Postponed: September Neighborhood Gardener

Hurricane Irma is approaching.

Most Florida gardeners are busy today, preparing for Hurricane Irma, including those of us at the University of Florida. In light of this, the September issue of the Neighborhood Gardener is being postponed. We expect to send it out next Friday.

All Hurricane Irma updates from UF/IFAS Extension are posted on their website.

You should check with your local authorities more for immediate updates.

Check with the Florida Division of Emergency Management at for important hurricane updates.

Read Wendy’s message to gardeners for hurricane prep tips.

Most importantly, gardeners, be safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones.


The Communications Staff of the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology


The Neighborhood Gardener – August 2015


Happy Summer Gardening!

Master Gardeners, don’t forget to register for the 34th Annual State Master Gardener Conference to be held this October.

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Fresh soil in raised bedSquare Foot Gardening – August is a great time to start planning your fall garden. There are so many ways to grow edible plants in your landscape. While many people are familiar with traditional rows of edible plants, square-foot gardening offers something a little different. Square-foot gardening allows you to make your vegetable garden more of a landscape feature.

WendyWendy’s Wanderings — I have often joked with new Master Gardener classes that the MG program is a support group for plant addicts. We love trying new plants and seeing what boundaries we can push with them. I find myself going to the nursery just to see what is new to try. On a recent visit to a nursery in St. Johns County I bought a plant that is meant for zone 9B and I live in 8B. I guess like many gardeners I have “zone envy.”

Dr. Jack PayneUF Leader Writes About Wendy Wilber — Recently, Jack Payne wrote a great piece about our new State Master Gardener Coordinator, Wendy Wilber for an industry publication. Jack Payne is the Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and the administrative head of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida. You can follow him on Twitter at @JackPayneIFAS, where he shares horticulture news, his thoughts on the state’s agriculture industry, photos of Florida’s natural resources, and more.

watermelonPlant of the Month: Watermelon — With winding vines and large ripe fruits, watermelon can take up quite a bit of room in the garden. If you have the space, it can be well worth the opportunity to have these delicious fruit treats right in your own back yard. If you missed planting your watermelon at the beginning of the year, August gives gardeners across the state another chance. Those in South Florida can even continue to plant through September.

August in Your Garden – Keep track of rainfall and be sure to adjust your irrigation accordingly. UF/IFAS even has an app to help you figure out how much water your lawn really needs.

moleFriend or Foe? Neither: Moles — Moles are really more of a nuisance animal than a true garden foe. While their tunneling is unsightly to many gardeners, the damage is usually aesthetic. Moles themselves do not intentionally harm plants. These tiny mammals tunnel through landscapes to find the soil insects and invertebrates that make up their diets. If you can learn to live with their tunnels, moles may actually do you a favor by eating potentially harmful insects like mole crickets, grubs, ants, and slugs.

Read the full August issue.

Or subscribe today, and receive it directly by e-mail.

New Book: Trees for North & Central Florida

We’re so excited to announce that our new book, “Trees: North and Central Florida” is now available in the UF/IFAS bookstore!

Trees: North and Central Florida book

“Trees: North and Central Florida” is a pocket-sized, photographic field guide of 140 trees and palms, composed of large, clear, colorful pictures that can be used for quick identification.

Andrew Koeser, co-author and an assistant professor of urban tree and landscape management at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, said he wrote the book for people to be able to take with them into the field.

“I want this to be a book where people can just take it out with them. Any tree they see in North and Central Florida, there’s a high probability that it will be in that book,” Koeser said. “We tried to get the most common trees in North and Central Florida.”

The book is now available at the UF/IFAS Extension bookstore, 1374 Sabal Palm Drive, on the UF campus, and online at the bookstore’s website. It sells for $24.95.

Other co-authors are Melissa Friedman, a science and Extension writer, Gitta Hasing, a senior biological scientist at the Gulf Coast REC; and Robert Irving, an urban forester for the city of Tampa.

UF’s Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology (CLCE) funded the project. Dr. Koeser is a faculty member with the CLCE, and the Florida Master Gardener Program is part of the Center as well.

And don’t worry, South Florida gardeners, the authors are also working on a South Florida book for a December release.

A Day in the Life at IFAS

A day at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida (IFAS) often begins early and ends late. Today, during a 12-hour window, they’re trying to capture just what it is that IFAS is and what its people do, from Extension agents working with the public, the faculty of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences department preparing students for the future and scientific research that spans, quite literally, from Earth to outer space. From 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. today, they’re collecting Tweets, Facebook posts and emails, photos and videos, and putting them together for future viewing, like one giant IFAS-family album.

The Florida Master Gardeners and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ programs are getting involved, too! We shared photos of:
Swiss chard in the Florida Master Gardener's office garden

Colorful Swiss chard growing in our office garden,

FFL's Brian Niemann presenting at the Epcot festival

Brian Niemann, with the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program™, speaking at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival,

Master Gardener webmaster's computer and desk

Even a picture of what our webmaster’s typical work day looks like.

If you follow our Twitter feed (@FloridaMGs), you might have seen our posts, tagged with @uffoodandagnews or the #IFASDay hashtag. We also posted photos on UF IFAS News’ Facebook page (

If you’d like to see ALL of the posts from across IFAS (and you should check it out, there’s so much to IFAS!), visit the webpage:

From 4-H students visiting the local television station, to Jupiter Island’s rocky coast as photographed by the Sea Grant program, to a strawberry tasting panel, to seedlings of the endangered ghost orichid in a lab, there are images and videos from every corner of IFAS Extension!

From left, clockwise: students in news studio, Florida coast, professor with orchid seedlings, strawberries.

(Clockwise from left: 4-H Students at WCJB New Studio, by Shaumond Scott; Coral Cove State Park on Jupiter Island, from UF/IFAS FL Sea Grant Director Karl Havens; Dr. Michael Kane and graduate student James Sadler with ghost orchid seedlings; strawberry taste test, from UF/IFAS Food Science & Human Nutrition department )

MG State Coordinator Tom Wichman Wins Award

Tom WichmanWe’re proud to announce that Tom Wichman, state coordinator for the Florida Master Gardener Program, won a Silver Award of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association!

As part of the Garden Writer Association’s 2012 Media Awards, Tom won a silver in the “On-Air, Radio” category for his work as “the voice” of the radio program, Gardening in a Minute.

Celebrating its fifth year, Gardening in a Minute is a radio program airing every day on public radio stations in Florida. Each show gives a short tip to amateur and experienced gardeners, and the website features all the shows plus additional gardening information. The show is a production of the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, IFAS/Extension, and WUFT-FM.

Garden Writers Association is the national organization for garden professionals, including book authors, staff editors, syndicated columnists, freelance writers, photographers, radio and television personalities, extension agents, and more.

As a Silver Award recipient, Tom will also be eligible for a Gold Award at the GWA 2012 Awards Banquet on October 15, 2012 in Tucson, AZ.

Congratulations to both Tom and Gardening in a Minute!