Have you ever eaten a flower?

Gardeners and foodies alike enjoy the culinary benefits of edible flowers. Edible flowers bring another element to the garden -- not only because they impart flavor and add interest to meals, but because they add beauty and color, too. By emphasizing plate presentation, you can savor flavors and eat with your eyes. Did you know flowers have specific flavors? Tastes that flowers can … [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...]

A scary case of mistaken identity

A homeowner emailed a photo to the Hillsborough County Extension Office of a group of insects she discovered on a plant in her yard. She shared her photo on Facebook, looking for help in identifying them. Several people, seeing her photo, had kindly warned her they could be disease-carrying insects called kissing bugs, otherwise known by the much less friendly name of bloodsucking conenose. The … [Read more...]

Plant a beautiful, Florida moonlight garden

Imagine coming home from work, or walking around your garden in the evening, and admiring your moonlight garden just as the sun begins to set or during the early evening. Moonlight gardens are planted purposefully so they can be enjoyed during twilight. Planting one is easy, and it’s a clever way to design or redesign a section of your yard. Depending on the size of your yard, you can … [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...]

Pollinator gardens attract bees and other wildlife

Obviously, pollinators are important. An estimated one-third of the food we eat comes from plants pollinated by animals. Bees, wasps, flies and hummingbirds are vital pollinators. Scientists have found that it takes eight or more visits by a bee to a watermelon flower to produce a single watermelon. So, please consider planting a pollinator garden to increase populations of these … [Read more...]

Growing beautiful tomatoes in Central Florida

Tomatoes are one of the most popular veggies to eat, but trying to grow them can be one of the most frustrating experiences for new gardeners in Central Florida. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be exasperating, and it can be quite fun. With just a little bit of knowledge, any home gardener can grow beautiful and bountiful tomatoes. For successful tomatoes, there are a few simple concepts to … [Read more...]

Make your own vegetable stock

I love to cook, and this year I am trying to cook more meals at home. I find chopping vegetables — like weeding — to be truly cathartic, and preparing a tasty, elegant meal for myself is one of life’s simple pleasures. While recently cooking a mushroom barley soup, I thought of making my own stock. We chop our veggies and add them to meals. And, some of us are smart enough to save … [Read more...]

Heirloom seeds preserve heritage, save money

As the warm-season vegetable garden season draws to a close in Central Florida, there’s still much work to be done in preparation for the next planting season. This is a great time to collect heirloom seeds, which can save money and provide an easily renewable source of your favorite plant varieties. An heirloom variety is an older cultivar maintained in relatively isolated regions, even one’s … [Read more...]

Growing bulbs in the Florida garden

Did you know you can grow bulbs year after year in Florida? When we talk about bulbs, there are “true bulbs” and bulb-like plants. Your true bulbs are those plants that contain all the plant parts, such as roots, an underground stem, a flower bud and fleshy leaves. These plant parts are stored in an underground structure called a bulb. These underground storage structures make them very … [Read more...]