Saturday, October 30, 2010

Everyone Needs a Black Cat for Halloween

Our favorite store cat, Fairbanks, is so excited about Halloween. She's already all no need to dress up.

Stop by this Thursday from 12 to 6 for our annual Holiday Preview. Say hi to Fairbanks and enjoy refreshments and all the holiday decorating ideas!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More First Fruits...

First Fruits

Much to our surprise and delight...our Organic Straight Eight Cucumbers have produced our first crop!

It's always exciting to see the results and this is an early start to (hopefully) a bountiful harvest.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No one is coming to save your Business.....

I am going a little off topic gardening...although there exists many parallels to being successful in the garden and in business...

Today it occurred to me that no one is coming to save our small, independent garden center from this broader economic downturn that we have all been swept into. Maybe that's really good news....after all....when things were going great (particularly residential real estate in Central Fl) and most business owners benefited there was no one there asking to share in the bounty.

I opened the Wall St. Journal this morning to read the headline that the administration is considering a "broad" range of measures to "boost" economic growth. I think for the most owners like me are saying we have heard this before...and I never saw any calvary coming down our driveway. I also think that most small business owners don't really expect or want a "calvary" like solution either. Although I have heard andedoctially of a few more business owners throwing in the towel as of late....on a whole I think most of us are a resilient and independent bunch. We chose to be business owners partly because we wanted to have more control over our own destinys. We want to see our way through a large part because we intimately feel all those that depend on us to do so. Most small business owners' lives are much more entwined with their constituents. We know our employees and their families, we know our customers, we know our vendor partners, we know the people who we borrowed money from (most of the time our families) a very direct way all of these people depend on us for their well-being. I would submit that this is very different than answering to a board of directors or shareholders....largely because of relationships. From my vantage point, I see the difficulty in our employees lives when their spouse looses their job or they loose their healthcare. I feel the pain in disappointing a father, sister or brother-in-law because they invested in you and may not work out so well. This is not a disconnected live it in every interaction each day.

So my partial remedy is this....Encouragement.

Specifically...make it a point to encourage a small business owner...particularly if you are a small business owner. I thnk a little positive encouragement can go a long way...if nothing more than validating that it is tough and a struggle right now. So pick a team to pull for...pick you local restaurant, hardware store (if you are lucky enough to still have one in your neighborhood), local bank...whomever you have a relationship with....and just encourage them to keep up the good fight. I think we are all now realizing that we are moving through the grief cycle and the denial stage is over...we are not going to awake and it will all be "normal" again....there are no simple, quick's going to be a long, hard fight....we are at mile 13 of a 26 mile encourage someone beside to keep putting one foot in front of another...we will all see the finish line soon enough!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Luck is the intersection of Preparation and Opportunity

Not sure who originated the quote I used in the heading...but it sure applies to vegetable gardening in Florida.

One of the first thing you realize with gardening in Florida is the challenge the weather bring...this is even more intensified for vegetable gardening.

You see...there are really only two (and what some people may call short) seasons for growing vegetables in Orlando.

You have the Fall season (Sept - Dec) and you have the Spring Season (March - May).

You quickly realize that if you miss the beginning of the season by just a few weeks it can mean the difference between having a lot of "luck" and a bumper crop or the proverbial single $100.00 tomato.

So prepare......that is....right now focus on the basics: Light / Water / Soil

1) Pick a good location that is exposed to the Eastern or morning sun....the afternoon sun in Sept (and sometimes even October) is too intense for most tender veggies.  4-6 hours of direct sunlight will be sufficient.  Gardening in containers can make this easy....just move them as needed!

2) Make sure you have a way to water consistently....and I mean consistently....not Saturday morning when you wake and are inspired to grow all of your own food organically and then again Thursday after work when you realize that you have been so busy you forgot the vegetable garden in the back yard.

I can't overemphasis watering consistently is key!  This is where an automatic irrigation systems comes in know what they say: don't do anything yourself that a computer can do better.....the irrigation system doesn't forget...doesn't only water 1/2  the garden because their arm is just does its job...quietly and consistently.  So, even here at Apenberry's...where we are here 12 hours a day 6 days a week...we choose to install a drip system to our raised beds (see photo below). 

