Mark’s Blog

  • Our Winter Gardening Season Starts Now


    The above photo was taken at WZAB-880 our home for 9 years until September, 2019.


    Saturday, September 18th, 2021

    God Save Us From This Horrible Biden Administration  

    September is a big hurricane month.  Be ready.

    It’s also the beginning of our Winter Gardening Season


    Correspond with me at:



    Let your plants and trees enjoy our recent rains.  Hold off on irrigation when not needed, please.

    With September being our prime hurricane season, its time to prune back the trees that have grown too tall and too big.  By keeping them under control we can harvest better and focus their nutrients and energy to fruit production instead of tree growth.  We’ll be pruning through September until we complete that very large task.  This pruning also allows air flow and decreases wind resistance and lessens chances of uprooting in a storm.

    While we’ve had quite a bit of rain recently, remember to constantly check container plants.  They depend on us for most of their water and cannot be ignored.  Very often this time of year we hear thunder, see clouds and think its going to rain cats and dogs.  But then the clouds move away and we get no rain.  A rain gauge shows exactly what we get.  Install one properly and you’ll know where you are in terms of needed irrigation.

    Our 2021-2022 planting time is almost here.  Prep the garden now and into September.  Our favorites for winter are Calabaza, Okra, Eggplant (try several varieties), Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato (again, try several varieties), Tropical Spinach and if you like pumpkin, sugarcane and of course pineapples grown from the tops of ones you buy in the store or you have grown.  By growing your own pineapples you can pick them when they get ripe, unlike the ones from the market which had to be harvested green to allow for shipping.  There’s a big difference in quality and taste.

    Herbs–  What good are veggies without herbs?  Bay, Laurel, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Mint, Parsley (again several types), Rosemary (a must),Sage, Sweet Marjoram, Tarragon and Thyme.

    This season think about planting seeds or starter plants for:  Spinach, radish, kale, beets, Swiss chard, onions, arugula, endive, peas radicchio, bok choy, mustard greens, carrots, celery, daikon radish, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, turnips and of course peppers and tomatoes of all kinds.  See all the possibilities?  Go for it !!

    Next month (October) is fertilizer time.  We use slow-release types for lawn and all ornamentals, fruit trees, etc.  Check out our FERTILIZER page for recommendations and details.  And remember, irrigationnnnn!  

    If you Need to apply Weed & Feed be careful.  You’re dealing with poison that can do harm if not applied per label directions.  Remember irrigation.  This is also a good time to do the grooming.  Remove dead twigs, shape things up.  They’ll grow back nicely.  Its a great time to trim those frangi pani as well.  They push out in April and May and even if they are re-leafing now, it won’t hurt to shape them.  You can root the cuttings easily or give ’em to a neighbor.  Put them on the trash pile and they most likely will disappear.


    If, like me, you are disturbed that Unilever, owner of Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream  announced they will no longer sell product in Jerusalem and the West Bank of Israel, you may be interested to learn which other products Unilever owns and let them feel your disdain.  They also own:

    Q-Tips     Seventh Generation     Suave    St. Ives    TIGI    Dove    Hellmann’s    Knorr    Lipton    Magnum Ice Cream    Ponds    TRESemme    Talenti    Vaseline    Breyer’s    Caress   Degree    Klondike    Nexxus    Noxzema 

    You can ask me anything via email:  or pick up the phone and call my cell:   561-307-0493.  I always enjoy hearing from my South Florida fellow gardeners.


    • In Loving Memory of our longtime friend Carol Griffin  and prayers to her husband Gus and the whole family.
    • Blessings to the family of Rush Limbaugh who we lost at the far too young age of 70.  Radio will not be the same.
    • Our prayers to Jessie from Medley, FL on the passing of his beloved mother whom he cared for over many years.



    Gene Joyner’s Unbelievable Acres Botanical Gardens that exquisite  rainforest right there in West Palm Beach.  If you have never visited I urge you to do so soon, so that you can become a regular visitor to learn and witness the constant changes that naturally occur in a true outdoor paradise.  Go to the web site: to get your adventure started.  The second Saturday of every month is an open day.  No reservation needed and any number of people.  Call for further info:  561-242-1686

    We returned late last October from a trip to the cattle farm in North Carolina.  It was still unseasonably warm and wet just like it was here. Leaves were changing in upper elevations and moving down.  Overall a good trip, but disappointed in how Asheville is rapidly changing.  Not the same place as it was just a few years ago.  Invaded by hippie types who eat vegan and other strange foods.  Hard to get a decent meal.  We left ahead of schedule.  We’ll probably be returning to the farm later this month or early May.  Not Asheville…

    Fall color along the banks of a river in Pisgah National Forest south of Asheville, NC

    Images from Western North Carolina and our farm,  October 26, 2020


    Stunning fall color provides a canopy over Highway 276 in Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, NC

    Up in the Western N.C. mountains some areas still green in lower elevations, nice leaf color moving south.

