Martha Hall moved into her New Suburb Beautiful neighborhood in 1946. It wasn’t until then that she took an interest in gardening. And it wasn’t until decades later that she installed micro-irrigation lines in her flower beds to be Florida-friendly.
Her water-saving techniques are just what the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service’s Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program and the Tampa Water Department are looking for in their ninth annual Community Water-Wise awards.
Applicants are encouraged to apply if their landscape includes any of the following: use of Florida-friendly plants, prevention of stormwater runoff, efficient and appropriate irrigation, retention and/or restoration of natural areas, retention and reuse of rainfall and appropriate use of plant types. Entries are due May 31 in the categories of resident/homeowner, multi-family property, commercial property, governmental property, builder and school.
“The goal is to promote smart outdoor use of watering and landscape design in an energy-conservation approach,” said Elias Franco, manager of the department’s consumer affairs division.
When xeriscape was the buzzword of choice, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program coordinator Marina D’Abreau said it brought to mind cactus and rocks and general bareness. So they started promoting the same idea under the name “Florida-friendly” landscaping, showing residents the wide variety of flowers and plants more resistant to drought. Slowly, the idea is being received and becoming more popular.
“We are trying to promote ‘right plant, right place,’” said D’Abreau, saying it’s the homeowners who save water, not plants.
She said turf isn’t out of the question but should be used in small patches as functional areas.
“Grass over time takes more maintenance, and it isn’t native to Florida,” said D’Abreau. “When you look at a lawn, it’s thousands of one plant in one area with nothing else in between. This increases its vulnerability to pests and disease. When you landscape with versatility, it mimics a natural system more.”
Florida-friendly landscaping workshops and Water-Wise programs are available through the extension office year-round, as well as a network of master gardeners, like Hall, who can answer questions on a variety of topics.
Hall comes from a long line of gardeners and remembers a vast vegetable garden her grandmother tended to in the Florida countryside.
“I like to plant things from seeds and watch them grow,” said Hall, a member of the Amaryllis Garden Circle who propagates her roses, fruit trees and plants and shares them with friends.
She promotes proper education in order to be smart in the yard when it comes to fertilizing, watering and being in balance with the environment. What it comes down to though, she said, is quite simple.
“If you sit a shade plant in the sun, it’s gonna die,” said Hall, explaining people should know what it is they are planting.
For more information or an application, visit the Tampa Water Department at www.tampagov.net/savewater, or call 274-8121, Ext. 1010.
Ralph Brower, 44, became intrigued by the subject of history from his Robinson High School teacher, the late Newton Heuberger.
“He was one of those instructors who makes you fall in love with a subject. He made me see that history isn’t about dates and numbers, it’s about names and faces and stories,” said Brower. “I couldn’t help but attach myself to history.”
Brower said it was the personal touches Heuberger added, like the stories he told of playing pranks on the conductors of the light rail in Tampa, that grabbed his interest.
While Brower sells homeowner’s insurance professionally, he still pursues history as a hobby. Most recently, he was asked by Turner Publishing to write the text to accompany the more than 200 Burgert Brothers photos collected for “Historic Photos of Tampa.”
Published in late October and available now in most local book stores for about $40, Brower chronicles the history of Tampa by adding clips to each of the photos in the book.
“There are history books with photos splashed in,” said Brower about previous collections on the same theme. “This is a photo book with some history splashed in. This is a pure attempt to show the pictorial history of Tampa,” which in this book spans from the mid 1880s through the modern era.
The book was the brainchild of Turner Publishing, which has produced 32 in the series on different cities throughout the nation. The next to come out are on Minneapolis, Cleveland and Anaheim.
Photos are chosen by Turner Publishing and then a local librarian or writer is picked to add the details. For the Tampa book, finding the photos was unusually easy since the Friends of the Library own the Burgert Brothers collection, after purchasing it in 1974. The Burgert family had a studio on Jackson Street where three generations made their living in photography.
Through a friend in the Friends group who were familiar with Brower’s writing (he has written two novels that he is working to get published and does a lot of technical writing professionally), they connected Brower with Turner. Six weeks later, the book was done.
“I knew something of Tampa because I’ve spent most of my life here,” said Brower, who grew up in South Tampa but currently resides in North Tampa. “But, you think you know something until you start researching it. I spent a lot of hours researching, deciphering fact from legend.”
The experience made Brower appreciate events in the past and wonder about the outcomes if things like the Depression had not occurred.
