Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January Garden Sightings

In Central Florida gardens, you can plant these shrubs and flowers with colorful blooms in your backyard.

  • Annuals:  alyssum, baby's breath, calibrochoa, calendula, cleome, carnation, cyclamen, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, gaillardia, geranium, godetia, hollyhocks, Iceland poppy, johhny-jump-ups, lobelia, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunias, Shasta daisy, statice, stock, sweet pea, and viola.
  • Bulbs: African iris, Asiatic lilies, amaryllis, blood lilies, crinum, day lilies, Louisiana iris, society garlic, spider lilies, rain lilies, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths.
  • Herbs: Anise, bay laurel, cardamom, chives, coriander, fennel, garlic (bloomin too!) ginger, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme, and watercress.
  • Shrubs: 'Fashion' azaleas, camellias, roses, and serissa.
  • Vines:  Caroline jessamine
  • Colorful foliage:  Persian shield, poinsettia
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, endive, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onion sets, peas, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, roquette, rutabagas, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips.
The UF/IFAS Lake County Extension Office in Tavares will be offering a Vegetable Workshop on Saturday, February 5th, from 9:30am to 12:00pm. To register and for more information, please call 352-343-4101.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Edible Landscaping - Florida Style

UPDATE: Read Teresa's an in-depth article on Edible Landscaping for Green Builder magazine on "Edible Landscaping 02" pages 31 - 37.

The International Builders Show in Orlando January 12th - 15th will be showcasing two demonstration homes, Green Builder's Vision House and ReVision House 2011.   (You can see the homes in detail in Green Builder magazine, January, February, April 2011 issues.)
These homes will feature technology and trends in green construction. Using products that will help homeowners conserve energy, water, and provide better air quality is important in these tough economic times. While current costs for this new technology may be more expensive at the onset, homeowners will reap benefits in reduced bills, lower maintenance costs, and better health.

The Vision House is urban-techno farmhouse introducing vegetables and low maintenance into the Orlando infill city lot. This landscape is perfect for busy professionals, having reduced turf areas, small raised garden beds, and patio containers of fruits and vegetables. In the same College Park community, the ReVision House showcases a Napa Valley Florida-style landscape for homeowners who have more time to be outdoors and are gardening enthusiasts. The larger lot features an edible landscape with nut trees, small orchard, berries, and herbs in containers and as ground covers. The home is situated in a cul-de-sac neighborhood and has full sun in the front yard with shade in the backyard.

Both landscapes have incorporated soil amendments of Sodcaster and Turf Pro in the garden beds and turf areas which will improve moisture retention and decrease the need for fertilizer. At the ReVision House, the compost comes from a more refined technology! BCR Environmental donated organic nutrient-rich, odorless compost of biosolids that  have been incorporated into the soils.  Lechuza, elegant self-watering containers are used indoors and outdoors at both houses, saving the homeowners time and money worry about watering and replacing plants that get neglected.

Landscape species were selected based on proper site conditions and mature size that will allow the landscapes to grow naturally and create a biodiverse urban sanctuary for wildlife.  Proper placement of the shrubs and trees reduce the amount of pruning and future maintenance allowing the plants to grow healthy without water and nutrient competition.  The specially selected plant species at the Green Builder demonstration homes - after establishment - will be able to survive on normal rainfall, supplemented by efficient irrigations systems that will be used during droughts. The maintenance of these yards will be minimum with less mowing, less fertilizing, and less pruning - reducing their susceptibility to pest issues. Both of the homes will be certified Florida Water Star, water-conserving indoors and outdoors. The Vision House 2011 receives SJRWMD's highest Gold certification, while the ReVision House 2011, a renovated home earns the Silver certification.

Sponsors of the Vision and ReVision House 2011

Vision House:

Irrigation: Clearwater PSI
ReVision House:
Irrigation: Bruce Hage Irrigation

Being grounded in saving dollars and making sensible decisions regarding our natural resources will certainly become more important in the coming years. Growing your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs is an easy way to start an edible landscape and  take advantage of Florida's warm weather and abundant rainfall.

Both homes will be featured in the January and March issue of Green Builder and on DIY and HGTV.  You can visit the Green Builder Vision and ReVision 2011 homes during the International Builders Show Jan 12th - 15th from 10am to 4pm.

Teresa's article on Central Florida edible landscaping: Edible Landscaping: So Good You Can Eat Them Right Up

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Controversial Fertilizer Study Heating Up

In an effort to reduce stormwater runoff pollution in water bodies, fertilizing ordinances were passed by Florida cities in 2009. This fertilizer ban prohibited applications on lawns during the summer citing that lawns did not need additional nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen and phosphorus increase the TDML's (total maximum daily loads) of water bodies. Controversy grew as the University of Florida published a study that said the ordinances would have unintended consequences, such as contributing to more stormwater runoff as homeowners and companies would use more fertilizer during other seasons.
Titled "Unintended Consequences Associated with Certain Urban Fertilizer Ordinance," the study was published in March 2009 amid virulent debate at the Capitol -- and at the request of industry lobbyists.

Though critics have been loud in their indictment of the study, which the institute acknowledges was funded by the fertilizer industry, it has been used at government meetings statewide to slow regulation.

Now Sarasota County, which in 2007 enacted the first strict fertilizer ordinance in Florida, has taken aim at the IFAS study.

"It's tobacco science," said County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, who is leading the way at the county to compel researchers to release documents associated with the study.

Now for the first time in its history, the University of Florida has pulled the contentious study, citing that they are going to publish more thorough research backed by more evidence. It will be interesting to see what happens and who gets the green - fertilizer companies or cities working to lower their TMDL's?

Fertilizing correctly is the best solution. If homeowners would only learn how to apply the right fertilizer analysis in the right amounts at the right time of year, we would have healthier landscapes, less pest and disease problems, and cleaner water bodies.

Its not the correct time of the year now for fertilizing, but save this University of Florida page for the springtime. Make sure you understand the best management practices to take care of your lawn.