Turn that Brown Thumb Green

August 19, 2009 by Rick

Gardening Basics

As Penny Carnathan, Tampa Tribune Garden Writer - The Dirt, is fond of saying about one of her gardening friends. "Her thumbs are so green she can grow rocks".

Some folks rely mostly on organics. Why do they work so well for these green thumbs? Plant-soil-microbe-fungus relationships are highly complicated and studied but the truth is science has a hard time quantifying and isolating the tremendous number of complex interactions involved. We do know quite a bit about many interactions. We know that the good fungi and bacteria outnumber the bad many times over and when good fungi and good bacteria loose their overwhelming advantage things can go wrong. Compost and organic matter support good fungi good bacteria good nematodes and many other good microorganisms and earthworms with the good bacteria in their hyperactive gut. Too much salt based fertilizer upsets the balance and kills the good guys that are working in the organic system.

Compost and Organic Matter support the good micro organisms that naturally control bad nematodes. Most of the nematodes in the world are good guys. Nematodes account for 90% of the living multi-celled organisms on the planet yet you can't see them with the naked eye. They are really small but interrelated to the natural processes in more ways than we will ever know. So you have to take it on faith or experience that relying on organic processes will help turn your brown thumb green. Here is the scoop on Nematodes for Bedding Plants in Florida.

In contrast to gardening in soil rich in organic matter, we can grow plants in our nutrient poor sandy soils that have very little organic matter. This is where you need to add timed release salt based fertilizer. This is always more cost effective than liquid or fast release 6-6-6 granular that only seem cheap. Don't feed your plants a 3 month's supply of the cheap stuff only to have it wash away in one rain when you can give them a 3 month supply of timed release fertilizer in one application that releases a little with each irrigation. and not pollute the downstream environment!

Pot-in-Pot Landscaping is a great way to turn a brown thumb green. You should try this and report back on the color of your thumb. Ask away and we will answer questions to get you on the right garden path.

9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping

We share through numerous posts our enthusiasm and experience as long-time Florida gardeners and horticulturists. Our hope is that your gardening efforts will be successful and enjoyable.  We share ways to make your yards and patios beautiful while following the University of Florida's Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping:

1) Right Plant, Right Place: Plants selected to suit a specific site will require minimal amounts of water, fertilizers and pesticides.

2) Water Efficiently: Irrigate only when your lawn needs water. Efficient watering is the key to a healthy yard and conservation of limited resources.

3) Fertilize Appropriately: Less is often best. Over-use of fertilizers can be hazardous to your yard and the environment.

4) Mulch: Maintain two to three inches of mulch to help retain soil moisture, prevent erosion and suppress weeds.

5) Attract Wildlife: Plants in your yard that provide food, water and shelter can conserve Florida’s diverse wildlife.

6) Manage Yard Pests Responsibly: Unwise use of pesticides can harm people, pets, beneficial organisms and the environment.

7) Recycle: Grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings composted and recycled on site provide nutrients to the soil and reduce waste disposal.

8) Reduce Storm water Runoff: Water running off your yard can carry pollutants, such as fertilizer, pesticides, soil and debris that can harm water quality. Reduction of this runoff will help prevent pollution.

9) Protect the Waterfront: Waterfront property, whether on a river, stream, pond, bay or beach, is very fragile and should be carefully protected to maintain freshwater and marine ecosystems.

More details can be found here: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/strategies.htm

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Organic Thrips Repellents

August 7, 2009 by Rick

 

Kaolin Powder Clay at Amazon for $9.00 per pound has been shown to confuse and or make feeding difficult for thrips insects that attack vegetables and ornamental plants.

Kaolin Powder Clay - 1 lb., (Frontier)

In an article, Thrips Research in Florida, details of how the clay might be used in combination with tea-tree oil, lemongrass oil or geraniol to significantly reduce thrip feeding and the viruses transmitted by the feeding.

In a previous article, Mama Mia - Garlic Extract Controls Garden Pests , we talked about how effective garlic extract is for us in production as a soil drench. Other Florida growers have found that weekly spraying one quart per half acre per 100 gallons of Alsa (garlic extract) controls thrips as well as synthetic chemicals on crops like crotons. The goal is to find enough alternatives to make control as safe as possible and still effective. We also want to not make thrips resistant to synthetic chemicals by overuse. We have made great strides recently. Let us know what you have found to be most effective against Florida pests.

  http://twitter.com/FlFriendlyPlant


Bulbine Popularity Soars

July 31, 2009 by Rick

 

 Bulbine

You can see struggling turf surrounding the thriving Bulbine here (above). Jelly Burn Plant is getting very popular in landscapes throughout Florida.

Drought Tolerant Bulbine at Epcot Demonstration

Bulbine is easy to establish in the hottest months when other plants take more water and TLC.

 

JellyBurnPlantBulbineFrutescensHalmark

  http://twitter.com/FlFriendlyPlant


Real Turf vs. Fake Turf and the Environment

June 18, 2009 by Rick

FrontLawn

Have you seen the modern Astroturf? The 2009 version is very nice and can be seen at EPCOT. It feels really good to walk on and you can add a rubber under layer for play areas.

Artificial Turf 1 Artificial Turf 2

Artificial Turf Artificial Turf 4

Artificial Turf 5 Artificial Turf 3

There is an interesting pro and con article at Sustainable Gardening Australia if you think this is appealing to you. In some Florida counties we have Energy from Waste plants where the synthetic turf product will be incinerated 10-25 years after installation rather than land filled which adds to the facts of this article.

Artificial Turf 7 Artificial Turf 6

For more inspiration check out  Felders New Lawn


"Consult the genius of place in all"

May 28, 2009 by Rick

Alexander Pope's 1731 statement is one for the ages. Today gardeners can seek local genius from the U of F's body of Florida research by scientists that seek out and publish facts to make us successful. As gardeners we benefit from the knowledge of what plant works in what setting. Right Plant - Right Place. The recently updated Vegetable Gardening Guide tells what modern and heirloom varieties of vegetables will work in the part of Florida where you live but just as importantly what dates we need to plant them to ensure a harvest.

        

If you garden in Florida your genius bookmark should be Solutions for Your Life. There you can easily access the knowledge database from the U of F Cooperative Extension Service and find the right answer to common and not so common problems with your turf, garden, house plants, pets, energy consumption, home economics and much more. The information is local to your county and staffed by a local genius who is just a call or email away and it's FREE.

You will also find your local county extension office is also the office of your local Florida Yards and Neighborhoods coordinator. FYN information is largely based on U of F research and partially funded by the DEP and water management districts to help you decide how to plant the Right Plant in the Right Place the right way to protect our rivers and lakes. Pass along these links to family, friends and neighbors so Florida's environment can improve. Learn what it takes to do your part to protect the environment and you too can become a genius of place.


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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Florida-Friendly Landscapes Pass the Legislature

May 16, 2009 by Rick

Landmark legislation went through several face-lifts during this legislative session resulting in a huge win for the environment.  The Florida-Friendly Landscape bill provides a critically needed and much overdue update of Florida law relating to landscapes. 
Historically, Florida law has highlighted Xeriscapes.  If signed by the Governor, the law will be updated to showcase the use of Florida-friendly landscapes (put the right plant in the right place). The bill also provides a missing link to Florida-friendly landscaping by recognizing not only the water conservation, but also the water quality, benefits which Florida-friendly landscapes provide.
The law explicitly adds a connection to the UF/IFAS Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program for homeowners and builders.  The bill references the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology (for which FNGLA helped establish and secure funding four years ago) and the educational resources it provides. 
Finally, the bill strengthens protections for homeowners wishing to install Florida-friendly landscapes and clearly states local government ordinances cannot prohibit or be enforced to prohibit Florida-friendly landscaping.  Special thanks goes to Sen. JD Alexander (R-Lake Wales) and Rep. Seth McKeel (R-Lakeland) for shepherding this victory through the Legislature.


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Welcome to our Florida Friendly Plants Blog

January 19, 2009 by Rick

We plan to share through numerous posts our enthusiasm and experience as long-time Florida gardeners and horticulturists. Our hope is that your gardening efforts will be successful and enjoyable.  We’ll share ways to make your yards and patios beautiful while following the University of Florida's Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping:

 

1) Right Plant, Right Place: Plants selected to suit a specific site will require minimal amounts of water, fertilizers and pesticides.

 

2) Water Efficiently: Irrigate only when your lawn needs water. Efficient watering is the key to a healthy yard and conservation of limited resources.

 

3) Fertilize Appropriately: Less is often best. Over-use of fertilizers can be hazardous to your yard and the environment.

 

4) Mulch: Maintain two to three inches of mulch to help retain soil moisture, prevent erosion and suppress weeds.

 

5) Attract Wildlife: Plants in your yard that provide food, water and shelter can conserve Florida’s diverse wildlife.

 

6) Manage Yard Pests Responsibly: Unwise use of pesticides can harm people, pets, beneficial organisms and the environment.

 

7) Recycle: Grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings composted and recycled on site provide nutrients to the soil and reduce waste disposal.

 

8) Reduce Storm water Runoff: Water running off your yard can carry pollutants, such as fertilizer, pesticides, soil and debris that can harm water quality. Reduction of this runoff will help prevent pollution.

 

9) Protect the Waterfront: Waterfront property, whether on a river, stream, pond, bay or beach, is very fragile and should be carefully protected to maintain freshwater and marine ecosystems.

 

More details can be found here: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/nine_principles.htm

 

 
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