I’m a zone 9a (or is it 9b?) gardener — I can never remember which and it doesn’t seem to matter anyway. Every corner of my garden seems to be in its own microclimate. I’m a passionate amateur, gardening in full sun and sandy, nematode-infested “soil.” I’ve had just enough success to keep trying. Which is why I fell in love with garden blogging in 2008, while working as a features editor and garden writer for The Tampa Tribune.
From The Dirt, my first blog co-written with friend and colleague Kim Franke-Folstad, I discovered the joy of learning from other gardeners’ mistakes through conversations that unfold in comments of readers. I found there’s a great analgesic effect in commiserating with a crowd when the temperature plummets; and an exponential increase in joy when you group-celebrate a good rain.
The Dirt won an honorable mention in the national Society for Features Journalism’s 2010 Excellence in Writing competition and a spot on Florida Gardening magazine’s favorite blogs list as a fun way to stay up to date. Kim and I, meanwhile, honed our public speaking and Power Point skills as speakers at garden clubs, nursery events and plant fairs.
Sadly, The Dirt croaked its last in June 2011, a victim of the economic drought. I now work for the St. Petersburg Times. My gardening column, Diggin’ Florida Dirt, publishes Fridays in the Times’ Tampa sections. I’m married to Ben the Plumber, a Florida native who takes sick pleasure in critiquing my garden labors from the air-conditioned comfort of the kitchen window. Our two children, Cody and Trent (Cody’s a boy; Trent’s a girl — yeah, I know), are recent graduates of Florida State University living adventurous lives on their own dime. (Yay!)
I’m diggin’ on sand and full-on sun in a Tampa suburb — when it works it’s very, very good, and when it doesn’t, well, you know the rhyme. I’m sympathetic when it comes to shade issues, but don’t you dare whine if you’ve got good dirt!