Harvesting rain water: nature’s bounty

Harvesting rain water: nature’s bounty

July 17, 2020
By Deborah Haggett - Garden Club of Cape Coral (Special to The BreezeCape Coral Daily Breeze
Click Here for full article in the Daily Breeze

53 inches! 53 inches of rain on average per year in Lee County! According to the Lee County rain gauge data, June is typically the wettest month, averaging about 9 inches of rain, while August is the rainiest month with approximately 17 rain days. As gardeners, we often wish we could reserve some of that rainfall for the very hot, dry days throughout the year. We may not be able to control nature, but we can nurture our gardens with harvested rain water, collected and saved during rainy season.

Many gardeners are fortunate to have rain barrels for this purpose. Rain barrels are a low-cost way to collect rain water from our rooftops and store it for hand watering or drip irrigation on dry days. One inch of rain from a small 1,000-square-foot roof can deliver over 500 gallons of water. Although this water is not filtered or treated to use for drinking or cooking, it is acceptable for watering indoor and outdoor plants. In fact, scientists from Washington State, New Jersey and Australia have studied rooftop run-off for pollutants and have found that the water is "surprisingly clean" and safe for watering edibles especially when the water is directed to the soil first. However, they recommended that rain water from treated wood-shake roofs, copper roofs, zinc roofs or roofs treated with toxic chemicals not be used for watering edibles.

That being said, rain barrels offer several benefits to the home gardener. First, if reclaimed city water is not accessible to you, having a rain barrel will save you money on your water bill. Second, you can water from your rain barrel as you need to without worrying about irrigation schedules and restrictions. Third, plants prefer rain water since tap water contains chlorine, fluorides and salt. All of which can stunt the growth of your plants. As an aside, if you must use tap water, fill your buckets and let them sit out for 24 hours so the chlorine and fluoride can dissipate.

Harvested rainwater can also be used to fill ponds and bird feeders, creating a freshwater oasis for migrating birds, butterflies and wildlife. In addition, rain barrel collection systems have an overflow feature that can direct excessive water to your garden or, better yet, a rain garden. This feature will help to "slow the flow" of stormwater runoff, thereby protecting our groundwater from the pollutants that are washed off our landscapes into our nearby waterways.

Some tips: Plan the placement of your rain barrel near a downspout in an area accessible to your garden. Use a tight-fitting lid and downspout to keep mosquitoes out of your barrel or add about 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the barrel creating a surface area that keeps mosquitoes from laying eggs there. Although not required, you can paint your rain barrel. You can keep it simple and paint it to match your home or you can be creative and add an artistic touch.

Rain barrels are available locally and online. For specific details and more tips, you can join the next rain barrel workshop hosted by Cape Coral Parks and Recreation in conjunction with the Lee County Master Gardeners. This virtual workshop is scheduled for July 25 at 10 a.m. Registration is $45 and includes a completely assembled rain barrel that can be picked up at Rotary Park in Cape Coral. To register, please call the Rotary Park office at 239-549-4606.

Happy Gardening & Stay Florida Friendly!

Deborah Haggett is a member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral and a Lee County Master Gardener volunteer.

You’re Not in Kansas Anymore!

You’re not in Kansas anymore!

July 10, 2020
By CATHY DUNN - Garden Club of Cape Coral (Special to The BreezeCape Coral Daily Breeze
Click Here for article in the Daily Breeze

Southwest Florida is a rapidly growing region of our wonderful state, and it is estimated that 6 out of 10 new Florida residents move here from other states. The Cape Coral/Fort Myers Metro Area has the fifth highest growth rate in the nation according to Census figures, so we are welcoming many new residents from outside Florida every day. The physical beauty of our area is no doubt one of the major factors influencing people to relocate here, but it can be challenging to adapt our former gardening practices to the requirements of a year-round growing season in our subtropical paradise!

While many residents may long for the evergreens, spring bulbs and wildflowers they enjoyed in their previous homes, I invite you to experience the abundance of subtropical plants and native species that will flourish here in Southwest Florida. It is not difficult to create a beautiful landscape that doesn't require a great deal of maintenance if you just consider the governing principles of successful gardening in our unique climate.

In Florida your garden can experience vastly different conditions depending on the season. Florida is not called "The Sunshine State" purely for marketing purposes -- most of our days are bright and sunny. As the angle of the sun changes, areas that are shaded in winter can be in full sun during the summer months. The seasonality of our rainfall can also affect your landscape; the drier winter months give way to abundant rain in the summer that can cause soggy areas. And our soils are sandy, which allows rapid drainage during summer rains but also discourages water retention in the winter months. Because sandy soils also dissipate nutrients more readily, fertilizer requirements may be different.

