By Bonnie Mentel

Organic_Bob Dickey compost and vegetable container“Organic Vegetable Gardening” is just one of the upcoming free programs offered at the Bloomingdale Regional Library. Master Gardener, Bob Dickey, will teach participants how to create a garden inexpensively without using toxic pesticides or fertilizer. Dickey is a volunteer through the Hillsborough County Master Gardener Program at the University of Florida, IFAS Extension.

In order to achieve the Master Gardener status, students are required to attend class for one full day per week over a period of ten weeks. The course fee is $175. In their first year, Master Gardener trainees complete a mandatory 75 hours of volunteer service in the community.

That course, along with his 35 years of self-training, has allowed Dickey to grow a garden at his home that produces enough organic vegetables to eat every month of the year.

“Anyone can call in to the Extension Office at any time to speak with a Master Gardener. There’s always one on hand. They’ll help you with any problem you’re having with tomato plants or orchids or anything else.”

Dickey shared a couple of tips for organic gardening.

“I use cotton seed meal. It’s a completely natural fertilizer made from cotton seed. It’s also used for animal feed.”

Dickey makes his own compost at home. “When I grow [vegetables] using compost, I have no weeds and need little water.”

This free workshop is taking place on Wednesday, February 5 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Bloomingdale Library, located at 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico. Other gardening programs will be offered throughout the year at the Hillsborough County Public Libraries. If you would like to get Master Gardener gardening support by phone, contact the IFAS Extension Office at 744-5519 ext. 4.


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