Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Florida Native Garden Blog

My good FB friend, Ryan Robert Inskeep has taken the plunge and created a website and Facebook page. Ryan really knows his native Florida plants, how and where they grow, and how important it is to not use pesticides or fertilizers in our gardens, even in south Florida. I hope all of you will check out his blogs, and visit him at his FB page as well. He has THE best pictures!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In Celebration of Blanket Flower

Blanket flower is native from south Florida up through the great plains states and into Canada. Drought tolerant, can handle tough soils, readily reseeds.
Awesome plant for any pollinator, bees especially love it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

BTF Project at Cedar Point

Last Saturday, Jane Wallace from the Mangrove Chapter of FNPS (Florida Native Plant Society) invited me to lunch at the New Faul Inn with one caveat: to create an all Florida native grasses planting plan for an area near the visitor center at Cedar Point Environmental Center in Charlotte County. We would meet with other crazy "old" ladies for some fun and decision making.

Planting won't happen until the summer rains can hopefully guarantee irrigation. I say hopefully as the annual Florida summer rains have not been consistent for many years.  Just one more reason to go native wherever you live and to utilize those native plants that are the most resilient to tough conditions.

As you can see from the photo below, this is a disturbed area next to a building, mostly full sun all day.  The area needs to be mulched, but NO fertilizers or pesticides will be used! The grasses chosen are native to Charlotte County per Wunderlin, or are threatened or endangered in the state of Florida (dwarf fakahatchee grass). Signs will be added so visitors will know which grass is which and a little bit about that particular species. Our goal is two-fold:create an appealing landscape around the new stairs and educate visitors on the beauty and benefit of utilizing NATIVE grasses in their own landscapes. (The fountain grasses available at big box stores are not native and are invasive in the state of Florida.)

The native bunch grasses we have chosen are available through local native plant nurseries, and have proven themselves able to handle living within human landscapes.  The grasses also create color so are planted in swaths with that color in mind.

To join other crazy native plant people, be sure to check out the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society,  or visit Cedar Point Environmental Center .

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Go Wild for Wildflowers!

Wherever you live, there are native flowering plants that readily re-seed and can tolerate tough weather conditions. Find a native nursery, and purchase plants grown in your region. THESE are the plant that will bring in beneficial insects and lots of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Having native wildflowers near your vegetable garden will help to bring in predatory insects who will help keep your veggies safe.

While you're here, I hop you'll take time to watch some or all of The Back Ten Feet shows.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Leslie Lilly Gets it Right on Water

Also wanted to share this article from Leslie Lilly at Florida Weekly

Don’t worry
Imagine for a moment your tap water was the color of a rusty nail. It tasted terrible, it smelled like the bottom of your garbage can and bathing in it gave you a rash. Imagine if your kids manifested health and behavioral issues subsequent to the changes in the water.
Imagine becoming frantic and raising the alarm for someone, anyone, to take seriously the deterioration you and your neighbors were experiencing in the water supplied by the public utility.
Imagine this goes on for months, despite repeated complaints made to the responsible government agencies and urgent calls to your elected officials. Imagine the response that you get with astonishing regularity is, “Don’t worry. Be happy. Your water is perfectly safe.” The condescension you hear in their replies signals you and your neighbors are paranoid loonies.
Imagine nobody responding or caring until finally the truth is no longer deniable. Your data and evidence prove the community’s water is massively poisoned with lead. The catastrophic harm being done to public health is exposed.
Imagine thousands of kids subsequently tested have lead in their bodies. The consequence they suffer is irreversible damage to their brains and overall health.
Imagine that only then is a state of emergency declared, citing the poisoning of an entire city’s water supply. More than 100,000 residents are directly affected.
The trail of the state’s failures to prevent this catastrophe leads all the way to the governor. Officials resign and heads roll. The governor apologizes and says he will make it right amidst public demands he resign. He doesn’t and likely won’t.
From the safe distance of South Florida, we follow the news, take our showers, cook our food and drink water supplied by the local utility. We feel a pang of regret for Flint and its residents. We shake our heads in disbelief at the stupidity and negligence of the state public officials grown hostile to serving and protecting the public interest.
But this is what you get when state government ceases to function as an instrument of the people, and corporate enterprise drives its calling. We might think such a thing could not happen in our state or in our town. But our confidence may be misplaced.
The water crisis in Flint has history going back decades. Michigan state government consistently underinvested in the regulatory systems and infrastructure necessary to protect and conserve the city’s water supply and quality and special interests prevailed over the public interest in the wave of cost-cutting affecting public services. The state’s failures of policy and due diligence in Flint were aided and abetted by lawmakers who gutted and abandoned the state’s role of regulatory oversight, crippling the ways and means of state government to provide essential services and perform its role of stewardship on the public’s behalf.
The aversion of state officials to governing, as if the people mattered also, put the state’s long-term future at risk and allowed a corporate-friendly state bureaucracy to give away the store and pass the key to their favorite friends.
Florida is vulnerable on all counts. Gov. Rick Scott and the legislative majority are choking off budget resources for environmental protection and conservation, including failing to invest in infrastructure improvements demanded by climate change which affects protection and sustainability of Florida’s freshwater supply.
In the recent legislative session, the conservative majority sought to further shed the state’s environmental responsibilities, over-compensating special interests with policies proposed and favorable to satisfying a laundry list of their lobbyists’ wants and needs.
These included a major rewrite of state water policy that rewards polluters, strips meaningful language to protect Florida’s freshwater aquifer and springs and undermines the state’s commitment to restoration of the Everglades.
It includes supporting legislation to bar local governments from enacting prohibitions on fracking, a process which involves drilling thousands of feet below ground and forcibly injecting millions of gallons of toxic chemicals into layers of rock to release gas and oil.
To do this, they ignored the fact that rock in Florida is mostly limestone, porous as Swiss cheese, highly vulnerable to leeching contamination, and a geological freeway into the state’s freshwater aquifers. Fracking subjects the water supply for millions of residents to the threat of chemical poisoning. And that’s only one issue with the process.
Meanwhile, the Miami H erald reports, phosphorus and ammonia levels increased dramatically in the aquifer under Biscayne Bay after Florida Power & Light Co. started sucking up as much as 100 million gallons a day of freshwater to cool its nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. The Biscayne Aquifer is the source of drinking water for 3 million people in South Florida.
So how do you think Gov. Scott and the conservative majority in our state Legislature reply to the fears being raised about these issues and the threats they represent to our state’s water supply and quality?
Why, they say, “Don’t worry. Be happy. Your water is perfectly safe.” ¦
— Leslie Lilly is a native Floridian. She resides with her family and pugs in Jupiter. Email her at llill

