Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fragrance Garden

The Fragrance Garden is part of Lakes Park, a 277 acre park in South Fort Meyers, Florida, where you can touch and smell the scents of native exotic plants and walk a fruit and spice path. It was started in 1991, with a small collection of herbs.  It has grown quite a bit, and now has a huge assortment of trees and flowers.

The park is open from 9:00 AM to dusk.  There is a parking fee for motorized vehicles:  $1.00 an hour or $5.00 all day.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Harry P. Leu Gardens

Located in Orlando, Florida, the Harry P. Leu Gardens contain fifty acres of ancient oak trees, camellias, and giant camphors.  In fact, it has the largest camellia collection and formal rose garden in the southern United States. The gardens were donated to the city of Orlando in 1961 by Harry P. Leu and his wife, Mary Jane. There is also an herb garden, butterfly garden, palm garden, and bamboo garden on the grounds.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except on December 25th, when the gardens are closed.

Cost of admission, which includes a tour of the Leu House Museum, is $10.00 for adults, and $3.00 for children.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fruit and Spice Park

The Fruit and Spice Park, located in Homestead, Florida, is a unique place to visit. It is a thirty acre public park that features 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts. Guided tours are available, and visitors can quite literally munch their way through the garden.  (There's a tasting counter at the park shop to sample things you can't yank off the plants and eat.)  If you want to learn about fruits and vegetables and see how they are naturally grown (especially ones that aren't found in your area), this is the place to visit.

The park is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Cost of admission for adults is $5.00, and for children, it is $1.50.

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that as a follow up to my radio interview, Solving the Hunger Problem, I created a Facebook group dedicated to sharing ideas that might make a difference for those who struggle with hunger issues.  You can find it here.  If you're on Facebook, I invite you to join.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Fairchild Tropical Gardens is located in Coral Gables, Florida.  It is an 83 acre botanical research and education center that contains an impressive collection of tropical plants.  Featured on the grounds is an 16,500 square foot conservatory called Windows to the Tropics, the McLamore Arboretum (10 acres of flowering trees), an endangered plant garden, a Keys Coastal Habitat (4 acre garden), and a rainforest exhibit (which contains the People of the Rainforest exhibit).

The gardens are open daily, except on December 25th, from 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM.  The cost of admission for adults is $25.00, and for children, $12.00.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know about a radio interview I did called, Solving the Hunger Problem.  In it, I discuss a very big problem facing a lot of families, and possible solutions.  I invite you to listen.  (It's short.)  You can find it here.  (Episode 20)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ernest Hemingway Museum Gardens

The Ernest Hemingway Museum Gardens are located in Key West, Florida.  These are the gardens which surround the Spanish colonial home where famous writer, Ernest Hemingway wrote most of his novels.  There are many lush, tropical plants on the grounds.  But the most interesting thing, in my opinion, are the cats.  They are descendants from the fifty cats Hemingway used to have.  Many of them are six-toed poly dactyl cats.  And they are everywhere!

The cost of admission for adults, which includes a guided tour, is $13.00.  The cost for children, is $6.00.  The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Collect Seeds from Fleshy Fruits and Vegetables

Are you interested in learning how to collect seeds from fleshy fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers?  Perhaps you have some heirloom tomatoes you'd like to grow next year from this year's crop.  Here's how you do it:

1.  Scoop out the insides of the vegetable and leave in a container to ferment.

2.  In three to five days, a mold will have formed over it.  This is fine.  It encourages germination.

3.  Scoop the mold off with a spoon and then add water to the container and swish around.

4.  Some seeds will float, others will sink.  Keep the ones that sink.

5.  Rinse and dry on a tray out of direct sunlight.

6.  When dry, store in a labelled envelope.  Include date on the envelope.

7.  Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place.  They are viable for about three years, but it's better if they are used the following season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Canning Your Fruits and Vegetables

Canning is a great way to preserve the fruits and vegetables you have harvested, and enjoy them year round.  Here's how to do it:

1. Peel the fruit.  (Tomato and peach skin can be removed by placing the fruit in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  The skin will crack.  Remove the fruit and place in cool water.  Once cool enough to handle, slip the skin off.)

2.  Remove the cores, pits, or damaged parts.  Tomatoes can be canned whole.

3. Slice fruit to preferred size.

4.  Place fruit in a pot with water and turn on high heat.

5.  Add sugar to fruit:  approximately one cup per quart of fruit.

6.  If desired, add seasonings.

7.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for twenty minutes.

8.  Prepare jars.  Use clean, sanitary jars.

9.  Turn off heat and fill jars to about a half inch from teh top.

10.  Place lids on each one and screw on a band, tightening snugly.

11.  Process the filled jars by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Boil the jars with water level a half inch above the tops of the jar.  This kills any remaining microorganisms.  (Process times are listed below these instructions, or follow your recipe.) Start timing when water comes to full boil."

12.  Remove jars carefully and place on a dish towel to cool.

13.  Jar lids should snap down and make a "pop" sound.  When the lids are pressed, they should not pop up.  If the jar is not properly sealed, refrigerate.

14.  Dry the jar lids to prevent rusting.

15.  Store in a cool, dry place.

Process times for jars:

Quart:  Apples:  20 minutes,  Apricots:  25 minutes,  Berries:  15 minutes,  Cherries:  20 minutes,  Peaches:  25 minutes, Pears:  25 minutes, Tomatoes:  45 minutes.

Pint:  Apples:  20 minutes,  Apricots:  20 minutes,  Berries:  15 minutes,  Cherries:  15 minutes,  Peaches:  20 minutes,  Pears:  20 minutes,  Tomatoes:  40 minutes.