Gardening In The Panhandle

The Visual and Delectable Appeal of an Edible Landscape

The Visual and Delectable Appeal of an Edible Landscape

Figure 1: Edible Landscaping.
Credit: Dr. Gail Hansen, Environmental Horticulture-UF/IFAS

Edible landscaping has become a trend for many gardening enthusiasts. A combination of edible plants along with traditional ornamentals can create an artful presentation. There are some challenges when designing such a landscape, but in those challenges opportunities’ may be found. One of the most difficult challenges is making sure your garden or landscape is healthy and vibrant year-round since many edibles are short-lived annuals. These include plants such as eggplant, pepper, lettuce, artichoke and some annual herbs. There is a solution to this concern. First, know your edible plant’s propagation and maturity months. This way you can offset plantings to ensure color in your landscape. Another key measure is to mix some evergreen ornamentals in with short season edibles and long season edibles. Examples of long season edibles include berry shrubs, fruit trees and biennial or perennial herbs.

Table 1: North/Central Florida Front Yard Edibles.
Credit: Dr. Gail Hansen, Environmental Horticulture-UF/IFAS.

When designing your edible landscape, think about style and theme to help guide you through the process. A formal design has more straight edges and geometric shapes, whereas the more natural approach has meandering edges and irregular shapes. A color scheme in harmony is very important. Remember, an edible landscape should not just be a production food garden but a visual treat. The goal is not to grow a high yield garden, but only to produce supplemental edibles to make the endeavor worthwhile.

Dr. Gail Hansen, Associate Professor of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida, has developed twelve ideas when creating an edible landscape:
  • Combine reliable, low-maintenance ornamental with edible plants. Use evergreen ornamentals to maintain enough green structure, so that potential cool season bare spots are not visual.
  • Use support structures for an artistic effect and to assist in growth of some plants. Trellises, arbors and even tomato cages are some examples that can be used.
  • Use containers in areas to keep the landscape more organized. Planters will also help in maintenance, as plants will be easier to reach and the soil will be easier to manage.
  • Create some hard edges in your landscape. Raised beds, garden walls and borders will give defining lines to the landscape and promote a clean appearance.
  • A pathway through the landscape will both provide an access to plants and give an inviting appeal. Brick pavers, gravel and mulch are good examples of pathway material.
  • Remember color is key. Create a visually pleasing combination of plant color, form, texture and sizes.
  • Always start by keeping it simple. So, start small and simple. Then, you can begin filling in the landscape.
  • Look for one unique feature to create an added interest to you landscape and provide growth to plants. This could be a shade house for ferns and other hanging baskets or a hay bale, where lettuce, tomatoes or peppers could grow upon.
  • Select appealing and easy to grow plants that you want to eat!
  • Let plants reach maturity before taking them out of the landscape. For example, rainbow chard will grow larger, if allowed to continue to grow after seed has been produced.
  • Use the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle, “Right Plant, Right Place”, when adding edibles to your landscape. Match the growing needs with the most suitable location.
  • Consider your location and layout for irrigation. All plants need some degree of water. An above ground drip irrigation system is usually the most flexible and adjustable irrigation method in regards to overall plant watering needs in a landscape.

 

Following Dr. Hansen’s ideas will help you create the edible landscape of your dreams. For more information on edible landscaping, please contact your local county extension office for more details.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS Publications, “Landscape Design with Edibles” by Dr. Gail Hansen: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP47500.pdf

 

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture, Natural Resource & Community Development

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/21/the-visual-and-delectable-appeal-of-an-edible-landscape/

Inspect and Wash to Prevent Azalea Lace Bug Damage

Inspect and Wash to Prevent Azalea Lace Bug Damage

Now is the time to prevent your azaleas from being attacked by lace bugs. The azalea lace bug, Stephanitis pyrioides, overwinters as eggs on the underside of infested leaves. Eggs hatch in late March and early April. The insect then passes through five nymphal instars before becoming an adult. It takes approximately one month for the insect to complete development from egg to adult and there are at least four generations per year. Valuable plants that are susceptible to lace bug damage should be inspected in the early spring for the presence of overwintering lace bug adults, eggs and newly hatched nymphs. Inspect these plants every two weeks during the growing season for developing lace bug infestations.

Both adults and nymphs have piercing-sucking mouthparts and remove sap as they feed from the underside of the leaf. Lace bug damage to the foliage detracts greatly from the plants’ beauty, reduces the plants’ ability to produce food, decreases plant vigor and causes the plant to be more susceptible to damage by other insects, diseases or unfavorable weather conditions. The azalea can become almost silver or bleached in appearance from the feeding lace bug damage.

However, lace bugs often go undetected until the infested plants show severe damage sometime into the summer. By then several generations of lace bugs have been weakening the plant.  Inspecting early in the spring and simply washing them off the underside of the leaves can help to avoid damage later and the need for pesticides.

Adult lace bugs are flattened and rectangular in shape measuring 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. The area behind the head and the wing covers form a broadened, lace-like body covering. The wings are light amber to transparent in color. Lace bugs leave behind spiny black spots of frass (excrement).

Lace bug nymphs are flat and oval in shape with spines projecting from their bodies in all directions. A lace bug nymph goes through five growth stages (instars) before becoming an adult. At each stage the nymph sheds its skin (molts) and these old skins often remain attached to the lower surface of infested leaves.

Azalea lace bug eggs are football-shaped and are transparent to cream-colored. Lace bug eggs are found on the lower leaf surface, usually alongside or inserted into a leaf vein. Adult females secrete a varnish-like substance over the eggs that hardens into a scab-like protective covering.

 

For more information go to: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/shrubs/azalea_lace_bug.htm

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Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu

Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/21/inspect-and-wash-to-prevent-azalea-lace-bug-damage/

Spring Festival of Flowers April 7-9, 2017!

Spring Festival of Flowers April 7-9, 2017!

About the Spring Festival of Flowers

The University of Florida, IFAS and the Pensacola State College Milton Campus invites you to join them for one of the largest festivals of the season. This is a popular event that draws plant enthusiast from near and far. This festival features plant nurseries, UF student club plant sale, arts & crafts, great food, music and educational opportunities.

Location

University of Florida, IFAS and the Pensacola State College Milton Campus located at 5988 Highway 90, Milton.

Dates and Times

Friday, April 7, 2017 * 9 AM – 5 PM

Saturday, April 8, 2017 * 9 AM – 4 PM

Sunday, April 9, 2017 *9 AM – 4 PM

2017 spring festival of flowers flyer

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/21/spring-festival-of-flowers-april-7-9-2017/

Get Those Fairies Off My Lawn!

Get Those Fairies Off My Lawn!

A type III fairy ring. Photo Credit: Alex Bolques, Assistant Professor, Florida A&M University

Mushrooms often are grouped in a circle in your lawn.  This is due to the circular release of spores from a central mushroom. “Fairy Ring” is a term used to describe this phenomenon. Fairy rings can be caused by multiple mushroom species such as Chlorophyllum spp., Marasmius spp., Lepiota spp., Lycoperdon spp., and other basidiomycete fungi.

Occurrence

Fairy rings most commonly invade your yard during the summer months, when the Florida panhandle receives the most rain. The mushrooms cause the development and spread of the rings by the release of spores. Spores produce more mushrooms and are similar to the seed produced by plants.

Fairy Ring “Types”

Fairy rings can be seen in three forms:

  1. Type I rings have a zone of dead grass just inside a zone of dark green grass. Weeds often invade the dead zone.
  2. Type II rings have only a band of dark green turf, with or without mushrooms present in the band.
  3. Type III rings do not exhibit a dead zone or a dark green zone, but a ring of mushrooms is present.

