Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hydroponics growing at the John L. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford

The Zebra Longwing (Heliconius Charitonius), is Florida's state butterfly. Found throughout the state, the delicate adult butterfly may live for several months. Females deposit small, yellow eggs on young leaves and tendrils of the Purple Passion flower, shown below, growing at the facility. They may produce numerous generations each year. To All Master Gardeners and our special guests, the MG Class of 2009.

Our monthly meeting is Thursday, May 28Th, 10:00 am to 12:00 PM.

We are going on a Road Trip! (One Mile). Meet at the Extension Center by 9:50 AM and we will car pool.

We are going to visit with
Debbie Taylor, Seminole County Detention Deputy at the John L. Polk Correction Facility.

Topics: Hydroponics and new additions at the facility.

This invitation was sent out to announce the monthly meeting of the Seminole County Master Gardeners and included the current class going through this program, my class.........
Hydroponic production uses water solutions to deliver nutrients. Growing vegetables hydroponically in perlite and other inorganic material minimizes pests and diseases that flourish in soil. Indoor production also protects plants from damage from heavy rains and from chilly winters in North Florida.

Hydroponic growing can produce up to 10 times the vegetable yields of field production. The higher yields come about because plants are bunched closer together and are harvested over a longer period of time. I believe that Hydroponic growers can bank on the higher yields off setting the increased costs of building and maintaining greenhouses.
Only Women inmates, never male inmates, at the John L. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, are currently growing lettuce and various varieties of tomatos hydroponically. The project is considered a work program within the system, saving money on food for inmates.
YOU GO GIRLS!!!!!! I had to say that, and I can since this is my Blog.
Tomato plants are grown at different stages, making available a continuing harvest for use. Above are plant seedlings just several weeks old.

Several varieties of tomatoes, including grape, cherry and a full size tomato are grown in containers in a synthetic, "pellet" type product, while the lettuce is grown in a plastic "basket like" container directly in the channels of water flow. I am intentionally not getting all to specific on how this type of growing is done here, so that I will not incorrectly or unintentionally report information. Do note how these plants are stripped of all the leaves on the lower branches to allow the plant to produce more flowers and therefore more tomatoes. I do believe the photos tell the story, and this special tour through the facility,offered to the Master Gardeners was so interesting and also so very informative . The tomato plants are tied up and suspended from a moving support system that can stretch them out up to 40-50 ft. long. As I understand, this program has been on-going for about 10 years now.
About one year ago the facility started to harvest Talapia. What you are viewing on the net are newly hatched. As they grow they are transferred to slightly larger tanks, some made from cement blocks and others from "septic tanks".
The fish are jumping.....being fed here and if you look closely can see some jumping for the food. This is part of the water circulation system in the tank.
We all recognize the Rubbermaid plastic storage box, with so many uses!
The final Talapia tank before the fish are harvested for eating. We were told that it takes about a year from hatching.... for these fish to reach 1 lb.
I feel so lucky to have been able to personally visit, see and learn about this wonderful program.
In the hot house area, if there was space there was something growing!!!!! The Rosemary plant in the Herb garden was so lush and beautiful, it did not look real......... and the aroma....amazing!
Sun flowers show their faces among the flowers.
Yes indeed, if not for this, it would be so easy to forget we were visiting the Seminole County Prison.
A very special thanks to Debbie Taylor, Seminole County, Florida Detention Deputy at the John L. Polk Correction Facility in Sanford for your hospitality and making this visit possible. Thank You Grad '09 Big Smile

Friday, May 29, 2009

Look what's happening in my yard...May 2009

The larva or caterpillar of the Monarch butterfly is happily eating away my Milkweed plant, which was planted as a host plant to specifically provide food for these caterpillars. By supplying a host plant, allows me to enjoy watching them transform into adult butterflies.

My Sunflower buds are getting ready to bloom fully. I have a miniature variety that stands about 24 inches high.
All our recent rain in Central Florida helped to speed up the process of full bloom. All my Sago palms are healthy, showing new growth and no signs of the scale that is destroying this wonderful specimen in Florida. I have been digging a trench around the base of them and applying a healthy layer of used coffee grounds, which some people feel will keep away the scale. I go to any of the coffee shops and they are more then happy to give me a bagful of used coffee grounds......I think it is working!
I still have to do a lot of work on this island thinning out plants and putting in some others. But after a winter season of several nights of actual freezing weather, then 45+ days of no rain and water deficit, followed by several weeks of record setting pouring rain ,my garden was showing signs of stress. It looks like we are now in recovery and back to growth mode.
My Bromeliads are happy and climbing up the tree and the fence and anything else around. I have thinned these several times always giving excess plants away to friends. This group originated from 2 small plants that I got from a home in Lake Mary that I sold several years ago.
Two other varieties of Bromiliads grow happily under the Oak trees.
Following all of our recent rain, or I should say torrential downpours, here is the first Bird of Paradise flower on the plant that I saved from a neighbors trash several months ago. The photo is taken from inside my screened porch.