So how can you best adapt to the new Florida environment that you may feel is so alien to your previous gardening endeavors? The most important consideration for gardening anywhere is to select the right plant for the right place. Observe your garden at different times of the day throughout the year to determine which areas are shaded and which receive more sun. Since some areas may be in full sun in the summer and more shaded in the winter, look for plants that will tolerate a sun/shade mix. Your local garden center can help you identify these plants. If your sandy soil dries out quickly and produces plants that appear below par, your best option is to add organic matter, such as compost, to the soil. Compost not only helps retain moisture, but it also promotes the retention of nutrients and encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms that are vital to your plants' health. Mulch is also an easy way to help cool the soil, preserve moisture and prevent weeds and it makes your garden beds more attractive.

One of the best ways to learn more about gardening in Southwest Florida is to visit the University of Florida IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) Extension Website at www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu. You'll find a wealth of resources here, including various lawn and garden topics, handbooks and FAQs. Extensive gardening information for Lee County can be found at: sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lee/?topic=home-landscapes

Compared to your previous home, the Southwest Florida environment may seem quite different and challenging, but don't be afraid to experiment with the beautiful exotic plants that thrive here. Rather than wishing for the familiar plants you grew before, you can cultivate an exciting landscape that has a "sense of place." After all, the graceful palms and vibrant tropical flowers that grace our area surely influenced your decision to make Southwest Florida your new home. Reflect your joy at being in Southwest Florida in your garden!

Cathy Dunn is a Florida Master Gardener and Garden Club of Cape Coral member.

Right Plant Right Place

Right Plant, Right Place

May 22, 2020
By JANETTA FOX - Garden Club of Cape Coral (Special to The BreezeCape Coral Daily Breeze
Click Here for article in the Daily Breeze
Right Plant, Right Place is the first of 9 principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping. In the past my standard approach to both plant selection and location went something like this. First -- a plant catches my fancy. Second -- I purchase said plant, taking only a cursory glance at important information specific to it. Third, I place said plant in the ground without considering whether the location will be ideal over time. Fourth, I tend to the plant and keep my fingers crossed, hoping for a positive outcome.

As you might imagine, this particular approach proved less than optimal. By putting the cart before the horse, oftentimes the location did not match the plant's requirements, causing stress to the plant and more work for me as I attempted to "fix" problems as they arose. Lesson learned? Before jumping to purchase, upfront planning is key, with one important element being to get the "lay of the land." By doing so, we can save time and effort going forward and have a better chance that plants will not only survive but thrive with proper care.

During the planning process, begin by taking a stroll around your property. As you explore, consider the movement of the sun over the course of the day. Which areas enjoy morning sun and which areas experience full sun most of the day? Where is shade most prevalent? The seasons also play a role. A plant that appreciates one locale in the winter sun may find the sun too brutal during the summer in the same location. For those plants, placing them in movable containers may be a viable option, giving you the ability to relocate the plant as the seasons dictate.

Soil composition, pH and moisture are other important considerations. If you live in a residential area, chances are the soil is mostly sand and fill and the pH measures alkaline rather than neutral or acidic. To determine actual pH, the best approach would be to gather soil samples from different areas around the property and get a free soil test done at the Lee County Extension Office.

With results in hand you can then make informed decisions moving forward. Keep in mind that trying to "fix" the soil by adding supplements to either raise or lower pH to accommodate a poorly placed plant can be time consuming and costly. Soil amendments are normally only temporary remedies and re-applications are often needed, especially when attempting to acidify soil. Better to select pH suitable plants at the outset.

Does the soil hold moisture or is it well-draining? Because water is such a precious and valued resource, consider current conditions and how best to conserve water within the landscape moving forward. Some plants and turf especially crave water and suffer when it is lacking, while many native plants and some non-natives are drought tolerant once established.

What has been presented here is just the tip of the gardening adventure. To view more detail regarding Right Plant, Right Place and the remaining Nine Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping, visit ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/materials/FYN_Handbook_2015_web.pdf. "The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook" is a great resource document.

Happy gardening!

Janetta Fox is a member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.