“The Depression torpedoed the cigar industry. Machine-made cigars were cheaper than hand-rolled, so a lot of the industry moved to New York where it was less expensive,” said Brower, wondering how the face of Tampa would be different if the boom remained on Tampa turf.
Months later, after the research has been complete and his copy of “Historic Photos of Tampa” sits on his own coffee table, Brower said he is appreciative of the experience.
“The photos are so remarkable,” said Brower. “I walked away amazed.”
Tampa Community Band member Larry Witt was first to show up for Wednesday night’s practice at the Kate Jackson Community Recreation Center. The band practices there almost every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
While prepping his large, chrome tuba, Witt, 59, who has lived in South Tampa for nearly 49 years, said he has played the instrument since seventh-grade.
“Well, that’s not old at all, is it?” said fellow band member Jerry Krumbholz, who was the second band member, a clarinetist, to arrive. “It’s how you feel!”
Both men have been playing in the band since its inception in 1988. They are but two of the nearly 50 musicians who are members.
“Mr. Ed’s grassroots organization,” said Witt, referring to the trombonist who started the band, Ed Solomon.
And some members of the grassroots organization, like 76-year-old Citrus Park optometrist Krumbholz’s, are skilled beyond their years of playing. He didn’t pick up the clarinet until age 65.
Solomon said the band serves two purposes, to further music skills and to simply have fun.
“It’s an activity to spend on Wednesday nights,” he said, “and keep the wife happy because you’re out of the house.”
Hits from Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Benny Goodman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ray Charles are played at their free concerts. Some of Solomon’s band mates, like Witt, have suggested that the group is too grassroots. Witt suggested that, if nothing else, perhaps they could make recordings of performances and sell them.
But Solomon shuns the idea.
“I’m weary of budgets,” he said, “because once you start that you have to make reports and fill out forms.”
In terms of money for the band, Solomon only cares about getting the group’s volunteer director of nearly seven years, Jahn Van De Putte, a $50 honorarium per performance. Solomon said venues hosting the performance, usually retirement homes, churches and sometimes the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute, sponsors that money.
“God’s got a special place in heaven for Jahn,” Solomon said, adding most other directors wouldn’t have the patience and dedication Van De Putte gives to the group.
During the band’s last practice, Van De Putte, a St. Petersbrug resident and father of five, cracked a few jokes, including, “What did Kenny G. say will riding down an elevator? Man, this place rocks!”
In describing how the band formed, Solomon was fascinated how one person - anyone, including himself - could create a tangible entity. He said all it takes is one person to tend to a group’s common interest, which takes only a few hours a week.
He said he has another group that meets once a week at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, 612 N. Dale Mabry Highway, called the Musician’s Fellowship. With a wry grin he said it’s also known as The Old Bastard’s Group, which talks about music and doctors, and sports nearly 50 elderly regulars.
As for the community band, Solomon said it also attracts a handful of young people.
“Where do football players go after high school?” Solomon asked. “Most don’t play football. And marching band members, where do they go? I figured out football players get hired by insurance companies, and we have a place here for high school musicians.”
Solomon said the power of music bridges the age gap of members, ranging from teenagers to those in their 90s.
As the band started practicing without him – there are currently 42 players while nearly 25 practices at any give Wednesday night – Solomon headed toward the band.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “Don’t forget to add we’re looking for a drummer. I guess some bands have trouble keeping a drummer because all the gear they have to lug.”
For more information about the band, call Solomon at 289-1292.
They began with chisels in their hands, cleaning mortar off of the historic Tampa Bay Hotel’s decorative fireplace tiles. Forty-eight years later, they are still focused on the mortar but the chisels remain primarily in their title.
A 315-member, all female group, the Chiselers have raised more than $3 million, completely for the restoration of the hotel which is known presently as Plant Hall at the University of Tampa. The hall is leased to the university by the City of Tampa.
“If it weren’t for the Chiselers, that building might not be standing,” said Chiseler Phyllis Kimbel.
The most current project, continuing into its second year, is a $1-million re-pointing or, rather, refinishing of the cracked and crumbling mortar between the bricks. Along with the restoration of the windows in the hotel, the Chiselers are keeping the historic landmark alive.
“If you’re a history buff, how could you not want to be a part of it,” said Chiselers publicity chairwoman Betty Carroll, who has been a member for two years.