My plants have become quite perky and my garden for the most part is responding very favorably to all our recent rain and warmer weather. I have had a few losses of plants due to too much water however. So, I will continue to pour out the excess water daily that no longer drains from the pots and enjoy watching the wonders of nature right here in my little oasis.
If it does not stop raining soon, I will think seriously about building an Ark!!!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stop Puppy Mills.....

It's not always pretty! I am one of the lucky ones. This is how I looked after getting showered and shaved and placed in my foster home through Small Paws Rescue. I almost looked like a Poodle back then. My foster mom told me that I was really a Bichon Frise, and as my hair grew I started to look like the other fluffs in the house........soon to be my brothers. Because I was so cute and a real character, mom failed fostering and adopted me. I am now in my own forever home with 2 bother fluffs and my human mom. I really have it good now! Charlie
Aren't I a handsome boy now? But I want you to know it's not always pretty. Look at the photos below to see how some fluffs look when they are lucky like me to be rescued from shelters and Puppy Mills. Those puppy mills are awful places. Take a peak at the photos below. These cousins of mine are lucky like me, they were rescued like I was. The good folks at Small Paws Rescue, will clean them up, mend thier illnesses and hurts and find them a great home......just like me.

All the fluffs are not as lucky as us. We need your assistance in stopping the Puppy Mills. Read the following story so you know what it is all about......then please take a moment and sign the online petition to help stop these horrible Puppy Mills.
This is an example of how some fluffs look when they come out of the puppy mills.
Don't be sad for them they got out......but please do not support these awful places.
Dear Friends,
I have just read and signed the petition: "Stop Puppy Mills - Five Things You Can Do".
Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. We are trying to reach 25000 signatures - please sign here:
Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and family to sign as well.
Thank you!

Volunteer, Small Paws Rescue

Thinking of getting a dog this year? We've all been tempted by the cute puppy in the pet store window. But before you give in to the temptation and buy that furry bundle of joy, there are some things you should know.

For one, that puppy most likely came from a large-scale, substandard commercial breeding operation, commonly known as a puppy mill. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. The breeding stocks at puppy mills (possibly your new puppy's mom and dad) are bred as often as possible in order to increase profits. In fact, the living conditions and treatment of these dogs can be downright horrific.

But you can help. Pledge to stop puppy mills by being a responsible consumer and pet parent.

I pledge to do what I can to stop puppy mills by being a responsible consumer and pet parent. I will be mindful of the following guidelines:
1. Not to Buy From a Pet Store: That puppy who charmed you through the pet shop window has most likely come from a large-scale, substandard commercial breeding facility, commonly known as a puppy mill. In these facilities, parent dogs are caged and bred as often as possible, and give birth to puppies who could have costly medical problems you might not become aware of until after you bring your new pet home.

2. To Make Adoption My First Option: If you're looking to make a puppy part of your family, check your local shelters first. Not only will you be saving a life, but you will ensure that your money is not going to support a puppy mill. There are many dogs waiting for homes in shelters all across the country--and an estimated one in four is a purebred!
3. To Know How to Recognize a Responsible Breeder: If you've exhausted your options for adopting and are choosing to buy from a breeder, remember that responsible breeders have their dogs' interests in mind. They are not simply interested in making a sale, but in placing their pups in good homes. A responsible breeder should screen you as thoroughly as you screen them!

4. To See Where My Puppy Was Born and Bred: One sign that you are speaking to an unscrupulous breeder is that they will not let you see the facility in which your puppy was born. Always ask to see the breeding premises and to meet both parents (or at least the mother) of the puppy you want to take home.

5. Not to Buy a Puppy from the Internet: Buying a puppy from the Internet is as risky as buying from a pet store. If you buy a puppy based on a picture and a phone call, you have no way of seeing the puppy's breeding premises or meeting his parents. And those who sell animals on the Internet are not held to the Animal Welfare Act regulations--and so are not inspected by the USDA.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


With my new Keurig Ultimate coffee brewing system, my Mother's day gift to myself. After pricing Keurig coffeemakers everywhere in stores and online, I opted to get this one from Costco. It does not disappoint- in fact I am in LOVE! I am excited that I don't have to clean the coffee pot and throw away coffee every day and I get to drink fantastic fresh brewed coffee every morning. The K-cups that were included have all been excellent- the coffee is always hot and delicious.
The package available at Costco for $119.00 included the Keurig My K-Cup® Reusable Coffee Filter Unit, which I have priced anywhere from $14.95-$19.95 by itself. I have not tried it as yet, but this permanent filter enables you to use your own coffee, instead of paying the higher prices charged for the K cups. The packaging at Costco is the lowest price that I have found anywhere and also included a variety of 90 K-cups .
I guess, once again I should also state: I love Costco.
My Coffee brewing system has a fancy instruction manual comparable to those that come with a new automobile. I know for sure that it has as many bells and whistles as my Toyota Camry.
Enough said about this, I must go now and fill out the registration! Oh, by the way this is not a paid advertisement.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Beatles Celebration.....

