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The Neighborhood Gardener – October 2016

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Jim DavisMaster Gardener Professorship – The Master Gardener Professorship is a faculty-recognition program named in honor of Florida Master Gardeners. The winner has been selected for 2016 and we would like to congratulate Jim Davis! As Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator for Sumter County, Jim oversees the residential horticulture program, teaching county residents about the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles with a particular focus on irrigation. Learn more about the good work Jim’s doing.

Seminole pumpkinSeminole Pumpkins – Pumpkins get top billing this time of year, but did you know there is one particular pumpkin that does quite well in Florida? Seminole pumpkins can hold up through Florida’s relentless summer heat and come out the other side producing delicious fruits for harvest.

Photo courtesy of Miranda Castro, Edible Plant Project

Wendy WilberWendy’s Wanderings – Is ignorance bliss? Sometimes I think so when it comes to spotting horticultural horrors. When we go through Master Gardener training, we learn so much about good horticultural practices. Sometimes, we learn that things we once thought were just fine are actually terribly wrong.

Yellow crotalaria flowerToxic Plants — The spooky and the sinister come out to play this time of year—even in the garden. Some popular landscape plants and pasture flowers have a dark side, too. UF/IFAS Extension provides an infographic that gives a bit of information on the toxic elements of some common plants like azaleas, lantana, the currently blooming crotalaria (pictured), and other dangerous beauties.

Photo by John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, Bugwood.org

Bright orange flowers of flame vinePlant of the Month: Flame Vine – Flame vine is quite the show-stopper with its numerous, fiery orange blooms. This fast-growing plant can be a dazzling sight to behold, but take care to control its aggressive growth. Flame vine will climb anything that offers decent support, so while it’s great for fences, trellises, and archways, it’s best to avoid planting near trees that could be strangled. The work is worth the effort; hummingbirds love the tubular flowers for their nectar. Hardy in USDA Zones 9–11, flame vine can sometimes be found flowering as far north as Zone 8b.

strawberriesOctober in Your Garden – October is a great time to prepare and start planting strawberries. If you’re worried you don’t have enough space in the garden, strawberries do quite well when planted in containers. All parts of the state can plant these colorful, tasty berries this month.

Eastern diamondback rattle snakeSnakes — Snakes may send some gardeners running scared, but they’re actually an important part of a Florida-Friendly landscape. Snakes play an important ecological role and will generally keep to themselves. Of the many species found in Florida, only six are venomous. It’s best to never approach any snake, but approaching a venomous snake can be dangerous. If you think a snake may be venomous, call a professional.

Read the full October issue.

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

The Neighborhood Gardener – October 2015

Master Gardeners,

There’s still time to register for the 34th State Master Gardener Conference, October 18-21 in Kissimmee. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear our keynote speaker, photographer John Moran, or attend some of the 24 concurrent educational sessions.

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Pink dianthus flowerCut Flowers for Cool Weather – While thinking about all the yummy veggies you can grow and harvest in the fall, don’t forget about flowers! While most won’t be destined for your plate (although the pansies could be), flowers can still be harvested—for vases around your home. Bring some floral autumnal fun indoors with cool season bedding plants like dianthus (pictured), calendula, and more.

WendyWendy’s Wanderings — This month we’re reporting on the Oriental fruit fly and the state of emergency associated with the insect in South Florida. You may think, “This doesn’t impact my garden or my landscape personally, so why should I care?” But as Floridians I think we should always care when there is a threat to our agriculture industry and our Florida farmers.

Map showing heavy rain for FloridaEl Niño — You may have heard that El Niño is back in the tropical Pacific Ocean, but what does that mean for your garden? El Niño events bring Florida a cooler and wetter winter, meaning you may find yourself dealing with more fungal diseases on plants, increased nutrient loss in the garden, and changes in the production of deciduous fruits, among other things

Yellow mumsPlant of the Month: Chrysanthemums — While the leaves of most Florida trees won’t give us those traditional autumnal colors, we can still paint our landscape with the colors of fall. Chrysanthemums, or mums, are easy to grow and come in a range of warm, welcoming hues. When buying potted mums, look for healthy, well-shaped plants with many flower buds. These perennials are cold hardy and prefer full sun, but can also thrive with just morning or afternoon sun.

October in Your Garden – October is a great time to be planting in the vegetable garden. Many herbs and vegetables thrive during Florida’s mild winter. What better way to know what to plant this and every month than with a handy-dandy infographic. See what vegetables to plant, broken down by area of the state.

Oriental fruit flyFriend or Foe? Foe: Oriental Fruit Fly — The Oriental fruit fly infestation in Miami-Dade County has become a problem warranting the declaration of a state of agricultural emergency. While this may not directly impact your home garden at the moment, an infestation here in Florida could be devastating. Read more about the Oriental fruit fly and what is being done to keep this aggressive pest in check by visiting Fresh from Florida.

Read the full October issue.

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

The Neighborhood Gardener – October

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

colorful annuals in hanging basketHanging BasketsBy Pam Brown, Retired Urban Horticulture Agent, Pinellas County
Hanging baskets are wonderful additions to your home garden. They can easily be moved around and create wonderful eye-level color and texture opportunities. Pam Brown shares her tips on creating beautiful hanging baskets.

ripe Oriental persimmonsPlant of the Month: Oriental Persimmon — The golden fruits of Oriental persimmon are easy to grow and are high in fiber and vitamins A and C. Ripe fruits have a smooth texture and mild flavor. In Florida, the fruits generally ripen from late summer through fall. Plant your Oriental persimmon in full sun in well-drained soil. It will benefit from regular watering and occasional pruning.

October in Your Garden – The time to control winter weeds in lawns is before they appear. Pre-emergent herbicides must be applied at the right time to be effective. Apply when evening temperatures are 55-60°F for 4-5 days. Avoid weed and feed products.

signs of brown patch in lawnFriend or Foe? Foe: Brown Patch — Brown patch, also known as large patch, is a fungal disease that can affect zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass lawns. It shows up as round, discolored patches that expand over time. It’s typically observed from November through May when temperatures are below 80°F. Infection is triggered by rainfall, excessive irrigation, or even extended periods of high humidity. Lawn areas that have been troubled by brown patch in the past should be sprayed with a fungicide prior to disease recurrence, but prevention with proper lawn care is best.

Read the full October issue.

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

The Neighborhood Gardener – October

Sweet Charlie strawberriesThis month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

  • Gorgeous Ground Covers – Marina D’Abreau of Hillsborough County Extension suggests some great ground covers that are often overlooked or ignored.
  • Fall Climate Outlook – The Southeast Climate Consortium reports that Florida will likely experience a warmer and drier fall than usual, thanks to an unusually strong La Nina weather pattern.
  • Plant of the Month: Strawberries – This tasty berry grows best in Florida’s cooler months, which makes October the ideal time to start planting. Learn which cultivars are best suited for your area.
  • October in Your Garden – It’s time to start planting for the cooler months ahead. Foxglove, petunias, and Shasta daisies are good plants for the fall garden.
  • Friend or Foe? Squirrels – The gray squirrel can cause significant damage to your plants. While you can’t completely rid the landscape of these furry pests, there are ways to protect your garden.
  • Master Gardener Conference – There’s still time to register for the conference, which takes place October 25-27 in Destin, FL.

Read the October issue.

Or subscribe today, and received directly by e-mail.