Tag Archive: Grow

Struggling to Grow Fruit Trees? Try These Lesser Known Florida-Friendly Edible Options!

Northwest Floridians are lucky.  We get to bask in the warm sunshine at least eight months of the year, consider it cold weather when we have to break out the fleece pullover and none of us live more than a few hours’ drive to the whitest sand you ever saw.  However, those conditions have consequences.  That warm sun and plentiful rain yields heat and humidity, a perfect breeding ground for all manner of pests and diseases, not to mention seriously cutting down on necessary chill hours required by many species.  We’ll never be able to grow peaches like they do in Georgia.  No one is in any danger of mistaking a Florida apple for one from Michigan.  Pomegranates, olives, and nectarines like California?  Forget about it.  All of those species will mostly survive and grow but in most cases, the inputs of labor and protective chemicals greatly outweigh the output of fruit.  For most of us it is just not worth the time and effort to turn a crop!

We have a couple of adapted, well-known stalwarts to turn to though.  Any gardener worth his salt has a few productive rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei), a pear (Pyrus communis), an old reliable fig tree (Ficus carica), and a citrus or two of some kind (though with the devastating disease known as Citrus Greening looming on the horizon, backyard citrus may decline in popularity in the near future).  However, hobby fruit growers aren’t often content to stick to those standards though.  We tend to be an adventurous, progressive lot, always looking for new species to grow and constantly pushing climatic and adaptation limits of species, with varying success. For the Panhandle backyard fruit orchardist looking for a little variety but demanding a high probability of success, there are three unusual Florida Friendly trees requiring little winter chill that fit the bill perfectly:  Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), Japanese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki), and Loquat (Eriobtrya japonica).

Pawpaw fruit

The pawpaw (yes it’s pronounced exactly like you think it is) is an altogether unusual tree.  For starters, it is one of the most adaptable plants in cultivation, growing native from New York all the way down to the Sunshine State.  It would be a beautiful tree if it never produced a single fruit; the large leaves droop naturally, lending a decidedly tropical feel to the garden and the understated purple-brown flowers are some of the more attractive of our native spring blooming trees.  But, to be sure, the fruit are the real attraction here.  Technically berries, the bluish-green, three to five inch long, oval-shaped fruit ripen in the late summer (August-October) and have an extremely unique taste often likened to banana or custard.  Pawpaws occur naturally in moist, well-drained soils and thrive in both shade and sun; site accordingly and this unusual little native fruit tree should perform admirably for you!

While more common than Pawpaw, Japanese Persimmon still has not reached the cosmopolitan status of pear or fig or the like for reasons unclear to me!  Native to eastern Asia, Japanese Persimmon is right at home in the Panhandle where it rewards gardeners each fall with outstanding reddish/orange foliage and a reliable crop of beautiful, baseball-sized, orange fruit possessing a crisp, sweet taste that can be eaten fresh or used in cooking.  I especially like the fruit when it is made into a cakey “bread” similar to banana bread.  It is a remarkably forgiving tree, growing and fruiting reliably with little help from the orchardist.  Japanese Persimmon is generally sold as one of the selected cultivars, ‘Fuyu’ being the most common and probably the best.  The species prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil but does just fine without irrigation once it reaches establishment.  A bonus, you only need to plant one as Japanese Persimmon does not require a pollinator!  (Note:  Persimmons can be astringent or non-astringent.  If you plant an astringent cultivar, be sure to let the fruit ripen completely before eating as they are unpalatable until that point.  Most are probably better off going with a non-astringent cultivar such as ‘Fuyu’.)

Persimmon fruit

A lesser-known gem of the coastal south, Loquat is hard to beat.  It’s a great addition to the landscape, the cinnamon colored bark, foot-long “cabbagey” textured leaves and early spring flowers outdo many purely ornamental species.  The yellowish-orange fruit that follow are outstanding picked and eaten fresh off the tree.  Flavor is reminiscent of citrus with a sweet taste and a soft texture.  Loquat flourishes in full sun and once established needs little to no supplemental fertilization or irrigation.  As with Japanese Persimmon, Loquat is self-fertile and does not need a pollinator so just one tree will do (trust me, one healthy loquat will make enough fruit to feed a small army)!

Loquat fruit

If you are indeed a backyard orcharding enthusiast and want to expand your horizons to include more than the same old standard species that everyone else grows or maybe you’re just frustrated with trying to grow popular but ill-adapted species like peach and apple, you could do a lot worse than including one or all of Pawpaw, Japanese Persimmon, and Loquat into your garden!  For more information on fruit trees and any other horticultural questions you may have, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.  Happy gardening!



Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/struggling-to-grow-fruit-trees-try-these-lesser-known-florida-friendly-edible-options/

Using LEGOs to Grow Literacy Skills in 4-H Clubs

4-H Leader and Librarian, Renae Roundtree, found a way to teach not only STEM, but help youth develop a life-long passion for reading.

Books, DVD’s, audio books, magazines and…LEGO’s?  Yes, all of these can be found at the Washington County Public Library along with enthusiastic 4-H Club Leader, Renae Rountree.  Renae, Director of the WCPL, partnered with Washington County 4-H three years ago to “LEGO My Library” and start the Brick Bratz 4-H Club that meets twice a month at the library.

The secret to this club’s success (that always has a waiting list) is Renae’s commitment to providing a fun, educational experience where kids are free to explore, question, succeed, fail and try again.  Using the LEGO StoryStarter program, youth listen to a task that gets them and their partner started on an adventure of writing a comic-style story.

The StoryStarter kit includes LEGO pieces with five small panels and a computer based program.  Working with a partner, youth illustrate their story with LEGOs, panel by panel, then take pictures of each panel and upload them to their laptop.  They add dialogue and background scenes to finish their story.  It’s so much fun, the kids don’t even realize they’re practicing skills like communication, teamwork, decision making and conflict resolution.

Rebecca Lee, a Brick Bratz 4-H Club member for three years,  said “I like Lego club because it’s very fun to create our own stories and make the Legos move.  Ms. Renae makes us laugh too!”  Rebecca and her brother, Sam, “…always look forward to club days and are excited to share their creations with me and their father,” says their mom, Terri.

Youth practice creativity while building sets that serve as the backdrop for their robots to act out scenes from their favorite books.

Why does Renae volunteer her time with 4-H?  She wants to give kids access to new and exciting ways to learn and grow that appeal to their sense of curiosity.  Her enthusiasm for learning and sharing is infectious, and her club members are thriving with her guidance and direction!

Thanks to volunteers like Renae Rountree, 4-H is growing in Washington County!  If you would like to provide the spark to ignite a youth’s interest in a field or hobby that you are passionate about, consider becoming involved in your local 4-H program.  4-H offers a variety of roles to fit your schedule and interests. If you’d like more information on how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, contact your local 4-H agent or visit http://florida4h.org.


Author: Julie Pigott Dillard – juliepd@ufl.edu

Julie Pigott Dillard is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Washington County..

Julie Pigott Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/15/using-legos-to-grow-literacy-skills-in-4-h-clubs/

Grow Shiitake Mushrooms in Your Backyard

Grow Shiitake Mushrooms in Your Backyard

Shiitake mushrooms growing from an oak log. Photo by Stephen Hight.

Shiitake mushrooms growing from an oak log. Photo by Stephen Hight, USDA

Growing up, I was never too fond of mushrooms. To me, their only purpose was to ruin a perfectly good pizza. As I got older, I started to warm up slightly toward raw button mushrooms in salads – with enough dressing, that is. But it wasn’t until I experienced my first taste of fresh shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) – introduced to me sautéed in butter – that I truly began to understand their intrigue. Their rich, almost smoky flavor, could transform any dish into something spectacular.

It was with the shiitakes, locally grown on a small Panhandle farm, that I finally developed my love for mushrooms. They could be added to so many dishes – simmered alongside chopped garlic, or in broth, a reduction of wine, or cream. Toss shiitakes with pasta, add in lieu of meat in a creamy risotto, or use them to enrich a soup or quiche.

I learned that shiitake mushrooms are not only delicious, but they are packed with nutrition, including fiber, protein, multiple vitamins, calcium, as well as an excellent source of antioxidants. But what I really found fascinating is how shiitake mushrooms are cultivated.

When the shiitakes are ready to fruit, arrange the logs so that the mushrooms can easily be harvested. Photo by Stephen Hight.

When the shiitakes are ready to fruit, arrange the logs so that the mushrooms can easily be harvested. Photo by Stephen Hight, USDA

To understand their production, you must first understand that mushrooms are merely the fruiting body, or sexual organs, of the fungi. Mycelia, which is the vegetative portion of the fungi, colonize logs and only form spore containing mushrooms when they are ready to reproduce. The Florida Panhandle is an excellent location to grow shiitake mushrooms, as they strongly prefer to grow on oak tree logs, such as laurel oaks, which is a hardwood species native to our area.

The logs must be fresh to avoid colonization by unwanted fungi, so producers must first cut down oak trees during fall or winter, when the trees have large amounts of stored carbohydrates. It is important to do this sustainably, ideally as part of a forest thinning. The trees should be about three to eight inches in diameter and should be cut to about four-foot lengths.

