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The Neighborhood Gardener – November 2016

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

The staff of the UF/IFAS Florida Master Gardener program wish to thank all veterans for their service to our country.

hydroponic plantHydroponic Vegetable Gardening – A hydroponic garden is a fun way to grow your own herbs and vegetables. Hydroponic systems use nutrient-enriched water instead of soil, avoiding weeds and other pest problems common to soil-grown vegetables. Leafy crops like lettuce, Swiss chard, mint, and kale usually do quite well in hydroponic gardens. Building a simple one for your home garden is easier than you think. And it all starts with a kiddie pool.

Yellow flowers of Mexican tarragonMexican Tarragon – Mexican tarragon is an excellent choice for Florida gardeners. With a flavor similar to traditional French tarragon, but a better tolerance for drought, heat, and humidity, Mexican tarragon is a winner in the Southern herb garden. The leaves have a complex flavor and fragrance: similar to anise/tarragon, coupled with notes of mint, cinnamon, and a touch of sweetness. The bright yellow flowers can be used in salads. A popular method for storing Mexican tarragon is to preserve the leaves in vinegar.

Wendy WilberWendy’s Wanderings – Years back I was cleaning out my container and pot pile and had to ask myself, “Where did all these pots come from?” Had I really planted all the plants that grew in these pots, and if so, where were they? I remembered the advice of my Master Gardener friend Bill, who had encouraged me to keep a garden journal. If I wrote this stuff down, I would know what was going on in my landscape and garden.

Red berries of coral ardisiaCoral Ardisia — Coral ardisia was promoted in Florida as a landscape ornamental for many years. It is a compact shrub, with attractive, glossy foliage, and bright red berries. Unfortunately, it also forms dense colonies in natural habitats, smothering the seedlings of native species and producing copious amounts of fruit, which are readily dispersed by wildlife. Coral ardisia has been added to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ noxious weed list, making it illegal to possess, propagate, transport, or sell this species within the state. Extension botanist Marc Frank writes in depth about coral ardisia and how Master Gardeners can identify it.

Red berries of Simpson's stopperPlant of the Month: Simpson’s Stopper – Simpson’s stopper is a versatile Florida native with springtime flowering, colorful berries, and evergreen leaves. The fragrant white flowers attract butterflies and bees, while birds flock to the shrub for shelter and its fruit. Found growing naturally in seaside hammocks, Simpson’s stopper is a great choice for coastal gardeners looking for a plant that’s tolerant of salt and alkaline growing conditions. Recommended for Zones 8b to 11, Simpson’s stopper is cold hardy down to 25°F, and can function as a shrub or a small tree depending on the cultivar and how you prune it.

Dark pink crinum flowerNovember in Your Garden – November finally brings cooler weather, and winter annuals like pansies can be planted to freshen up flowerbeds. This is an excellent time to plant bulbs like amaryllis and crinum, and there are many cool-season vegetables you can plant now: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and greens, as well as radishes and turnips.

Read the full November issue.

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The Neighborhood Gardener – June

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

planterKeeing Kids Busy Over Summer Break — Now that summer is here, keep kids busy outdoors with some of these fun projects. Gardening can be fun for the whole family, and there are plenty of projects you can do with your kids that will instill a love for gardening and the outdoors.

Floating Hydroponic Gardens – Try a fun gardening technique this summer by building a simple floating hydroponic garden. Hydroponic gardens consist of plants grown without soil. Instead, these plants are grown in a nutrient-rich solution. In the horticulture industry, these are used to produce a large amount of produce on small acreage, but they can be made on a “home garden” scale as well.

Drift rosesPlant of the Month: Drift® Roses — Drift® roses were created by crossing groundcover roses and miniature roses, and the result is a compact rose that’s perfect for growing in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a groundcover. Drift® roses are best suited for planting in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-10. Choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight. Water your rose thoroughly at the time of planting and then regularly until it’s established..

June in Your Garden – Summer flowering shrubs, like hibiscus, oleander, and crapemyrtle bloom on new growth; lightly prune often during the warmer months. Lawn insects are very active during the warm months. Check frequently for damaged areas and determine whether damage is from pests, disease, or lack of water so your remedy is effective.

Friend or Foe? Friend: Larra Wasps — Mole crickets are a common problem on Florida turf, especially bahia and bermuda grass. Larra wasps, imported from South America by UF scientists, attack these turf pests. These solitary wasps are not agressive towards people. They lay their eggs in mole crickets they have paralyzed, and the eggs hatch larvae that feed on the crickets. Read more about larra wasps and their control methods of mole crickets.

Read the full June issue.

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