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...]

Multiply the plants in your garden, by dividing them

One of the easiest and most dependable ways to grow new plants is through division. In case you’ve never heard of it, division is a method of vegetative or asexual reproduction. Many common Florida plants are great candidates for dividing. Can you think of some? The UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, along with many other county Extension offices, have teaching and demonstration gardens … [Read more...]

Cuttings offer an excellent way to propagate plants

Plants can be successfully grown from cuttings – a method that saves you money and provides you — or your friends — more plants. Another plus? You don’t need any special equipment. A cutting is a method of asexual reproduction. The new plant will have the same characteristics of the parent plant. One popular method of propagation is stem cuttings. Tender new growth forms at the tip … [Read more...]

Back to the basics in plant propagation: Saving seeds

Seeds help us save money because saving seed is cheaper than buying seeds. We can grow different types of plants, adding more interest to our garden, and we can share plants grown by seed with others. You can save seeds from many common plants, such as marigolds, salvias, herbs and vegetables. Save seeds of the plants and vegetables you like and that do well in your garden. Many native … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Sowing new seeds of inspiration

For gardeners who are looking for some new ideas, the Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden in Seffner provides inspiration — and information. The garden, at the Hillsborough County Extension office, gives growing enthusiasts a chance to see the variety of plants that will thrive in a Florida landscape. It also showcases the various ways plants will grow — in raised beds, on trellises, in … [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...]

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...]