The next step is to inoculate the logs with shiitake spawn. You can purchase shiitake spawn as either plugs or sawdust form. It is important to get a strain that does well in our climate, so make sure to do some research, such as learning about strains through the North American Mycological Association.

To inoculate, drill holes into the logs and insert the spawn with a plunger, a hammer, or a turkey baster, depending on the form of spawn. The holes should then be coated with hot wax to protect the spawn from drying out and from becoming contaminated. The logs then incubate under shade with proper moisture and aeration for about six to 18 months, giving the mycelia time to colonize the log, which includes digesting decomposing organic material to absorb nutrients.

The mycelia will fruit for about a week, and will then need a rest period of eight to 12 weeks before fruiting again. Logs fruit for about four years, but are typically more productive in the second and third year during the spring or fall. Harvest the mushrooms daily by cutting them at the base, and place in a box and refrigerate until use. By immersing the logs in cold water or chilling in cold storage, you can encourage the logs to fruit, but this process may make your logs less productive over time. When the bark begins to slough off, production will slow down and eventually stop.

For more information on growing shiitake mushrooms, visit the UF/IFAS Small Farms Mushroom Production website.


Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/29/grow-shiitake-mushrooms-in-your-backyard/

Judging Teams Grow Workforce Skills

Youth competing at the North Florida Fair Horticulture Judging Contest.  Photo credit: UF IFAS Leon County 4-H

Youth competing at the North Florida Fair Horticulture Judging Contest. Photo credit: UF IFAS Leon County 4-H

For parents who want their child to be prepared for the 21st century workforce, participating in a 4-H judging team may be the answer.  Several universities have recently published studies on the impacts 4-H judging teams have had on workforce readiness.  The University of Georgia surveyed over 1,300 4-H alumni who reported that judging programs helped them develop confidence and communication and decision making skills (McCann & McCann 1992).  A 2005 University of Idaho study found that 97% of alumni indicated that their 4-H judging experience positively influenced their personal success as adults (Nash & Sant, 2005).  Similar results were found in studies conducted by Rutgers and the University of Missouri.  The life skills attained through judging programs are not only sought-after by employers but are applicable to most professions.  In addition, these skills are not always taught in school or on the sports field but are intentionally integrated into the 4-H positive youth development program.

Florida 4-H Alumna (and national poultry and meats judging champion) Stacey Warden shared:  “I would not be the person I am today if I had not joined 4-H.  4-H [judging teams] helped me learn how to speak in front of others, build confidence and gave me so many opportunities I would not have had otherwise.”  One Missouri 4-H alumna shared: “I have had the chance to meet some of the greatest people in the world, visit many different states, and gain ever so vital experiences in public speaking.  Giving oral reasons has helped me sharpen my speaking abilities.  In today’s society, communication is the key to success (Sheppard 2005).”

Florida 4-H offers many opportunities for youth to be involved in a judging team.  While livestock judging may be the most recognized, we also offer judging programs in forestry,

Leon County Master Gardeners help youth practice for the Horticulture Judging Contest.

Leon County Master Gardeners help youth practice for the Horticulture Judging Contest.

poultry, land/soils, meats, horticulture, consumer choices, horse, dairy goat and marine ecology.  Mastering the subject matter content is only one aspect of the program.  Youth work as a team to correctly identify animals, plants, or parts.  They also have to learn to make close observations and think on their feet to evaluate the quality of an animal, plant, or product.  They master communication and presentation skills by defending their choices in front of a judge (this is called giving oral reasons).  The real goal of these programs is to help youth develop confidence, communication and decision making skills that will help them be successful adults in work and personal life later on.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will feature different judging opportunities that will be available this fall at the North Florida Fair.  This week, our feature is on the 4-H Horticulture Judging Program.  Do you know the difference between opposite, alternate, whorled and palmate leaves?  Can you tell the difference between poison ivy and Virginia creeper?  Do you know what to look for when purchasing shrubs for your landscape?  Youth involved in the 4-H Horticulture judging team do!  Horticulture judging is a great way to learn how to correctly identify plants and learn about Florida’s horticulture industry, which is ranked second in the nation and is a billion dollar industry for our state!

Getting started is easy!  First, download a copy of the rules and glossary.  Begin to familiarize yourself with plant terms so that you can become proficient at plant identification and use of keys.   Next, take a look at the online tutorial.  There are four modules:

Last but not least, quiz yourself- visit a local grocery store or nursery and see how many fruits, vegetables and plants you can correctly identify!  The next opportunity to participate in a horticulture judging contest will be Saturday, November 12th at the North Florida Fair.  The state contest is usually held in Gainesville in July in conjunction with 4-H University,

If you have a passion for plants or the horticulture industry, consider coaching or participating in a 4-H horticultural judging team.  Together, let’s grow 4-H to help the next generation develop 21st century workforce skills for Florida!  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office to sign up as a volunteer or member, or visit http://florida4h.org. Next week, we will feature our consumer choices judging contest.


