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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 FloridaDisaster.org 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 – 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.

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.

The Neighborhood Gardener – March 2014

Hello, gardeners!

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Smartirrigation app imageIrrigation Advice from Your Smartphone — Have you ever wished you could get individualized information on watering your lawn sent straight to your phone? Well, there’s an app for that. The Smartirrigation Turf app allows you to input information about your lawn, such as location, soil type, and irrigation system, and gives irrigation suggestions based on local weather conditions. The app is easy to use; there’s even a step-by-step tutorial to get you started. The Smartirrigation Turf app is available for purchase from Google Play for Android users and from the iTunes store for iPhone users.

UF Insect ID Lab — With the warm weather coming back the bugs are becoming more noticeable. With so many species of insects, identification can be difficult. That’s where the UF Insect ID Lab can help. A host of experts are available to help Floridians identify any insect or related arthropod. If your mystery creature has six or more legs, the UF Insect ID Lab is the place to call.

CornPlant of the Month: Sweet Corn — Sweet corn is a favorite among home gardeners. As long as the space is available, it’s not difficult to grow. Look for sugary enhanced varieties. Sweet corn needs at least eight hours of sun per day, and should be planted in blocks of four or more rows for adequate pollination. Be sure to plant only one kind. Sweet corn is ready to harvest when the kernels are filled and tightly packed.

March in Your Garden – If you haven’t yet fertilized palms and ornamental shrubs, now is the time. Make sure you use a fertilizer that has at least 30 percent of its nitrogen as slow release.

Chinese wisteriaFriend or Foe? Foe: Wisteria — Wisteria is a perennial vine with wonderfully fragrant flowers, often lavender, that grow in clusters, similar to grapes. But the wisteria common throughout the Southeast is actually an invasive from China. Chinese wisteria grows so rapidly that it covers plants, shading out others and even killing trees. The best way to eliminate wisteria from your landscape is to cut the vines off as close the root as possible and “paint” the cut stem with herbicide. Wisteria can grow from seeds or rooted stolons, so be sure to properly dispose of your cut vines to prevent an infestation. Luckily, there are non-invasive alternatives.

Read the full March issue.

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

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 (https://www.facebook.com/UFIFASNews).

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: http://day.ifas.ufl.edu/

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!