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She also suggests being well informed on what it will cost
to start a garden.
“Research is always a gardener’s best friend,” she advised.
“The initial start-up costs are relatively inexpensive, and
once you make the investment, the ongoing expenditures
will depend on choices of plants, recycling and reuse of
materials, seeds, etc.
“Nursery pots, buckets or even grow bags can be a great
choice to start. Once you have seeds that come from most
flowering veggies or flowers, they can be dried and stored
for use when planting during the next season,” she added.
The choice of fertilizers varies but Ragan likes to use
“Dr. Earth and Espoma are my go-to brands and can be
combined with fish emulsion,” she said.
“Worm castings and mushroom compost are my
amendments. As a rule, I try to purchase my fertilizers,
compost and fish emulsion on an annual basis.”
It is Bruce Ragan’s job when it comes to the look of the
garden and providing support for the plants’ vines.
“Bruce has been my best asset when it comes to help with
the design and construction of our wood and metal block
above ground plant boxes,” Ragan said. “We have added
several cattle panels around the bean, cucumber, pea and
melon plants which are designed to allow the vines to
crawl up on them.”
COLORFUL AND TASTY
One thing she likes to do when deciding on what to plant
is to mix edible plants with colorful flowers.
“My goal has always been to grow plants that are edible
or can be used for seasonings, but I enjoy adding flowers
A sampling of a typical harvest, these veggies are part of the bountiful backyard
that has become the Ragans’ creative outlet for more than 25 years.
Filled with everything from citrus trees to blueberry bushes to vegetables
and flowers, the garden is designed to wrap around the backyard pool.
to the garden to add a bit of color and beautification to the mix,”
“Parsley, rosemary, basil and oregano are staples that can be
grown year-round. I always find our fresh lime and lemons to be
invaluable for juice sources to marinate fish, seafood and other
cooking, and baking uses. I dry many of my herbs and some of
the fruits. A lot of the fruits can also be frozen and are great for
making sorbet and smoothies.”
She said she especially enjoys making different sauces and
veggie snacks, fruit pies, pastries and breads from her many
“Though I have yet to tackle canning, I hope this will be
something I can do soon,” she added.
Variety has been called the spice of life and she is always looking
for new experiences.
“I am always up for planting new things, and many times it can
be a process of trial and error,” she said. One of my favorite
trees in our garden is our olive tree. It may not be a tree that
many find typical for a Florida garden, but experimentation has
always been a part of gardening that I love, even if sometimes a
“Whether creating art, surfboards or gardening, the process can
be similar. It’s about doing something you love, and in my case is
my lifeblood,” she said.
“The bonus with gardening is getting to eat fresh and enjoy
the end results — the tasty fruits and veggies, and beauty of my
flowers and natural surroundings each and every day.”