Friday, February 25, 2011

NCIS Los Angeles Highlights Water Waste

My husband is a big fan of NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles.  While watching the popular forensic television show on CBS this week, he had to rewind the show so I could watch Hetty touch on the most common insane reason for overwatering lawns.
NCIS Los Angeles, Season 2 Episode 17 "Personal" - February 22nd

NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna: "Did you just pull that address of the top of your head?"

NCIS Operations Manager Henrietta "Hetty" Lange: "I wouldn't be doing my job if I wasn't keeping track of my agents. Oh, and the by the way, you're overwatering your lawn."

NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna: "I like a lush lawn."

I wonder if Hetty is wondering ala Renn and Stempy:  "Idiots, I'm surrounded by idiots. "

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vegetable Gardening Planted!

This Saturday was our family vegetable gardening project. Our grandchildren helped us prepared raised containers with some new vegetable seeds from the international Sakata Seed.   It's going to be a learning project for Jaxon and Mackenah to see how fast the vegetables grow and mark their progress on a calendar and graph.

Because of all the shade from old oaks in our backyard, we planted the vegetables in  full sun in our long driveway and border garden. We planted:

We also planted onions, garlic, strawberries, and nasturtiums.  Jaxon and Mackenah wrote the names of each plant on the label tags, along with Saturday's date and the approximate date of harvesting.

We'll let you know how they progress, but I was very impressed with the seed quality. I am anticipating a great harvest with enough vegetables and fruit to share with the whole neighborhood. 

You can see more of Sakata's Vegetable Seeds online - click here.  But if you would like to get these wonderful vegetable seeds, you have to order from their distributors here.  Check them out!

Free Park Seed Wholesale Catalog

Springtime Is Here

In another week, my Formosa azaleas will be blooming beautifully. Temperatures are in the low 80's, 50's at night, 79% humidity. No rain forecasted.  Spring is here.

Azaleas for Florida

In Your Backyard - Fungus Gnats

Growing a herb garden indoors, or any plants for that matter, doesn't keep them from having pest problems. Somehow insects find their way inside. Visible signs of small flies flitting between the leaves when you put your hands near the herbs means that fungus gnats have found your planters. Overwatering and soil contamination are the main reasons that the little pests feel comfortable.  They lay their eggs in the wet soil and when they hatch, the decomposition provides lots of food for them to thrive.  Once you see the flies, you need to get control quickly. If you are vigilant, you will see the flies before damage to your plants and roots occur.

What should you do? First, if its herbs and you want to use them in your cooking, you don't want to use any insecticides that will contaminate the plants.  Make sure your plants are in the right location where they get enough sunlight and good air movement. Stop overwatering and only water soil when its perfectly dry to the touch. Don't let the water sit in the pot liners.  Try using the yellow sticky boards that will collect them as they unknowingly get stuck when they fly close by. Change out the sticky boards when full and replace until they are gone.  You may even want to change the soil out to get rid of any larvae.

Darkwinged Fungus Gnats , Lycoriella spp. and Bradysia spp., Sciaridae,
Credit: Lance Osborner, University of Florida/MFREC

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring Rose Care

The next week holds wonderful weather for Florida gardeners to be outside! Mid-February/early March is springtime in our southern state and the best time to prune your roses. I love growing roses and they are easy care but take more time to maintain than typical tropicals.  Roses need full sunlight,  low volume irrigation, and cleanliness.  Without eight hours of sun, most modern roses may survive but won't bloom as much and will be leggy. If you have shade, try antique roses.  Watering roses correctly means that you don't have overhead irrigation hitting the leaves which provides the conditions for diseases.  Low volume, drip irrigation is better with our Florida humidity. Roses need about a gallon of water a week.  You'll find that your rose will stay healthier if they are not en masse' but strategically placed away from the other roses. I have mine located here and there through out the yard.

Separated, pest problems won't spread as easily from rose to rose to rose. Knock Out roses were supposed to be pest free when they first came out, but because of the popularity and mass plantings, have been attacked by epidemic of chili thrips.  Use a slow release systemic rose fertilizer for nutrition, disease and insect control to keep your roses healthy.

Secret to lots of blooms?  Cut back often.  The more you cut roses, the more they will bloom. Now I was always taught to cut diagonally 1/4 inch above a five-leaflet leaf. But Paul Zimmerman, with Fine Gardening seems to have a different opinion.  He does make sense.

My favorite roses are fragrant - why have a rose if you cannot smell its beauty?  Here are the ones that I loved:  Angel Face, Perfume Delight, Double Delight, Abraham Darby, Old Blush, Mr. Lincoln, Scentimental, and Queen Elizabeth. 


Monday, February 07, 2011

What A Beautiful World We Live In

The beauty of our world is breathtaking and life-giving. We need to be good stewards of the gifts we have been entrusted.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Topiaries Leafing Out

Photos copyright 2005-2007 Teresa Watkins
Topiaries are one of my favorite garden features.  Walt Disney World and EPCOT feature topiaries of the Disney fairy tale characters during their International Flower Show each spring.

 WEBecoist has more great photos of exotic and creative topiary artwork to enjoy.  

(images via: Wicanders Cork Oak Blog, New Lantern and HorseHints)

Step by step directions to making a topiary:
Sources for topiary frames:

Southern Beauties - Camellias

Camellia japonicas and camellia sasanquas are popular flowers in the Southeast. There are over 3,000 named varieties of these lovely native Asian shrubs.  Sited correctly, camellias are hardy and easy care flowers for your landscape.

Blooming from early December through spring, camellias thrive in shade and partial sun locations. Plant camellias in moist, acidic soils.  Lakefront properties with cypresses, large oaks, and pine trees are ideal sites.  A yard with years of organic material from leaf litter is also a good location. Feed every three months with acidic fertilizer. Mature height of camellias depends on the variety.  They can grow four to fifteen feet in height and width, so make sure your camellia selection will not be crowded too close to other shrubs or too close to your house so that it has to be pruned often.  If you do need to cut back your camellia, prune after they bloom to prevent cutting off forming buds in late summer.

We're fortunate in Central Florida to have the third largest camellia collection in America at  Leu Gardens in Winter Park.  This is a great time to visit Leu Gardens and see the beautiful flowers in bloom.

University of Florida/IFAS Camellia Publication

Camellia Disease and Pest Problems: