Monday, December 29, 2014

A wish for a greener 2015

I wish you and yours a wonderful and bountiful New Year!!

A frosty reddish leaf lettuce.

Winter vegetables

Here in Florida, even here in North Florida where we receive several killing frosts each winter, we can grow most cool weather crops right through the winter. In most of the country, gardeners spend winter wishing they could garden, while we enjoying our "Salad Days."

One of the main reasons we wrote "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida" was to alleviate frustration of gardeners new to Florida trying to use their old, general garden books written for Anywhere, U.S.A. They just don't work here.

Growing some of your vegetables is good for you and your family, plus it helps to make Mother Earth a little greener.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Speaking out

Senator Rob Bradley and me.

The 2014 Clay County Delegation hearing

Each year the 3 elected officials to the Florida legislature representing Clay County—a senator and 2 representatives—hold a hearing before the legislative session begins. This year the committee work begins in January and the general session begins on March 4th. (The only date during the year that calls for action. Get it? March 4th.)

After introductions of the delegation members and their staff people, the normal agenda was interrupted for a heart-rending testimony of a mother holding her child with brain cancer pleading for more freedom in choosing medicines including restricted substances.

Then came the parade of the local elected officials from the county, the 3 incorporated towns, the school board, the clerk of court, and the supervisor of elections. They all made cases for more money for their various projects. The one surprise was the clerk of court's problem of the lower crime rate meaning less money in fines that are normally used to run the court.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Yard critters

A green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) jumped out of the beggar ticks (Bidens alba) that I had pulled from the front garden.
A bagworm (Oiketicus abbotii) is overwintering on a beautyberry bush.

Managing exuberance carefully

I allow some beggar ticks (Bidens alba) and snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea) to grow in restricted areas to attract all those pollinators. But in the fall, I harvest those that have escaped to other places in the landscape to reduce the population and weeding the next year, at least to some degree. So last week I started pulling and a cute green treefrog that was using these stems for shelter jumped out of the cart. And the frog is just the wildlife that is evident. There could be hundreds of bugs snuggled inside these stems for the winter. Instead of leaving these stalks out with the yard waste, I add them to various brush piles, so those insects will have a chance to make it through the winter. The songbirds also use the brush piles for shelter, so they may appreciate the seeds, and maybe even some of those hidden bugs. 

Nearby, I spotted this bagworm (probably Oiketicus abbotii) hanging from a beautyberry branch. This moth is different than most, in that it gathers plant parts to stick to itself as a caterpillar to build protection. When its ready to pupate, it glues its portable shelter to a secure location and seals itself inside. When the female reaches the adult phase, she will be flightless and will emit pheromones to attract males. When a male arrives, they mate inside her sack where she lays her eggs and dies. The new larvae feed on her remains and other food that she's stored there. When ready, the new larvae head out on their own, often on a long strings of silk that balloon in the wind so the larvae swing away from each other. Isn't Mother Nature amazing?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lime basil

Lime basil took over my early lettuce rows. I'd grown it here last year and now I know that it's an abundant reseeder. I'd let it grow since early September when I set up these 2 rows, but now it was time to give the lettuce and the beets more room.
Abundant harvest of lime basil! I shared some with 2
new neighbors and then made a pesto with the rest of it.
The standard sweet Italian basil doesn't do well here with our hot, humid summers. It is prone to various wilt and fungal diseases, which forces growers to harvest it early. So on a whim I bought some lime basil seed from Burpee Seeds a couple of years ago. It not only makes it through the summers, it also reseeds, so it's unlikely that I'll need to purchase more seed any time soon.

The taste really does have a distinct lime overtone. I use it in the same as I do for regular basil, but since its flavor is strong, there are some dishes that I have learned to use less of it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beautyberry bread

Gathering the berries. I used only the ones at the ends of the branches because they
are the last to ripen.

I robbed the birds!

