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Garden Q&A

Calling all gardeners

The garden festival season is in full swing. Whether you're an experienced gardener or a novice, I can't encourage you enough to put these events on your calendar.

They're great places to recharge after a too-busy, high-stress week. You'll meet experts who can answer your questions and share their love of gardening. You'll find organizations devoted to specific plants you love. There's plenty here for the kids to get excited about that doesn't involve electronic games. You'll find plants you don't see at the garden centers. And there's no better place to find plants at very affordable prices, which we frugal gardeners are always looking for!

I'll be speaking at some of these events in the next few months. I hope to meet some of you. I always bring free seeds and stuff and love to hear about your gardening adventures.

Q: Years ago you told me to use calf manna to fertilize my plumeria. I didn't think to ask how much to use or how often.

A: I feed my soil in March, July, September and December. I sprinkle either calf manna or menhaden fish meal all around the plant out to the spread of the branches. I don't measure, but I sprinkle enough so it's plainly visible, then water it in deeply.

Shell's Feed and Garden Supply at 9513 N Nebraska in Tampa (813-932-9775) and Largo Feed and Garden Supply at 210 West Bay Drive (727-581-8743) sell both of those very effective natural soil foods. Call before you go to make sure they are in stock. Any feed store that carries the Manna Pro line can order calf manna or menhaden fish meal for you.

Another reader wanted to know where to find Sunniland Palm 8-6-6. Home improvement stores such as Lowe's carry it.

Mailbox vines may lose stamp of approval

Q: Several times recently you have suggested planting flowering plants under and vining up the mailbox. Years ago my letter carrier begged me not to plant flowers that attract bees and wasps, because they present a threat to letter carriers.

A: Feeding bees are usually non-aggressive, but wasps can be a real danger.

So, where have all

the calendulas gone?

Comment: Back in January, in a story on calendulas, you noted the closing of Charlie's Plant Farm in Thonotosassa, once a major supplier of calendulas in six-packs. I'm Bruce McMurray, operator of Florida Contract Growers in Bushnell, a wholesale nursery that began some 30 years ago in Pinellas as Scherer's Plant Farm. Our head grower, Teresa Burr, who has been with the nursery since its beginning and remembers Charlie's, tells me that lack of demand dictated removing calendulas from our offerings. (Apparently we were ahead of our time.) If your articles ignite a new demand, we'd be happy to supply them again. We still provide four-packs of numerous annuals, herbs and vegetables to our garden center and nursery customers. In the St. Petersburg area, these include Willow Tree Nursery, Dolins Inc., Gulf Coast Garden Center and Neeld-Gordon.

John A. Starnes Jr., born in Key West, is an avid organic gardener and rosarian who studies, collects, cultivates and hybridizes roses for Florida. He can be reached at [email protected]

. Festival calendar

USF Annual Spring Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13, USF Botanical Gardens, $4 admission.

22nd annual Green Thumb Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 and 27, Walter Fuller Park, 7891 26th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 893-7335.

USF Botanical Gardens Orchid and Rose Fantasy, May 10 &11. (I'll be at this one.)

USF Botanical Gardens Butterfly, Native Plants and Herb Fair, June 14 and 15.

USF Botanical Gardens Tropical Plant Fair, July 12 and 13.

USF Botanical Gardens Bromeliad Bonanza, Aug. 9.

USF Botanical Gardens Fall Plant Festival, Oct. 11 and 12.

USF Botanical Gardens is at Pine and Alumni drives off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, just north of Fowler Avenue in Tampa. The Web site is

garden. Watch the Garden Calendar in this section for details about these festivals as they draw near.

Calling all gardeners 03/14/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2008 6:00am]
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