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Seminole pumpkins a native addition to garden

Q: Where can I get seeds for Seminole and La Primera pumpkins? We're planting beds at the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines for the patients and think these would be a great addition. Is it too late to plant them for this season?

A: Seminole pumpkins are natives and therefore tough. I get best results from an April sowing, but I am planting some calabaza pumpkin types this month as an experiment. The best source for Seminole pumpkins and other calabazas is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri. Phone (417) 924-8917 or visit

Sources for plants in recent stories

Several readers have written to ask where to find plants I've mentioned in recent stories. Here's your shopping list:

Formosa azaleas?

I see these now and then in retail garden stores, usually in March and April, when they're blooming. They might be cheaper later in the season when they've stopped flowering. By mail order, try TyTy Nursery in Georgia: toll-free 1-800-972-2101 or

Hot-water cabomba, blue pickerel weed, iris hexagona, white water lilies, purple tropical water lilies? You mentioned these in a story about building a fish pond. My nursery in Seminole doesn't carry them.

Try Twigs and Leaves in St. Petersburg for most of these: (727) 822-5400. For the purple tropical water lilies, try fishpond supply nurseries such as Pondscapes in South Tampa, (813) 839-8062. I got my fanwort (hot-water cabomba) from an aquarium supply store.

Plants or cuttings of chaya?

Try Jene's Tropicals in St. Petersburg, (727) 344-1668. They brought in 100 plants after my story on chaya appeared. Or, as the article suggested, look for chaya at plant sales and butterfly garden club meetings. These plants are quite tropical, so if the temperatures next winter are likely to hit 28 degrees and stay there for an evening, I'd cover them with a trash can or cardboard box. I'd also be sure to root some spares in pots you could bring inside. They are a very tough and lovely plant.

Many materials make good trellises

Q: Do you have any ideas about how to build an inexpensive trellis? I need it for cantaloupe, watermelon, string beans and cucumbers.

A: I like to buy cheap 10-foot rebar at a home center. Pound two into the ground about 3 feet deep as far apart as you want the trellis to be. Span them with a piece of white vinyl trellis, also available at a home center, or nylon rope, or bamboo, a discarded chain-link gate, or 2 by 2s lashed to them with speaker wire. Let your imagination loose and scrounge around. Even a discarded ladder can be covered with vines.

Kill chickweed, or feed it to the chicks

Q: What can you recommend to kill chickweed that I can buy at my local home center?

A: Glyphosate compounds like Roundup would do it, but I personally would use only Rodeo to make my own form of Roundup free of unlisted additives. Chickweed pulls up very easily, especially after a rain. If you're blessed with either chickens or caged songbirds it makes great food for them. Or you can compost it.

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

Seminole pumpkins a native addition to garden 07/18/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 11:07pm]
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