Orlando Philharmonic features Beatles tribute.............. Can you imagine The Beatles playing in concert with a symphony orchestra. What would that have sounded like? Some lucky people have the opportunity to find out for them self with Classical Mystery Tour performing live in concert.

The four musicians in Classical Mystery Tour look and sound just like The Beatles, but Classical Mystery Tour is more than just a rock concert. The full show presents Beatles tunes sung, played, and performed exactly as they were written. Hear "Penny Lane" with a live trumpet section; experience the beauty of "Yesterday" with an acoustic guitar and string quartet; enjoy the rock/classical blend on the hard edged "I Am the Walrus." From early Beatles music on through the solo years, Classical Mystery Tour is the best of The Beatles like you've never heard them: totally live.Classical Mystery Tour features Jim Owen (John Lennon) on rhythm guitar, piano, and vocals; Tony Kishman (Paul McCartney) on bass guitar, piano, and vocals; Tom Teeley (George Harrison) on lead guitar and vocals; and Chris Camilleri (Ringo Starr) on drums and vocals. "We really make an effort to sound exactly like the originals," explains Owen, who admits that he and the other three Classical Mystery Tour members are big Beatles fans.

"The orchestra score is exact, right down to every note and instrument that was on the original recording. On 'Got to Get You Into My Life,' we have two tenor saxes and three trumpets. That's what it was written for, and that's what we use. And on 'A Day in the Life,' can you imagine that big orchestra crescendo happening live?"
We love the Beatles, yeah, yeah, yeah. This past Saturday evening, the Beatles tribute act Classical Mystery Tour joined the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra for an outdoor concert in the Springs, in Longwood Florida, joined by Andrew Lane the Orlando Philharmonic resident conductor. For the past 3 years, I have volunteered to work at this annual event, always with a different theme, and in return get 2 complimentary tickets to attend.
For the first time this was a Sold out event, one week prior to the event. This was a first, 2700 tickets were sold. Seating for the concert was on the lawn in front of and beside the Spring, where the stage for the orchestra was set up, under magnificent Oak trees. Lawn seating was on a first , first serve basis. Guests were encouraged to pack a blanket and a picnic. For several hours the guests forgot that the temperature was at an all time record high in the 90's and let themselves go back in time with music that brought you back several decades.
The Beatles themselves never actually got to play a live concert with a symphony orchestra, which is something that really made it fun. This group captured the Beatles recordings accurately and the crowd loved it and were brought to their feet to the music. When it was over the crowd stood and bellowed for more.
If you have the opportunity to see this concert where you not hesitate. When it was over, the crowd stood and bellowed for more.

"A high goose bump quotient." - LOS ANGELES TIMES

This incredible concert ended with words that the Beatles could never say: Check us out on our website!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bringing the Dream of Homeownership Within Reach

The Basics: 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Bringing the Dream of Homeownership Within Reach
As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed legislation that grants a tax credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers.
Here is more information about how the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit can help prospective home buyers become part of the American dream.
Who Qualifies?
First-time home buyers who purchase homes between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009.
To qualify as a “first-time home buyer” the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.
Which Properties Are Eligible?
The 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.
How Much Will the Credit Be?
The maximum allowable credit for home buyers is $8,000. Each home buyer’s tax credit is determined by two factors:
The price of the home—the credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to $8,000.
The buyer's income—single buyers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000—may receive the maximum tax credit.
If the Buyer(s)’ Income Exceeds These Limits, Can He/She Still Get a Credit?
Yes, some buyers may still be eligible for the credit.The credit decreases for buyers who earn between $75,000 and $95,000 for single buyers and between $150,000 and $170,000 for home buyers filing jointly. The amount of the tax credit decreases as his/her income approaches the maximum limit. Home buyers earning more than the maximum qualifying income—over $95,000 for singles and over $170,000 for couples are not eligible for the credit.
Will the Tax Credit Need to Be Repaid?
No. The buyer does not need to repay the tax credit, if he/she occupies the home for three years or more. However, if the property is sold during the three-year period, the credit will be recouped on the sale.
"Copyright National Association of REALTORS®, Reprinted from with permission."