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The Neighborhood Gardener – July

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

birdbathInviting Wildlife to Your Yard — Here in Florida, we’re lucky to have incredibly diverse wildlife. You can welcome wild creatures into your yard by doing a few simple things. Planting native plants that serve as a food source and providing water are a good start.

Florida Master Gardener Program in DC for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival – The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held every summer on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and offers visitors a glimpse at an incredible range of cultural and educational programs and displays. This year, the festival celebrated 150 years of public and land grant institutions, and the University of Florida was there with its own booth.

Peacock gingerPlant of the Month: Peacock Gingers — Peacock gingers are shade-loving perennials that make great groundcovers here in Florida. Most bloom throughout the summer with small pink or purple flowers, but peacock gingers are best known for their beautiful leaves. Choose a spot that receives full or partial shade. Peacock gingers will tolerate a range of soils, though the plants will generally perform best in a rich, well-drained soil.

July in Your Garden – Use summer heat as a tool to help you prepare the vegetable garden for fall planting. Soil solarization takes four to six weeks to kill weeds, disease-causing organisms, and nematodes, so start now. An inexpensive rain shut-off device can save you money by overriding your irrigation system when it rains. If one is already installed, check that it is operating properly.

FireflyFriend or Foe? Friend: Fireflies — Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are harmless beetles that can light up summer nights, coming out at dusk or nightfall in woods or wetlands. Unfortunately, they’re becoming harder to find. Some scientists think fireflies can be deterred by brightly lit urban areas, and that their populations may be decreasing because of mosquito spraying. To provide habitat for fireflies in your landscape, reduce or eliminate artificial lighting and keep pesticides to a minimum.

Read the full July issue.

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