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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 – August 2013

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

potato transplantTransplanting Vegetables — Jump start your vegetable garden with transplants! You can start them at home or buy them from a garden center. If growing your own, use a good potting soil and any type of container—recycled milk and egg cartons for example—that has good drainage. When planting seeds directly in the garden, remember that some vegetables don’t easily transplant from the seed row to another part of the garden.

Mosquito Control in Your Landscape – Mosquitoes are so prolific here in the summer that they’re often jokingly referred to as “Florida’s other state bird.” These pests can ruin your outdoor activities immediately. A mosquito’s bite is not only itchy and sometimes painful, but can also transmit diseases in both humans and animals. Learn how to control mosquitoes and protect yourself.

Spider plantWatering Houseplants — Houseplants are a wonderful addition to your home. They provide warmth and color, and if you choose the right plants, they’re not difficult to care for. One of the most important steps in caring for your indoor plants is irrigation. Plant species differ on the amount of water they need, so do your research to determine the proper amount to keep your particular plant healthy.

Asiatic jasmine groundcoverPlant of the Month: Asiatic Jasmine — Asiatic jasmine is an evergreen, vine-like woody plant that is commonly used in Florida landscapes due to its hardiness and drought tolerance. Once established, Asiatic jasmine requires little maintenance, and is salt tolerant and can be grown in coastal areas. This versatile plant can be grown in all areas of Florida, as it can handle cold temperatures as well as very hot ones. It grows well in both dense shade and full sun, and has very few pest, disease, or weed problems.

August in Your Garden – Mid-August is a good time to plant warm-season annuals such as marigolds, salvia, nicotiana, verbena, ornamental peppers, and sunflowers. As older plants decline you should add new ones; inspect the soil for pest infestations before planting new plants. Start cucumbers, beans, squash, and corn from seeds this month and transplant eggplant, pumpkin, pepper, tomato and watermelon seedlings.

false parasol mushroomsFriend or Foe? Foe: False Parasol — Often seen growing in grassy landscapes, false parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites) is a highly poisonous mushroom. White or tan, it has a domed or flat cap and a thick stem; at maturity it may be several inches tall. Colonies often grow in circles, called “fairy rings.” If ingested, false parasol causes gastrointestinal distress in people and can be fatal to dogs and horses. If your animal does eat one of these mushrooms, they should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Mushrooms sprout up quickly, so pet owners should check their yards often.

Read the full August issue.

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