Seasonal growing — for food and color

Short, cool days don’t necessarily scream gardening season. But, many vegetables, herbs and beautiful flowers just love winter in Florida. December is a good month to plant cool season herbs, such as sage, dill, fennel, cilantro, thyme and parsley. Veggies, such as carrot, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower do well when planted at this time, too. Add a pop of color to your landscape by … [Read more...]

Food safety issues aren’t confined to the kitchen

Several high-profile cases of food poisoning and related illnesses recently have caught the attention of home gardeners. Infections caused by rat lungworm from slugs, and infections caused by E. coli and Salmonella bacteria contamination are not new. Thousands of food safety fact sheets, videos and classes are available regarding our understanding and prevention of these illnesses, … [Read more...]

Caladiums offer a kaleidoscope of color

If you’re looking for a plant that brings color and interest to the landscape, consider adding some caladiums to your yard. Caladiums produce vibrant colors and stunning patterns on their leaves, which attract attention. They are tropical foliage plants that thrive in shady nooks and crannies making them easy to grow in Florida’s hot, humid weather. Caladiums look great as landscape … [Read more...]

Gearing up for spring gardening

It’s time to start your vegetables for spring planting. January and February are great months to start gardening vegetables. With the exception of sweet potatoes and okra, most of our vegetables grow best during spring and fall. While spring hasn’t sprung just yet, now is a great time to set out veggies like collard and mustard greens, cabbage, and kale. Plants in this family are … [Read more...]

Replanting and restoring trees following Hurricane Irma

Some of Hurricane Irma’s most affected inhabitants of Florida were trees. Some trees were snapped. Some twisted out of the ground. Some were left leaning with exposed roots, or were stripped of large limbs and foliage. The good news is that not all of the damaged trees must be removed. The test is whether they are a structural hazard or if they have sustained too much damage. It’s … [Read more...]

Conserving water, reducing storm water runoff

When it rains, it pours. Or, so it seems in Florida. Central Florida landscapes can easily get 2 inches to 3 inches of rain in a typical afternoon rainstorm. And, all of this storm water washes over our roads, roofs, gutters, driveways, lawns and landscapes — carrying plant debris, pesticides, fertilizers and other contaminants into our waterways. Even oil from cars, trash and pest … [Read more...]

We’re on the lookout for water-wise landscapes

The Pasco County Extension Office and Tampa Bay Water are looking for attractive landscapes with irrigation systems or techniques that minimize water waste and represent the best in Florida-Friendly Landscaping. We would love to present your outdoor oasis for relaxation and a haven for wildlife as a powerful environmentally friendly example of Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM. Florida-Friendly … [Read more...]

There’s an art to the proper pruning of palms

How do you know if you’ve properly pruned your palms? There are some telltale signs. A properly pruned, and healthy palm, should have a round canopy and green leaves from the top of the canopy down to the crown. Unfortunately, too often palms are pruned too much — making them unattractive, unhealthy and weaker than a properly pruned palm. Palms are not supposed to look like a flat rake … [Read more...]

Coping with seasonal drought in the landscape

If you were to take a map of the globe and draw a parallel line to the east and to the west of Florida — worldwide — what would you discover? You would note that Florida is roughly positioned along the same latitude as Mediterranean-type climates where dry, arid conditions prevail. Logic implies then that our weather should be more like that of Southern California or parts of the Mediterranean; … [Read more...]

The truth about bromeliads and mosquitoes

  Zika is a concern in Florida and bromeliad plants have been singled out as potential sources of mosquitos that carry this virus. Bromeliad plants produce a fold of leaves commonly referred to as a “tank” where water will collect. And, several types of mosquito larvae (the young, non-flying aquatic phase), including larvae of the Aedes family of mosquitoes, which can potentially … [Read more...]