Many birds feast on our beautyberries (Callicarpa americana) including mockingbirds, catbirds, and cardinals.  So I felt guilty removing even one cup of their winter berry supplies, even though I have a dozen bushes plus more berries on the wax myrtles. But I saw a recipe for beautyberry cake in Peggy Lantz's new book, Florida's Edible Wild Plants and wanted to try it. I tasted a few berries right off the bush. They were fairly bland and only slightly sweet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gardeners know when to "fold"

Gardeners are gamblers

We plant seeds or seedlings and we bet that we'll end up with a bountiful harvest, but it doesn't always happen that way. So when a crop is in distress, we need to yank it out and move on to something else. Case in point: our fall cucumber crop that I talked about last time. We had a pretty good harvest of 20 or so crispy cukes, but the vines got hit with a blight, so it was time to pull them out even though there were small fruits coming along and frost will not come until late December. The vines would not be able to overcome this fungus, and the longer you leave an ailing plant in the garden, the more likely it is to leave tainted soil behind. So I pulled the vines, gathered all the fallen leaves, and put them out with the yard trash. I never put diseased plants in the compost. We have to know when to fold, just like the old gambler...
"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
"Know when to walk away and know when to run..."

Even though there were more cukes coming, I ripped them out. Fall blight...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cole crops

Don't plant too many cabbages at one time.
While they are easy enough to grow, do you and
your family need 20 of these beauties all at once?

Do you know cabbage?

Cole crops are all the cabbage crops derived from a single species of Brassica oleracea. (Kohl is the German word for cabbage.)

The cultivars are divided into seven or eight major groups (depending upon the authority) that are grouped according to form.
-Acephala group--kale, collard greens and ornamental cabbages.
-Alboglabra group--Chinese broccoli and obscure pot herbs.
-Botrytis group--cauliflower, broccoli and broccoflower
-Capitata group--cabbages: red, green and Savoy
-Gemmifera group--Brussels sprouts
-Gongylodes group--kohlrabi (German for cabbage turnip)
-Italica group--Italian broccoli, sprouting broccoli, purple cauliflower. This group includes the looser headed varieties.
-Tronchuda group--tronchuda kale and cabbage, Portuguese kale, braganza.

This is probably more than you wanted to know, but there it is and now you know why a cabbage salad is called cole slaw.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garlic chives, a bountiful evergreen crop

The evergreen garlic chives supplies plenty of fresh greens all year. At the top of the photo on the left, you can see how big the spaghetti squash plants are that I talked about last time and the okra just is going nuts. We are harvesting several each day, which is a good thing...
Harvest with a sharp knife or scissors with a cut near the soil level.

Garlic chives!

A few years back when researching crops for Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, I bought some garlic chives seeds (Allium tuberosum) and planted them next to my meadow garlic bed. (2 perennial crops together makes sense when everything else in my edible beds is changed up several times a year.) At first I was disappointed that only 3 or 4 seeds sprouted, but now I don't know what I'd do with any more. It's been amazing. We can use it all year long.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Spaghetti squash recipes & planting

A store-bought spaghetti squash contained a bunch of sprouted seeds.
How long had it been sitting there in the store?
I was craving a spaghetti squash, so we bought one. The rind seemed unusually hard and quite a number of the seeds had sprouted. I try not to waste squash seeds of any kind, so if I'm not saving them for growing, I prepare them for eating. In this case I planted some of the sprouted seeds, dried 20 or so for future planting, and the rest I fixed for snacking.

Monday, July 28, 2014

6 reasons to use pine needle mulch in edible gardens

I use pine needles in between my wide rows in the edible gardens.
Here are some of the reasons for using pines needles in wide-row edible gardens. (Read my post "Wide row planting & trench composting" for the details on this planting method.)

Pine needle mulch:
1) does a good job at limiting weeds.
2) doesn't form a crust, so even a light rain filters to the soil and doesn't roll away.
3) is easy to handle and remove when it's time for a crop change.
4) lasts for 2 or more years.
5) does not significantly acidify the soil below.
6) is free if there are pine trees in your neighborhood.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Harvesting corn: Down on the farm

A guest post from my grandson Weber who is working on a farm in Delaware this summer. 

