Garden Connect

By Steve and Jeanne Wolfe from White Dove Farm

Hi! At the last Garden Connect meeting in April we had Kathy Lavin giving a wonderful presentation on container gardening. Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers – This design technique utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded and upscale looking containers. Thrillers are plants with height, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety, and the Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter.I like just about all varieties of growing plants, and I have learned to place certain plants (trial and error) in appropriate places. For example honeysuckle, which is a twining vine, attracts hummingbirds, so it’s good but also bad because it travels at a high rate of speed and chokes out the plants near it. So, where should you put honeysuckle? On a fence with no other plants nearby. The food afterwards was a feast, we had twenty-two people in attendance – it was really nice!

We are going to share the benefits of assorted herbs in each article to keep for your records, the first one being the king of the herbs – Basil. We went to a wonderful lecture on basil with the Land O’ Lakes Garden Club at an Italian restaurant on US 41 north of State Road 52. Villa Verde Cafe’ & Ristorante Italiano, this restaurant is by RSVP only (813-929-6800). They have a web site at This is a nice place to have your office parties, feasts, and club events.

The many benefits of basil
Basil comes in many varieties and sizes. Basil is well known for its use in Italian cuisine. It has many health benefits such as being anti-inflammatory, an adaptogen (helps body respond to stress and fight disease) and is a powerful antibacterial agent. It can be eaten raw or cooked in many recipes. Jeanne’s dad, who is 100% Sicilian, always had basil plants by his back door, easy access for his gourmet food preparations. We want to share with you a classic Caponata recipe which is a delicious cold appetizer:

• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 1 1/2-pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 medium onion, cubed
• 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 14 1/2-ounce can or fresh diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings in juice
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons drained capers (rinse if too salty)
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
• Toasted pine nuts (can be put in blender before adding)

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant, onion, and garlic cloves. Sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, then red wine vinegar and drained capers. Cover and simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in fresh basil. Transfer caponata to serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Serve cold. Caponata can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Leave caponata in bowl and place on tray or large oval platter with hard-boiled eggs, other appetizers like different varieties of olives, and thin sliced Italian bread. A pretty miniature fork and spoon will serve your guests delightfully.

Next Garden Connect meeting: Saturday, Jun 16, 2018 at 3:30pm. RSVP at (813) 991-9786, leave a message and we’ll call back. Speaker and subject to be announced. We have an access ramp for the disabled. We live in the Wesley Chapel area. “For God so loved you…” – John 3:16


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