Victoria Freeman

Collards – Grow Your Own

  In the era of heated gun control dialogue I am hesitant to promote any vegetation as “bulletproof”, but here goes. If you want a vegetable that has been promoted as the “New Kale,” try collards. Yep, collards that southern green staple that is usually eaten as a slimy green mass supporting a ham hock thus creating the faux alcohol known as “Pot Liquor.” In the interest of full disclosure, I happen to love an occasional bowl of that liquor especially when served with a rich slab of corn bread. While the cost of triple washed, organic, supermarket kale now …

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Growing On The River

  Ten blocks away from the is the mini-farm of three folks who produce both high quality protein and a variety of veggies. , son Eli, and have turned every square inch of their Forbes Street property into a petite food production paradise.  There is even a roof garden at the entrance to their bungalow. “I see no point in grass,” confesses Crain-Orth, who is the flame-haired force behind , the organization that pushed for –and got—a permanent backyard hen ordinance in Duval County. She is quick to make the distinction between backyard hens and commercial chicken houses. “We have …

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Scratch Your Gardening Itch

Short of ideas for your Grow Your Own Garden? Recently moved into a condo with no available garden area? Living in your van? You might want to drive or stroll over to the located on Superior Street near the IFAS center http://duval.ifas.ufl.edu. Started decades ago, the IFAS garden provides a limited number of plots for folks who are sans soil. For folks who have both soil and sunlight, but might lack ideas, the garden is a creativity incubator. At a recent open house, Master Gardeners, under the leadership of , Veggie Gardener Wizard, informed novices and pros alike about bowl …

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Grow Your Own: URBAN GARDENS

Short of ideas for your Grow Your Own Garden? Recently moved into a condo with no available garden area? Living in your van? You might want to drive or stroll over to the located on Superior Street near the IFAS center. Started decades ago, the IFAS garden provides a limited number of plots for folks who are sans soil. For folks who have both soil and sunlight, but might lack ideas, the garden is a creativity incubator. At a recent open house, Master Gardeners, under the leadership of , Veggie Gardener Wizard, informed novices and pros alike about bowl gardens, …

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Grow Your Own: URBAN GARDENS

Short of ideas for your Grow Your Own Garden? Recently moved into a condo with no available garden area? Living in your van? You might want to drive or stroll over to the located on Superior Street near the IFAS center. Started decades ago, the IFAS garden provides a limited number of plots for folks who are sans soil. For folks who have both soil and sunlight, but might lack ideas, the garden is a creativity incubator. At a recent open house, Master Gardeners, under the leadership of , Veggie Gardener Wizard, informed novices and pros alike about bowl gardens, …

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Grow Your Own – HERITAGE GARDEN

A century ago, in that pre-T.V. time before Publix, Winn Dixie, and Trader Joes, beach folks still had to eat. The actual way they connected with their calories is on daily display at the Beaches Heritage Garden. Located at the corner of Beach Blvd. and 3rd Ave., the museum garden is wedged between two historic houses (although one is still up on a trailer bed) and is surrounded by an authentic split rail fence. It features much of the produce Pablo Beach pioneers would have planted to survive Northeast Florida’s hurricanes, humidity and heat. Why is this important? Modern gardeners …

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Grow Your Own: Tomatoes and Other Summer Fare

  Before 1820, individuals didn’t need to zip line over alligator pits when they could just  eat a tomato for a whiff of fear induced adrenaline? Yes, there was a time in agricultural history when North Americans assumed tomatoes were poisonous because they were members of the nightshade family. According to , associate professor of Kinesiology at J.U., in 1820 a fearless man ate a tomato on the steps of the Salem, N.J., courthouse to prove tomatoes were harmless. Maybe he was embarrassed that we were so far behind other folks. Europeans had been chomping tomatoes about 300 years before …

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Spring Gardening: Grow Your Own – April 2015

Want a great reason to spring into gardening? In addition to eggplant, okra and homegrown tomatoes there’s homegrown happiness. According to , gardens may provide the new Prozac.  Mycobacterium  vaccae, a soil microbe, has been found to mirror the effect on neurons that antidepressant drugs provide. Check out www.discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/raw-data-is-dirt-the-new-prozac for more information. This does not come as a shock to most gardeners who find their garden a natural happy spot. Indeed, Robert Rodale, founder of the Rodale organic empire, says, “In almost every garden, the land is made better and so is the gardener.” And an anonymous someone added, “Gardening …

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Grow Your Own-March 2015: Water, Water, NOT Everywhere

Recently my Inner English teacher reread a statement three times because she thought it contained a misspelling. It said, “As adults there’s a real danger in becoming competent. “  Shouldn’t that be incompetent?   But that was not the case. At least that’s the opinion of Mike Becktle, a nationally published creativity consultant. According to Becktle becoming excellent in an area squelches the production of new ideas. Competence can kill creativity.  Could this be true? In gardening, I can’t claim too much competence. One area in which I felt I deserved at least a B- was in  garden watering . Having …

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Tree Hill Nature Center, Old Arlington, Jacksonville, FL, photo by Fran Ruchalski

OLD ARLINGTON: Tree Hill

“Follow the trail. It is well marked. The alligator will be on your right and the black goats on your left.” These were the intriguing instructions I received on my quest for the  at  on Arlington’s Lone Star Road. I liked Tree Hill instantly when I saw a sign offering free compost at the front gate. I also liked the fact a staghorn fern roughly the size of a golf cart graced the entrance. Well-marked trails led to the office and to the helpful man who provided the garden location instructions. Because the trails close at 4pm, and it was …

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