Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lake County Master Gardener Plant Sale

The Lake County Master Gardener annual Spring Plant Sale will be Saturday, April 9th from 9am to 1pm at the Lake County Horticultural Learning Center in Tavares on State Road 19.  There will be ornamental shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, and vegetables for sale.  Please bring your own wagon or cart to carry all the wonderful plants that you purchase.  The prices will be extremely reasonable for good quality plants and a great selection of species to choose from!  Proceeds will go to the Lake County Master Gardener Society.

While you're there, if you haven't had a chance to tour the Discovery Gardens, don't miss the opportunity!

Spring Fever In The Garden 2011

Historic Winter Garden's Spring Fever in The Garden is around the corner on April 9th and 10th.  Presented by the Bloom N' Grow Garden Society, you will be able to enjoy live entertainment, food vendors and purchase original artwork, crafts, and of course, plants!  There will be special events for children and adults.  Come see me at "Stop by and Ask the Experts" on Sunday for information on how to spruce up your backyard. 

For more information, click here.

Making Up For Lost Rain

The rains finally came and are expected to be here all week with 50% chance through Friday! My flowers and plants soaked in the wetness and look very satisfied this morning.  Turning off my microirrigation system to take advantage of Mother Nature, the moisture will definitely help the fertilizing I did over the weekend.

Above you can see my oak leaf hydrangea, spirea, and dwarf pomegranate tree glistening in the rain.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Florida Winter Is Driest In 80 Years

Florida set records this year in more ways than one.  Not only did we have colder temperatures earlier (November) but from October through February, it was also the driest winter in eighty years. In December, we had less than an inch of rain for the entire month, January we had 2" - 3" more than normal, and in February, there was less than an inch. March's month totals look to be below the average 3" with no rain anticipated for the next week, leaves Florida in a rainfall deficit.

The lack of hurricanes and tropicals storms last fall, and the lack of adequate rainfall this winter means that lake levels are low, wells will be running dry, and the aquifer will be low with more saltwater intrusion. 

These conditions mean that more landscapes will fail and high maintenance lawns will not survive. Reducing your fertilizing schedule, retrofit your irrigation to be efficient, watering only when your yard shows signs of stress will help your lawn manage till summer rains set in.

Inefficient irrigation system doesn't have head to head coverage.
Want more ways to drought proof your lawn? Check out the University of Florida's recommendations.

Harvesting Rain From The Skies

Polish architect students Ryszard Rychlicki and Agnieszka Nowak use gutters that surround the entire building to harvest rainwater for its 500 residents.  Rychlicki and Nowak hope to reduce water use by 25%.

Using rainwater to irrigate is a way of life in Europe and other continents around the world. 
Since 1900 the total water consumption in the US has increased by 1000%. At present, an average American uses five times more water than a citizen of developing countries. Such an increase is related to among others, improved living standards. On the other hand, a national hobby of the Danes is collecting rain water for washing and watering plants. within the last ten years average use of pure water in Denmark dropped by 40% and inhabitants of the so called eco-villages use a third part of the national average.
While acknowledging the health factor of sanitation is important to Americans, we have to really work hard to increase our water efficiency of indoor plumbing and outdoor irrigation.  Using rainbarrels, cisterns, and surface water needs to become more than a hobby - it should become a way of life for our country.

H/T to WebEcoist

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Key To Great Citrus Trees

All gardeners know that fertilization is necessary for plants to be bloom, produce fruit, vegetables, and to be healthy.  Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are what plants need most, but to be the most productive and reduce susceptibility to pests and disease issue, micronutrients are vital. 

The easiest way to explain micronutrients in a way that non-gardeners can understand is to correlate them to vitamins.  We don't just take a vitamin B1 tablet or a potassium pill to be healthy; we need to take a multivitamin with the major vitamins and nutrient supplements.  It's also true for all plants, especially citrus. Yes, they need the nitrogen for foliage growth, phosphorus for flowers, fruit, and a good root system, and potassium for thicker cell walls making them less likely to succumb to stress, but they also need micronutrients, such as  boron, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.  These elements are needed less often and in smaller quantities but are just as important.

