February 17, 2020
VISTA MATTERS: The Garden Gets Busy
Flight of the Butterfly
Over the past weeks, Vicki Fuse, Morcie Anderson, and Roberta Owens have been working with Bruce Curley and associates at Wilcox Native Plant Nursery to acquire native plantings that support Monarchs and sustainable migration practices. 

This past weekend, Anne, Lucio, Marc, Morcie, Scarlet and Victor, Vicki and Ken guided subgroups of our 15 University of Tampa and Kennesaw State University volunteers in preparing soil and transplanting many native plants and herbs, as we tactically create micro-habitats to attract and support butterflies, including a monarch waystation, throughout VISTA Gardens. 

What is a Monarch Waystation?
Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.

Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall.

Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world.

We will apply for certification through the Monarch Waystation Program when we complete plant signage and photographing the plantings and habitats. We are using Community Outreach and Education funds from the $3,500 donation for same to support this project and have yet to tally expenses to date. We will have a full reporting in March. 
Student volunteers from the University of Tampa and Kennesaw State University on their second annual visit to VISTA.
Right Plant, Right Place, Right Time
Saturday, Feb. 29
9:00 -10:00 a.m.
Presented by Jaclyne Ingersoll of Wilcox Nursery
In gardening, timing isn’t everything – there is more to consider. In addition to when , we’ll learn about what to plant where in our home landscapes, as well as in our vegetable and flower gardens.

We'll hear about companion and succession planting for good flavor and production, as well as to extend our harvests. Wilcox Nursery will have limited plants for sale, including natives to add to your home landscape and vegetable se edlings for your garden.   

Sat, Feb 29
10:00- 11:00 a.m.
Instructor: Michelle Field
Come and enjoy gentle stretches, yoga flow and core strengthening, with moving meditation, to clear the mind and enhance your overall well-being!  

New Member Happy Hour
Thur, March 12
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Come meet VISTA's newest members and hear a short talk about how to effectively use compost and fertilizer and how to begin planting for the spring season.

Nutrition from your Garden Harvest
Sat, March 14
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Barbara Mahlmeister, RDN, IFMCP (and VISTA gardener) presents ways to get the best nutritional benefits from the food you grow.  
Fertilizer Is Your Garden Friend
Tips :
  • After watering, spread a granular fertilizer on the ground six inches away from the base of your plants.
  • Be sure your fertilizer is for organic growing. Many of us use a general vegetable fertilizer with a good balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and some added calcium. 
Fertilizers are generally identified by three numerals, such as 5-6-6 or 7-4-5 and you’ll hear a gardener say, “I am using a NPK of 5-6-6.” 

It may help to think of NPK as representing: Up, Down, and All Around
  • Nitrogen (N) helps with plant growth above ground. It does a great job of promoting the green leafy growth of foliage.
  • Phosphorus (P) is effective at establishing growth below ground, in the form of healthy root systems. It is also the component most responsible for flower blooms and fruit production. 
  • Potassium (K) is important for overall plant health, due to its ability to help build strong cells within the plant tissue. In turn, the plants withstand various stresses, such as heat, cold, pests, and diseases.

For example, liquid Compost Plus (4-0-2, used by many VISTA gardeners) offers higher amount of nitrogen, no phosphorus, and lower amount of potassium. 

The 5-6-6 granular starter fertilizer we use at VISTA when preparing garden beds is designed to develop deep, healthy roots, condition the soil, increase water retention, buffer salts and minimize leaching. It is slow release, non-burning.  

* NPK ratio is calculated by weight. A 100-pound bag of fertilizer with NPK of 5-6-6, contains 5 pounds of nitrate, 6 pounds of phosphate (which contains phosphorus), 6pounds of potash (which contains potassium) and 84 pounds of filler (such as sand, rice hulls, perlite). 

Suggested local organic fertilizer suppliers :
Urban Roots offers a 15% discount to VISTA gardeners and offers information about various fertilizers they have availabe.  https://urbanrootstampa.com/pages/classes-events

Whitwam Organics can be ordered online and offers a 10% discount to VISTA gardeners.  https://whitwamorganics.com/

Citrus Park Landscape Nursery on Gunn Hwy sells Compost Plus @ $17 quart.  https://citrusparklandscapenursery.com/
Fun With Herbs - Post Event Wrap Up
On January 25, Vicki Kuse greeted thirty-three gardeners, friends and neighbors with a delicious taste of warm herb tea and followed by a lively session with suggestions about growing, cultivating, and cooking with herbs. 

In addition to helpful information, Vicki shared delicious tastes of pesto, herb butter and chimichurri. She even harvested, cleaned and preparing some items on site. One participant said, "Julia Child!” and another added, "it is like having Ina Garten filming at VISTA Gardens!"
At about the time someone may have started thinking about things what they wanted to accomplish in their garden that morning, Vicki pulled out a bottle of good rum, started muddling spearmint and, in a matter of minutes, she was offering Mojito samples (assisted by her 'roadie' and husband, Ken).

After such a successful event, we suspect herb butters, infused vinegar's and the likes of fennel greens, mint, and oregano will be more widely featured in VISTA gardener's culinary creations in the coming weeks. Our sincere thanks to Vicki and Ken Kuse, social members of VISTA gardens, for their fine preparation for this event. 

Vicki, we appreciate your information and ideas!   
Tai Chi @ VISTA
Reminder: Please Keep Bringing In Your Leaves!