The Neighborhood Gardener – November 2013

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Potted plantHomemade Potting Mix — While a number of commercial pre-packaged potting mixtures are available at gardening centers, you may not know that you can make your own at home. Creating your own potting soil allows you to regulate the ingredients and control the proportions added to the mixture to meet your individual plants needs.

Meyer lemonsPlant of the Month: Myer Lemon — Rich orange-yellow Meyer lemon fruits provide a sweeter alternative to common lemons while bringing color and interest to your winter landscape. While able to handle cold weather better than other citrus plants, Meyer lemon plants do need to be protected from temperatures below 20°F. This plant can even be successfully grown in containers or inside as a houseplant, although it is unlikely to fruit when kept inside.

November in Your Garden – Continue planting cool weather vegetables like lettuce, carrots, broccoli, and kale this month. If you’re looking to plant flowers this month, pansies are a great cool weather bedding plant. Now that temperatures are lower, use dormant oil sprays to control scale insects in your garden. Cooler weather also means your plants will need less supplemental watering, so turn off automated systems and water only when needed.

Raccoon getting into bird feederFriend or Foe? Foe: Raccoons — Raccoons are a common and resourceful urban animal nuisance, well known for digging through trash cans and wreaking havoc in gardens. Adding cayenne pepper, mothballs, or wildlife repellent to the soil around new plantings will keeping raccoons away for a time, but when it comes to ripe fruits and vegetables, very little will deter these tenacious critters. Using a single strand electric fence with the wire 8 inches above the ground can provide an effective deterrent without physically harming the animals. Avoid contact; remember, raccoons are wild animals and the primary carrier of rabies in Florida.

Read the full November issue.

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

The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Better late than never! While the December issue of “The Neighborhood Gardener” went out as scheduled, we failed to post it to the blog. Our apologies! Here’s the December Neighborhood Gardener – look for January’s issue next Friday (January 11th).

December’s The Neighborhood Gardener:

poinsettiaPoinsettias: Holiday Color for the Home & Garden
Poinsettias are an iconic holiday decoration, instantly recognizable for their colorful, petal-like leaves called bracts. But today’s cultivated poinsettias come in a variety of colors besides the traditional red. And new varieties, like Ice Punch and Peppermint Twist, have been bred to last even longer indoors.

poinsettiaGarlands – Garlands are an ancient holiday tradition, dating as far back as Greek and Roman times. Ropes of garland are often made from evergreen material, like pine and cedar, as it’s pliable and relatively easy to work with. To make your own garland, cut branches ranging in lengths from six to twelve inches long. Overlap the branches and attach them using twine or wire. For a truly Southern look, you can even make garland with Southern magnolia leaves. Their leathery coating will keep them looking good for some time.

acornsPlant of the Month: Shumard Oak — Ideal for urban landscapes, Shumard oak is appreciated for its interesting foliage. It features traditional oak-shaped leaves that are dark green throughout most of the year and then turn a brilliant red or red-orange in fall. Once mature, these shade trees can reach 80 feet tall and have a 50- to 60-foot canopy. Shumard oak can be grown throughout Florida in full sun. It will grow best in a soil that’s rich and moist, though it can also be planted in drier sites.

December in Your Garden – Fallen leaves provide the carbon needed for successful composting and also make a good mulch. If plants did not perform as desired this year or new plantings are being planned, a soil test will reveal the specific nutrients that need to be applied.

raccoonFriend or Foe? Foe: Raccoon — Raccoons are very well-adapted to urban areas and often make a nuisance of themselves getting into trash, the vegetable garden, or worse, your attic. They’re also a major carrier of rabies in Florida. But there are inexpensive and simple ways to control this nuisance, mainly through exclusion and prevention.

Read the full December issue.

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