    Mama and her little one.  Livin’ the good life………………


    Limousin Cow, best beef I ever raised or consumed!!! Will get this breed for my freezer again!! | Sapi

    This girl is a Limousin (French breed) that makes up most of our stock.  She speaks French and American Southern.  Very similar build and body characteristics to Angus in many ways.


    People keep writing me about leaves falling off trees “this time of year.”  Our Florida Red Maple, Frangi Pani and others predictably lose most or all their leaves over winter.  They return in Spring.  I see people raking leaves and discarding them in the trash.  If possible turn them into mulch.  At the farm we grind them up with our new zero-turn mower with the special mulching mulching deck and blades.  Essentially the blades and underside of the deck are designed to pick the leaves up (and grass as well) and throw this stuff up to hit the deck.  Then it falls down into the path of the blades where it is chopped up so small it all virtually disappears.  Beats raking, keeps everything on the property and out of the trash and provides nutrients.  No leaves go into the trash anymore.  Even if you don’t have this kind of mower, just mow them until they are gone.  That’s what we used to do.

    Our many Citrus trees are beautiful and showing good growth of oranges, limes, grapefruit and those Meyer Lemons.  Key limes are abundant.  We apply palm special fertilizer as needed and we are irrigating regularly.  Check out the fertilizer tutorial.

    Let me know what you’re up to.

    Ornamentals, including all our roses (hydrid Ts, antiques and knock-outs) are all looking fine.  We do have to keep up with deep watering at least once a week and the BioAdvanced Rose & Flower Care product we are applying every 6 weeks.   We’ve installed a few more lately.  A Marilyn Monroe, a Pope John Paul and some others.

    The Seagrape that form a backdrop to all the other plantings at the entrance to our Jupiter property were the ones we cut back rather seriously in October and have put out new leaves nicely.  They were getting too leggy.  I like more bushy.  They can take serious pruning and come back strong.  I’ve determined to groom them more regularly to keep them full looking and under control.  I like control…..  Right now our maintenance includes shaping some non-flower bearing plants and making the butterfly garden more and more beautiful.  These long afternoons of Daylight Saving Time is helpful for getting those harder-to-do projects completed so that’s our concentration right now.  I’m taking advantage of the cooler and less humid days to get more done.  They will be replaced with long, hot humid days very soon…..

    Learn which of our food products are coming from CHINA or owned by that government and please avoid them.  I’ve talked about Smithfield, Green Giant, etc before.  BE CAREFUL!  You may say that Smithfield processes a lot of their pork in the U.S.  True, but not all.  And, Chinese managers and techs are always coming and going to and fro all their facilities.

    Hey, if you subscribe to Southern Living magazine, check out the monthly writings of The Grumpy Gardener.  I always do and its worth it.  Much of what he writes about relates to climes to the north of us a little, but his wit is contagious.

    Thanks for joining me here on my blog.  Write to me at and please put something like “Garden Show” in the subject line!!



    Blackberries on the vine

    Blackberries in Florida?   Yea, why not?   Blueberries are also becoming a somewhat important Florida crop.


    With this massive illegal entry into our country of persons from many parts of the world we must be as prepared as possible for diseases we haven’t seen here in decades and longer.  Hepatitis, measles, chickenpox, plague, mumps, tuberculosis, chagas disease, Covid19 and typhoid are all present in a large percentage of these people.  We must be careful with our food supply, thoroughly washing produce, being careful where we purchase food and especially where we dine outside our homes.  Almost every day we hear reports about workers in kitchens being discovered to have one of these diseases.  We must be alert and use caution !  If in doubt, don’t eat out !



    Roses are looking great, thanks to BioAdvanced.  Check out their great Rose & Flower products.


    Multiple fruit on one of our 20 Ft. tall Jackfruit trees

    Be Aware:

    • Mowing should be no less than a height of 3 inches, preferably 4.  Fertilize new sod now thru July.
    • Noticing some leave curl and a generally shriveled look to some citrus leaves?  Probably leaf minor.  Insecticidal soap about once a week, 3x,  should halt it.
    • Need to trim back the gardenias?  Always do that after the flowers fall off to give time for renewal prior to next bloom.
    • Remember, full size (not dwarf) Red Pentas to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
    • Use natives where you can.  Remember, just cause they’re native doesn’t mean they don’t need water.  A big mistake people make is they plant red tip cocoplum and don’t realize they’re an everglades plant and actually need water.  Otherwise, die back will occur and entire plants will die, leaving you with holes in your hedges, etc.


