A Visit to My County’s Ag Extension Service

A Visit to My County’s Ag Extension Service

Some of you may know that I’ve been wanting to find ways to grow stuff. I had a ball gathering some ideas at Orlando’s Veg Fest nine days ago. There were hundreds of companies, growers, educators and agencies who rented tables for the event; one of them was the Orange Country (Fla) Agricultural Extension Service, and those folks were very helpful to me. The University of Florida’s Ag Dept cooperates with each of Florida’s 67 counties, and many of them do great work in helping their residents who engage, or–as in my case–hope to engage in anything related to agriculture.

I found the folks who were staffing the OCAES table at Veg Fest to be very, very helpful. They had stacks of publications on a thousand topics relating to growing things, permaculture, landscaping and green living and so on, and I took about ten or so. And they very patiently answered my questions, gave suggestions and told me about other resources which they believed would be helpful to me.

Because I found them to be so helpful, I decided to pay a visit to their Conway Road location in south Orange County. I made it out there last Monday and I’m glad I did. Way back in 2006, I scored a free tree from them when they were located much closer to the family homestead, but I had not seen the new and much bigger campus since the move. And, yes, I got a few good pix out of my visit to this new-to-me location.

The gardens there are lovely. There’s plenty there for folks who like to dig in the dirt, whether they’re mostly into landscaping and flowers, or, like me, stuff you can harvest and eat. You probably noticed the pergola that welcomes visitors in the banner photo; here’s a closer view of this inviting structure’s roof which I think makes for a pretty good photo:

I do enjoy seeing the landscaping or aesthetic side of what they do at the Ag center. Here’s a shot that features some mighty fine landscaping that any gardener would be proud to display or would look amazing at any park or place of business, too:

When the visitor gets a little further into the grounds, they’ll find the part of the gardens devoted to agriculture, to growing things we can cook and eat. Because I’ve done plenty of the “pretty stuff” and am now focused on microfarming, this is the part of my visit I liked best. And for some reason, this spiffy little shed attracted my attention and I just had to get a shot or two:

The staff has been so helpful to me, both at Veg Fest and when I came for my visit. I’ve gathered some very good ideas and will soon be planting. This is going to require some serious planning and preparation, as I have a small and very shady yard, but grow stuff I will!

If you’re also here in Central Florida, I recommend you stop by and take a look at the facility and their lovely gardens. You can find the Orange County Agricultural Extension Service at 6021 So. Conway Rd, that’s just a bit north of where Conway meets Judge Road. The hours of operation can be found here on their web site or by calling them at 407 254-9200.

 

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Moss Park. Lots and lots of Butterflies. That was back in the springtime and it was an outdoor excursion I’ll always treasure. One of the best EVER for this puppy, sans un doute! (Can’t beat Florida in the spring if you’re a butterfly buff!)

I have posted with a few pics from the trip–that was in March of this year for any who’d like to see those photos–but today I have some that have not lived anywhere off my hard drive until now.

The one featured here is a fave. But I have plenty of others. That, of course, will be another post on another day…

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Fave Fotos: Two Fish Friends

Fave Fotos: Two Fish Friends

This photo of two fish hangin’ out together is a 2016 shot of mine taken at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida. I’ve always liked it and thought I’d feature it on the blog today. It matches the languid, lazy feel of this fine Sunday afternoon.

Have not visited the Brevard Zoo in a few months. I’ll be getting back there soon.

I hope you’re enjoying this Sunday. Not too much of the weekend left. Mine has gone well.

Check in with you another time.

 

Bulldog Ben

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Fave Fotos: a Bird on the Shore of Lake Griffin from Mid-April

Fave Fotos: a Bird on the Shore of Lake Griffin from Mid-April

I got several good shots on this outing to Trimble Park earlier this year. Back on the 17th of April, to be precise. I’ve used a couple of them on this blog before, but this gem has not lived anywhere besides my hard drive until now.

I am about to be released into the wild again! Haven’t been camping for about three months or so. It’s just so ungodly hot here in Florida during the summer months! But I’ll be at one of my fave camping spots within a few days. Not Trimble Park, but a good one.

There are so many stunningly beautiful spots all over Florida; I’d love to get to all of them, but will settle for maybe a hundred or so! Can just barely scratch the surface, as that old saying goes… But it’s a lot of fun to get to the ones you can! And I do. Sure gives my life meaning and purpose!

I hope you’re able to take advantage of some good opportunities to enjoy Mother Nature’s embrace. As any outdoor enthusiast knows, my neck of the woods is not the only spot on the planet that begs for exploration and adventure! Make plans to get out and enjoy some of those places!

