Monday, October 17, 2011

Am I Blue?

With anticipated one to three inches of rain this week, I'm taking the opportunity to plant winter and spring blooming flower seeds. This year I'm going to add one of my favorite colors to my landscape.  I planted delphiniums in the back of my border garden.  Delphiniums take full sun, moderate moisture, and grow to three feet tall. The seeds will take two weeks to emerge and will bloom January through March.

Other cool season blue annuals that will thrive in Florida are lobelias, pansies, and veronica.  Blue flowering perennials and ornamental shrubs to add to your landscape include agapanthus, hydrangea, salvias, and plumbago.

Want more winter annuals to plant in your garden? Check out  Annuals Flowers for  Florida.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Do you know the Best Management Principles (also known as BMP's) are for designing and maintaining your yard? The criteria of SJRWMD's Florida Water Star green certification program' landscaping modules and the UF/IFAS's Florida Yards & Neighborhoods nine principles are the best management practices for our state and can be utilized across the country and worldwide.

Best practices start with understanding the process of what plants need to be healthy. In Florida, Extension, Master Gardeners, and other garden experts hear from seasonal residents: "Gardening in Florida is so different than up north." What I explain to my audiences and clients is that once you understand the process of how plants grow - gardening is the same world-wide. While the plant species may change - how to assess and manage your landscape uses the same principles. While the snowbirds think its easier to garden up North, all it is really is doing what their parents did, what their neighbors did. They didn't understand the process of what plants need to grow.

You need to know the conditions of the site, i.e. sunlight, pH, soil moisture. Determine how you want to use the landscape, and how much time you want to invest in maintaining it. Some want their landscape to change with the seasons, or to have lots of seasonal plantings, while others want their landscape to stay the same year after year, with little maintenance. After determining conditions, selecting plants that utilize those same conditions, installing them correctly (correct depth, time of year, and space for mature size), and maintain the landscape appropriately (awareness, weeding, no excessive pruning, no overwatering, or overfertilizing), and you have a low-matinenance, sustainable landscape. BMP's will help gardeners achieve that effectively, reducing needless waste, pollution, costs, and labor.

While every state or organization wants to have their own unique statement as to Landscape BMP's - they really are the same criteria but based on their own state's soils and seasons, and the organization's agenda.

Does your landscaping and maintenance follow Florida-friendly BMP's?  Check it out.

Florida Water Star Silver and Gold Certification

Florida Yards  & Neighborhoods 9 Principles

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Question: Planting Vegetable Seeds, Nematodes, How To Propagate Copperleafs

This week's email:
Jayne has two questions.
You have a great program on WLBE !!! One thing that confuses me is when you recommend vegetable and flower plantings, I'm not sure if you're talking about sowing seeds or planting transplants. I usually grow everything from seed, so I'm looking for that time table.
Your email is a very common problem here in Florida - thank you for writing and the kind words about "In Your Backyard." 

You want to plant seeds approximately 14 to 28 days (depending on species) before you want to transplant them in your garden. When I talk about vegetables this time of the year, I mean that you should either purchase or use your transplants that you seeded in July and August.

Tomatoes planted from seed 5 weeks ago.

Five different species of peppers planted August 27th.
This UF publication will make it easier for you to determine when to plant: Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.
I brought my weird looking carrots into the extension office in Tavares and was told I had nematodes in my 12 ft. square foot garden (3 ft. off the ground). I also had green and yellow bush beans that didn't do well at all, but onions and shallots doing great! It has only been the second season of growing crops in this garden and I am so dissappointed. Do I need to kill the nematodes before planting again? If not, what vegetables would you suggest? If I need to kill the nematodes, how do I do that? I grow, eat, live, organically. 
Jayne, I'm so sorry!  Certain plant species release alleopathic chemicals that make growing some species next to others very troublesome.  Check out this great chart of compatible and incompatible garden plants.  I think it will help explain why some of your plants didn't do well.

Also, because of Florida's sandy soils in certain locations, destructive nematodes are a vegetable gardening problem. The key to controlling nematodes will be with your cultural practices.  Jayne, you can do one or all of the following:
  1. Change out or sterilize your vegetable garden area with solarization next spring before you plant for the summer.
  2. Add amendments to your soils, which will allow beneficial fungi to control nematodes.
  3. Add beneficial nematodes to your soil which will provide about three months of control against root-knot nematodes
  4. Buy nematode-resistant plant varieties. Look for the N in plant description (V = virus-resistant, F=fungal-resistant, N=nematode-resistant)
  5. Rotate your crops. Don't plant carrots or plants in the same family (tomato and peppers) in same location year after year.
  6. Last but the best way to grow vegetables in Florida's sandy soils? Raised beds -whether you build them yourself, use containers, or purchase a kit.
 More information on nematodes:
Nematodes and their management - UF/IFAS - Florida
Root-Knot Nematodes In the Vegetable Garden - Clemson University, South Carolina
Control Root-Knot Nematodes in Your Garden - University of Arkansas
Marigolds for Nematode Management (pros and cons - read before planting) UF/IFAS Florida
Nematode Control in The Home Vegetable Garden - Alabama A & M, Auburn University

Roberto asks:
Can you explain to me how to take a clipping from one of my existing Copper Leaf plants and use it to grow another plant?
Roberto, easy way to get more plants! Take a cutting of a soft tip of a stem of copperleaf approximately 5 to 6 inches. Cut the stem diagonally and place in Root-tone and then plant in potting soil. Moisten and keep moist (not wet) and in the shade. You can put the plant and pot into a clear plastic bag to keep the humidity in. Within six to eight weeks you'll have roots and can repot into a bigger pot. I would wait until spring before putting them in the ground as its so close to winter.

Here's more information with photos.

These are Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' Smoke Tree cuttings that I took about four months ago. 

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' cuttings