When Penny first started planning our Oct. 31 field trip to Riverview Flower Farm, we thought we'd be lucky to get 10 gardeners to come along.
OK, maybe 20.
Then people started calling. And calling. And pretty soon, it became Penny's full-time job taking reservations. "Can I bring a friend?" readers would ask. "Two friends? A van load?"
We left the office on Oct. 30 expecting 160. Almost 200 gardeners showed up.
Our first ever Dirty, Dirty Tour was a steamy, steamy success. Who knew it would get up to 89 degrees on Halloween? (OK, we knew. And still we wore blue jeans. Big, big mistake.)
But our guests - some of whom came from as far away as Brooksville and Bartow - were delightful. They didn't complain at all about the heat or the terrain (it was a little rough for a couple of ladies with canes, but they were troopers). We were all too busy having fun, taking pictures, asking questions and sharing gardening strategies.
Owner Rick Brown and his team gave us a great look at how their Florida Friendly plants are raised using a blend of local yard waste compost and drip irrigation, then packaged for sale at Home Depot stores. The farm isn't open to the public, so our fellow gardeners were thrilled to get an insider's view of the operation.
Rick also shared his thoughts on which plants are the best for area gardens. You can find out more about that in today's Dig This column, and online at Rick's blog, www.floridafriendlyplants.com/blog/. Look for his posts describing some of the tricks he shared on the tour, including making seed pots from this very newspaper and foiling garden pests by planting "pot in pot."
Speaking of getting more online, Penny and I used the tour to shamelessly plug our TBO.com blog, bit.ly/dirtblog. We've posted many more photos from the day there.
We hope to see lots of new Friends of The Dirt online for great conversations about gardening.