Tomato Garden

With community gardens, school gardens and backyard raised beds, vegetable gardens are becoming increasingly popular in the area.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Could one grow the perfect tomato right here in Florida?

Possibly. With the help of Saturday's Vegetable Symposium, avid vegetable gardeners could come close. 

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension office in Charlotte County is hosting its 2019 Vegetable Symposium Saturday, where novice to expert veggie gardeners will get to delve deep into their craft. 

"Gardening in Florida offers a lot of benefits year round," said IFAS extension program manager Holly Bates. With the increasing popularity of raised beds in residential areas, school gardens and community gardens, "this creates a big demand for knowledge." 

What grows when? What are the least toxic methods of pest management? How can my small garden succeed? When will I have the vegetables to make a bowl of fresh guacamole? 

The IFAS extension office "(is) here to assist with all of the above information," Bates said, providing research-based information. 

Speakers will include master gardener Mike Stevens, county extension director and horticulture agent Ralph Mitchell and master gardener Bob Prier. 

As of Wednesday morning, the symposium has 67 people registered. A full class size would have 75 people. 

The IFAS office also has a Gardening Symposium Nov. 9, where the public can pick and choose topics of interest, including a few regarding vegetable gardens. 

Like Florida's gardening season, the extension office is also available year round. Residents can contact their office with questions during their office hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The office can be reached by phone at 941-764-4340 or by e-mail at Residents can also visit their office at 25550 Harbor View Road in Port Charlotte for help. 


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