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Growing grapes in Collier

See smaller A poultice of human hair repels deer, which would otherwise nibble off tasty leaves. Harriet Howard  Heithaus/Staff


A poultice of human hair repels deer, which would otherwise nibble off tasty leaves. Harriet Howard Heithaus/Staff

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  • Gordon Skrede has nearly 5 acres devoted to grapes that are native to Florida, and they're some of the most nutritious  grapes known. Harriet Howard Heithaus/Staff
  • Southern Home grapes like these Gordon Skrede grows are even delicious before they're ripe. 'They have sort of a Granny Smith apple taste and texture,' Skreded says. Harriet Howard Heithaus/Staff
  • Various Fry grapes ripen in colors from copper to a nearly black purple. Gordon Skrede grows a number of varieties to see which will bear the most fruit and have the best flavor. He's constantly propagating and nurturing in his Golden Gate Estates vineyard. Harriet Howard Heithaus/Staff
  • A poultice of human hair repels deer, which would otherwise nibble off tasty leaves. Harriet Howard  Heithaus/Staff
  • 'I see so many people out there older than I am and they have nothing to do. They watch TV. I can't do that,' recently retired Gordon Skrede said. Skrede, who worked as a city engineer, has turned five acres at his Golden Gate Estates home into a garden full of fruits rare to Southwest Florida, including apples, blackberries and grapes.
  • Gordon Skrede plucks a female Muscadine grape off of the vine to show the different colors of the fruit. Male Muscadine grapes  will produce grapes when planted alone, but females must be planted with a male to produce fruit. Skrede first started planting grapes after attending a information session with the Collier County Fruit Growers Club.
  • After a brief storm, water drips from Muscadine grapes on the vine at Gordon Skrede's Garden of Eaton. Skrede provides grapes at different farmer's markets, and even allows guests to pick their own at his home in Golden Gate Estates.
  • Gordon Skrede unloads mulch from under a cypress tree in his Garden of Eaton at his home in Golden Gate Estates. Skrede said that the mulch he uses retains water better than the soil in Southwest Florida so that his acre-and-a-half of brazos blackberries can flourish. He also said it is the only commercially grown blackberries in South Florida. 'There is a sense of pride in this,' Skrede said.
  • Gordon Skrede started his Garden of Eaton in 1996. He bought the house in 1990 and was clearing brush when he discovered blackberries growing in his yard. Skrede called the Collier County Extension Office to ask advice only to be told that it wasn't possible for blackberries to grow in Southwest Florida. Skrede took that as a sign that he had something special.
  • Gordon Skrede shovels mulch onto his blackberries on Tuesday. Skrede has about 200 blackberry plants on his property along with grapevines, and many other types of fruit.

Golden Gate Estates resident Gordon Skrede knows how to choose and grow a fruit not normally associated with the South.

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