Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"In Your Backyard" - Six More Weeks of Winter

Pennsylvania's favorite groundhog 'Puxatawny Phil' saw his shadow this morning. The old wives tale follows that there will be six more weeks of winter! But we knew that already experiencing La Nina's cold, wet rain this season. This has been the coldest, wettest Florida winter in years damaging thousands of Florida landscapes.

Puxatawny Phil has a distant cousin here in Florida that also causes landscape damage. Called the Southeastern pocket gopher, this little 10-inch rodent is the culprit behind all those 'sandy mounds' in your bahia lawns and on the side of the highways. They can be beneficial in aerating the soil but usually they are not appreciated when they eat your plant roots, bulbs, and tubers.

You can get rid of pocket gophers by trapping and killing them, but poisoning is against the law unless you have a Florida state permit. All the old wives tales of Wrigleys chewing gum and moth balls are ineffective.

Moles in your landscape can be seen as a problem, too but they are insectivores and rarely affect your plants. Seeing mounds in their St. Augustinegrass or bahiagrass lawns, homeowners are quick to blame the little creatures who just eat the grubs and insects attacking the turf.
Getting rid of moles in your landscape involves getting rid of their food souces. Check to make sure that you do not have active grubs or other insects. If you have them, spot treat the areas with a recommended pesticide. Once their food source is gone, the moles will move on to other not-so-green pastures.

More creatures that you might see meandering through your yard during dusk and early morning are racoons, rabbits, and oppossums. Our brave warrior Scotties treed this poor oppossum Sunday night. They were so proud of themselves. Thankfully, the oppossum didnt play dead and fall out of the tree.

Puxatawny Phil isn't so prescient. Here in Florida, we can always expect our last winter freezes before the middle of March - six weeks away. You can prune back your brown, freeze-dried foliage now. Some of my plants looked like they were okay for two days after the freeze, but as you can see this tropical Mamay Croton was affected severely.

Maybe spring is closer than we think? Did you see the thousands of orange-red breasted American robins come through Central Florida yesterday? Chirping and enjoying the warm drizzle, the spring-harbingers were as happy as larks. We will be talking about how to attact robins and other birds to your yard today on the show!

Call in with your garden questions! Listen live at 11:00am here.

Redbay Ambrosia Beetle threatens Florida's avocados.

Read an archived Jan-Feb-Mar Newsletter.

Juvenile Robin

Cardinal enjoying the raindrops in the pine tree!

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