Fall is for Vegetable Gardening in Florida

August 4, 2011 by Rickb

Now is the time to get your garden started. Fall and Winter gardening can be the most productive time to garden. It is the best time for strawberries, broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach and more. If you plant soon you can get a good crop of tomatoes, peppers, squash and other warm season crops as the weather cools off when the crops near harvest. Watch this video for the ‘how to’ and to get ideas for your vegetable garden success. UF-IFAS Extension Training Video Vegetables

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Combine vegetables and annuals or perennials in large pots for the patio

Here is the link to the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide that you will want to print and carry to the garden center when shopping for seeds, plants and soil conditioners, fertilizers and amendments as it has most info in an easy to carry format…other than on your smart phone.

Solutions For Your Life is Florida’s resource for gardening and much more. Check it out.

 

Try something different this year with Pot-in-Pot gardening. DSCN0611

Veggies work great in this system and you can replace them with flowers

as you harvest them.

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Incorporate a drip system for water saving and efficiency.

 


Beneficial Nematodes in Action

July 18, 2011 by Rickb

Modern pest control has changed radically in the past decade with the availability of many biological pest control agents that we can use in our Integrated Pest Management - IPM system.

 

Controlling pests takes a leap of faith. When you drench a crop with garlic you can smell it all over the farm but you can’t see the insects being repelled from feeding on the flowers.

 

I like this new video that shows the nematodes in action and how to make them more effective.

 

Watch how beneficial nematodes move and attack insects.

On the Becker Underwood Blog you can see boicontrols in action

 

 

There are nematodes available for your home garden. Contact your local County Agent for more details on biocontrols in the garden. It takes some knowledge just as with any pesticide to get the right control agent for the right pest. For worm larvae that eat your veggies and mosquito larvae in your pond and bromeliad cups you still want to use Bt – Bacillus thuringiensis, a safe bacteria toxin that attacks the gut of the larval stage of the target pest.

 

"The Bugman" shows how to apply Beneficial Nematodes to control fleas, grubs, ants, root weevil, and other soil pests.

Vertical Garden for Home Vegetable and Flowers

July 13, 2011 by Rickb

Really cool and easy way to garden vertically and avoid weeds and soil pests.

If you are a small farmer or a home gardener that wants a proven system to grow crops and flowers you will appreciate this one.

Vertical Vegetable Garden U of F Design

4 tiers of painted cola bottles on a 4 x 4 post.

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Drip irrigation and a timer make this a real water saving system too. You have to find someone who drinks lots of high fructose corn sugar AND is willing to donate their bottles for recycling.

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The other components can be purchased at Home Depot and the parts list and instructions are online to print here for this system. Have fun!


Compost, Drip Irrigation and Haitian Agronomists

June 10, 2011 by Rickb

Haitian Agronomists paid us a visit this week as a part of their Florida tour of farms in an effort to learn how we implement growing practices that are based on scientific methods developed and taught at the University of Florida. USAID’s WINNER program in Haiti has contracted with the University of Florida to train and help implement agricultural best management practices with the farmers and these state agronomists that work from stations around the Haitian state.

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Typical Furcy area terraced farms

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Furcy Station School

 

10 Ways That WINNER Is Changing Haiti

Why The Watershed Initiative For National Natural Environmental Resources Reflects America's Best Development Practices and a Path Forward For Haiti

April 8, 2010


WINNER IS:

* A FIVE-YEAR MULTI-FACETED PROGRAM begun last May and designed to comprehensively build Haiti's agricultural infrastructure, capacity, and productivity by providing concentrated and transformative support to Haitians in a large area north of Port-au-Prince. It is focused on building and strengthening Haiti's agricultural foundation, particularly in the areas of Cul-de-Sac, Cabaret, Mirbalais, Archaie and Gonaives and is backed by $126 million in funding from the U.S. Government over the next five years.

