About Eric


I’m a husband, father of 4, Photographer, and Linux IT Professional who enjoys gardening.


How do you say your last name?
Our last name is French and means ‘of the roof’.   I grew up in Iowa where they pronounce it “doo-toit”, however, when my family moved to Florida and started dealing with European customers, we adopted what I believe is the correct pronunciation of “dew-twah”.

My mom always had a garden when I was growing up as did the neighbors.  The rich black Iowa soil was great for raising just about anything you wanted to raise.  Kids knew how to plant and pick crops out of the garden and got to taste the wonderful farm and garden produce.  I’m afraid we’ve lost that in our country.  I wouldn’t be surprised if most children today don’t know where food really comes from or how to plant a seed if their life depended on it – and we may not be that far off.  It started off as a way to grow my own organic vegetables, but as I did more research, and as the warning signs became clearer, I realized that we may be in for some rough times in our country.  I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it would not surprise me much if food costs tripled, quadrupled, or even increased 20 fold over the next few years.  I want to be able to have access to food without relying on the government and I want my children to know that food doesn’t come from Wal-Mart.  Besides – have you ever tasted an organically grown tomato that when you put it on your sandwich, you can’t see the bread and you can barely see the plate the tomato is so large?

I will link to different products that I use or like with the intention of helping you find the right product.  One place I recommend stronger than anything else is Len Pense’s website – www.gardening revolution.com.  Len was nice enough to talk with me at length when I stopped by his garden center near Springfield, MO and several times on the phone.  His advice and help has been instrumental in getting this started.

Business and Photography?
My wife and I have a small business running a photography studio in Desoto County.  Our business site can be found at dutoitphotography.comWe shoot seniors, families, children, and offer a wide range of boutique style products and services.  I believe strongly in local small businesses so if you have a local small business, please take the time to write me, I’d love to check out your business and mention you on my blog.  If you see a business mentioned on my blog it is because I feel they go out of their way to serve and keep customers.

Information and Technology
I spend most of my workday with RedHat Linux and configuration management tools like Puppet, SaltStack and Amazon Web Service.  These are things I use to make my job easier and more efficient.


5 Responses to “About Eric”

  • bruce:

    Hi, I am using len pense beds. My question is, what is the best watering method. He says a basic oscillating watering, but I see you suggest a drip method. Any advise would be appreciated. I am in s/w florida. Thank you.

    Bruce Schepens

    • eric:

      I’m not an expert in this, and I’ve heard several different positions on this. When I visited Len’s farm, I noticed that while he was high on the hills in Missouri, he had a lot of tree cover surrounding his beds which provided shield for the wind. I’ve talked to others that live on hilltops/mountaintops with very little tree cover and constant wind – oscillating watering in wind doesn’t usually go where you want it to.

      If you can do an oscillating watering method, my opinion is that oscillating is better but our beds are spread out and we don’t have our own well so cost effectiveness and automation is a large part of our decision. I had an oscillating sprinkler watering two beds and I felt like I was wasting water 3′ around each bed in order to get full coverage in the beds. My fuzzy math (16′ x 4′ beds, 2′ outside each) turned out I could waste 50 gallons of water for every 1″ of water that made it inside the beds. I have 4 beds and could water 1/2 inch every day so I could potentially waste ~100 gallons every day in water or about $15 per week. You should do the math as it’s late and I may be wrong.

      I have 4 beds on an inexpensive 4 zone timer that allows each bed to be watered with different frequency. The drip irrigation / micro sprinklers seem to water very well and allow me to “set it and forget it” with a little fine tuning every now and then to make sure the beds are not too wet or too dry. I know that Florida can have some extensive water restrictions at times so drip may be the best option for that reason alone.

      I don’t think there is a single solution that works for everyone, but I hope the suggestions I made and the examples used will help you find the best solution for your situation.

      Enjoy your garden!

  • Mike Fondren:


    I’m not far from you geographically. I purchased Len Pense’s video set at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show last weekend. I’m seriously considering building some raised beds as Len instructs. In his video, Len mentions building the beds differently if you have Bermuda Grass. I’m wondering if you did anything differently when building your beds, as I’m sure you have Bermuda Grass in the Memphis area much like we do hear near Nashville.
    Also, I’m wondering if you might suggest a more local source for the organic cotton burr and rice hulls. I would like to avoid the freight cost of ordering all from Len Pense. However, I do plan to order the Essential Elements directly from Len.
    As I am just getting started with these raised beds, any tips you might share would be much appreciated.

    Mike Fondren
    Mt. Juliet TN

    • eric:

      Hi Mike,

      I know my reply is a few months late, but it may help you or someone else who stumbles upon this site.

      I have some old material from Len so I don’t know what the suggestion is different for raised beds in Bermuda Grass lawns. I can tell you that if I had it to do over again, I’d make sure I put up some kind of metal edging or barrier 4′ away from my beds and then run weed fabric all the way out to the 4′ edging. I’d make sure to get bulk wood mulch around the beds. I’d be interested to know what Len suggests now and I may email you directly.

      The EE is best ordered from Len. I get my rice hulls from Riceland in Stuttgart, AR and they will ship you a full or 1/2 pallet via LTL. It was reasonable for me to get it shipped and I ordered extra. I’d suggest if you have the space to keep enough rice hull and EE on hand to top of 1/3 of a bed every year for several years since the growing mix will dissipate or slightly compact. I have 4 beds and I should mix up enough for 1 full bed to top off all 4 beds every year if that makes sense.

      There is a local garden center near me which sells cotton burr organic compost at $35/cubic yd. You’d want to check with Back To Nature to see if they can point you to a local distributer, otherwise see if any local garden centers have it in bulk.

  • joel watson:

    I recieved your link to reference Len Pence. I am located in SW Missouri and am building a charity garden for my retirement. Could you help me get in touch w Mr. Pence for advise and to budget his grow mediam?

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