Carroll got her masters degree in business administration from the University of Tampa years ago. As a student, she witnessed the wear and tear of years of use of the main lobby.
“It was just tattered,” said Carroll.
Since the Chiselers have helped with renovations, including recarpeting the floors during the 2006 holiday break, a new life has been breathed into the hall.
With $1 million in the club’s coiffeurs, one would think asking for funds was never a difficult task. However, two-time past president Kimbel said fundraising had to be done discretely when the club was still in its infancy in the early 1960’s.
“When the club was first formed, it wasn’t good manners to ask people for money,” said Kimbel, who has been a member since 1991. “(The first Chiselers) would have a money tree in the corner of a room and have a tea party. You didn’t mention (the tree). You were just supposed to know it was there and that you were supposed to place your dollar or $5 bills on it.”
Since then, the Chiselers have become adept at writing grants and making friends with deep pockets. Carroll said the reason for their success is simple.
“Pushy women,” Carroll said with a smile. “Most of the women have made a career of fundraising. They can ask for $5,000 without batting an eye.”
Their connections, their charm and their goal keep the Chiselers running strong.
“Everyone sees old Tampa Bay Hotel and realizes it is a jewel,” said Kimbel. “There isn’t anything like it in the country.”
But the social activities and the fundraisers take a lot of manpower – or womanpower – to get the results they do. The annual Chiselers’ Market, a flea market of vast proportions, nets between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. The fashion show, with roots dating back to the early 1970s when the Chiselers worked with the president of Maas Brothers department store, has similar success.
“This is the first organization that I’ve belonged to that much is expected of you,” said Carroll. “I think that’s important. If you’re not demanding, then you think (the goal) is not important.”
To document the work of the Chiselers, the group published, in 2005, “A Jewel Reclaimed: The 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel,” in honor of the 75th anniversary of the University of Tampa. Kimbel is the book’s author. The Chiselers published the book for their own members, but due to response from the public have reprinted 2,000 more copies, available now in locations throughout town.
“We wanted a piece of history of what the Chiselers have done,” said Carroll, adding that “A Jewel Reclaimed” has won a Meritorious Achievement Award in the field of education/media from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.
The book sells for $30 and can be purchased at locations such as the H.B. Plant Museum gift shop, Villa Rosa Linens, the Garden Party, Inkwood Books and Estella’s.
At first, the plane seems like a giant ridiculous bus, sporting gaudy jutting wings while roving about the runway, braking and making sharp turns. If I was somehow forced to man the plane, that’s how I’d have to think of it.
But then the big bird is finally in position. “Full speed ahead, Captain,” I think as we go into the closest thing to light speed I’ll ever experience.
OK, so it’s only an airplane trip, something people do all the time. It’s really nothing special, right?
It’s been a bit more than a century since the Wright Brothers made what’s called the first “powered heavier-than-air flight.” And, it’s only been about 50 years since regular folks like you and I have been able to hop on a plane and, in a matter of hours, get to Seattle. That’s where I recently vacationed.
I brought lots of amusing distractions for the ride but hardly touched them. Perhaps I don’t travel enough, or perhaps because it was 6 a.m., I couldn’t help but be fascinated with the goings-on right outside my window.
While everyone else had their nose in a newspaper, which is usually something I encourage, the thought that we’d soon be 32,000 feet airborne reminded me again of the extent humanity has channeled its oversized noggin to extraordinary use.
Sure, for the average person this observation has an unctuous quality, but if you’d take a minute and go to Web sites like http://www.howstuffworks.com or wikipedia.org and look up how a TV actually works, for example, I’d hope you could see what’s neat about everyday technology.
Framed another way, while in Seattle, everyone told me to visit the world famous Space Needle because you could see everything from 605 feet high. Yeah, the $14 tourist rip-off was kind of cool, but it’s no 32,000.
Tips for the upcoming travel season
My brain may be back at work, but my heart is still on vacation. If you’re traveling this holiday season, you may want to keep in mind the following:
* Enjoy the ride, as stated above. My last vacation was in New York City and I tried to do e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Seattle was much better, in part, because my schedule was full but not stuffed.
* Bring good company. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky as I am. If you can’t find an awesome travel partner/significant other, then find someone who’s at least smarter than you, if possible. Figuring out public transportation can be a pain, especially for those of us raised in Florida.
* Beware of the roaming, raging pukers – I don’t know what’s up with Seattleites, but there was some serious puking going on! Don’t get me wrong, I loved almost everything about the city’s natural beauty and its progressive people. The thing is – I lost my ID at a rental car location so it wasn’t like I could visit bars and clubs.
We went to bed early most nights after a busy day of shopping or hiking a mountain, then wake up the next morning to find multiple, hours-old puddles of disgusting, acidic stomach content. At least the pigeons ate well.
* So I lost my ID and debit card. Be ready for this. I thought I was very careful, but even a full-rather-than-a-stuffed vacation can be a whirlwind. Luckily, I had other ID to suffice the current demands of airline security.
* Go to independent businesses. Yep, I like to pay visits to McDonald’s or Starbucks (I counted five ‘Bucks’ my first five minutes in Seattle), but you might as well taste what’s unique about a place by sampling independent businesses.
Like anything, remember you get out of a vacation what you put into it. However, I think next time we’ll patron the Salish Lodge & Spa, located at Snoqualmie Falls, about 30 miles southeast of Seattle where we went hiking. It’s a luxury hotel, an exception to the rule, where you don’t put much effort into anything. There, you just eat, lounge in a spa Dudley Moore-style and hike unfathomable beautiful country.
Well, what you put into it is about $350 big ones a night, or thereabouts depending upon your blood color.
An increase in auto burglaries at Picnic Island Park have Tampa police sending out a strong message.
Ã¢â¬ÅDonÃ¢â¬â¢t leave stuff in your car,Ã¢â¬Â said Andrea Davis, media relations specialist with the Tampa Police Department. Ã¢â¬ÅEvery single incident has been someone leaving something in their car.Ã¢â¬Â
Wallets, keys in the ignition, purses and the like are pure temptation for thieves looking for an easy target, said Davis. By keeping cars locked and leaving valuables out of site, Davis said, Ã¢â¬ÅThe chances of being a victim are slim.Ã¢â¬Â
The incidents of auto burglary at Picnic Island, 7409 Picnic Island Blvd., near Port Tampa, have been on the increase since July, where only one auto burglary was noted. There were five cases in September and four the weekend of Sept. 29. There have been two so far in October.
Ã¢â¬ÅPeople think they are in a secluded area and are going out on their boats and so leave stuff in their cars,Ã¢â¬Â said Davis. Ã¢â¬ÅThis is a crime of opportunity. (They) are making it easy.Ã¢â¬Â
The departmentÃ¢â¬â¢s Street Anti-Crime unit, made up of officers dressed in plain street clothes patrolling areas of high crime patterns, is focusing on Picnic Island now and caught a juvenile in the act, said Davis.
The unit is continuing to pursue leads to see if more individuals are involved.
To report tips, contact the police department at 276-3200.
The danger of pedestrians crossing Bayshore Boulevard is nothing new.
But most who use the scenic thoroughfareÃ¢â¬â¢s walkway will probably agree Ã¢â¬â crossing the road is enough to make pedestrians feel like the video game character Frogger.
With so few crosswalks on the road, many individual pedestrians trickle across the road at various points. However, drivers may notice a cluster of jaywalkers underneath the Davis Islands Bridge between 3 and 3:30 p.m. ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s when construction crews working at Tampa General Hospital, 2 Columbia Drive, change shifts.
Many of the construction workers, employees of Skanska USA Building, 4950 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 600, park on roads north of Bayshore Boulevard, such as South Plant Avenue. As a result, dozens of workers jaywalk to get to and from their cars, even though the bridge above them offers safe passage with a sidewalk and a barrier from traffic.
When asked why, the workers, who all refused to give their names, had a simple answer: itÃ¢â¬â¢s easier.
One worker said he would feel safer using the bridge, but Ã¢â¬ÅI climb stairs all day at work,Ã¢â¬Â he said.
Hospital director of communications John Dunn said the hospital has not received any complaints about jaywalking, even though the activity sometimes interrupts the flow of traffic on that winding stretch of road.
Ã¢â¬ÅTheyÃ¢â¬â¢re not our employees, so we have never addressed it with them,Ã¢â¬Â Dunn said. Ã¢â¬ÅIn the same way, we donÃ¢â¬â¢t tell our employees how to behave when they go home either. I mean, they are adults.Ã¢â¬Â
Judy Allen, manager at 345 Bayshore Condominiums, also has not fielded any complaints. The condos sit near the popular jaywalking area, but Ã¢â¬Ånobody has noticed the screeching of tires,Ã¢â¬Â she said.