The size and fill of rings varies considerably. Rings are often 6 ft or more in diameter. The fill of a ring can range from a quarter circle to a semicircle or full circle.

Cultural Controls

The rings will disappear naturally, but it could take up to five years. Although it is possible to dig up the fairy ring sites, it is a good possibility the rings will return if the food source (buried, rotting wood or other organic matter) for the fungi is still present underground.

In some situations, the fungi coat the soil particles and make the soil hydrophobic (meaning it repels water), which will result in rings of dead grass. If the soil under this dead grass is dry but the soil under healthy grass next to it is wet, then it is necessary to aerate or break up the soil under the dead grass with a pitchfork or other cultivation tool.

Rings of dead turf due to fairy ring fungi. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

Chemical Controls

Effective fungicides include products containing the active ingredients azoxystrobin, flutolanil, metconazole, pyraclostrobin, and triticonazole.

Fungicides inhibit the fungus only. They do not eliminate the dark green or dead rings of turfgrass and do not solve the dry soil problem.

A homeowner’s guide to lawn fungicides can be found at the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) website (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/document_pp154).

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/20/get-those-fairies-off-my-lawn/

Take Steps to Minimize Mosquitoes

Take Steps to Minimize Mosquitoes

It is an often made wish of summer that the cold weather of winter will kill all the mosquitoes, gnats and no-see-ums. This climactic fete would spare people, pets and livestock the irritation of encountering these low flying pest and their predatory behavior.

Unfortunately, the thermometer would have to drop to levels approaching the surface temperature of the planet Neptune to eliminate these winged annoyances.

There are individual steps which will help minimize the potential for exposure to exotic diseases.

 

Check surroundings for standing water, especially in secluded spots or small quantities. The home landscape and patio garden can produce hundreds, if not thousands, of hungry mosquitos during the summer if standing water is left for long.

 

Trays and dishes under flower pots commonly collect water which is usually left to evaporate or be absorbed by the plant over time. To mama mosquito this shallow and protected source is an ideal location to deposit eggs for the next generation of voracious airborne insects.

 

Plants with natural depressions or “cups” can accumulate enough irrigation and rain water to establish an effective mosquito nursery. Even though it may evaporate, these tiny pools will last long enough to hatch many mosquito larvae into potential disease vectors.

 

Back porch bromeliads can easily deliver this undesirable outcome. So too can mature live oak trees which commonly have hollow spaces between large branches.

 

Even a wheelbarrow left to the elements can serve as a portable pond to maternity minded mosquitos. Dumping the water on a frequent basis is the easiest method, but there are also larvae-cides which are effective in difficult to dump reservoirs.

 

Protective clothing when outdoors is useful to reduce exposed skin which mosquitos view as an excellent dining site. Heavier fabrics and loose-fitting designs provide the best protection while maintaining maximum comfort for the wearer.

 

Minimizing exposure at dusk and dawn, when native mosquitos are most active, will reduce the probability of serving as an unsuspecting blood meal for a swarm or lone hunter. Unfortunately, some of the exotic mosquitos are prowling 24 hours a day and are pleased to attack at any opportunity.

 

As the weather warms, be ready for mosquito season. This past winter only whetted their appetite.

 

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Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/11/take-steps-to-minimize-mosquitoes/

Choosing a Lawn Maintenance Comapny

Choosing a Lawn Maintenance Comapny

UF/IFAS File Photo

Lawns in northwest Florida are really starting to get going early this year. It is early March but feels much later in the year and many feel behind on their lawn maintenance and various other landscape chores. Maybe it is time to think about hiring a lawn maintenance company to do the job for you. Keep in mind a few tips while trying to decide which company you will hire.

  1. Lawn Maintenance and Landscape companies are NOT required to have a “professional license” in order to operate their business. This means anyone can start a lawn maintenance company whether they have experience or not. All it takes is a quick visit to the tax collectors office to get a tax receipt. This fact should make you want to go the extra mile to be sure you receive excellent service.