Summer at Magee Farms: Part Two

(Summer at Magee Farms: Part One)

Hi everyone – I would have sent in another post sooner, but once we started the sweet corn harvest, I have been working 12-hour days and haven’t had time to sit down and write this. I certainly was not expecting how busy it was going to get. After these first two weeks of harvest, I have much greater appreciation of all the work that goes into large-scale farming. In this post I am going to talk about the life of the corn – how it’s harvested, what happens to it at the packingshed where I work, and where it goes to be sold. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Terrible taro and other invasives

The taro removed from the bulkhead garden.

Removing invasives, sooner rather than later

Just this last April, we redid this weird bulkhead space to fix a slumping problem. At the time, I thought I'd removed all the taro roots and corms (Colocasia esculenta) and the soil we used to fill in the space was from another area of the property with no taros. So in just these few months, they've rebounded. I pulled this whole bouquet from this space which is approximately 4' x 4'.  I'll have to check for new growth more often. I also pulled out some native elderberry  (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) volunteers, which are small trees.

Note on taro (aka dasheen): it was brought from Africa by slaves and then again in 1910 by the US Dept. of Agriculture as a potato substitute for the south. Big mistake. Several people suggested that we include it as a crop in "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida," but I refused. If it's invasive, we should not be encouraging people to grow it. Another interesting feature of this plant as a crop, is that every part contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate your mouth and other tissues. To prepare the corms to eat, you have to boil it in at least three waters and then grind it to a powder.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Removing lawn and other adventures

Clearing the rest of this section of lawn.

Digging grass...

After putting it off for some time now, I finally finished removing the lawn in front of the shed. I started removing this part of the lawn last fall when I planted the coreopsis. My post on fall seedlings shows the beginning of this project.

It's not an easy task to rip up well-established turfgrass, but I was side-tracked numerous times.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Harvest-based tempura and more...

The harvest for some tempura.

The harvest & recipe

I had some okra, but not enough for good-sized batch of fried okra, so I supplemented it with 5 little sweet onions, some zucchini, and not shown here, about half of a garlic bulb.

I don't have a deep fryer, but this method for tempura works pretty well.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Results: the nematode experiment

In looking at all the broccoli & parsley roots, there was very little damage
by root-knot nematodes. Yay!

The problem...

For the last several years, the root-knot nematodes have damaged roots of several of our crops, but we were not aware of it until they were pulled up. Most of the time the crops had been producing well anyway, but why not take all the organic precautions we could to prevent the damage?

In doing research for "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida," UF agricultural professors informed us of their work with marigold cover crops for fighting nematodes.    

I took action last year and planted a dense cover crop of marigolds and dug them into the soil. See my post Nematodes, marigolds & crop rotation for the details. Last fall I planted my cool weather crops hoping for the best, because previously marigold plants scattered around the garden had not had any effect.

Success! Today we pulled the parsley and broccoli, both of which had been seriously affected the last few years. The roots were clean! No lumpy knobs caused by the nematodes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Zucchinis, garlic, and kites: summer is here!

Oooh tiger zucchinis.

Changing seasons for our edibles

The tiger zucchinis are doing very well this year and I scramble to harvest them before they get too big. Half of one of these beauties was grated into a tuna salad, while the other half was sliced and was added last to a stir fry featuring onions, garlic, garlic chives, parsley from our garden, plus store-bought celery & 2 Boca Burgers (our favorite non-meat patties). The other one and maybe an additional one still growing in the garden will be the key ingredient in some zucchini bread. Yummy.

The last lettuce crop and the parsley have bolted and the broccoli is done after many months of come-again picking. My husband made a nice tabbouleh from the last of the parsley crop. I've allowed the plants to remain in the garden so their blooms will attract pollinators.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Down on the farm

A guest post from my grandson Weber who is working on a farm this summer. 

Summer at Magee Farms: Part One

Hi! My name is Weber Stibolt, and I’m one of Ginny’s grandchildren. This summer I am working at a produce farm in southern Delaware, and she asked me to write a few columns for you to show you a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes. I am a rising junior and am studying Food Science at the University of Delaware. 

Although there are many paths that I can take with this degree, one of the aspects that interests me the most is food safety. With increased capability to detect foodborne pathogens and an increase in food safety regulations like the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, there is and will be an increased demand for specialists to help producers of food ensure that they are taking the necessary steps in order to reduce the risk of microbial contamination. 