* MANAGED BY A MOSTLY HAITIAN STAFF that works with other Haitians to develop watershed management plans, strengthen farmer associations, provide access to expertise and vital supplies (seeds, fertilizers, credit, tools), and restore protective tree cover.

* DEDICATED TO CREATING AGRICULTURAL GROWTH that can be independently sustained and flourish, while contributing to the growth of secondary poles of development. WINNER is focused as much on providing materials and expert guidance as on developing civic institutions and networks.

* BUILT ON A NETWORK OF OVER 200 FARMERS ASSOCIATIONS which work in conjunction with local government officials, NGOs and other entities to form public-private partnerships and prepare the maximum amount of land possible for the planting/harvesting season which runs from March through October.

* A CRITICAL WAY TO REDUCE RISK TO VULNERABLE POPULATIONS through innovative flood control work in Riviere Grise and La Quinte which will be implemented through labor-intensive projects.

* PROTECTING NATURAL RESOURCES, such as watersheds and tree cover, which must be restored in order to ensure that meaningful agricultural development can take place. WINNER provides the funding and education Haitians need to sustain and grow their environment.

* WIDESPREAD AND EFFECTIVE enough to deliver an efficient response to the country's food security emergency and meet the needs of the dispersed population in the wake of Haiti's earthquake.

* THE CULMINATION of best practices derived from project experience from USAID and other donors over the last 30 years and is now the model for watershed methodology being used in Haiti and around the world by Canada, Spain, France, Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

* A MAJOR SOURCE OF PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYMENT for Haitians displaced by the earthquake. It will help to integrate 15,000 people into specified areas and provide jobs, shelter and services in collaboration with local authorities.

* A PARTNERSHIP between the U.S. Government, Government of Haiti, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

 

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We spent time showing them all the facets of our Florida operation.

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A main focus of the visit was to learn how we compost to create growing

media using microorganisms and local materials.

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Our low volume watering systems were also demonstrated to their delight.

They helped us understand more about Haiti and the size of the country, diversity of growing regions and economic and cultural challenges.

It is worth a look at this video from Double Harvest to get a sense of the problems and scale of the issues facing Haiti and what they have done. You can also visit and Like Double Harvest on Facebook. Knowing the VanWingerden family has given me a sense of the sharing of their ideals and the impact they have made on communities in need around the world. Give their pages a look. Contributions to Double Harvest are likely the most efficient way to get aid to people in need that can benefit most by learning to be self sufficient through this organizations intense and charitable effort.


Florida Friendly Demonstration Gardens - The Discovery Garden

February 19, 2011 by Rick

This week I visited The Discovery Garden at the Hillsborough County Extension Office

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as the Master Gardeners did a spring cleanup and planting.

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It should be ready for prime time Monday but call before you go or check the status on their web site.

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They decided to employ the Pot-in-Pot method for their most colorful plantings of seasonal flowers.

In the Pot-in-Pot containers they have selected Voltage Yellow Osteospermum which is the first truly Florida Friendly Osteospermum. Voltage Yellow is available most of the year at your local Florida Home Depot Garden Centers. As a permanent border they planted Sedum Florida Friendly Gold which is becoming one of the most popular chartreuse groundcovers and combination container plants.

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At the Discovery Garden you can see the 9 principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping in action and learn how they can help you design and maintain a home garden and landscape that is easy to maintain, beautiful and has a positive effect on the Florida environment.

There are many of these similar U of F Demonstration Gardens around the state and much of the funding comes from Florida Yards and Neighborhoods programs and the plants are usually all donated from growers like Riverview Flower Farm.

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Rocky was captured that morning at the Discovery Garden and is ready for transplanting elsewhere.

 

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Design Your Florida Garden for Success

January 7, 2011 by Rick

 

Head over to Florida-Friendly Landscaping before you start your planning process. Use the web to gather images and data and to decide what appeals to you and what is easy to maintain. Determine what will thrive and grow into a planned mature landscape that is in scale with your home.