Allen, who likes to sit on a bench across the street, admits crossing Bayshore at that location can be tricky for her, but added her residents have had no traffic issues with the workers so far.
Tampa Police Department media relations specialist Andrea Davis said her records show there is no indication jaywalking has affected traffic in the area. She said there has been only one accident there so far in 2006, and it was not pedestrian related.
Despite the lack of complaints, Fred Hames, the executive vice president for SkanskaÃ¢â¬â¢s Tampa office, said he is willing to look into the situation to increase the safety of his workers and the general public. But because the issue has not previously been brought to his attention, he said he would have to Ã¢â¬Åsit down and further discuss the matter.Ã¢â¬Â
He said most of his workers park in a parking garage, where buses shuttle most of the workers to and from the work site. However, he said some park elsewhere.
For those concerned over the matter, SkanskaÃ¢â¬â¢s Tampa office can be reached at 282-7100.
They met in the kitchen and fell in love.
Audrey and Kevin Schwandt, the new operators of Great Harvest Bread Company, are newlyweds excited to be running the business at 500 S. Howard Ave.
Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s his dream job to run a Great Harvest,Ã¢â¬Â said Audrey about her husband, who worked for the owners, Chad and Heidi Ragland, at their Colorado store and who jumped at the chance to open the RaglandÃ¢â¬â¢s store in Tampa. Ã¢â¬ÅWe feel blessed to have this opportunity.Ã¢â¬Â
Old owners Rob Bucenell and Tom Silver told the Schwandts that the business wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t a right fit for the two guys. Bucenell moved on to Colorado to return to the corporate world and Silver remains is a dentist here in town.
Kevin and Audrey met while working at an Orlando restaurant, got engaged and moved to Tampa in May to follow KevinÃ¢â¬â¢s dream. Audrey earned an associates degree in education from Valencia Community College in Orlando but is helping run the store with Kevin, who has an associates degree in culinary arts from Colorado Culinary Academy through Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colo. The two were married Sept. 12.
Ã¢â¬ÅI enjoy being able to come in and if I want to put blueberries in the scones today, than I will put blueberries in the scones,Ã¢â¬Â said Kevin. Ã¢â¬ÅI can be creative.Ã¢â¬Â
At age 25, the two see more early-bird specials than midnight munchie runs as the bakers rise before the sun does.
Ã¢â¬ÅWe try to get in bed by 6:30 or 7 p.m.,Ã¢â¬Â said Audrey, in order to make it to the bakery by 4 a.m. Ã¢â¬ÅYou donÃ¢â¬â¢t want to start your day off grumpy.Ã¢â¬Â
Known for its business practice of using all natural ingredients and even grinding their own wheat, the Schwandts tout Great Harvest as health-food fare.
Ã¢â¬ÅDoctors recommend that people come here,Ã¢â¬Â said Audrey. Ã¢â¬ÅWe have a big elderly base who want whole grains.Ã¢â¬Â
Chiming in after her, Kevin smiled and added, Ã¢â¬ÅGotta get the fiber.Ã¢â¬Â
Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s great for your digestive system,Ã¢â¬Â said his wife.
Great Harvest bakes loaves with names like Whole Grain Goodness, Popeye (a blend of spinach, garlic, onions, red pepper and parmesan cheese), Challah and Apple Scrapple. They last for up to 10 days when left on the counter. Audrey said, Ã¢â¬ÅPer pound, our bread is cheaper than Wonder bread.Ã¢â¬Â
They donÃ¢â¬â¢t stop with bread though, offering muffins, scones, energy bars and even dog biscuits for their furry friends.
Nine employees keep the bakery producing 150 to 200 loaves a day during the summer, more during the fall and winter. The early hours are enticing to some and chase away many others.
Ã¢â¬ÅI have two kids. IÃ¢â¬â¢m a morning person by necessity,Ã¢â¬Â said Jenni Bedell, who rides her bike to work in the dark of the early morning from her Palma Ceia home.
Joshua Pillock comes in as the sun rises, putting in a full shift by noon, when he then goes off to his classes at the University of South Florida.
While Greg Shaneman said the early hours arenÃ¢â¬â¢t his favorite, working for a company that makes a good product is a good trade.
