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Tillers and Toilers greenhouse team to hold first plant sale open to the public on Sept. 29

Published on: August 24, 2017

BILL HODGES PHOTO
Tillers and Toilers members (from left): Bunny Blackstone, Gloria and Ray Hosek, Thelma Burris and John Gieliello are part of a team that operates the club’s new greenhouse. The first open-to-the-public sale is set for Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. to noon.

By PHYLLIS HODGES

This time of year is when area gardeners begin planning for the fall planting season, and many of the 140 Tillers and Toilers members who cultivate the club’s 100-plus plots are looking no further than their very own greenhouse. It’s a convenient treasure trove of starter plants and seeds that are less expensive than from outside sources.

The club is opening the greenhouse to the community with its first open-to-the-public sale on Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. until noon.

Located about a mile north of S.R. 674 on West Del Webb Blvd., the greenhouse is a buzz of activity most days. That’s because a dozen greenhouse team members take seriously the responsibility they have assumed. Hundreds of seedlings are just waiting for their turn to evolve into lush produce, herbs and flowers to be enjoyed by the area’s gardeners and those who are lucky enough to share in their bounty.

Tillers and Toilers’ President Tom Russell has all good things to say about the project. He said Bunny Blackstone first floated the greenhouse idea three years ago, and the group of volunteers has steadily grown.

The team has made structural repairs, including a new roof, and built new tables to accommodate the plants. But there is still work to be done.  High on the list is pruning surrounding trees to allow more sun to the plants and to prevent falling branches from further damaging the new roof. Since the live oaks are protected, removing them is out of the question. In past years, the structure was used as the “marketplace” when the flowers and produce were sold to the public, but it fell into disrepair when the club stopped those sales.

Blackstone said that all of the team members are really committed to the greenhouse. On a rotating schedule, some of them are on site daily, nurturing the plants, cleaning and doing everything they can to make improvements. “We work well together,” she said. “We all come from different states and respect the knowledge that each of us brings to the table.”

The seeds and seedlings offered come from a nearby nursery, along with “good dirt” which is combined with compost made by club members. They anticipate high early demand in September from fellow club members who like to start early to prepare their plots, and then from the wave of snowbirds who return in October.

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in dirt,” said team member Thelma Burris. That pretty much sums up the philosophy of her fellow avid gardeners.

For information about the greenhouse, call Bunny Blackstone at 813-634-6387. For Tillers and Toilers’ club information, call Tom Russell at 813-938-1523.

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