 

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The University of Florida’s Extension Service and their science based research are the source of the 9 Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping. It is helpful to us them and their trusted information and resources.

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The Water Management Districts of Florida provide most of the information you need to plan and implement a successful design. Micro Irrigation is something to consider and it will ensure success when properly installed, operated and maintained. Fortunately that is simple and straightforward.

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Search the web for more videos, blogs, Facebook pages for ideas and design help like this.

Learn the principles garden design and combine them with the 9 Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping

Try to get a big picture and then select plants and systems that are Florida Friendly.

Garden Coaches can also be a huge help and inspiration. They can save you many more dollars than you will spend on the trial and error method. You can also go to your Garden Center and get inspiration and prices so you have an idea of what is in season and popular for gardens now.

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Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Plant Selection Guide

December 11, 2010 by Rick

Hot off the press, the new Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Plant Selection Guide.

You will be very impressed with this downloadable publication that shows you in great detail how to design and implement a Florida Friendly Landscape. The experts at the University of Florida Extension Service have combined their talents and years of experience. The links are missing to the numbered EDIS publications for the critical proper planting of trees, turf and landscape plants so you will have to do some further searching on the Home Lawn and Landscape Section of the extensive EDIS Site to complete the implementation of your plan.

I consider this knowledge essential to professionals you may hire and a valuable resource for you to check the credibility of a contractor’s knowledge. Too often folks tend to trust a ‘yardman’ to select and properly install the Right Plant in the Right Place only to later find that the selection was inappropriate.

Bookmark these references and turn your garden into a functional Florida Friendly Landscape. Here are the 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping.

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9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscapes

September 18, 2010 by Rick

Austin Outdoors has a classy video to help you learn and remember the University of Florida’s 9 principles. Once you have studied them a few times these principles begin to sink into your way of gardening design and the way you decorate and maintain your outdoor rooms and gardens.

 

We have more articles here to help your gardening success with the principles.

 

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Purple Showers Mexican Petunia, The Sterile One

August 29, 2010 by Rick

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Purple Showers is becoming the most popular perennial in Florida for good reason. It is very Florida Friendly as it grows in wet or dry sites without irrigation, requires no fertilizer, has no pest problems and it attracts butterflies. Sulfur butterflies are a regular visitor to these plants. Purple Showers has double the number of chromosomes as the wild Mexican Petunia. Currently, sterile Purple Showers only comes in one color but Rosanna Freyre, Ph.D. of the University of Florida has figured out a way to breed other sterile forms and colors. In the coming years we will have more choices. Read the last paragraph of this article Breeding Brilliance.

Mexican Petunia with 1 day per week watering in full sun 3 yr old plant after 2010 Jan freeze in August

This is a three year old Purple Showers that receives one day a week watering under the Tampa rules and no fertilizer. It is growing in full sun in a median setting with bark and rock mulches covering plastic. The plant was damaged by the January freezes but recovered quickly. You can see that it is clump forming and many folks point this out as aggressive behavior but that can be a good thing if you are trying to replace turf with larger beds of carefree flowering plants. Want to remove them from and area? Three successive sprayings of roundup at four week intervals will kill the plants. This is the same recommendation for other plants that store a lot of energy in their roots like cattails. More information on Purple Showers. Floridagirl’s blog My Florida Backyard has her take on Mexican Petunias you will enjoy.

Mexican Petunia

Purple Showers are always available at your Florida Home Depot garden centers where you will find a great selection of dependable Florida Friendly plants at a great price that are guaranteed to grow or you get your money back.

 

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Lakes of Mount Dora Gets It!

August 6, 2010 by Rick

Following the 9 principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping is so rewarding for you and the environment. With a little study you can convert your yard and garden to one that requires less water and fertilizer and is still the nicest on the block. You can let your yard make a statement about who you are and how you feel about protecting the environment and reducing chemical and fertilizer runoff pollution.

 

 

Search our Database for many of these plants that can be found at you Florida Home Depot garden center.

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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