    Photo Credits: UF/IFAS File Photo

  2. Make sure the company chosen has the proper amount of liability insurance.
  3. There are licenses required for specific services, such as applying fertilizers or pesticides. Check with the company to be sure that the pesticide or fertilizer applicator will be properly licensed to do the job required. Here is a list of licenses to be aware of while choosing a lawn service:
  4. Receive several quotes from different companies to compare pricing structures and rates. Ask for a very detailed quote. Communicate your needs accurately. Some companies will be better suited for a simple “mow and blow” job while others specialize in a full service job.
  5. Interview the company and be sure they follow University of Florida recommended mowing heights, fertilization rates, etc.* Quiz them on the subject to be sure they are familiar with properly maintaining landscapes.

There are a lot of really good Landscape and Lawn Maintenance professionals working in Northwest Florida. If you take some time while searching you will find a really good company who can help with beautifying your lawn and landscape.

 

*Call your local extension office to get the recommended mowing heights, fertilization rates, etc.

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Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/09/choosing-a-lawn-maintenance-comapny/

Florida Natives: Florida Red Anise

Florida Natives: Florida Red Anise

Dark red flowers of Florida red anise arrive in the springtime. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Springtime brings small but very pretty red blooms on an outstanding native shrub/small tree, Florida red anise (Illicium floridanum). It occurs naturally in the wild in the central and western panhandle of Florida and west along the gulf coast into Louisiana. Its natural environment is in the understory along streams and in rich, wooded areas.

This is a great shrub for a part shade to shady and moist area in your landscape. The dense foliage, dark green leaves and the fact that it is evergreen all year makes it a great choice for an informal hedge. Plan for it to grow to a maximum height of 12 to 15 feet.

Dense growth habit of Florida red anise. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

The leaves have a licorice-like aroma when crushed but this is NOT the species that gives us the edible culinary anise. Maybe it is that aroma that makes this a relatively pest-free plant!

Yellow anise (Illicium parviflorum) is a very similar native shrub but has small yellow flowers and adapts better to a drier environment. The native range of the yellow anise is north central Florida.

 

 

 

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/09/florida-natives-florida-red-anise/

There Is Still Time To Prevent Spring Lawn Weeds

There Is Still Time To Prevent Spring Lawn Weeds

Photo caption: Purple nut sedge is dormant, but quite alive and waiting for warm weather. The best hope for control is to use a pre-emergent herbicide in late February to early March which will prevent this exotic invasive plant from germinating.

Now that March is here the lawn becomes less of an abstraction and more reality.
The lawnmower is no longer silent, meaninglessly taking up space as the grass wakens from its seasonal stupor. Alas, the dormant state has ended as the days are already getting slightly longer.
There is still time to get started with preparations for the ideal spring lawn of 2017. Weather is getting warmer, there is plenty to do.
In addition to doing a soil test, mentioned in previous week’s articles, an accurate weed assessment is also necessary. Though not green and conquering new territory, some of the weeds remain with seed still attached and awaiting distribution.
If the seed are still on the plants, clip the seed pods or remove the plants with the seed intact. Dispose of these properly and do not give them a chance to spread and germinate.
Two notable culprits are nondescript lying dormant  waiting for the return of warm, sunny weather. Purple nut sedge and chamberbitter still have countless nutlets and seeds connected to the parent plant.
Purple nut sedge, Cyperus rotundus, grows from every possible sunny location with soil.  This non-native plant is a rapidly spreading perennial which will take every opportunity to colonize new locations.
The identifier purple is in its name because there is a purple-tinged section of this sedge where it emerges from the ground.  The plant is sometimes referred to as purple nut grass because of its long narrow leaves and its erect growth pattern originating from a nutlike basal bulb.
Chamberbitter, Phyllantus urinaria, is an annual with produces great quantities of seed on the underside of its leaf stems. It will handle full sun or partial shade and quickly form cluster of plants, each contribution seed to the soil.
Areas in the lawn identified as having severe infestations should be marked now for treatment in the near future with a pre-emergent herbicide. This type of herbicide prevents the seed from germinating in the spring.
Purple nut sedge concentrations should be sprayed in late February to early March, and chamberbitter in April since these pest species germinate at different times.
Another winter task is to prepare for seeding bare spots in the lawn. Reading the seed tag attached to the bag should help make the product selection much easier.
Check to confirm the seed has been tested for germination within the year. Also, be sure the grass seed species will grow in Florida.
Sometime generic lawn seed mixes will contain fescue, bluegrass, orchard grass and others turf types which will not grow in north Florida. While they may germinate, their use will only ensure weeds get established for another year.
Lastly, sharpen the lawnmower blade. When the warm weather arrives the mower will be frequently used, but at least the neighbors will be envious of the great green lawn.
To learn more about lawn grasses, contact your UF/IFAS Extension Office.

 

 

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Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/03/there-is-still-time-to-prevent-spring-lawn-weeds/

Citrus Greening (HLB) A Troublesome Bacterial Pathogen

Citrus Greening (HLB) A Troublesome Bacterial Pathogen

Small Fruit vs Normal

If we look at the big picture when it comes to invasive species, some of the smallest organisms on the planet should pop right into focus. A microscopic bacterium named Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the cause of Citrus Greening (HLB), has devastated the citrus industry worldwide. This tiny creature lives and multiplies within the phloem tissue of susceptible plants. From the leaves to the roots, damage is caused by an interruption in the flow of food produced through photosynthesis. Infected trees show a significant reduction in root mass even before the canopy thins dramatically. The leaves eventually exhibit a blotchy, yellow mottle that usually looks different from the more symmetrical chlorotic pattern caused by soil nutrient deficiencies.

One of the primary vectors for the spread of HLB is an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. These insects feed by sucking juices from the plant tissues and can then transfer bacteria from one tree to another. HLB has been spread through the use of infected bud wood during grafting operations also. One of the challenges with battling this invasive bacterium is that plants don’t generally show noticeable symptoms for perhaps 3 years or even longer. As you would guess, if the psyllids are present they will be spreading the disease during this time. Strategies to combat the impacts of this industry-crippling disease have involved spraying to reduce the psyllid population, actual tree removal and replacement with healthy trees, and cooperative efforts between growers in citrus producing areas. You can imagine that if you were trying to manage this issue and your neighbor grower was not, long-term effectiveness of your efforts would be much diminished. Production costs to fight citrus greening in Florida have increased by 107% over the past 10 years and 20% of the citrus producing land in the state has been abandoned for citrus.

Classic blotchy mottle in Leaves

Many scientists and citrus lovers had hopes at one time that the Florida Panhandle would be protected by our cooler climate, but HLB has now been confirmed in more than one location in backyard trees in Franklin County. The presence of an established population of psyllids has yet to be determined, as there is a possibility infected trees were brought in.

A team of plant pathologists, entomologists, and horticulturists at the University of Florida’s centers in Quincy and Lake Alfred and extension agents in the panhandle are now considering this new finding of HLB to help devise the most effective management strategies to combat this tiny invader in North Florida. With no silver-bullet-cure in sight, cooperative efforts by those affected are the best management practice for all concerned. Vigilance is also important. If you want to learn more about HLB and other invasive species contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

Asymmetrical Fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typical nutrient deficiencies observed in leaf, on trees with heavy fruit load. Not related to Citrus Greening (HLB)

 

Article by: Erik Lovestrand, UF/IFAS Franklin County Extension Director/Florida Sea Grant Agent

 

 

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Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/02/citrus-greening-hlb-a-troublesome-bacterial-pathogen/

Raised Bed Gardening 101

Raised Bed Gardening 101

Raised-bed gardening can maximize production in a small amount of space. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Want to start a vegetable garden, but don’t know where to start? Are you seeing rectangular boxes popping up all over your neighbors’ yards and wondering why? Well, I am here to spread the news of raised-bed gardening!