Florida's Power Companies Screw Over the People

Had to share this article from Brent Batten

Brent Batten: Surprise, surprise. Big electric wins power struggle
By Brent Batten
In the least surprising development of the young political season, the proposed solar energy amendment backed by Florida's power companies won out over a competing amendment backed by libertarians and environmental groups.
While both proposals would put the topic of solar power before voters, their potential impacts on the state's energy market are markedly different.
The one backed by Floridians for Solar Choice would have made it legal for residents to lease solar equipment and use the power generated in their homes.
Excess power could be sold to neighboring properties, something called a third party power purchase agreements. Florida is one of four states that prohibit such agreements. Electricity can only be purchased from a utility.
Now, when Floridians make the substantial investment to buy solar equipment, they can only use the power they generate themselves.
Passage would foster small-scale solar power generation now almost nonexistent in the state.
The other, backed with millions of dollars from Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric and other conventional power produces, would essentially keep the status quo.
Called Consumers for Smart Solar, its main selling points, according to its supporters, are that it allows state and local governments to regulate solar producers, prevents fraud and protects traditional electric customers from subsidizing solar users who still need to connect to the traditional grid for backup power.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said the Consumers for Smart Solar effort had reached the 683,000 verified signatures needed to make it on the 2016 ballot. Only one other amendment, seeking legalization of medical marijuana, was certified for the ballot.
Consumers for Smart Solar was created about seven months after Floridians for Solar Choice. Critics believe its main purpose was to prevent Floridians for Solar Choice from collecting enough signatures to get on the ballot. With two similar sounding petitions circulating, voters wouldn't be sure which one, if either, to sign.
A Consumers for Smart Solar video contrasting the two proposals says Floridians for Solar Choice's plan would benefit, "Big, out-of-state solar companies."
That's doubly ironic. The biggest thing in the petition drive leading up to Tuesday's certification was the role big, in-state electric companies played in gathering petitions. The amendment labeled as being for "consumers" was in fact bankrolled by the producers.
Consumers for Smart Solar has raised about $7 million and spent almost all of it, according to state campaign finance reports. While some of the money went to advertising, consulting and legal fees the bulk, more than $5.3 million was spent directly on petition gathering — paying people to stand in public places soliciting signatures.
FP&L and Tampa Electric each contributed more than $900,000 to the effort, Duke Energy more than $1 million. Gulf Power Company put in $715,000.
Only 13 of the 90 contributions received by Consumers for Smart Electric were of $1,000 or less.
Conversely, Floridians for Solar Choice raised about $2 million through the end of 2015. Most of it, about $1.5 million, came from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a Tennessee-based nonprofit group that relies on foundation grants and environmental groups for its funding. Of about 550 donations to Floridians for Solar Choice, 77 were of $1,000 or more.
Floridians for Solar Choice spent just over $1 million for petition gatherers.
A bill that would accomplish many of the same things as the Floridians for Solar Choice amendment would have has been introduced in the Legislature but hasn't been heard by a committee.
Stephen Smith, executive director of SACE, said the petition drive fell about 200,000 short of the required 683,000. The collected signatures are good for two years so the group may try to get on the 2018 ballot using the same signatures. He said he's hopeful the state Supreme Court will find the Consumers for Smart Solar language unacceptable and strike it from the ballot.
According to the Consumers for Smart Solar website, their effort is all about protecting consumers and enshrining the right to have solar energy (as long as its purchased from an existing utility company) in the state constitution.
Sowing confusion among voters is not listed as one of its goals.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see just how much money the big electric companies put into getting the Consumers for Smart Solar amendment passed, compared with how much they spent just getting it on the ballot.
A significant drop off in the effort would signal that passage maybe wasn't the goal to begin with. That wouldn't really be surprising at all, would it?

Monday, February 1, 2016

My New Friend and Accomplice

Recently, a young man, still in school, named Elijah Friesen, stopped by All Native Garden Center where I work part time and asked if he could do a "show" about the place. Of course I said yes! Elijah really knows his native plants and butterflies, and I hope you will take some time and visit his channel on You Tube. It's called Adventerous Kids , and here is the link.

Thank you Elijah, for your show, your love of nature, and for being a friend.