A family farm

Magee Farms has been a family farm since 1865 and this is the fifth generation farming the land. 

I have been hired as a Food Safety Manager to assist the produce farm in keeping records and making sure everything is in order for the annual food safety audit. I will mainly be overseeing the packinghouse where the watermelons and sweet corn that the farm produces are packed and put onto trucks to be sold at local supermarkets. 

The picture below shows just some of the paperwork that goes in to all of this! The government agency completing the audit is the USDA. The paperwork isn't necessarily being turned in - it's being reviewed by them to make sure we are in compliance with everything that needs to be done and is just a means for collecting data like temperatures of water and proper levels of chlorination and a whole list of other things that I will cover in more detail in later posts.

More pictures and posts to come. ~Weber


Have you thanked your farmers today?

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A sweet onion harvest, Frostproof, and more...

A sweet onion harvest

The sweet Granex onion harvest was variable from 5 inches across to less than an inch.
Last week (before the rains came) most of the Granex onion leaves had fallen over, so it was time to harvest them and hang them to dry in the garage. Earlier this week I harvested the short-day onion sampler crop. I talked before about rogue onions that bloomed instead of going dormant--most of the blooming onions came from the sampler crop, especially the purple ones. I made some more rogue onion soup, but this time I used some leftover rice instead of potatoes and pureed it in the food processor. It still tasted great and was so good served cold on these warm days. I planted the onions last November, so it's a long growing season, but we go through a lot of onions, so it's worth the effort. Sweet!  

Onions not suitable for drying included some blooming onions, ones without a enough leaf to hang by, and those that were too small to bother with. I pureed the rogue onion soup this time.

A hairy chickpea pod
The cycle of crops continues with the sugar snap peas turning brown with the warmer weather, the third and last crop of leaf lettuces is beginning to bolt, the third and last crop of carrots is almost ready, and we are still enjoying our come-again broccoli and cabbages, but they'll begin to fade soon. The chickpeas and cucumbers are beginning to bear fruit. The butternut squash and zucchinis are coming along, too. Some of the okra plants have already set their first buds, so maybe we'll get a crop in a few weeks. I love our edibles--there is something new to enjoy every day.

Cucumber vines in a container and the chickpeas next door. The Ashley cucumbers are fat.

A Mother's Day (Re)Treat

My daughter proposed a meetup in central Florida for Mother's Day. I headed south and she headed north and we met at 8:30am in Frostproof, an historic town set between 2 large lakes. The plan was to hike in 2 preserves and then have lunch before heading back to our respective homes. She knows me well. What a great day.

Frostproof, Florida mural at the unlikely-sounding intersection of Wall St. and Scenic Hwy.
Scrub morning-glory

We met at the Frostproof library, left my car there, and headed out together to Hickory Lake Scrub where there are 14 rare and endangered plants. Some are endemic only to the scrubs on the Lake Wales Ridge in the center of Florida's peninsula.

I learned a few new plants for me, including this beautiful scrub morning-glory with its soft pastel blue color. I also liked the Feay's palafox shrub--such beautiful flower heads. I could have spent more time there, because there is so much to see in a scrub if you just slow down to observe.
Feay's palafox (Palafoxia feayi), a Florida endemic shrub in the aster family with a beautiful flower head. 

Dori on the bank of the Peace River.
Our second hiking spot was the Peace River Hammock, which was more heavily wooded and more mosquitoed, but still some interesting plants including this beautiful spring-run spiderlily. The Peace River has a pretty good current. It would be fun to float down it sometime.

After the 2 hikes, it was time for lunch. Dori had scoped out a cool 50's diner called Frostbite, where you can get "ice cream and more." I enjoyed my apple, pecan, & chicken salad; Dori liked her shrimp & chips; and then we did of course order ice cream sundaes. What fun.
A spider lily in the Peace River Hammock.
I stopped on the way home to admire the cloud formations in the Ocala National Forest. A storm was on the way, but it didn't start raining until about the last 10 minutes of my drive.
Clouds outline the landscape in the Ocala National Forest, the 2nd largest forest in Florida.

Do you know your snails?