Ã¢â¬ÅWe make something from scratch. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s actually healthy and tastes good,Ã¢â¬Â said Shaneman. Ã¢â¬ÅThatÃ¢â¬â¢s a rare thing.Ã¢â¬Â
Shaneman, who was a medic in the U.S. Army and spent just over a year serving in Iraq, is also a student at the University of South Florida. Like Pillock, the early mornings help him work and go to school full time.
Whatever their reasons, the new crew at the Great Harvest said they are having a great time. As for Kevin and Audrey, they say working together has only helped their relationship.
Ã¢â¬ÅYou learn a lot about each other,Ã¢â¬Â said Kevin. Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s made us grow together a lot faster. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s been a great adventure.Ã¢â¬Â
Some know him as Dr. Doodle, others as R. Francis. To put it plainly, his first name is Ron and his last name is Hutchinson. As an artist and a business man, however, he likes to keep his identities separate.
Hutchinson came to South Tampa eight years ago. Since then, he said he has lived the classic American dream of having very little to having very much.
ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s why, he said, he has given to numerous charities in Tampa, including time and effort to RichyÃ¢â¬â¢s Rascals, a charity formed by the Tampa Bay LightningÃ¢â¬â¢s Brad Richards.
Hutchinson is the owner of Dr. Doodle Inc., a business focusing on murals and finishes of all sorts, including the DoodleÃ¢â¬â¢s specialty Venetian plaster.
The businessÃ¢â¬â¢ work spans nationwide with projects ranging in price from $500 to $100,000. Hutchinson, 40, said he rarely has free time and gets three to four calls a day for finishing services, mostly coming from South Tampa. He has a staff of about 15 professional artists, which he said can be a difficult group to manage due to their creative nature.
Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s almost impossible to put a square peg in a round hole, in the sense where you tell an artist you have x amount of time to finish something creative,Ã¢â¬Â Hutchinson said. Ã¢â¬ÅIt kind of disturbs the creative process.Ã¢â¬Â
He said the key for his success in business is compromising with what a client desires.
Ã¢â¬ÅIf I want the job and I want the money, IÃ¢â¬â¢ve got to do your red in your room on your budget,Ã¢â¬Â he said. Ã¢â¬ÅIf I can make a profit on that, I go in my studio at night or on my weekends and paint with the best paper and the best oil and find out who I am as a person.Ã¢â¬Â
To clarify, being himself means being an artist and not a business. His name as an artist is R. Francis, who has had pictures in galleries throughout the country and Europe. He currently has pieces priced at $350 in Starbucks locations throughout South Tampa.
As an artist, Hutchinson considers himself an abstract expressionist. As opposed to his attitude as a business man, sales are not at the top of his list. However, he said having money forces him to look deeper within himself because he is not a Ã¢â¬Åstarving artist.Ã¢â¬Â
Ã¢â¬ÅI come from a place where I had nothing,Ã¢â¬Â Hutchinson said. Ã¢â¬ÅI get choked up every time I share this. I had nothing, and I worked my tail off to have something.Ã¢â¬Â
Peter Kieffer, a South Tampa home builder, has used Dr. DoodlesÃ¢â¬â¢ services on many occasions, including interior and exterior finishes. He was particularly impressed with the businessÃ¢â¬â¢ Venetian plaster and the ability to make a plain garage look like a wood garage through a finishing technique.
Ã¢â¬ÅHeÃ¢â¬â¢s a pretty phenomenal artist,Ã¢â¬Â Kieffer said.
Bromeliads are members of the bromeliaceae family and there are over 3,000 known species. They come in a wide variety of sizes from tiny miniatures to full sized giants over 9 feet tall.
Whether they are in full sun or dark shade, depending upon the species, they thrive in our locale.
Most are very reasonable (as in cheap) to purchase, and my experiences show they require very little direct care. When they bloom, oh boy, it’s a beautiful, brilliant, long-lasting prize.
Many say they breed mosquitoes and have sharp jagged edges. Well the jagged edge you can’t do much about, but the mosquitoes I’ll tell you how to get rid of later in the article.
One species in particular is near and dear to many of us. It’s delicious on pizza and as a garnish to the perfect pina colada. You guessed it Ã¢â¬â the pineapple. It is also the only bromeliad I would recommend you eat, although others are used in dietary products.
Over 500 years ago, Columbus (he sure moved around a lot of our fruit, didn’t he) introduced the pineapple to his homeland after his 1493 voyage. Within a few years, it was being cultivated throughout the New World. Pineapple is now grown throughout the world, and Hawaii is the nation’s largest producer of these tasty treats.