    Coconut Oil:  It plays an important role in good health and other things.

    • For smoother skin – Exfoliate by mixing coconut oil with sea salt or sugar.  This gives you exfoliation and moisturizer.  Or combine 3/4 cup room temperature coconut oil with 1/2 cup of white sugar.  Then add the zest of a grapefruit, 10 drops of peppermint oil and 20 drops of grapefruit oil.  That’ll give you an uplifting exfoliation sure to energize!
    • To sooth a scratchy throat – Just swallow one teaspoon of coconut oil up to three times a day to sooth a sore throat or a lingering cough.  Anti-inflammatory, pain alleviating and antimicrobial properties all wrapped up in one.
    • Pet help – Cats with furballs?  Dogs eating leaves and other yard debris?  Add coconut oil gradually into the diet. Mix a teaspoon into the dry food.  More later.  Also works as a topical spot treatment to calm skin irritations.
    • Remove and prevent rust on household and garden items:  Simply rub coconut oil on metal objects to prevent corrosion.  Rub it on, wipe it off.  For items that are already rusted, soak in coconut oil for an hour and rinse with warm water or just wipe off.


    Check my Fertilizer tutorial for info about what to feed what and when.  I’m giving our citrus a light application every few weeks.

    Check our EVENTS page for all the seasonal garden activities throughout our listening area.

    We enjoyed Italy in 2017, in August.  Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, and Capri comprised our itinerary.  Its always a walking adventure and this trip was no different.  It was hot, about the same as here.  I lost 15 Lbs. so I think I should return for another month or two.  They’ve suffered drought and tomato, corn and other crops have taken a hit.  Venice was especially heavenly this year.  The Grand Canal, our water taxi over to Murano and Burano, dinners along the canal….. fairy tale stuff.  We both work very hard all year long, for many years never vacationing, so we are determined to get our bucket list moving before some health issue arises or something else happens to clip our wings.    Looking to return this year (2021) if conditions allow.  Probably Sept- Oct.

    Remember the importance of personal care not only for summer but all the time.  Sun protection and hydration are paramount.  Look further down my blog to read more on this important subject.

    Its still a good idea to remember the importance of cactus and succulents in our landscapes.   They don’t mind drought and can do just fine without us.  Check out a brand new book by Robin Stockwell, nurseryman and long-time succulent expert.  

    •                  SUCCULENTS- The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants

                                                                                                                                               Available now wherever books are sold.


    There’s a new Knock Out coming to a garden center near you.  The Peachy Knock Out Rose (RADgor) is a semi-double, peachy pink shrub rose with a mounded plant habit.  Bred by William Radler and introduced by Star Roses and Plants.  Ask your local garden center to get it in.

    Also, there’s a new petal-packed, vibrant colored orange hybrid tea called Double 10 (LIM10) bred by Ping Lim and introduced by Altman Plants, a company that grows many fine roses in Boynton.  This is a gorgeous plant with exciting flowers.

    Check out my tutorial “THE RIGHT LAWN” under Plants & Trees,  Grasses

    Herbs are on our minds all the time as we use them to add flavor to foods we love.  Most common herbs can be maintained now through summer by keeping an eye on the sun.  Basil and rosemary like the sun.  Most others don’t.  But, partial shade and enriched well drained soil is recommended to keep them feeding you.  Fertilize with fish emulsion or manure tea or just use MiracleGro on a regular basis.   Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Don’t over-water.

    Fertilizer Times generally March, June and October.  BioAdvanced Triple Action Lawn Fertilizer is now at Home Depot stores.  Use BioAdvanced 3 in 1 Weed & Feed for Southern Lawns for your St. Augustine, Bermuda and Centipede.  Read the label and follow instructions for best results.  For Chinch bug which may come early this year use BioAdvanced Complete Insect Control. This product also controls all the other bugs in your lawn including fire ants.  For information about fertilizing all trees and plants go to the aforementioned FERTILIZER tutorial.

    TSFG_7655My recent finds at the Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market-  Keez-Beez, fabulous honeys from The Keys.  My favorite is their Black Mangrove Honey.  What a different taste.  Now available in most Publix.  Find fresh veggies from several organic growers as well.  Every Sunday 9am to 2pm.  Free parking and admission. TSFG_7656











    What Do SCENTS Do For Us?  Scent delivery can be via a few drops of essential oil in water sprayed in a room with a spritzer.  Add a few drops to your bath water.  Add some drops into boiling water or a steamer.  However you use essential oils, here is which oils accomplish what objective:

    Eucalyptus-  Helps with bronchitis, relieves congestion and can even help clear and energize your mind.

