his crime and the prosecution was making no application for a hearing to confiscate assets.

Judge Graham Cottle told McAulay that he had to jail him, as it was a "mediumsized operation" which was "quite sophisticated" but he was taking into account the mitigation.

The judge added that McAulay had initially been reluctant to accept he was intending to sell some of the cannabis but his general attitude showed he was not trying to "shelter behind any excuse" for his behaviour.

He ordered forfeiture and destruction of the drugs.

Gardening tips available to all

TARANAKI gardeners will have no excuses for a sloppy plot this spring - even if it's their first foray into the world of horticulture.

A series of workshops on everything from planning a garden to pruning roses will begin this weekend.

New Plymouth District Council will run the rose- pruning demonstrations at Hempton Rose Garden, New Plymouth and Donaldson Rose Garden, Waitara.

"This is the time of year when we get around the public rose gardens to give them their winter prune and we thought the public would appreciate getting some tips from the experts that they can use in their own gardens," said council parks manager Mark Bruhn.

"We want to demystify the art of rose pruning and help people get the best out of their gardens."

For those wanting a garden for more than just beauty, the Taranaki Regional Council is running five workshops on domestic gardens starting on July 26.

Participants will learn how to plan a garden complete with compost bin, worm farm, chook run, beehive and delectables for the table.

TRC gardens manager Greg Rine said the workshops are designed to meet the growing interest in "home" gardens - an interest he says is more than just a trend.

"People are thinking more about where their food is coming from and people want to see what they can grow themselves to save money," Mr Rine said.

The hands-on workshops will be held at Hollard Gardens, where the public will learn by helping council gardeners.

They are encouraged to bring photos to help plan their own gardens.

At the end of the workshops Hollard Gardens will have a new home garden ready for the spring festival.

Rose pruning: Hempton Rose Garden, New Plymouth - Saturday, July 18 and Monday, July 20; Donaldson Rose Garden, Waitara, Saturday, July 25, all at 11am.

Home gardening: Hollard Gardens, Kaponga - Sunday, July 26, getting started; Sunday, August 9, bees in the garden; Sunday, August 30, chooks and worms; Sunday, September 13, seed sowing; Sunday, September 27, companion planting and composting, all at 2pm.

Thanks for the gardening tips

Thank you, Wendy Corum, for your letter, "Gardening tips to help the bees" (Your Say, June 24).

For 35 years, I have enjoyed my garden and kept it weed-free.

For the last two years, because of ill health, I have been unable to keep it as I'd like to and this has been a worry.

But reading your letter has inspired me not to cover it over with chippings or grass but to keep the flowers and shrubs and not worry about the dandelions, which I notice the bees love.

I feel so much better after reading your letter.

Summer gardening tips

A continuing compendium of tips and tricks from Home & Garden Television. The following are tips for summer gardening:
- Peas in the summer garden before they get overripe. If you're growing them to shell, harvest them when they are plump. If you're growing peas for their juicy sweet pods, pick them when they're thin.
- Broccoli reacts to the heat by turning yellow and trying to flower. Harvest it before it starts flowering, then continue to let it grow and you'll get small broccoli heads.
- Carrots and onions thrive in the heat. Let the foliage grow because it actually feeds the vegetable underground.
- Tomatoes prosper in the heat, but if overnight lows get too warm the flowers will fall off and the plant will not be able to set fruit.
- To ensure pollination in tomato plants, shake your tomato plants gently to help spread pollen.