There’s no reason you can’t grow one or a few yourself. Pineapple is considered a “novelty plant,” which doesn’t change the way to grow it. It just gives you more things to show off to your friends and neighbors. The best way for you to grow one would be in a well-drained pot on your porch or step.
They enjoy full sun (yep Ã¢â¬â hot blazing sun) and will grow in semi-shaded condition (but not as quickly). If you want to, you can even grow them inside but make sure it’s a bright area. They make great landscape plants and one is definitely part of my yard.
Did you know Spanish moss is a bromeliad? It sure is, but it’s also not a moss or even from Spain so go figure why it’s called that. That’s another topic all together, the way scientific names are given.
As stated earlier, bromeliads are quite easy to grow. Depending upon the species, once you stick them in the ground or attached to a tree, they required minimum care. The only time you really need to “mess” with them is after a bloom.
Bromeliads only bloom once and then the parent plant sends out shoots called “pups.” Many people are under the misconception that if you cut off the pups, the parent will bloom again. It won’t. It will send out more pups and continue to send out pups until it eventually dies.
After the bloom starts to fade, I like to cut it off allowing the parent plant to use all its energy toward the development of pups. With more pups comes more plants and so the cycle goes.
Bromeliads are extremely tolerant of low-moisture conditions and will survive prolonged periods of drought which is a good thing in our area. Over-watering, just like in orchids, is the No. 1 cause for problems (usually rot diseases). If you grow them in a well drained soil mix they will do just fine.
Bromeliads grown in a pot should be watered thoroughly. I like to water them until water drains out of the bottom of the vessel. Once a week during low humidity is fine and less during high humidity, which is most of the year. If the tips of your leaves are turning burn, that’s a good indication you’re not watering them enough.
Most bromeliads sold at the major hardware stores have broad leaves that form a “rosette” that creates a reservoir or cup in the center. If your bromeliad is in the ground in good soil you don’t have to keep water in the cup.
Most bromeliads adapt so well to culture (they are that easy to maintain) that they absorb everything they need through their root systems. Keeping the cup filled with water under low light conditions could cause problems with a bunch of funguses and other diseases.
The rule that I learned by is to flush out the water periodically to prevent buildup of junk. Some purists will say that the “junk” is where the plant gets its nutrients and that is true Ã¢â¬â in nature. In my backyard, it’s through mild fertilization of the soil. You should never fertilize your bromeliad Ã¢â¬â it doesn’t need it and you may burn it causing unnecessary damage.
That “junk” is also where mosquitoes lay their eggs. The major stores also sell a product that you place in the cups that will kill those pesky critters. It’s called, “mosquito dunk,” and it releases a bacterium, bacillus thuringensis into the water.
The bacterium kills insect larvae but doesn’t damage the plant. That stuff is great, but if you have a couple dozen or more bromeliads, like I do, this tip works better and is much cheaper. Add a few drops of liquid soap, but not detergent, to a quart of water and pour it into the cups.
This creates a film over the surface of the water and will suffocate the mosquito larvae. I like to use Ivory soap. Every few weeks or once every other month with the garden hose knock everything out of the cups and start again.
Bromeliads have been used in landscaping for many years. They are easy to care for and require little maintenance. Tampa Bay has a few bromeliad societies that are always looking for new members to share their knowledge and passion. Check them out and join in the fun Ã¢â¬â bromeliad style.
Keel and Curley Winery owner Joe Keel is moving on after lightning caused the storage facility at his Plant City winery to burn to the ground Aug. 3.
The South Tampa native who now lives in Plant City next to the 25 acres of blueberry bushes on Keel Farm, said horticulture has always been a hobby.
But how did Keel go from Beach Park to blueberries?
Ã¢â¬ÅMy summers were spent in Illinois where my grandparents owned a farm,Ã¢â¬Â said Keel, who watched his grandparents grow corn and soybeans.
Ã¢â¬ÅIÃ¢â¬â¢ve been selling plants since I was 19,Ã¢â¬Â said Keel, 51, who has had the 5210 Thonotosassa Road farm since 1981. He had a landscape nursery before converting it to the blueberry business in 1996. Last year he sold 18,000 bottles of fruit wines and 150,000 pounds of blueberries between this farm and another in Lithia.
In the sale of his blueberries to places as far as Europe and Japan and as local as the Lakeland Publix, Keel had blueberries that didnÃ¢â¬â¢t make the aesthetic cut for market: some were a little too soft, too small or had scarring from the bushes.
Ã¢â¬ÅWe had hundreds of pounds of blueberries we were throwing away,Ã¢â¬Â said Keel, who met up with Chase Marden, an amateur blueberry wine maker who was looking for the right opportunity.
Ã¢â¬ÅI started making wine in my basement and giving it away in batches to friends and family,Ã¢â¬Â said Chase of Pinellas Park. Ã¢â¬ÅI was getting a great response.Ã¢â¬Â
While shopping for supplies at a Pinellas Park wine and beer making store, the two crossed paths and have been in business ever since, creating wines from mangos, black raspberries, key limes and tangerines. They also make grape wines.
While the fire caused the loss of nearly $500,000 in the 6,000-square-foot building, machinery and supplies, KeelÃ¢â¬â¢s insurance has allowed him to build on top of the ashes with a new building to be used as the winery which is set to be completed in the fall.
Keel also has plans to open a new 3,700-square-foot wine tasting and retail store on the property by Dec. 1, with a 3,000-square-foot deck that overlooks the pond. A gazebo will be offered for hosting wedding parties.
Big sellers of the Keel and Curley label are the strawberry Riesling and the sweet blueberry wines which are offered locally at stores such as NatureÃ¢â¬â¢s Harvest Market and Castellano and Pizzo Italian Gourmet Foods. The fruit wines retail for $14.99 and the grape wines for $18.99.
An upcoming free wine tasting Sept. 23 at NatureÃ¢â¬â¢s Harvest Market, 1021 N. MacDill Ave., will emphasize the blueberryÃ¢â¬â¢s antioxidant health benefits and is a way for owner David Taylor said he can help support independent business.
Ã¢â¬ÅWe were one of their first retail outlets,Ã¢â¬Â said Taylor, who is also a longtime friend of the Keel family. Ã¢â¬ÅWe need to take care of our local suppliers. These kinds of relationships are fewer and farther between.Ã¢â¬Â
But for those trying to help the homeless, like Vicki Walker and Jamie Meyer from Hyde Park United Methodist Church, 500 W. Platt St., the statistics speak for themselves.
Walker, a minister of outreach for the church, and Meyer, the director of education and literacy at Metropolitan Ministries, point out Hillsborough County has the sixth largest homeless population in the nation with more than 11,000 homeless men, women and children.
Ã¢â¬ÅWe know the city of Tampa, the county and even the nonprofit social services are not going to take care of the homeless problem,Ã¢â¬Â Meyer said. Ã¢â¬ÅThere needs to be more involvement within our community to really help the needs these families have.Ã¢â¬Â
With that in mind, a pilot project called Housing Offering Mentoring Education and Support (HOMES), was created through a partnership between the Hyde Park church and Metropolitan Ministries.
Walker explained the church surveyed its congregation a year ago to better understand how it could help the community. She said the overwhelming response dealt with homelessness, specifically homeless children.
After a year of research, the church launched its campaign Aug. 20 to help the homeless, when Meyer said more than 100 members from the congregation volunteered to help.
The HOMES program is currently helping five families, each of which were required to experience Metropolitan MinistriesÃ¢â¬â¢ Uplift U residential program. The program aims to end recidivism to homelessness.
Walker said Metropolitan Ministries received a gift of a quadplex Ã¢â¬â a complex with four individual living units located in Seminole Heights Ã¢â¬â in December. Families without homes have been there receiving a network of help from the HOMES program, which is designed to help families adjust to having a home.
Under HOMES, needy families receive assistance in all aspects of domestic life, including babysitting, budgeting, food and lawn care. Walker and Meyer said volunteers are put into the network based on an individualÃ¢â¬â¢s skills and whatÃ¢â¬â¢s needed.
Walker said two orientations for those interested have been held so far and the next orientation will be at the church Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Walker emphasized most of the women with children the HOMES program is helping have decent jobs with employers including MacDill Air Force Base, the Moffitt Cancer Center and the city of Tampa.
Ã¢â¬ÅBut a good job paying 10 bucks an hour is still very challenging,Ã¢â¬Â she said, Ã¢â¬Åif youÃ¢â¬â¢re caring for yourself, your family, rent and all those expenses.Ã¢â¬Â