The beginning stages of our drip irrigation system

3) can make all the invest wisely.  I just read a magazine article on maintaining your soil and they compared it to your gardening "bank account" ....that can't just make have to deposit something every once in a while.  Now is the time...get the best soil you can afford....and then spend a little will pay dividends.  See what we are trying here

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I went out of town for a my lawn is brown

Recently, we have had a lot of customers stop in and ask what to do about brown spots in their lawn (see an example photo below).

There are usually two common Summer problems that cause this symptom:

1) Fungus Damage
2) Insect Damage (mostly chinch bug and sod webworms)

The correct diagnosis is key.

Time is not on your side. If I had a dollar for each person that came in and starts by saying "I was out of town for a few days and I came back to a huge brown spot in my lawn"

If you mis-diagnose and use an insecticide when you need a fungicide...guess what? You just lost 100 sq ft of lawn. These problems progress very of the reasons it's difficult for a monthly lawn spray service to be very effective.

If this sounds familiar stop in for a diagnosis. Bring us a 6" x 6" square of turf that is at the edge of the damaged area (it should have grass in transition...going from green to brown). Also bring the soil with it....that's where the insects hide!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our Raised Bed Veggie Garden is Off and Running!

We are going full bore this Fall with our display Vegetable Garden at Apenberry's.

Our hope is to experiment a little with different growing techniques (raised bed, container, Earthbox , and others).

We are going to try different soil mixes, seeds vs. starter plants, and various fertilizer products.

We filled our raised beds with the Fafard 2P Mix ( It is a better draining, totally soiless mix than our standard 3B Mix. We added some Mushroom compost for good we will see how it goes.

We sowed our own seeds. We utilized both the Ferry-Morse Organic Seeds and some our new...super cool Baker Heirloom Seeds (
We want to learn, educate and eat!
Stop in to check out our progress.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Look Now...Preparing for Annual Holiday Preview

Our crack design team at Apenberry's is already prepping for our
Annual Holiday Preview. This is our store's biggest event and will
take place the first Thursday of November. For those in the
know...this is when we rollout all new decorating and gift ideas
centered around the garden.

The gold colored walls are the beginning of some insipred ideas on how
to make this year's holidays festive without spending a bundle. Any
ideas on this year's theme???

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Bites the Dust!

Well our experiment growing vegetable and herbs with different
fertilizers is proving interesting. Pedro's pot with the synthetic
fertilizer and hydrated lime was obviously too much for the young
seedlings. They have burned. We will start over eliminating one of
the variables. My guess is the synthetic fertilizer was too much too
soon....perhaps more reason to stick with slow release or organics.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Coke or Pepsi?

We decided at this mornings' staff meeting to get our hands dirty. We all love to garden but don't often to get do it "on the clock". So in our version of a taste test we decided to plant some vegetables and herbs utilizing different fertilizers and planting techniques.

Felix decided to utilize the Earthbox Planting system with Celebrity Tomatoes and the provided 7-7-7 synthetic fertilizer.

Andrea planted some herbs with the Espoma Plant Tone organic fertilizer.

Jacoba also planted some herbs and utilized the Osmocote 14-14-14 fertilizer.

Pedro planted some peppers and tomatoes with the Sunniland 6-6-6 fertilizer and some hydrated lime.

David planted herbs and followed up with some Miracle Grow liquid fertilizer.

We all used the Fafard Professional Potting Mix.

We will keep you posted with photos of our progress!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What to do with my Brown Grass???

Many of customers are inquiring as what to do with their grass now that the freeze/frost is gone (this weekend cold spell should have no effect on your grass)

1) Check the grass for areas of crabgrass and other weeds that were frozen....this is the good news story of the frost....many of these weeds are annuals and freeze back. Now is the time to remove the dead areas/weeds and plug with new sod. This is also a very good visual cue as to what is crabgrass and what is St. Augustine.

2) Now is time to put down a "pre-emergent" weed control for the lawn. We recommend either an Atrazine in liquid form or a new product called Dollar Weed Control Plus in a granular form. Many people ask whether now is the time to "weed and feed"....the depends. It depends on how many weeds you have....if you have heavy weed coverage...follow the direction above (use a weed control only product first..liquid or granular). If you have only a few weeds we generally recommend using the "weed and feed" product in the 1st or 2nd week of March. Its weed control chemical is Atrazine...the same chemical that we have available in the liquid form....but when you "weed and feed" the fertilizer is released to the weeds as well as the grass so you don't want to feed the weeds if they are heavy.

3) Check your irrigation. The grass is still not actively growing don't apply more water than needed...generally once/week is sufficient. Any excess water is just helping the weeds grow. Also check for leaks and damaged heads...poor coverage...get these fixed now before you really need it this summer.

4) Fertilizing.....if you have the weeds under control with the directions in item 2) above then the first or second week of March is a great time to put down a fertilizer only product (if you weed and feed this suffices). We recommend Lawn Food plus Iron...the iron will get the green color back in the yard quicker.

5) Relax....enjoy your grass...Spring is the best time to be out in the garden so make the most of it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It got COLD last night!

First time in a while that we have seen this kind of ice on our fountains. 

Check out Felix's new headwear......fits well.... perhaps not for long though.... 

Don't forget tonight it is going to be cold again check those frost blankets and make sure to turn off the sprinklers.  

Check our our tips for preventing frost damage to plants.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Here we go Again!

Feb 03
Clear 42° 0 %
Feb 04
Sunny / Wind 53°/30° 0 %
Feb 05
Sunny 54°/34° 0 %
Feb 06
Mostly Sunny 64°/44° 10 %
Feb 07
Mostly Sunny 73°/51° 0 %

As many of you maybe aware (and some of you not...) we are heading to another potential frost this Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

I fall somewhere between a pragmatist and "survival of the fittest" when it comes to preparing the garden for this type of weather events. However the forecast is calling for sub-30s temperatures and little to no wind which leads to frost. The wind actually helps sometimes by stirring the warm air with the cold....but we won't have much of that help this time around.

For those of us who have just got things back in shape after the last frost this seems like yet another fire drill...but as much as I hate to move the entire nursery inside again...I think that it is wise to do so..

Looking around College Park and my neighbors I observed a few things from the last time and here is what I would advise....

1) Cover the following types of plants:

- Any tropicals like Xanadu, Ti Plants, TrioStar, Snow Bush and Hibiscus
- Any tender or non-woody perennial like Pentas, Blue Daze, and Salvias
- Many cactus and succulents
- Any vegetables or if you have them in pots and can move them inside
- Any woody ornamental plant that damages easily...the one I noticed the most damage on after the last frost was the Gold Mound Duranta, but may also include Jatropha and some Bamboos.

A lot of our plants will only show damage on the tips of the leaves and new growth at these temperatures. Things like Palms, Bougainvillea, Citrus Trees should only show surface damage.....that is leaf burn and some leaf drop. The plant itself should not be permanently damaged.

2) Make sure to turn off your sprinklers. Many people forget this and you can make a somewhat bad situation a lot of worse if your irrigation comes on at 4:00 am. The professional growers they always show on the news do use irrigation to "freeze" their plants but this is a technique best reserved for the professional and only then if you are willing to keep them on all night...not very wise.

3) Always use a blanket or sheet....better yet frost blanket. NEVER use plastic unless you can ensure it doesn't touch the plant itself.

4) Make sure to secure your blankets and sheets....the last thing you want is the wind to blow them off in the middle of the night.

Call or email us if you have questions....while we are always busy preparing the nursery ourselves we are always here to help.

Good luck and if you wake up Saturday to find damage check out my earlier post on what to do.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Friendly Face at Apenberry's

For the last several weeks we have had the pleasure of daily visits
from a very friendly neighborhood cat. We are not sure of his real name but
Jacoba is fond of calling him by "Meeshoo".

He is particularly fixated on our birdcage. But rest easy there is no
way for him to find a way in.

Stop by and if he is around he is sure to greet you with a welcome

Friday, January 30, 2009

Our New/Old Sign

Felix and Jose did a great job re-installing our "living" sign that
was originally designed for our Winter Park store.
A little TLC and osmocote fertilizer and we will be "growing" again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Now that the Cold Temps are Gone....What to Do?

Frost Damage to a Dipladenia in the Garden Center

After last week's temperatures that dipped into the 20s with a hard frost and freeze in some areas...many of your plants may now appear burned or brown. This is simply a reaction to the cold weather....think of it like frost bite for your plants. Don't despair....we had a relatively short period of cold....many of the plants will be fine with a little patience and care. Here is what I would suggest:

1) Wait a week or so to trim away the dead or brown portions....this is the hardest thing to do because we all want to get rid of the ugly parts...but the plant needs some time to adjust and you will see that in many cases the leaves will drop on their own and the stems are still healthy and will begin to re sprout new leaves saving the basic shape of the plant.

2) Don't over fertilize...stay on your normal schedule....I always utilize a slow release product like Espoma's Organics or Osmocote when I fertilize to help.

3) Don't over won't make the brown turn green or the plant grow faster with more water...again stick to your normal schedule...which can be as little as once a week this time of year.

4) Take notes for next time....In many cases the exact same plant could have damage that varied from near death to no damage depending on their location and proximity to the house. So take notes as to what areas of your garden got hit the worst and make sure you restrict your tender or tropical plants to other areas.

5) Don't be too complacent....we can get another cold night or two....mid-February is typically the time when frost and freezing temps become limited....

If you have any questions email us at or stop in.....we would be glad to help.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ga Tech Ceramic Engineer Makes Good

We are at a trade show....looking for great, new products for this Spring.

This is Chad who owns his own cast stone manufacturing company that specializes in authentic reproduction of old garden ornamentation. He had great training....studied Ceramic Engineering....who needs to build tiles for the Space Shuttle when you can create your own fountain inspired by your grandmother's garden!

Chad is a good friend of ours from Ga. Tech days.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Giant Erector Set

My 6 year old son calls this pile of iron and steel a "grown-ups"
erector set. This is what soon will be our new greenhouse. In effort
to be as efficient and green as possible we chose to utilize a pre-
manufactured building with recyclable materials.
Stay tuned to see us "erect" our new home.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Phase I is Officially Complete

Progress often comes more slowly than one would hope......and that is
certainly been the case with our construction...but today we recieved
our Certificate of Completion. Phase I done.
Next up is Phase II....the new greenhouse building!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Interesting Day at Apenberry's

Four OUC Trucks the size of buses and one long power pole and we moved
the supply to our existing building to make room for the new Greenhouse.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Check Out what's Growing!

We have completed the first phase of our construction but not yet
started the new what do we do?

We created a Pumpkin Patch!

Check out Steven and Sam unload our pumpkin shipment.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Getting Close...

Almost Labor Day and the hard work is almost finished. Come check us

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Doors and Doors

Whoever thought doors could mean so much. The new automatic Stanley
doors arrived Monday to great fanfare. These doors will finally allow
us to close off the showroom and checkout areas and run the A/C!

They don't look like much but we are excited.

The "Little Store" is Here

I always find out curious that when new businesses open they always
anticipate more customers than their first move is to
add more or better signage. I guess we are no different....we want
everyone driving on Edgewater Dr to know the Winter Park store is now

Friday, August 8, 2008

The new bathroom color....

Check out our "birdcage" lamp in the new bathroom. It required a
creative mounting solution. Reminds me of those macramé plant holders
from the 70s....pretty cool.

What's behind Door #1 or Door #2?

The new bathroom doors arrived today and here is the view from the

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still Moving....

This evening I moved the Gardens computer server cabinet to make room
for the new entry and drywall ceiling. Doesn't look like much....but
there were a lot of wires to relocate....temporarily that is.