Micronutrients in growing citrus is essential yet is often overlooked by homeowners. A new product on the citrus scene may be the affordable and easy solution to fertilizing citrus in your backyard.  KeyPlex Citrus HG is a foliar nutritional supplement that allows the homeowner to provide important micronutrients to their citrus trees. KeyPlex Citrus HG is derived from alpha-keto acids, an energy compound. Alpha-keto acids are the primary element in the production of amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and hormones. When plants are healthy and have access to micronutrients, plants are able to create thicker cell walls. Thicker cell walls allows the plant to be stronger and less susceptible to stress, which enables the plant to ward off diseases.

It seems citrus has taking a beating the last few years from canker and citrus greeening. But it wouldn't be Florida without orange and grapefruit trees. Providing micronutrients is a great way to have healthier citrus trees. I've even used it on my vegetable beds successfully. Costs for KeyPlex products range from $5.99 to $29.99 for larger garden beds. Homeowners can find KeyPlex HG and KeyPlex Citrus HG online at KeyPlexdirect.com and locally in Orlando at 1-407-459-7682.
KeyPlex has even chosen pink flamingos as their mascots.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds

Warmer temperatures in spring brings the bad with the good.  While it's great to have the sunny skies, to be out in the garden, it also brings weeds to your turf and garden beds.  If you don't get a handle on the weeds now, you'll be pulling not only weeds all summer long but your hair out in frustration. 

What's the secret behind having a luscious lawn with no weeds?  Good balance!  The proper sunlight, right amount of water, and correct fertilization that all work to make your lawn healthy and weed free. 

Whether its' St. Augustinegrass, bahiagrass, or zoysiagrass, you need to make sure that best management practices guide your lawn maintenance.  Do you or your lawn maintenance company use the following pracctices:
  • Keep all lawn equipment clean and sterile?  Do you blow your lawn mower off after each lawncutting before going on to another yard or being stored?
  • Keep your lawn mower blades sharp?  Blades need to be sharpened after every five mowings.
  • Bag your clippings if you have a weed problem?  If not, you may be mulching the weed seeds right back into your lawn.
  • Keep your mower at its highest level?  Keeping your turf as high as possible will make it healthier and more likely to keep weed seeds out of yard.  No scalping!  St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass need to be mowed at 3" to 4" and Zoysiagrass should be around 2.5".
  • Watering only when necessary - not just because it's your day to water.  St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass need about 1.5" of water a week, Bahiagrass needs about 1".  Watering more than your turf needs will result in short root systems that will not survive droughts and allow for turf to be more susceptible to weeds and diseases.  An easy way to tell if your turfgrass needs watered?  Walk across your turf.  After 2-3 minutes turn around and see if you can see your footprints where you walked. If you can, you need to water.  If the grass has sprung right back up again, no need to water, there is enough hydration in your grassblades. Other indications that your lawn needs watered:  grass blades that fold or turn greenish-blue.
  • Fertilize twice a year with low (0-2%) phosophorus fertilizer and an 1:1 ratio of nitrogen and potassium. 
Control of weeds can be easier if you apply pre-emergent herbicides in the early spring and herbicides in springtime and fall.  Do not apply herbicides in the summertime when the temperatures are over 85 degrees. If you only have a few weeds, then spot-treat. There is no reason to apply an herbicide to your whole lawn. If you have more than 75% of your lawn is weedy, then it might make more sense and dollar-wise to get rid of the entire lawn and replace.  Check your options. 

There are three types of weeds and identification of the weed is your best bet to getting rid of it.  Broadleaf, grasses, and sedges.  and there are different herbicides to get remove them. Make sure you read the label before you purchase so that you understand what the herbicide will kill and how to apply it.  Make sure your turfgrass is listed and the weed is listed on the label.

UF/IFAS has an excellent publication on Weed Management in a Florida Lawn.