    Lavender-  Creates a sense of calm and reduces anxiety.  My wife utilizes this as the primary scent in her spa operations and has for many years.

    Chamomile-  This scent promotes sleep and relieves anxiety.  Its also an anti-inflammatory.

    Lemon-  Known to repel viruses, lemon also energizes and uplifts the human mind.

    Peppermint-  While peppermint is just simply an enjoyable scent, it also relieves nausea, reduces migraines, is found to be energizing and serves as an analgesic for various aches and pains.

    We enjoy Lemon in the kitchen area and Lavender in the bed/bath areas of our homes.


    Mosquitos can be a problem any time of year.  Forget citronella candles, wristbands and “all natural” products.  Look for products that contain 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus.  They are safer than those with deet.  SAWYER Fisherman’s is the absolute best.  Available from Amazon, WalMart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops.  Inexpensive and 2nd to none.

    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF…..   Read this information carefully…….

    Skin cancer is a killer!  When outdoors always wear sun-protective clothing and a hat that will protect your nose, ears and neck from the sun.  Use a good quality sunblock as well.  Sunscreen:  The very best is:  Vichy Capital Soleil 50 Lightweight foaming lotion (foam.)  It’s available at Walgreen’s and CVS.  Also, as I have mentioned here before, I find that showering with CLEAN & CLEAR Essentials foaming facial cleanser by Johnson & Johnson, available at Walgreens, is helpful PRIOR to going out to work in the garden.  It removes oil from your skin  and allows it to breathe.  You stay cooler longer.  When you finish outside, shower again with this simple and inexpensive product for a cleaner than clean feeling.

    FEED your BANANAS every MONTH.  Good Fertilizer to use is:  6-2-12.  Apply about 1-1/2 Lbs per stalk per month, like salt on a hamburger out to the drip line.  Water at the rate of at least 1 to 1-1/2 inches per week, 4 to 6 inches of water depth per month.  Good drainage is essential.  Bananas do not like flooding or standing water even though they are perpetually thirsty.  We will soon be adding a tutorial on bananas here on the site.  Actually the button at the top of every page will be “Plants & Trees” with a drop-down menu including bananas as a separate category.


    My Gardening Essay:    I enjoy gardening.  And I mean gardening as opposed to the hard work of maintaining a large property which gets to me sometimes.  I like grooming.  I mean going over one tree or plant and slowly cutting all the little dead twigs out.  Shaping plants and trees.  Removing any weeds or grass from the area under t6he canopy of grove trees with a scuffle hoe.  I like observing everything slowly to determine the answer to my constant question:  can anything out here be made better?  The answer is always “yes.”  Then its just a matter of adding another chore to the ever-present list.  I like things to be smartly maintained, I like everything to be as near perfect as we can make it.  If its in my garden, anywhere on the property, I want to be proud of it.  The layout, the health of every plant and tree, the appearance of every leaf.  This is what gardening is to me.  As you have seen everywhere you go there are hundreds of trucks plying our roadways that have signage like “Landscaping” and “Lawn Service” or maybe “Lawn Maintenance.”  These are hard working folks who do valuable services.   But, when is the last time you saw a rig that said “Gardening”?  That’s probably because in our country we think of gardening as getting down on hands and knees and pulling weeds or some other activity involving hard work in the dirt.  The British are real gardeners.  I like the way they, the French and for that matter many other nationalities of gardeners approach the subject.  They don’t look down at gardening.  As a matter of culture they look at gardening as a hobby of the privileged.  Perhaps that’s because they often employ others to do the ‘heavy lifting.”  I confess that I do that to a great extent.  My Diego, Jose and Pancho do all the mundane stuff.  Those are the chores that one should be paid to do since those things don’t exactly bring smiles to the faces of the ones providing the labor.  But I do teach them why we do the things we do out there and give them ample opportunity to observe and admire what we all accomplish on our little piece of ground.  I think they get it.  I think they have a sense of satisfaction similar to mine.  I also encourage them to take home bananas and other fruits from the grove and they really do treasure those things knowing they have had a hand in making them grow.  I know the mowing, trimming and related work that makes you sweat is not enjoyable.  Try the gardening part.  Slow down and pay attention to the WHY part of your work.  If you can’t lay eyes on anything out there that really pleases you, start planting the trees and shrubs that will give you a sense of satisfaction every gardener deserves for his or her labor.A

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