Adventures of a Transplated Gardener- Ginny Stibolt

Ginny Stibolt with a pile of mulch.  Typical!

Ginny's Garden Log

The main purpose of this log was to expand on the gardening adventures that Ginny wrote about in her Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener columns, but now she writes at The GreenGardeningMatters blog.

Current postings and other posts to Ginny's Garden Log Meadow page 

This is the Fourteenth postings page (from 11/02/09 to 3/29/2010). Topics on this page include:  USA Today!, turnips & news, FL natives, queen palms, composting, HGTVgardening myths, appearances, frigid, resolution garden, Christmas, citrus greening, Green Gators, Thanksgiving, wildflowers, groundwater, lawn film.  

Previous posts to Ginny's Garden Log

Ginny pulling turnips to make room for the tomatoes.  Photo by Bob Self

3/29/10 I'm in USA Today today!  As mentioned last time a photographer came out to my house, but I wasn't expecting a video. Fortunately, I've been talking enough about this topic, that I could come up with something semi-intelligent sounding at the drop of a raindrop.  Most of the time it wasn't pouring rain, but it made for an interesting opening of this really cool video taken by Bob Self of Jacksonville's Times Union newspaper.  In the USA Today article "Spring has sprung gardeners, and 3 in 4 Americans can dig it" by Janice Lloyd takes a broad look at the effects of the hard winter across the country and those in the arid regions of the SW US loved all the extra rain they got this winter. Wow, what exposure!

American Meadows is giving away a $250 Grand Prize shopping spree at  and 10 $25 First Prizes! To enter, simply review any American Meadows product. Click here to leave a review and enter to win! Drawing to be held Monday, May 3rd, 2010.

3/16/2010 Saving Seeds, Vegetable Gaps, The Importance of Grasses, and other Garden News This last week was a busy one, as we emerge from the "El Niño" chilled winter here on the east coast.  In our vegetable garden turnips and cabbages have been the clear winners this chilly winter.  This is somewhat surprising to me since the seeds I planted were three years old.  I store un-used seeds in a plastic container in the refrigerator to keep them fresh, but still after three years, I planted them a little more thickly than normal.  So now, even though my husband and I like turnips, we are a little tired of them. (See our turnip recipe below.) Two articles in last week's Washington Post addressed this situation: Cool and collected, old seeds fare better in the refrigerator by Adrian Higgins and Cook's Garden: The 'hungry gap' before summer's bounty by Barbara Damrosch. 

Also last week in the New York Times, biologist Olivia Judson (my favorite science writer) wrote Breezy Love, or the Sacking of the Bees with details on pollination and the week before she wrote Evolution by the Grassroots on how important grasses are as crops.  My comment was highlighted by the editors as one of the more interesting ones. Here's my comment:

"Yes, it's amazing how much we depend on grasses for crops and to support domesticated animals. That unrelated plants (including a few non-grass species) have evolved to use the C4 pathway so they can photosynthesize while keeping their stomata closed to guard against wilting is a testament to adaptation in a changing environment.

"On the other hand, so many people have poisoned the environment with herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides and have sucked our aquifers down to dangerously low levels in the support of perfect lawns. The EPA has estimated that more than 50% of our potable water is dumped onto lawns. The Lawn Reform Coalition has put together a website with great ideas for lawn alternatives including lots of photos and measures anyone can take for more sustainable lawn care. Go to"

Let me know how well your landscape fared this winter. FYI, I was interviewed by USA Today yesterday for an article on this tough winter. A photographer will be here tomorrow, so I have to get out in the garden right now!"

Stir fried turnip greens 
2 turnips & their greens, 1 medium onion with its leaves, 1 green pepper, 3 bulbs & greens of wild garlic, 2 white radishes, 6 small stalks of celery, and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Save out the turnip greens and the onion leaves, but thinly slice & dice all the other vegetables and fry in the olive oil until cooked.  Lower the heat and add the chopped onion leaves and the turnip greens, which have been removed from the thick stems and chopped into small pieces.  Fold the fresh greens into the fried vegetables and cover.  Let them sit for three minutes or so until wilted and stir again.  Add pepper to taste.  Serve with corn bread for a hearty meal for cool evenings.  I love this meal at the end of the winter because all the vegetables, except the green pepper, come from the garden.