Message from the School District of Lee County March 2020

Dear Chamber Members and Friends,
Please see the message below from the School District of Lee County.
The School District of Lee County is beginning distance learning for students on Monday, March 30th. We need the community's
assistance in spreading the word. We are asking that you share the following information with your organizational stakeholders.
  1. Families with internet access should contact their child’s school to pick up a Chromebook (computer) by Friday. Only one Chromebook (computer) per household
    will be issued.
  2. Food is available for families at
    A graphic is attached that can be shared.
  3. Click on the following link to access the Students and Families’ Distance Learning Plan
    which is where families should begin the learning process.
These documents are translated in Spanish and Creole. If parents have questions they should reach out to
It takes a village and you are an important part of this process!
Dr. Jeffrey Spiro
Chief Academic Officer
2855 Colonial Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33966
o: 239-334-1102
Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral | 239.549.6900
2051 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral, FL 33904 |

Edison and Ford Winter Estates Newsletter November 2019

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Upcoming Events and Programs
November 8, 2019

Black Maria Film Festival Returns 
November 8, 6 p.m. 
Join Edison Ford, in partnership with Florida Southwestern State College, in welcoming the 38th annual Black Maria Film Festival. Films will be screened after sunset on the historic Ford lawn and FSW students will facilitate discussion. Refreshments will be available for purchase. Limited seating is available; visitors are advised to bring a folding chair. 

Edison Ford members: $5; non-members: $10. Tickets will be sold at the ticket office on the evening of the event. Proceeds will benefit Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas. 

Visit FREE When You Become a MEMBER! 
Click here to learn more

Creating a Hypertufa Mounting Board for Orchids and Other Air Plants 
November 2 and 9, 9 a.m. 
Create a one-of-a-kind living garden sculpture using Hypertufa, a mixture of Portland cement, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and water. Retired art teacher, Jim Hopton will instruct this two-part class in the Edison Ford greenhouse and demonstrate various uses of hypertufa in the garden.

Edison Ford members: $50; non-members: $75. Limited to 10 participants. Both classes must be attended. Participants will meet at the Information Booth. Register online today. 

November 9, 11 a.m. 
Class held in the South Florida Water Management Lecture Hall, 2301 McGregor Blvd.
Yomassage™ is a fusion of relaxing and supported restorative yoga positions with hands on massage therapy. Students hold each position for around 8-10 minutes while a massage therapist performs manual massage techniques. The classes are limited to 5 participants per class and lasts for approximately 90 minutes. Classes are led by Dolores J. Gozzi, a Licensed Massage/Alternative Therapist (MA37360), who has completed a 16-hour Yomassage™ certification. 

Cost: Edison Ford members: $55; non-members: $65 per class, tickets can be purchased at the membership desk, the ticket counter or online. Advanced reservations are encouraged as space is limited. Admission to the site is not included. 

Full Moon Meditation 
November 9, 1:30 p.m. 
Class held in the South Florida Water Management Lecture Hall, 2301 McGregor Blvd.
Relax, breathe, release and enjoy this personal journey through sound vibration with singing bowls and drums.

The class is taught by Dolores J. Gozzi, a Licensed Massage/Alternative Therapist (MA37360). Bring something to lie on like a yoga mat or towel, water, and a small pillow.

Cost: Edison Ford members: $20; non-members: $25, tickets can be purchased at the membership desk, the ticket counter or online. Admission to the site is not included. 

Garden Class: A Fresh Look at Holiday Plants for Southwest Florida
November 9, 1:30 p.m.

Class held in the Lee County Garden Council Building, 2166 Virginia Avenue
Karen Maxwell will teach the first class of the season, " A Fresh Look at Holiday Plants." In this class, we will explore some of the history, lore, mistakes, gardener's favorites and introduce new plants and ideas, that will hopefully help you with your holiday gift list! A wonderful selection of the plants discussed will be available for sale in the Garden Shoppe. Participants may enter a drawing to win a copy of "Poinsettias- Myths & Legends," a fun collectible holiday book for any gardener! 

Edison Ford members: $35; non-members: $50. Limited to 25 participants. Register online today. 

Garden Talk: Growing Hibiscus 
November 9, 10 a.m. 
If you would like to grow Hibiscus in your garden, come to the next Garden Talk. Nancy Kopp from the Hibiscus Society will speak on the "Culture of Growing Great Hibiscus." With hundreds of hybrid colors and some of the tried and true varieties, we are sure there is one suited just right for your garden, Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a hat, as we will walk around the property to see many beautiful Hibiscus varieties. Participants will receive a 20% off coupon for use toward plants from the Garden Shoppe. 

Edison Ford members: $10; non-members: $15 

Free Admission for Veterans! 
November 11 
To honor the men and women who have served our country, veterans and one guest will be admitted free on Veterans Day. Free admission includes an audio tour of the historic homes, gardens, laboratory, and museum. To receive free admission, veterans must present a VA identification card or their DD214 papers. Current servicemen and women presenting an active military ID are admitted free all year long. 

