Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dirty Word of The Day - Diapause

Diapause: a period of time in the life cycle of insects where they don't grow or develop and their body functions slow down a lot.

Can Genetically Altered Plants Prevent Global Warming?

Could forests of genetically altered plants help sequester billions of carbon from the atmosphere annually and stave off global warming? That's the focus of research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists.

Besides increasing the efficiency of plants' absorption of light, researchers might be able to genetically alter plants so they send more carbon into their roots--where some may be converted into soil carbon and remain out of circulation for centuries. Other possibilities include altering plants so that they can better withstand the stresses of growing on marginal land, and so that they yield improved bioenergy and food crops. Such innovations might, in combination, boost substantially the amount of carbon that vegetation naturally extracts from air, according to the authors' estimates.
Read more here.

Bees Do It But Who Else Does It?

The recent news of solving the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder has brought out the necessity of protecting honeybees and pollination. But did you know that bees aren't the only pollinators? Here in Florida, we are fortunate to have many of Mother Nature's benefactors who keep us in blooms and food. It's important to re-establish native flowers, shrubs, and trees to encourage pollinator populations to increase.

Different species of insects, and different sizes of those insects have specific plants that are targeted along the pollinator's daily route. Flying insects like large bees, small bees, wasps, and beetles like Marsh mallow, Kostelezkya virginica , butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa , Black cherry, Prunus serotina, and winged sumac, Rhus copallina. Deer and horse flies are more familiar to Floridians as pests but are still important pollinators.
For more information, check out Hernando County's Florida Native Plant Society's article on Florida pollinators and their habitats by Sharon LaPlante.

Find out more about Florida native plants.

Florida native plant nurseries links:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

David Austin Lists Five New Roses For 2011

An English watercolor artist, one of the most famous gardens in the world, fine bone china, a Scottish ballad, and the commemoration of the 250th year of a Scottish poem are the inspirations for David Austin's newest roses debuting in 2011. The five new English Roses are a pure-white "Susan Williams-Ellis", an open 5-petal white "Kew Gardens", a feminine apricot "Lady of Shalott", a cabbage petal rose-pink "The Wedgwood Rose" and an intense cerise "Tam o' Shanter". Fragrant and easy to grow, roses can be the highlight of any garden.

Susan Williams-Ellis

Kew Gardens

The Lady of Shalott
The Wedgwood Rose

Tam O' Shanter

David Austin is considered to be one of the best rosarians in the world. His roses combine intense fragrance of old roses with the continuous blooms of newer hybrids. Sizes vary but they usually grow fuller than hybrid teas or floribundas. The result is that the roses have the beauty of antique roses but more color choices. Except for the Susan Williams-Ellis rose, these English roses can be grown in Zone 9, with full sun, moderate watering. I have had great results using a systemic three-one fertilizer, pesticide, and disease control, like Bayer's All-in-One.

Make sure that your roses are either widely spaced away from each other or that your rose garden bed utilizes micro-irrigation. Overhead watering and rain can create more opportunity for disease issues, like black spot on roses.

You can order a free David Austin Rose catalog here.

Helpful links:

How to grow roses in Florida.

How to grow roses in South Florida

Pruning Roses.

Pests of Roses in Florida.

Heirloom Roses

Old Roses

Climbing Roses

American Rose Society

The All American Rose Selections

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Solved?

In a collaborative effort between scientists and military, the mystery behind what is killing honeybee colonies throughout the United States and Europe may be solved. Since 2006, over a third of the managed honeybee colonies in the United States have disappeared. One of the difficulties in determining what was causing the mass death of millions of honeybees was that scientists could not perform autopsies on bees. Once afflicted the bees don't die immediately but fly away from their hive and die. Causes of the high death rate have been blamed on everything from cellphones, global warming, mites, pollution, pesticides, to genetically modified food. Fortunately a cure may not be far off.
A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised.

Read more about the unique technology that a brother tag-team and Army specialists combined to find the facts behind Honeybee Colony Collapse disorder.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Plant Sales Galore In Your Backyard

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." ~ Albert Camus

The past week, our garden has turned another seasonal corner. Cooler nighttime temperatures in the 60's for Central Florida don't compare to International Falls, MN, lows in the 30's but its a grand feeling to open up the windows for the breezes.