Rosy wolf snails doing their thing on our sidewalk. Another view of the snail sex.
These rosy wolf snails (Euglandina rosea) are predatory and will feed on slugs, other snails, worms, and other small critters in your gardens. You don't want to kill these helpful snails, so use caution in fighting plant-eating slugs and snails. After taking these photos, we gave them privacy so they could continue their procreation duties.

It runs in the family: my grandson Weber is majoring in chemistry and food science at University of Delaware. He'll be putting his education to good use at his summer job at a Delaware farm.

Ooh, the Stoke's asters (Stokesia laevis) are attracting the native bees.
Summer's upon us. Sustainable gardeners know to get out in the garden only in the early morning hours when it's cool enough to be comfortable.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

Monday, May 5, 2014

A field trip, a Florida native plant hero, & pasta salad

I traveled over to Gainesville on May Day to meet with my editor at University Press of Florida and Marjorie Shropshire who will be illustrating my third book, "The Art of Maintaining a Native Landscape." It was a productive meeting and good progress is being made on the book--it's currently out for review. We discussed likely photos for the book and looked at Marjorie's drawings so far. (Marjorie also did the illustrations for "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida.")

Marjorie and I had more work to do on the drawings, so the plan was that she would come back to my house and spend the night before she headed back to south Florida. On the way back to my house we stopped to talk to David Chiappini in Putnam County, but were interrupted by this gorgeous wildflower meadow.

Wow what a great-looking roadside wildflower field.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Black swallowtail larvae in my dill

Black swallowtail cats in my dill.

Why do the native black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on my exotic dill and parsley?

This butterfly species (Papilio polyxenes) always lays its eggs on members of the carrot family (Apiaceae) and there are any number of natives that they could use to feed their cats, such as water hemlock, cowbane, or blacksnakeroot. But maybe my dill just tastes better than those mostly poisonous relatives. Perhaps our native plants are smarter than dill and produce chemicals that moderate herbivore activity. After all, dill has been bred to taste good to the human palate.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What to do with rogue onions?

A few of my onions have been blooming too early.
For some reason a number of our short-day onions have bloomed early this year. Once they bloom, it's time to pull them (unless you're collecting seed) because the energy stored in the bulb will be used up for the flowering.

In a normal onion crop the bulb is produced one year and then goes dormant when we harvest and dry it for storage. If it's not harvested, it will bloom the next season. The early blooming onions are not dormant and don't store well, so we needed to use them quickly. There is quite a bit of volume. While the bulb is relatively small, there are all those delicious leaves to use, too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fixing a slumping problem

We carefully propped the cement blocks to keep the barrier cloth right
next to the cement wall.

Slumping fix

We live on a lake and have an oddly-shaped section of bulkhead between our boat-lift bay and the neighbor's cement bulkhead. The soil here has been eroding from under the bulkhead and from its edge next to the cement. We've filled it a few times in the 10 years we've been here, but soil keeps disappearing.

So this time, we got serious. We removed the 2 maple saplings, a bunch of invasive wild taro, the canna lilies that I'd planted a couple years ago (which I saved for replanting) and an assortment of other weeds. We can't allow the maples to grow here because they'd destroy the bulkhead. We dug down deep to remove all the roots. Much of the soil from the bottom was pure, slimy clay. We could have made some pretty pottery with its natural colors of tan, yellow, and orange, but we put it to better use...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Harvest-directed cooking

I love this time of year because so much of what we eat comes from the garden. It's harvest-directed cooking.

A dinner salad from the garden includes a rogue blooming onion*, Swiss chard, 3 types of lettuce from the chef's mix blend, romaine, curly parsley, carrots, sugar-snap peas, come-again broccoli, garlic chives, meadow garlic, rosemary, dill, and cabbage leaves.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A trout lily adventure

The beautiful trout lilies put on quite a show,
but only for a few weeks in the spring.
I first heard about Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve at the 2010 Florida Native Plant Society Conference in Tallahassee when Dan Miller made a lunchtime presentation. He told about how he a few others had saved a unique, 13-acre population of trout lilies from development. The population is in south Georgia just north of Tallahassee, FL. His photos and story took my breath away.