Florida Native Plant Society Logo3/2/10 Help The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) Evaluate How Well Native Plants Survived 2010's Big Freeze. FNPS is collecting data to find out how well the native plants in your landscape survived the freezes this Winter. By collecting information about the recent weather conditions and the response of native species used in your residential and/or commercial landscape and in any nearby natural areas, this study will highlight the best native plants for each area of the state. Many Florida natives are native to a certain part of Florida and may have suffered if they were planted too far north, for instance. The only way to test their hardiness is to collect as much data as possible and this is where you can help.

You'll be asked to evaluate the damage by using this Damage Rating Scale:
5  No visible damage (no damage is important, too) ,
4  Minor damage, including leaf wilt and/or curled or browned leaf edges;
3  Moderate damage, including leaf burn/drop for up to half of plant;
2  Heavy damage, complete leaf drop, small branch damage;
1  Severe above-ground damage, possible plant death.  

Here is the link to their form: FNPS form, which you are to send to the indicated email.

As a reminder, you should not immediately prune or remove any plants (native or not) that have been damaged by this cold snap. Wait for several weeks or a month, as many of them will send out new growth from stems where leaves have been damaged. Some severely damaged plants may regenerate from rootstock.

Queen palms showing winter damage in central Florida.  Photo by Stibolt

2/27/10 In surveying the widespread cold damage in Florida, I thought it was time for a closer look at queen palms and provide some good reasons why you might not wish to replace your cold-damaged or dead queen palms with more of the same.  Read my article, Queen Palms Don't Rule in Florida, for more details and resources.

<< These queen palms in central Florida may not survive the cold damage.  All their fronds are browned.  Once the growing tip of a palm is damaged, the whole tree is dead. On the other hand, they could hang on and be truly ugly in your landscape for 8 months or more until the next cold winter comes.

2/20/10 A reader sent me these two links I thought you'd like about coffee grounds used in compost or as mulch: and  

Thanks to the St. Augustine Garden Club folks for a great discussion today and if you'd like to see some native landscaping, the landscaping around their building is a great example of how to accomplish this here in NE Florida.

Compost provides 100% of the nutrients needed for plants good health.

2/18/10 Compost vs. Fertilizer? Barbara Damrosch's article A Cook's Garden: Ensuring that your plants get the right nutrients posted in today's Washington Post provides a good reminder about how important compost is for the soil in your gardens.  Her conclusion about compost after a primer on all the nutrients and micro-nutrients needed in you garden is, "The result will be better than anything that comes in a bag: home-cooked by Mother Nature and, from a plant's point of view, clearly more zestful."

Compost improves soil, whether it's sandy or clayey, with its rich humus, worms, and abundant microbes. When your soil becomes a living ecosystem, your plants will thrive.  And compost is free.  Here's a link to my composting article, which lists several good composting resources including composting projects for kids.

Florida's Wildflower Foundation wants to know what you think about wildflowers and their programs.  Here's their short survey. I'm pleased to say that I'll be speaking at their Wildflower Festival on March 27th in DeLand, FL.  Much of the funding for this foundation comes from the Florida license plate program.

I hope to see y'all in St. Augustine 10am Saturday morning: The Garden Club Center, 3440 Old Moultrie Rd., St. Augustine  Click here for details on all my appearances.

2/15/10 Learn New Ways to Save Time and Money with More Sustainable Landscaping Sat. Feb. 20 at 10am in St. Augustine.  I've been invited to speak by the St. Augustine garden clubs at their garden center.  My topic will be "How Sustainable Gardening Saves Time and Money."  After a Q and A discussion, I'll sign books.  While there is no charge for the program, please pre-register with Sue:  The Garden Club Center, 3440 Old Moultrie Rd., St. Augustine Hope to see you there.

Update on our Female Sago: At the end of October, when we last checked in on the sagos, the female had produced these striking red, poisonous fruits.  During the cold weather this winter, mockingbirds and cardinals picked away at the red coating.  The colder the weather, the more birds visited the sago.; It was fun to watch all this activity because it's just outside my office window.

Several weeks after the mockingbirds and cardinals came, the fish crows began to yank the fruits from the sago.  It took several minutes for the crows to work the fruits from the plant and then they flew away with the fruit in their beaks and hid the fruit in various places around our lot.  In effect the crows have planted the sagos.  I've kept track of several hiding spots, but the crows have not come back to retrieve the fruits and to test my planting theory, I found a few of the fruits still in place. Now there are no more fruits.

The fish crows also steal the turtle eggs that the cooters lay around our lot in the warmer months.  They sit in the trees and watch the turtles lay their eggs and then swoop down to dig them out.  I haven't seen them actually eat an egg, but they hide them around the landscape.  Their sago fruit behavior looks very much the same.   I just love the see how many more birds we have in our lot now than when we first moved here. We have created habitat for them in many ways.

HGTV's Green Home landscaping photo showing sod under pine trees. 2/11/10 How Green are the Landscaping Practices on HGTV's 2010 Green Home? I'm pleased to be GardenRant's guest ranter this week.  What got me going was the bad example that HGTV is setting by their supposedly green house.  The house is fine with some interesting green features, but their landscaping, which includes installing huge pine trees after they've stripped the land of all vegetation and all the original topsoil and then installing sod under those acid-loving pines.  You can read my rant and the comments here.

Amy Stewart and Ginny Stibolt at the Four Arts Garden in Palm Beach.Speaking of Garden Rant, I met up with Amy Stewart, one of the four garden ranters, yesterday in Palm Beach.  

She gave a great presentation to the Palm Beach Garden Club at the Society of the Four Arts auditorium.  It's always fun to meet up with folks face-to-face that you know online.  

The photo to the right shows the front of the auditorium, looking toward the Intracoastal Waterway.  It was sunny and a cool 67 degrees.  I apologize to all of you that are digging out from record-setting blizzard conditions.


2/1/10 Park Seeds is Promoting Gardening Myths!  I received an email the other day from Park Seeds that included the old and disproved "companion plants" advice.  While researching my book, I found, a wonderful source where old garden myths and half truths like this are proved wrong using scientific methods rather than rumors.  Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, an urban horticultural agent and horticulture professor has been busting old gardeners' tales in her Master Gardener Magazine articles and she's published her findings in two books: The Informed Gardener and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again.  

Here's the promotion from Park Seeds:

In keeping with our Valentine's Day theme, here are a few great plant "couples" that will grow much better in your garden if planted together:

Tomatoes and Marigolds
Marigolds are so effective at destroying nematodes (which live in the soil, feeding on the roots of tomatoes and other vegetables) that one variety, Golden Guardian, was developed specifically to attack them! But any Marigold will do the trick, and they certainly brighten up the tomato garden!

Roses and Onions
Anything in the Allium family (garlic, chives, onions, etc.) is very beneficial to Roses when grown right alongside them. These plants chase away aphids and help protect against mildew and blackspot, two of the biggest foes of the Rose!

Cucumber and Corn
These mutually beneficial friends belong side by side in the garden! Cucumber keeps the raccoons away from the corn, while corn keeps away the virus that causes wilt from attacking the cukes!

Purple Coneflower and Black-eyed Susan
Otherwise known as Echinacea and Rudbeckia, these two native perennials love the same conditions — sun-soaked soil that's slightly on the dry side — and make a powerful pest-fighting team. Not only do they repel "bad" bugs, they encourage "good" ones. Consider designing a big stand of them near your vegetable patch!

On page 10 of "The Informed Gardener Blooms Again," Linda discusses the fallacies of depending on companion planting to repel bugs and viruses. 

I do plant marigolds in my vegetable garden because they make a great border, provide reliable color throughout Florida's hot summer, and they attract pollinators. As for my tomatoes, I buy cultivars that have worked well in our garden and those that are nematode resistant.   

I'll post a more complete review of these two books soon, but meanwhile consider the companion planting advice as a quaint, old-fashioned way of arranging your garden.

I'll see you at the Vero Beach Gardenfest Feb. 6th & 7th. The Indian River Garden Club hosts this event.  For more details see their website:

Florida Native Plant Society Logo1/19/10 Spring Appearances: Tomorrow evening, Wednesday Jan. 20, I'll be speaking at the Jacksonville branch of the Florida Native Plant Society at the Regency Square Library at 6:30pm. You don't have to be a member to attend.  I'll be talking about sustainable gardening and I'll be signing my books in case you haven't bought your own copy yet.  

When I read all the great reviews for the book, it makes me feel like all my research and hard work have been worthwhile.  So if you're local to JAX and you want to save time and money in your landscape, I hope to see you then.  

If you're not local to Jacksonville, I'll be speaking all over the state this spring at garden fests, green thumb festivals, independent bookstores, garden clubs and a few other FNPS chapter meetings and also at the FNPS state-wide meeting in Tallahassee in May.   I've posted all my appearances through March on the book's website: 

1/9/10 Florida's cold snap tests the sustainability of your landscape. As discussed in the article posted today, (F... Fr... Frigid Florida: What's a Gardener to do? ) "Our tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) will probably die back to the ground, but I won't chop off the canes yet.  I'll wait for warmer weather to see if buds form on the stems, and then I'll trim off the dead stems where no buds form.  Some of them will grow back in the spring—only the strongest survive.  Our native scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) plants prepared for the cold by shedding their leaves in the late fall." 

The comparison of the two hibiscuses reminds me of the old Aesop fable of the ant and the grasshopper.  The tropical hibiscus, blooming right up through last week, would play the part of the grasshopper not preparing for the cold.  The scarlet hibiscus would be like the ant, which prepares for the winter.  The garden moral of this story is that it's more sustainable to grow plants that know what to do as the days grow short.  

I'll be appearing at several garden festivals this spring where native plants will be offered.  I will add to my native plant collection so that my own landscape will become even more sustainable.  Check out all my spring appearances.  So far, I've posted only the ones until the end of March.  There are more planned later in the spring, so check back often.  Hope to see you soon.   

Resolution garden by Burpee

12/31/09 A New Year's Resolution Garden:  Burpee's marketing department has come with a great idea to help everyone keep some of their promises to themselvesin the garden. 
· Lose weight: Plant lettuce to eat.
· Exercise more: You'll need to stretch to reach pole beans.
· Save money: Plant tomatoes instead of buying them in the store.
· Reduce stress: Plant flowers that you can pick for bouquets.
· Help the environment: Plant monarda for the butterflies.
· Spend more time with family: Have the kids plant huge sunflowers.
· Eat better: Plant nutritious and delicious carrots to eat.

Maybe Burpee's marketing department strained the reality a little, but for $10, you get all these seeds, which will fill a 20-foot square garden space.  Here in northern Florida, though, plant the lettuce and carrots right away.  Start the tomatoes in late January inside, so they'll be ready for planting in your garden as soon as it warms up.  Burpee's resolution garden.

So Happy New Year and I hope that you are resolving to spend a little more time in the garden this year, whether you buy into this resolution garden or not!  Let me know how your garden grows in 2010.

Christmas wreath made from cuttings from Ginny's yard.  Photo by Stibolt

12/25/09 Merry Christmas!  I see no snow in our northern Florida yard this morning, but hundreds of gold finches and other small birds flitting around the front meadow, which used to be lawn. A pair of pileated woodpeckers, dressed in their red-headed Christmas outfits, cruise between the trees.

I'm grateful for the bounty from our vegetable garden this year and we'll be dining on home-grown carrots, radishes, sugar-snap peas, green peppers, and turnips later today. Cheers!

<< See how I created this wreath from cuttings around my yard: Recycled Christmas Wreath.

12/11/09 A Citrus Warning: USDA has placed the whole state of Florida under quarantine for Citrus Greening, a bacterial disease that kills citrus plants, which is spread by tiny insects, Asian citrus psyllids, as they feed on the leaves and stems.  There is no cure for the disease, but the quarantine is to slow down the spread.  Do not move cuttings, plants, or fruits. You may not ship your fruit for holiday gifts unless it's packed at a certified packing house. If you wish to purchase citrus plants for your own dooryard garden, make sure that the plants have been certified as being free from this disease.

Various citrus and related plants are susceptible to this killer, but may not show symptoms for years.  Check your citrus for the following symptoms and if you find any of them, please report it to the USDA:
· Blotchy mottling of leaves and leaf yellowing that may appear on a single shoot or branch,
· Small, lopsided, and bitter fruit that remains green even when ripe
· Twig dieback
· Stunted, sparsely foliated trees that may bloom off season

 For more information see USDA's website: 

Gators for a Sustainable Campus in their community garden plot

12/2/09 A few weeks ago I talked to a student activist group, Gators for a Sustainable Campus, in  Gainesville on a rainy night about growing vegetables in Florida.  I brought my basket of vegetables (that looked very much like my Thanksgiving basket pictured below) for show and tell...

<< They sent me this photo of some of their members in their community garden plot.  I just love the old bedspring, held aloft with three PVC tubes and a stick, and used as an arbor in the next plot behind the students.  It made me laugh, because I'm pretty sure I've not slept on such a bedspring since my own college days so many decades ago and it's certainly a symbol of a "garden bed.".

Read more in "Green Gators: There's More to University of Florida Gators than Just Football..." which I posted today.

Ginny's fall bounty.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Photo by Stibolt

11/23/09 I wish you and your family a bountiful Thanksgiving Day! I hope you'll be able to enjoy some of your own garden's crops as part of your feast. We will include some turnips and their greens, peppers, and Egyptian walking onions this year. I was hoping more of my fall crops (snow peas, salad greens, and tomatoes) would be producing by this time, but we'll have to wait on those crops. The late start on the cool weather this fall set them back. Mother Nature always makes growing vegetables an interesting and sometimes humbling adventure.

I've enjoyed talking to folks about my vegetables at some of my recent appearances. I brought my basket of veggies to:
· my Nov. 10th presentation to Gators for a Sustainable Campus;
· the Jacksonville Arboretum Celebration on Nov. 14th;
· the Cross Creek Festival on Nov. 21st.

I hope to see you at one of my future events. More appearances have been planned for winter and spring 2010.  Note: There's a new date for my talk to the Jacksonville's Florida Native Plant Society chapter. It's now Wednesday Jan. 20th at 6:30pm at the Regency Library.  Hope to see you there!

11/19/09 Where Are Florida's Wildflowers? Let Florida Wildflower Foundation know by 12/1/09!

This year the Florida Wildflower Foundation (FWF) completed spring, summer and fall surveys of naturally occurring wildflowers along the five-county St. Johns to the Sea Loop trail, which will soon become the state's first Wildflower Trail. In 2010, the Foundation plans to survey other wildflower-profuse areas in the Panhandle and in North, Central and South Florida. The surveys will identify showy areas of native wildflowers in order to document species and suggest management practices. This research also will help them promote Florida's native wildflowers as economic and intrinsic community assets.

Before they begin the surveys, they need the volunteers to locate showy roadside or trailside (paved bike or foot path) native wildflower sites throughout the state. Please send the following information by December 1st to the Foundation at

Include the following information: 
· The scientific or common name of the plant species. If the name is unknown, describe the flowering plants' characteristics (i.e., color, height, growth habit, etc.).
· The road's name, as well as a nearby intersection or another landmark that will help us locate the site.
· The geographic region (defined below) and the city and/or county in which the site occurs.
· The date of the sighting. If the date is unknown, please include the season.
· A description of the habitat (i.e., wet ditch, sand dune, pine forest, etc.).
· Digital photos, if possible.
· The names and locations of public lands (state, national, city and county parks; water management district holdings, etc.) that have great native wildflower displays, along with species names and approximate bloom dates. 
· Garden or civic clubs that have planted roadside or trailside native wildflowers can help by sending the planting's location and a species list.

