It’s watermelon season in Florida. See recipes at Fresh from Florida.
This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:
Culantro – Culantro is a tasty alternative to cilantro as temperatures rise. Fun fact: Did you know culantro is a key ingredient in sofrito, also called recaito? This popular mixture of vegetables is the base of many Caribbean dishes. Plant culantro seeds this summer and in about three weeks you could be harvesting fresh herbs to use in your kitchen! Learn more about this cilantro-like herb that can take the heat and flavor your food.
Heat Safety – The summer garden seems to have an endless amount of work to be done. But working outside during the summer can put gardeners at risk from the unforgiving Florida heat. Be sure to take the necessary precautions and try to work in the morning before the temperatures get too high. Read more about the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as some precautions you should be taking before heading outdoors.
SunPatiens — Impatiens may be a popular cool-season bedding plant, but for the same wow-worthy color in the heat, try SunPatiens®. Unlike traditional impatiens, this hybrid thrives in full sun and humid, hot weather. Plus, they aren’t susceptible to downy mildew the way traditional impatiens are. SunPatiens® flower year-round in Florida. (Photo by Stephen Mills)
Wendy’s Wanderings — Most gardeners that I know grow at least a few vegetable plants, fruit trees, and herbs in their yard. Others have full blown mini-farms that are in max production through each growing season. For many years these edible growing activities have been relegated to the back yard. Never mind if the sunniest part of your yard was by the front walk — edible plants had to be grown in the backyard according to most Florida municipalities’ regulations. But no longer.
Plant of the Month: Ponytail Palm — The ponytail “palm” might not be a real palm, but it is a great South Florida plant. This tree-sized succulent is a member of the agave family and is named for the long, delicate leaves that drape over the branches, giving it a “ponytail” effect. Being from the dry regions of Mexico, ponytail palm is well suited for rock gardens or for the cooler parts of the state, as a container houseplant. South Florida gardeners can plant ponytail palm in full or part sun in well-drained soil; it’s hardy only in zones 10A to 11.
Doveweed — Doveweed is an aggressive summer annual turfgrass weed. It resembles St. Augustinegrass in appearance, so this weed can grow unnoticed for some time. But doveweed doesn’t just invade St. Augustinegrass, it also takes hold in Bermuda, hybrid Bermuda, and zoysiagrass. Doveweed usually prefers wet areas, so parts of your lawn that have poor drainage or are over-watered are prime spots for it to thrive. It can also cause contact dermatitis in some dogs. (Doveweed photo by John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, Bugwood.org.)
July in Your Garden — Despite the heat, some plants can still be planted, just be sure you’re taking care to not overheat your body. Annuals like celosia, coleus, torenia, and ornamental pepper can handle Florida summers. And even in the middle of summer, butterfly lily and gladiolus bulbs can be planted.
Read the full July issue.
Or subscribe today, and receive it directly by e-mail.