Friday, April 27, 2012

Winter Park Community Urban Farm


The Winter Park Urban Farm is an urban farming experiment in the heart of Winter Park, FL. The Urban Farm’s mission is “to take a vacant residential lot in Winter Park and convert its fallow land into a productive garden.” Tia Meer is the owner of her own property called the Econ Farm and also one of the main leaders behind this project. She has taken her love of organic farming and sustainability as she works to turn this piece of land into a productive garden. Volunteers are welcome to help sustain this project.

Visit the Winter Park Urban Farm website to learn more.


Welcome to the Urban Farm!


Various plants are grown on the property. Young seedlings quickly turn into productive vegetables when given care. On the left is Dinosaur Kale and Asian Cucumber is on the right.


This netting hanging from wire makes a nice trellis for beans and other climbing plants. It is both useful and portable.


My sister and I worked together to pick beans.


It is surprising how many beans you can pick from a reasonably sized garden patch. We took home a bag and they tasted great. It is fun and rewarding to have a garden where you can simply walk outside to gather produce for meals.

My “Secret Garden”

lighter garden

My garden continues to grow. The wildflower bed is filling up, the tomatoes are producing, I’ve picked several cucumbers, harvested many salads from my garden, and my eggplants are finally producing after receiving hand pollination. I will be leaving for Haiti tomorrow and will share pictures and stories when I return. My dad and I will be doing garden projects along with other things. I’ll keep you posted on all my adventures and discoveries.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fiesta in the Park 2012 at Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando, FL

lake Eola

Lake Eola is a nice place to visit in downtown Orlando because of its attractive surroundings and natural feel. The park provides recreation for families and is a fun area to experience seeing swans. Lake Eola is known for its swans and even has swan-shaped paddle boats that are available for rent. The park hosts different festivals yearly such as Fiesta in the Park. This year the Spring Fiesta was April 14-15 and there will be another one November 3-4. Below are pictures that I took while we walked the .9 path that makes a circle around the lake.


The festival attracts various venders such as artists, crafters, and food vendors. There is so much to choose from since there are up to 200 venders that participate!


Sam Knowles is a chainsaw artist with an eye for transforming logs and tree stumps into works of art. The eagle above is just one of his many creations. You can view his portfolio on his website.


Ancestral Memory is a business who’s aim is to reclaim African cultural practices which have been abandoned or are in danger of being lost and forgotten. They offer lectures and children’s interactive programs. This gifted gentlemen was demonstrating the art of creating musical instruments.


This booth was attractive to me because of my love for plants. There were so many different bonsai trees along with other small plants.IMG_5247

This one reminds me of a bear with ears! It gave me a laugh when I first saw it.

IMG_5244little apples 

This little Bonsai tree looks like it has apples on it.

Nature at Lake Eola


The nature that surrounds the park, like these cypress trees, make it appealing to people that enjoy nature. It is a nice place to enjoy lunch with family.


The swans are one of the reasons I love going to Lake Eola. It reminds me of the book “The Ugly Duckling” that I used to read as a child. They may be ugly when young, but they turn into such beautiful birds!

swan sleeping 

This one is protecting its nest.

Black swan

Black swans also share the water at Lake Eola.


snapping turtle 

If this turtle could talk, I’m sure it would say “Don’t mess with me or I’ll take a snap at you.” Snapping turtles are not to be messed with unless you want to be lacking one finger!

At Earth Fest on April 28, South Seminole Farm and Nursery will have a booth and my book will be there if you want to stop by. To learn more about Earth Fest, you can click on the following link.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to make your own Raised Bed


Starting a garden through the usage of raised beds can be a lot of fun and have a more organized appearance. The two beds in the picture above were made from siding for houses that you can buy at the hardware store. To fill the boxes, we purchased organic gardening soil and mixed perlite in it. Perlite is a naturally occurring siliceous rock and is used for moisture retention. Too much perlite can make it hard for seeds to sprout. The bed above received more than what was needed, but adding more soil to the top helped to even it out.


With the soil in place, my dad began drilling holes for the screws. The screws are used for tying the twine which is a key component to the square foot gardening method.


Each square will hold a different plant. Depending on the size of your plant, you can leave empty spaces to accommodate a larger plant.


Laying down newspaper along the paths or under the raised beds helps to prevent weeds. We went through all our neighbors recycling bins to collect enough! After laying them down, we covered them with mulch. This is a more eco-friendly approach compared to weed control fabric. It does decompose though, so you will have to add more as the season progresses.




This is my lettuce bed. The Bib lettuce is starting to taste bitter because it is getting ready to flower. I just started some new lettuce seeds in trays and I transplanted Swiss Chard into the bed. The collards are the biggest plant in the box. They taste great after being boiled for five minutes.


This bed has four different species of tomato, four eggplants, a nasturtium, alibi cucumbers (for pickling), and Marketmore cucumbers.

Different Options


There are so many different options for growing plants. You can exercise your creative skills when it comes time to transplant or start seedlings. The picture above is a garden box that we built back in 2009 when I was just beginning my gardening adventure. I have learned so much since then. It works well for gardeners who want to avoid underground pests or just want to keep avoid all that back bending.


This is a great way to recycle old milk or orange juice cartons. These sunflowers are doing great in the “pots”.


Raised rows are another option. My dad is planting lemon grass in the other half of our yard to distill for essential oil.


Anything from crates, to boxes, or pots can be used for growing. In Florida though, it is harder because the intense heat dries out the soil. Bigger plants are happier with more soil so their roots can spread.


I hope you enjoyed the tour of my vegetable garden. I also have a butterfly garden as well where I rear caterpillars into butterflies. I will continue to keep you updated as I learn new things in gardening and post pictures of the different places I travel. My next trip will be to Haiti, April 28- May 4. In the future I will share some of the projects my dad and I will work on while we are there.