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The Neighborhood Gardener – May 2013

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Lettuce in raised bedAlternatives to Traditional Vegetable Gardening — Spring is prime vegetable season, so why not try a different approach to traditional vegetable gardening? If you don’t have the proper resources, the physical ability, or the space for a large garden there are alternatives to fulfill your gardening dreams. Two non-traditional vegetable gardens include container gardening and raised bed gardening.

Growing Citrus in Your Backyard – Oranges are Florida’s most famous fruit and backyard citrus is one of the many benefits of living in the sunshine state. Citrus trees can be fun to grow and very rewarding. First introduced to Florida in the 16th century by Spanish explorers, citrus quickly spread throughout the state and today is one of Florida’s largest industries. South and Central Florida are the best places to plant these trees, but certain cold-hardy cultivars can be be grown in North Florida with the proper care.

crotonPlant of the Month: Croton — Known for their bold, tropical foliage, crotons are perennial evergreen shrubs. Not only can these plants be grown outdoors in warmer parts of Florida, but some cultivars can be raised as decorative houseplants as well. The beautiful leaves of the croton are also used to enhance floral arrangements. This plant will draw attention with its stunning color and make a bold statement in your house or yard.

May in Your Garden – Southern vegetable favorites to plant now are okra, southern pea, and sweet potato. Prepare for hurricane season by checking trees for damaged or weak branches and prune if needed. There’s still time in North Florida to apply a fertilizer (not a weed & feed) without phosphorus unless soil test indicates the need for it.

praying mandtidFriend or Foe? Friend: Praying Mantids — Commonly (and incorrectly) referred to as “praying mantis,” these cleverly disguised insects are beneficial predators in your garden. Mantids’ oversized front legs fold in front of their face, giving the appearance that they are praying. Typically 3-4 inches long and are usually green or brown in color, mantids camouflage with their surroundings and are often mistaken for leaves and sticks. They are hunters and will feed on a limitless amount of pests in your garden such as beetles and grasshoppers. Unfortunately, they will also prey on beneficial insects in your garden such as bees and butterflies.

Read the full May issue.

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