 

 

Getting ready for my next foray into the woods, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

You’ve GOT to Love Libraries, Folks!

You’ve GOT to Love Libraries, Folks!

Bulldog loves libraries. Has his whole life.

If you’re reading this and you have a library card, good on you.

If you don’t, today could be your day! It just so happens that September is “National Get a Library Card Month” and I can point the way.

Folks who, like me, reside in Orange County can follow this handy link. The fine folks at the Orange Co. Library System will be happy to hook you up!

Happy reading. And viewing. And enjoying the educational and life-enriching activities available only through our public libraries.

 

Long-time library lover, I am,

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Bulldog’s Fave Florida State Park Just Reopened!

Bulldog’s Fave Florida State Park Just Reopened!

As many of you may know, many of our state parks here in Florida were closed after Hurricane Irma passed through. The state has been reopening them a few at a time and I’m on the list of state park lovers to be notified about such things.

I was mostly watching to see if Wekiwa Springs State Park was on the “good list” but it wasn’t until today that the word went out that she’s ready for more visitors. I’m not sure if they’ve green-lighted camping again, I’m going to check on that today.

If you’d like to see the list of which parks are up-and-running again or get any kind of info relating to our truly amazing parks here in the Sunshine State, follow this link to the official site for parks on our peninsula!

I’m going to celebrate the reopening of our lovely parks with a trip to one of my faves before October arrives. Wekiwa Springs is at the very top of the list. So many great ones from which to choose!

That featured photo at the top is one I especially like from a trip about a year ago.

 

Planning a new camping adventure, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Irma Has Fallen Apart and Florida is Recovering

Irma Has Fallen Apart and Florida is Recovering

Hurricane Irma blew through my part of Florida in the wee hours of Monday morning. The peak winds for us in the Orlando area came around 1:20 AM. Yes, I was up and I couldn’t keep from watching my NE facing window since that was the main direction from which those vicious winds were coming.

No serious damage here, but we did have several smallish trees in large planters blown over and lost a large limb on the big oak in the back yard. (See photo above.) I say “large limb” and I mean about 10-12″ across; that’s a good-sized limb. Big enough that removing it is going to take a rope and a crew of two or three. It was right on the property line and will almost certainly fall into the adjoining neighbor’s back yard when cut free. (Its fall was arrested by other, lower limbs.)

On Thursday morning I’m going to remove another good-sized limb from the neighbor’s yard on the east side. My roomie and I estimate that it will take about two weeks to get all of the yard debris to the curb for collection. It’s not an afternoon or two of work. And this yard is not as big as some. But a lot of growth since the last big storm.

I’m the newest tenant here but because I have a lot of tree experience and love doing this kind of work, I’m in the middle of the clean up effort. The primary tenant has been here for 17 years so she’s definitely the committee chair; the owner is in Naples, which took the full effects of Irma’s wrath, so we’re going to do what’s got to be done without having to get him to redirect his attention from what is almost certainly a huge task as far as getting his own domicile squared away. The structure seems to have weathered all of this in fine form, but trees, shrubs and cacti are going to need considerable attention.

Because I’ve been in Florida since 1961, I have been through many, many hurricanes. Riding out a storm is not too big a deal, but I certainly will admit that I don’t sleep a wink if the damn thing happens to come through my part of the state in the wee hours. No doubt some folks can sleep just fine when storms blow through; I’m not one of them.

Let me point out that always “keeping one eye open” for the approach of danger is an example of an evolutionarily positive trait. Meaning that those who have that trait are more likely to reproduce and therefore pass along that trait. Being a light sleeper in hazardous conditions is a very good thing! Let the record show that Ol’ Bulldog does indeed possess that trait!

Damage to trees and shrubs was the worst for my house mates and me. But many in Florida were not so fortunate. Well over half of our state’s utility customers were left with no power; as of 11:00 PM today, Sept 12th, about a third of all Floridians are still toting flashlights and burning candles. Although cell service and internet connections were disrupted here, we kept our lights on throughout. Good to have fortune smile on us on that score, to be sure!

The death toll in the Sunshine State stands at 12 as I write this and will almost certainly go higher. Irma was no wimpy storm and we’re certainly relieved now that she’s gone up the road a ways and ultimately fallen apart. We know that some of her siblings will be heading this way; some, perhaps, before this year’s hurricane season wraps up.

We’re Floridians; we’ll be ready.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile