Tag Archives: Gardening

Gardening | Phew – Summer already!

By Master Gardener Volunteer Lesley Arrandale
mail@floridanewsline.com

Having suffered from temperatures in the mid- to upper-nineties with very little rain, at the end of May I checked the 30-day forecast from NOAA to see what might be heading our way (https://tinyurl.com/yxnrqevg). Apparently temperatures were to be higher than usual in June, and precipitation could either be average or more or less than usual. As always, rainfall predictions seem to be the least reliable.

Gardening | Allergies, anyone?

By Master Gardener Volunteer Lesley Arrandale
mail@floridanewsline.com

I think we are probably over the worst of the pollen season involving common trees like oaks and pines, but my daughter recently found an article in Scientific American, “Botanical Sexism Cultivates Home-Grown Allergies” (https://tinyurl.com/y8trc4ep), which she knew I would appreciate. The title certainly piqued my interest! Apparently plant breeders have unwittingly added to our pollen burden by employing specialist cloning techniques in order to offer male trees to the public, so that we don’t have to bother with the messy fruits and seeds of female trees. One tree introduction that springs to mind is the sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua; apparently the cultivar L. styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’ has been bred to produce only small sterile flowers, and since we all know how troublesome the round prickly seed balls can be, that seems like a good thing.

Gardening | Summer is coming

By Master Gardener Lesley Arrandale
mail@floridanewsline.com

Sometimes I have hankered to live farther north just to be able to grow some of the fruits, flowers, and vegetables that I grew up with, but seeing last winter’s devastating storms that swept across the plains and northwards, I realize we are relatively lucky in northeast Florida. Encouragingly, this hurricane season may be less busy than average, according to Colorado State University predictions (https://tinyurl.com/y5ltxj43), but it only takes one major storm to have devastating impacts, as we know.

Gardening | Spring promise

By Master Gardener Lesley Arrandale
mail@floridanewsline.com

As of early March, it has rained fairly frequently, temperatures have been variable but generally milder than usual, and the azaleas are blooming beautifully. The ground is warming up and daylight hours are slowly lengthening. I was delighted to see my first hummingbird, probably a resident, during the third week in February, and by the end of February there were gulf fritillary butterflies looking for passion vine (Passiflora incarnata) on which to lay eggs. In my vegetable bed, I found a beautiful spider, Argiope aurantia, or yellow garden spider, sitting in its web with two neatly wrapped but unidentifiable food packets. Its web is very distinctive, with a dense zig-zag, ladder-like vertical structure across the center. (My dilemma is how to relocate it — this species can bite — since I need to clear the bed for summer vegetables.) And then along came an iridescent green and rusty brown dung beetle, Phanaeus vindex, probably drawn to the area because of local cats…!

Gardening | Spring is for pollinators … and vegetables

By Master Gardener Lesley Arrandale
mail@floridanewsline.com

Spring has been in the air, but surely temperatures will fluctuate considerably between now and our last potential frost date, around March 20. According to the University of Florida, a mix of cool and warm season vegetables may be planted in February, but early March is safer for warm season crops, although they may still need protection if a frost or freeze is forecast: https://tinyurl.com/y5z2lyoq.