Volunteer Meeting and Lecture Series 
Along the Caloosahatchee River 
Southwest Florida Water Management Lecture Hall 
November 12, 10 a.m. 
Our November meeting features Amy Bennett Williams, author of "Along the Caloosahatchee River." Amy, a journalist for The News-Press, tells the Caloosahatchee's story of the ancient animals that once roamed its shores, the 19th-century entrepreneurs who bent it to their wills, and the celebrities who have relaxed on its waters. Copies will be available for sale and signing by the author after the meeting for a special volunteer rate of $18. 

Volunteer meetings are free and open to the public. Contact Bobby Feldman or Holly Shaffer, Program Managers at 239-335-3694 for information. 

Museum Musings 
Clara Ford: the matron of Dearborn 
November 13, 11:30 a.m. 

Join Alexandria Edwards, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, as she explores the life and times of the woman they called the "Believer."

Included with admission; free for Edison Ford members. 

Homeschool Science Scholars    
Simple Machines
     Grades 1-3: November 14, 9:30 a.m.
Grades 4-6: November 14, 1 p.m.
   Grades 7-8: November 13, 10 a.m.  
Challenge your mind and foster collaboration with our popular ongoing homeschool series! The focus is on history, simple machines, and mechanics. Register online today. 
Edison Ford members: $15; non-members: $25 per class. Includes one adult and one child. $5 for each additional child (subject to availability). 

 Silk Scarf Workshops with Artist Marie Dyer 
   November 16, 9:30 a.m.
A variety of techniques will be taught that will inspire painters of all levels to create their own one-of-a-kind scarf. The scarves can be worn or displayed as art! Participants may book a single date or return for multiple sessions. 
Edison Ford members: $95 per class; non-members: $105 per class 

Emerging Inventors (Ages 1-5)
November 19, 10 a.m. 
Children and parents will learn, play and gain valuable social skills while exploring the homes, gardens, and museum.
Edison Ford members: $10; non-members: $15 per class. Includes one adult and one child. $5 for each additional child (subject to availability). 

Rhythm on the River
Peace of Woodstock 

November 22, 6 p.m. 
Dig out your tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms and travel back in time with Edison Ford as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Peace of Woodstock pays tribute to the famous three-day festival that was held in upstate New York in 1969. Bring a lawn chair and a sweater if the weather is chilly. There will be a cash bar and refreshments available for purchase. No coolers permitted. Visitors should park in the main Edison Ford parking lot. 
Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket counter. Edison Ford members: $20; non-members: $25 per class. Includes one adult and one child; all tickets purchased at the door: $30. 

Edison Ford Fall Garden Festival 
November 23-24, 9 a.m.
For anyone who enjoys gardening, this is a must-see event! Dozens of plant and garden vendors will have booths under the Banyan and other historic trees all around the museum and lab. This is an opportunity to shop for hard-to-find plants that grow successfully in Southwest Florida. The Edison Garden Shoppe will also have many plants, trees, herbs and garden-related items available for sale. Plant vendors and Edison Ford horticulturalist will be on hand to answer gardening questions and help you with your selections. 
Food trucks and live music will be on site too, so come out and spend the day shopping for plants! This free event does not included tours of the homes or admission to the museum and laboratory. 

Veggies Available for Sale in the Garden Shoppe! 
It's planting season in SWFL! Our Garden Shoppe just received a large order of lush veggies and herbs ready to be planted in your garden. Veggies available include tomato, eggplant, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, lettuce, celery, chives and arugula. If you don't have the space for a garden at home, you can rent a raised bed in our community garden. To learn more about renting a raised bed, call Eric or Debbie at 239-334-7419.

Edison Ford Community Garden 
Can you believe that it is time to think about Florida's vegetable growing season again? Edison Ford's community garden has raised beds that are being prepared by Eric Frankovitch, Horticulture Specialist. There is also a new shed that can be used by gardeners for tool storage. New this year, Eric will hold meetings for community garden members. 

The community garden membership runs from October through May. Prices are $100 for non-members, $75 for members. For more information, please call 239-334-7419 or email Eric at Efrankovitch@edisonford.org

Rare Wood Slabs
Almost Gone!
If you haven't had chance to get a wood slab yet, now is your chance! Wood slabs from rare Shaving Brush and Mango trees are available. Call Sherri Muske at 239-335-3677 to make an appointment to view the wood. 

For additional information about programs, classes or events, visit EdisonFord.org or call 239-334-7419. Tickets may be purchased online and online registration is available for children's classes. 

Copyright © 2019 Edison & Ford Winter Estates, All rights reserved.
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Fort Myers, FL 33901

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