October 9th is a plant extravaganza weekend! Two opportunities to find great plants for your fall garden.

Saturday at the Discovery Gardens in Tavares is the Lake County Master Gardeners Fall Plant Sale. from 9am to 1 pm. Take note that Central Florida gardeners start lining up very early to buy great bargains for their landscapes. Bring a wagon! You'll need it for everything from flowers, ornamental shrubs, to fall vegetables and herbs. It's also an opportunity to visit the 3.5 acre Discovery Gardens, located on 4.5-acres with an expanding one-acre plant evaluation area. Over twenty uniquely themed gardens can be walked and photographed. The gardens feature more than 600 different plants and also demonstrates Florida-friendly best management practices.

Location and for more information:

Lake County Extension Office
1951 Woodlea Rd.
Tavares, FL 32778
(352) 343-4101

Then head on over to Orange County, where Knox Nursery, a second-generation family nursery will have an Open House with tours from 11am to 2pm. Specializing in beautiful annuals, shrubs, trees, vegetables, and herbs, the nursery will definitely have the right plants to decorate your backyard.

Location and for more information:

Knox Nursery, Inc.
940 Avalon Road
Winter Garden, Fl 34787
407-654-1972 - 1-800-441-5669

Directions to Knox Nursery.

If you've been waiting out our summer heat, this weekend couldn't be better for buying plants! Don't miss these plant sales!

Bird of Paradise Discovery

Bilirubin is an effective lipid-soluble antioxidant that compares with Vitamin E in its protection from cellular damage. Bilirubin is responsible for the yellowish color of bruises and unbalanced amounts of bilirubin can cause jaundice in newborn infants. The Department of Biological Sciences has now discovered that the pigment, once only thought of as being found in animals and humans, is also available in the tropical white Bird of Paradise plant. The science breakthrough was published in the American Society for Horticultural Science's journal HortScience September 2010 issue. The findings may allow scientists to experiment and create new color and breeding in plants.

Growing white Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia nicolai in Florida.

How to maintain white Bird of Paradise.

Orange And Gang Meet Bonsai Trees

This is disturbing on so many levels.

How Many Tomatoes Does It Take?

Courtesy of the Peterson Farm in Georgia, I found this handy tomato conversion chart for recipes grown from your garden:

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes equals 3 cups chopped and drained fresh tomatoes.

1 (16-oz) can equals 2 cups drained tomatoes or 1 cup undrained tomatoes.

1 (28-oz) can equals 3 cups undrained or 2 to 2 1/2 cups drained tomatoes.

1 (35-oz) can equals 3 cups undrained or 2 to 2 1/2 cups drained tomatoes.

25 to 30 cherry tomatoes equals 2 cups chopped tomatoes.

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste equals 3/4 cup.

An average bushel of tomatoes weighs about 53 lb (25 kg). When quartered and canned, this quantity of tomatoes will yield 15 to 20 – 1 large jar. You’ll need 2 ½ to 3 lb (1.2 to 1.4 kg) fresh tomatoes per 1 large mason jar.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Central Florida Residents Fighting Invasive Plants

Central Florida lakefront homeowners are seeing nuisance invading plants like hydrilla taking over. Past years' drought and wintertime temperatures have reduced the amount of native tropical aquatics allowing non-native species to grow abundantly clogging up canals and shorelines. Local city and county departments are helping homeowners clean up their lakes.

"We've seen a very strong rebound of the exotics [plants] that we've had at a very low level in the past," said Ron Novy, Orange's program manager of lake management. "It seems to be not just isolated incidents, but usually you see a pattern of heavy growth in one lake."

The issue concerns enough residents living near lakes in Orange each year that the county set up specific taxing districts to tackle the problem. Once residents approach the county about vegetation issues, they usually agree to pay an extra fee ranging from $25 to $150 annually on their tax bills that's similar to a garbage pickup fee, Novy said. The fees — the amount is based on the size of the plant problem or its complexity — are set aside to have county workers clean up the plants that have filled the lakes.
Read more.

Lake County Aquatic Plant Management
Orange County Lake Management
Osceola Aquatic Plant Management information
Seminole County Lake Management
Florida Aquatic Plant Management Regional Offices