Revolutionary History in Tally Gardens

The July 4th sparklers have all fizzled out and I’m now officially into vacation days of summer. My daughter lives in Tallahassee, so I’m here in Talabama for the weekend.

Saturday was free admission day for several public attractions in Tallahassee — one was the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens and State Park. The garden is on the National Register of Historic Places. This garden is part of a land grant to Marquis de Lafayette — a close friend of George Washington. Lafayette, a French nobleman, fought in many battles during the American Revolution. He defended the American Colonies by contributing his own money to support the American fight for Independence, not to mention he was a general who led troops into battle. Further,  he became known as an outspoken supporter of representative government in France. His loyalty to the Colonies and his criticism of Napoleon Bonaparte angered the dictator and thus Lafayette went unmentioned in French history. Getting back to the Florida connection, the British divided the territory into East and West Florida using Apalachicola River as the dividing line. Florida traded hands between Great Britain, Spain, and France between 1783 and 1803.  Spain had control of Florida in1783 as part of the treaty that ended the American Revolution. Finally,  as part of the 1803 Louisiana Land Grant, Lafayette was awarded this territory as recognition of his service. To think, I thought I was taking a simple Saturday stroll through the park. Turns out history blooms in gardens too.


Mother’s Organics engineers compost

If you’re a gardener, you probably have a compost pile. I know I do. Mother’s Organics has the mother of all compost piles. They are banking on the grow-local movement in a big way.

The Bay Area Daylily Society took a field trip there this past Saturday, March 20th to tour the facility that is on the site of an old marrow pit scraped down to its solid clay floor. They get most of their natural material from Hillsborough County’s yard waste recycling pick up.  It’s piled, ground up, sifted and piled again into “highly engineered” compost rows. Finally, they get high quality soil mediums. In operation for only three years, they’re still experimenting with making a nutritious potting soil. So, what they sell is an amendment.  They also sell mulch, natural fill for erosion control, storm water treatment and grow systems.

I belong to two garden clubs, The Bay Area Daylily Society and the St. Petersburg Garden Club. Both clubs are my main source of earth-friendly information. The garden clubs provide a fix for my addiction to pretty plants to satisfy my eyes and tasty plants to satisfy my palate.

I have always been a little bit “granola,” but I can’t say I’m a vegetarian. In spite of collecting a whole closet full of vegetarian cookbooks, I still can’t make tofu tasty.

Recently, friend from up state New York sent me a magazine she thought I’d like, Edible, with a note attached: “I can’t believe I don’t see more about eating local down there.” Ever since she mentioned that, I have noticed that Sweet Bay advertises produce grown locally. My New York friend wondered whatever happened to all the farm stands she used to see at the intersections.  In fact, the corner stand I bought all my tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, squash, onions, garlic and in-season fruit closed about 3 years ago. I miss them.

So, I did what any gardener would do, I planted my own backyard veggies. Gardeners know it’s all about the soil. Since, the ground in my backyard is mostly sand, I use Earth Boxes (I have 3). The boxes come with a reliable soil recipe, so I’m almost guaranteed success.  But, I digress.

To my New York friend, here’s one way that recycling in Tampa Bay is helping the grow-local movement take root from the ground up.