Geographic regions are defined as:
· Panhandle: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson. 
· North Florida: Madison, Hamilton, Columbia, Baker, Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam, Clay, Marion, Alachua, Levy, Bradford, Union, Gilchrist, Dixie, Lafayette, Suwannee, Taylor. 
· Central Florida: Citrus, Sumter, Lake, Volusia, Seminole, Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Sumter, Citrus, Manatee, Hardee, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Indian River, De Soto, Sarasota. 
· South Florida: Charlotte, Glades, Martin, Lee, Hendry, Palm Beach, Collier, Broward, Dade, Monroe.

A gopher tortoise at Jacksonville Arboretum.  Photo by Stibolt

11/16/09 What a great event at the Jacksonville Arboretum and the weather couldn't have been better. There were lots of enthusiastic people, great musicians, good food, kids activities, and more.  I enjoyed talking to folks about my book "Sustainable Gardening for Florida" and showed people vegetables and herbs from my garden, but one of the more exciting moments was the gopher tortoise who made an appearance behind my vendor table.  It was more than a foot across, but it was shy and when too many folks stopped to get a closer look, it scampered back into its tunnel.

We have such a great resource right here in Jacksonville.  It's 120 acres of beautiful wooded areas, a lake and streams, with trails running throughout.  It's run by volunteers and donations.  You too can make a difference.  Go to to volunteer your time and enjoy the wilderness that's so close by.

11/08/09 Lessons From Oil Industry May Help Address Groundwater Crisis An insightful article in Science Daily that summarizes studies comparing the upcoming fights for groundwater to those for oil.  Maybe we can learn from history and spend the time necessary so we all work to preserve the aquifers so that they are not forever destroyed. 

Ron Littlepage, columnist for Florida's Times Union has covered water conservations needs many times, but his latest column covers some of the state-wide politics involved. 

We can all wring our collective hands because the current problems and potentially more serious future problems are so large... OR we can each do our share to conserve water now. especially by waterwise landscaping and reduced lawn irrigation.  Lawns should be going into dormancy during our cooler winter months and should not be over fertilized or irrigated to keep them artificially greened. I'll be talking about more sustainable lawn care at the Jacksonville Sierra Club meeting Monday evening.   For details, directions, and all upcoming appearances see:

Paul Tukey and Brett Plymale accepting film award in Ft. Lauderdale.

11/02/09 Film makes Good Case for More Sustainable Lawn Care: "Chemical Reaction," a newly released film featuring Paul Tukey of Safe Lawns and the Lawn Reform Coalition, tells of the effects of pesticides used on lawns and what people have done about it.  There's a free showing in Orlando at 1pm on Nov. 5th, the next day there's a showing at 7pm in Miami aboard a boat, and then at The Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival on November 9th.  For more information see: (Update: This movie won the Independent Spirit Award of the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.)

<< Paul Tukey (left) and Brett Plymale accepting award at Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival.  Paul J. Tukey, HGTV Co-Host & Executive Producer, Publisher, People, Places & Plants magazine, Author, The Organic Lawn Care Manual, Storey Publishing, National Spokesperson, and check out Brett Plymale's film, A Chemical Reaction,

Water restrictions and shortages are not the only reason to avoid those artificially greened lawns.  I highly recommend this film, if you're anywhere near these venues and maybe it will make it into national distribution.  Ask for it. 

And speaking of water restrictions: the change to Eastern Standard Time signals the beginning of winter water restrictions to once a week.  This allows your lawn to slow down its growth during the cooler weather and your need for mowing it so much.  We don't mow ours from November until March.  Think of all the time and money you can save and think of the peace and quiet.

Hope to see you soon at one of my upcoming local appearances: Nov. 9th at the Jacksonville Sierra Club meeting, Nov. 10th at a Gators for a Sustainable Campus meeting, and on Nov. 14th at the Jacksonville Arboretum's First year celebration.   For all upcoming appearances see: 

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