Raised-bed gardening is a convenient way to grow vegetables without worrying about the quality of your soil. This is because you will be bringing in a high quality soil mix to your site. Vegetable plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and many other nutrients to grow and mature properly. In many Florida Panhandle soils, we either have too much sand, too much clay, and nearly always, not enough organic matter. Organic matter results from the various stages of decay of anything that was alive. Think of it as the “glue” that holds the soil together, improves both soil moisture-holding capacity and drainage, and slowly releases nutrients that become available to the plant.

Organic matter is the “glue” that will hold your soil together. Photo by John Edwards.

Although you could add nutrients and organic materials to your soil without building a raised bed, the walls of a raised bed will hold your soil in place, reduce erosion, and even help keep out weeds. Here are a few things to consider when planning the installation of a raised-bed garden:

Location

The most important thing to consider when picking your location is sunlight. Vegetable plants need a lot of direct sunlight for optimum production. Leafy vegetables (lettuce, kale, arugula) can tolerate four to five hours, but fruiting crops (tomatoes, squash, peppers) generally need six hours of full sunlight to grow strong and produce fruit.

When starting a garden, remember that we are in the northern hemisphere, and this means the sun dips to the south, especially in the winter. Objects therefore cast a shadow to the north, so pay attention to the position of southern tree lines, houses, and anything else that may block the sun. If you must choose, morning sun is better than afternoon sun, as afternoon sun can be very extreme in our area, especially in the summer.

Lastly, consider visibility! If you stick your garden in the very back corner of your yard, how often will you see it? The more visible it is in your daily life, the more likely you will notice easy-to-pull weeds, when your garden needs watering, what is ready to be harvested, and everything else that goes on in the garden.

Although wood is most popular, you can use materials such as concrete, bricks, or tiles to build a raised bed. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Materials

Now you have chosen a perfect garden location. What materials should you use to build your raised bed? Lumber is the most popular material. But you could use concrete blocks, bricks, tiles, or anything else that can support soil. You can make your beds as long as you like, but the important thing to remember is not to make the raised bed wider than four feet. This will allow you to reach all areas of your soil without stepping into the bed, which causes compaction. If you are working with kids, two or three feet wide is even better. You should make the height of your bed 10 to 12 inches, which will allow good drainage and enough space for your vegetable plants to develop strong roots.

When choosing lumber, you can go with untreated or treated wood. Within the last 15 years, wood preservatives considered unsuitable for raised-bed gardening have been phased out. There is well-documented research that has shown the newer products are considered safe for gardening. Although untreated wood typically will not last as long as treated, even treated wood will still begin to decompose after a few seasons. Either way, connect your wood with lag bolts, instead of nails, to hold the wood together tightly.

When filling a four ft. by eight ft. raised bed, you will need about 1 cubic yard of soil mix. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Soil

Now that you have your raised-bed structure built, what will you put in it? There are many landscape and nursery companies that can offer vegetable garden soil mixes for purchase in bulk. Typically, they will be about 50 percent compost (organic matter) and 50 percent top soil (nutrient-containing minerals). If you are filling a four foot by eight foot by 12 inch raised bed, you will need about one cubic yard of soil mix, which typically costs $ 30 to $ 60. This is about the volume of the back of a pick-up truck. If you do not have access to a truck, most companies will deliver in bulk for a $ 30 to $ 50 fee. This could be worth it if you are filling up multiple beds! Seasonally, you will then need to top off your raised bed as your soil will shrink as the organic materials decompose. But for this, you can buy bagged soil mixes or make your own compost.

The last step is filling your raised bed with vegetable plants! This could also be considered the first step… as you now must consider plant spacing, spring vs. fall vegetables, seeding into the garden vs. using transplants, trellising, pest control, harvesting…but we’ll save all that for future articles. Happy gardening!

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Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/02/raised-bed-gardening-101/

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