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...]

Ways to water wisely during summer months

Water is essential — not only for life itself, but also to support Florida’s landscapes, recreational activities and beautiful vistas. Residents and tourists enjoy our waterways and participate in recreational activities such as fishing, swimming and boating. We use water from public municipalities and private wells for household, industrial and agricultural uses. Water also is … [Read more...]

Hurry, entries due soon for this year’s Water Wise awards

Does your yard have what it takes to be a winner of a Water Wise Award? The University of Florida/Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences Pasco County Office Extension and Tampa Bay Water would like to recognize attractive, yet water-efficient landscapes. Your yard could be a contender for a Water Wise Award if you already follow these simple steps: Put the right plant in the right … [Read more...]

Keeping cool, as temperatures soar

Florida, with its subtropical conditions, can reach temperatures that pose hazards to human health, according to the Florida Department of Health. Because of that, it’s important to take precautions to protect ourselves when doing outdoor tasks, such as gardening, during warm weather. Here are some preventative measures to keep in mind: Protect your skin with sunscreen. Be sure it has a … [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...]

Adding flavor to your foods, with herbs you grow

People have used herbs in cooking for thousands of years. They add unique flavors to food, as well as a touch of color to meals. Herbs grown in Florida include basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley and sage. Buying pre-packaged containers of herbs can be used in a recipe in a pinch, but why not grow your own? You can save money and enjoy a nice long season of fresh flavor. Herbs make … [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...]

Now’s the time to get control of the weeds in your lawn

Did you have weeds in your lawn last year? I sure did. One of my resolutions is to gain control of the weeds in my bahiagrass lawn. Common weeds that invade Florida lawns include heartleaf drymary and crabgrass. Heartleaf drymary is one of my least favorite weeds because its sticky seeds get all over my dog’s furry paws. Crabgrass is another difficult weed to control. There are few … [Read more...]

Expressing gratitude to bees, for all that they do for us

Gardeners are a grateful people, and part of our gratitude can be traced to bees. This year, I enjoyed four butternut squashes from our garden. I was only able to enjoy this harvest, though, because of bees. The bees and I have a win-win partnership. I plant flowers and vegetables. That gives bees a food source, and they, in turn, pollinate the plants. Bees and pollinators are … [Read more...]

Create your own indoor garden, using houseplants

A popular trend from Victorian times is making a comeback: Growing houseplants. If you look online at image-sharing websites, apps, and boards and you’ll find that indoor plants are very popular. In fact, a new term called “jungalow style” incorporates the use of plants inside homes and offices. Jungalow style brings the beauty and life of plants indoors by integrating them in living … [Read more...]