This year I knew when the the trout lilies had started to bloom because of photos posted on Facebook, so my husband and I made the three-hour trek west out to the preserve on Valentine’s Day. (Yes, no flowers were harmed for my Valentine’s Day treat.)

For more photos of this amazing ecosystem continue reading at Eco-activists: A few people can make a real difference!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

From compost to dinners...

After removing the last of the compost from the location in the
foreground of this photo, I added a 6" layer of leaves and pine needles,
and then addedthe old lime basil twigs and sugar snap pea vines.

Spring compost!

It was time to clear out the last of the compost from last year's pile. I needed to use it to refresh some of the rows where I'd harvested the crops and it was time to nourish the soil around various shrubs.

When I get to it, I'll turn the old compost pile onto the freshly prepared space. Then the cycle will start all over again.

Isn't it amazing how one spring garden chore leads to several others?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Spring is in the air!

Some trees and shrubs are already producing their spring growth.
Spring is beginning to show itself with new growth on some of the plants and the extreme busyness of the little birds. It's too early to plant the tender crops because we are still likely to experience more frosty weather, but the rest of our native landscape will be fine with our hot spells in the middle of winter.

People who try to push the envelope on tropical plants in northern Florida make a lot of extra work for themselves. And many of them cover their tender plants and then leave them covered right through hot spells. It's likely that the plants that are being protected from the frost will die from the heat under their protective tarps and blankets. It's been in the 80s here for several days in a row.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Modified recipe with edibles from the garden

Winter harvest includes*: (clockwise starting at the knife)
3 small cabbage leaves, 5 meadow garlic plants, 3 bunches of
garlic chives, parsley, rosemary, 3 come-again broccoli crowns,
1 sprig of dill, and 1 sprig of oregano.

Cream of crab soup--modified!

I've modified the standard cream of crab soup in several ways. First I've included the winter greens from the garden and I've also taken some other shortcuts from scratch cooking.
3 bunches of garlic chives, coarsely chopped
5 meadow garlic plants with roots removed, chopped
2 small cabbage leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 or 4 heads of come-again broccoli
2 tbs of rosemary leaves
2 tbs of oregano leaves
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tbs of minced garlic
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cups of water
1/2 cup potato flakes (or buds)
1 package frozen fake crab, thawed and chopped
1 jar mushroom Alfredo sauce
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
black pepper to taste
fresh dill, chopped for garnish
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Brown the onions, garlic, celery, garlic chives, cabbage, broccoli, pepper, and meadow garlic in olive oil in the bottom of soup pot until onions begin to caramelize. Stir in the parsley and oregano, add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Blend the whole mass in a food processor until you can no longer discern any of the original ingredients. Pour back into the pot and turn on the heat to medium. Add the crab, the Alfredo sauce, potato flakes, and the rest of the water. Stir until everything is well heated. Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Garnish with fresh dill, grated Parmesan, an extra dollop of yogurt, and freshly ground pepper. Serves 6 or so.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Florida's Arbor Day

Hard-working native trees are also beautiful
and add value to your property.

While most of the country celebrates Arbor Day in April, both Florida and Louisiana celebrate on the third Friday in January. It’s a much better time to plant a tree because deciduous trees are dormant and others are less active, so they can withstand the shock of transplanting better.

One thing to keep in mind is that January is right in the middle of Florida's 7-month dry season and extra irrigation will be needed at least until the wet season starts in June, and if the tree is large, it will require extra attention for even longer. 

I've covered the details of planting trees in my article Trees & Shrubs: the Bones of your Landscape.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Green gardening DOES matter

A bluebird at sunrise in my yard.
Bluebirds are important bug predators in the ecosystem.
At the beginning of a new year, there are many speculations on what might happen and to-do lists of what you could do to improve your own situation.  Normally, I shy away from making such proclamations, but this year I decided to make a short list on what gardeners could do to improve the planet and encourage wildlife.

One of the reasons for my making this list is learning that it takes 17 repetitions for most people to fully understand a new idea and commit it to their immediate recall memory banks. Even though I've been writing about green gardening for ten years at this point, there are still people who have not heard enough about Doug Tallamy and his research showing that even small patches of native plants have a positive impact on birds, insects, and other members of the local ecosystems.