McCann, J. S., & McCann, M. A. (1992). Judging team members’ reflection on the value of livestock, horse, meats, and wool judging programs. The Professional Animal Scientist8, 7–13.

Nash, S. A., & Sant, S. L. (2005). Life-skill development found in 4-H animal judging. Journal of Extension [Online], 43(2) Article 2RIB5. Available at:http://www.joe.org/joe/2005april/rb5.php

Sheppard, L. (2005). Where would I be without 4-H? Missouri Ruralist, October 2005.


Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/16/judging-teams-grow-workforce-skills/

Grow Confidence with Blue Ribbon 4-H Public Presentations

4-H has given Cass Dillard the confidence to deliver his first illustrated talk at the Washington County 4-H Events.

4-H has helped this Washington County youth develop confidence to speak in front of groups.  Photo credit: Julie Dillard, UF IFAS

A 2001 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans suffer from glossophobia, or fear of public speaking.  This statistic inspired the famous joke by stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld that a most funerals, “the average person would prefer to be the one in the casket rather than the one delivering the eulogy.”  Fortunately, 4-H offers an easy antidote through our public speaking program.  4-H public speaking helps youth:

  • Demonstrate mastery of a subject
  • Practice quality communication
  • Increase self-confidence when speaking in front of others.

How and where would you find a 4-H volunteer teaching public speaking? Almost anywhere you’ll find 4-H activities! Here are some examples:

The main public speaking education program supported by your 4-H Office is called County Events.

What is County Events?

County Events is a venue in which 4-H’ers can share what they have learned in their project work though several different contests, including demonstrations and illustrated talks. These are show-and-tell type presentations lasting 3-12 minutes in which a 4-H member shows mastery of a subject matter area. Some contest regulations include:

  • Talks must fall between 3-12 minutes for juniors and intermediates, and 5-12 minutes for seniors.
  • Team demonstrations must show active, equal participation of both members.
  • Presentation must fall under an approved category.

Creating a Presentation

  1. Topic Selection- should be age appropriate and preferably related to their 4-H project.
  2. Organizing Thoughts- points should be logical and support the main theme.
  3. Visuals- neat, attractive and easy to read
  4. Practice Strategies- club meetings are a great place to practice and practice makes perfect!

Creating Buy in

Last month our Make a Difference Monday online volunteer training addressed ways for club leaders and parents to get their youth excited about public speaking.  Regional Specialized 4-H Agent Stacey Ellison shared some creative ideas to encourage youth and families to “buy in” to the idea of public speaking:

  • Set expectations
  • Have older youth mentor younger youth
  • Use the team approach
  • Approach it as a game show or cooking show where they can highlight their knowledge or skills

Awards and Recognition

County Events combine two forms of achievement and recognition for youth. These are:

  • Peer Competition (a panel of judges subjectively identifies, in a concrete time and place, the best teams or individuals through ranking)

Through this dual recognition system it would be possible for a blue ribbon presentation to place third in peer competition. All 4-H’ers who achieve blue ribbon standard at the county level move forward to the district level of competition.

If you have a passion for public speaking, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  We are in need of judges for our speech contests as well as speech coaches.  For more information on County Events please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.


Author: Stefanie Prevatt – sduda1@ufl.edu


Stefanie Prevatt

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/25/grow-confidence-with-blue-ribbon-4-h-public-presentations/

Grow an Herb Garden!

Grow an Herb Garden!

Herbs are plants that are grown for the special flavor and aroma of their various parts.  They are used mainly to season, enrich, or otherwise improve the taste or smell of certain foods. Since they are not classified as vegetables.  Since their growth habits and cultural requirements are similar, herbs are often included with vegetables in the garden.herb garden escambia.ifas.ufl

One of the best ways to enjoy year round gardening is to plant an herb garden.  Herbs are easy to grow, they require very little care, and they don’t take up much room.  Even if you don’t have a large backyard, you can still grow herbs successfully.  A small garden bed, a window box, or even a few clay pots, can provide you with fresh, aromatic herbs year round.  Herbs are rapid growers and they have a wide variety of uses in the home.  They can be used either fresh or dried and when dried they’ll keep for long periods of time.

Herbs are fairly easy to grow.  A good garden soil that’s free of weeds and close to a water supply will keep your herbs healthy and growing rapidly.  If you can, plant herbs on a narrow strip of land, preferably at the border of your vegetable garden.  This will keep your herbs easy to reach.  If you scatter them across a wide garden plot, you’ll end up having to walk over the plants to reach and gather them unless you can provide some pathways within your garden.  Of course, if you’re growing herbs in window boxes or clay pots, this won’t be a problem.

Dill is probably the easiest and the hardiest herb you can grow.  It’s usually planted in late fall and early winter because of its ability to withstand cool temperatures.  It may also be planted in the spring.  Dill isn’t particularly fussy about its soil so any all-purpose soil that’s suitable for your regular garden vegetables is fine for dill.  Another plus is that dill is rarely bothered by any diseases or insects.  Fresh dill leaves add excellent flavor to salads and cream sauces, and as a dried herb, dill is well known for the distinct flavor it gives to pickles.

Another popular herb enjoyed by gardeners is sweet basil.  This herb is an annual, and it can be replanted in the same area year after year.  Basil is also used both fresh and dried.  It is widely used as a flavoring for soups, meats and fish.  One word of caution:  don’t over plant this one.  A few basil plants will usually provide more leaves and flowers than an entire family can use in a year.

A few plants, such as sage, balm, and rosemary can be propagated best by cutting.  Stems from new growth or the upper parts of older stem make the best cutting for easiest rooting.  Cut the stem into 3 to 4 inch pieces each containing a set of leaves or leaf buds near the upper end.  To prevent wilting place the cutting in water as soon as they are removed from the plant.  A shallow box filled with 4 to 5 inches of a mixture of clean sand, peat, and perlite makes a good root bed.  Insert the cutting to a depth of one half-to two thirds their length in the moist mixture; then saturate the mix with water.  Place the box in a protected place and keep moist (but not sopping wet) continuously until roots develop in about two weeks.  Continue to water until the cuttings are ready to set out in pots or in the garden.

Such plants as thyme, winter savory and marjoram can be propagated by simple layering, which consist of covering the lower portion of the side branches with soil, leaving much of the top of the plant exposed.  When the covered part of the stem have rooted, they can be cut from the parent plant and set as individual plants.

Older plants of chive, rosemary and tarragon can be multiplied by dividing the crown clumps into separate parts.  These divisions can be set as individual plants.

Mint spreads rapidly by means of surface or underground runners that may grow several feet from the parent plant.  The runners, with roots attached, can be removed and transplanted to other locations

Obviously, the list of herbs which grow very well in Florida is quite lengthy, so we won’t be able to go into all of them here.  If you can keep in mind just a few points about herb gardens, maybe you can enjoy the virtues of some of these herbs yourself.  Remember that herbs are generally very easy to grow and can be adapted to either outdoor garden or indoor container growing conditions.  For just a small amount of effort, growing herbs can provide you with year-round gardening satisfaction.

For more information see UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions.



Author: Roy Carter – rlcarter@ufl.edu

Roy Carter

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/13/grow-an-herb-garden/

Onions: Taste Good, Easy to Grow, and Many Varieties from which to Choose

Onions: Taste Good, Easy to Grow, and Many Varieties from which to Choose

Onions are simple to grow and take up very little space.  This is an easy selection for a beginning gardener.

Onions are simple to grow and take up very little space. This is an easy selection for a beginning gardener.

The winter weather is finally giving way to springtime. While temperatures have been erratic, the rain has been sufficient.
There are still plenty of cool season leafy garden crops in production, but they will not last long as the temperatures rise.

One in-ground selection does offer some options. Onions planted last fall provide the greens and the bulb for a nutritional flavor enhancer from salads to a variety of dishes.

The common onion, Allium cepa, has many varieties within the species, and is grown and consumed worldwide. Garlic, chives and leeks are in the same genus as onions with their use similar to onions, but not nearly as frequent.

This popular and simple to grow fall vegetable easily handled the harshest north Florida winters. The multiple mornings of subfreezing temperatures and hard frost had no appreciable effect on this versatile vegetable.

Most regional soils can provide a good growing medium for onions. The lack of sulfur in the dirt and the excellent drainage are two requirements for producing a potentially mild bulb, depending on the cultivar planted.

The high levels of available phosphate in most soils also are an advantage when growing onions.

The Granex yellow onion cultivar is likely the current favorite among many gardeners. This is the same cultivar which produces some the premium branded mild onions on the market today.

Onions can be planted from August to March, either by seed or bulbs. Two inch spacing between plants provide enough space to grow and does not waste limited cultivation area.

Days to harvest depend on how the onion is to be used. Green onions, sometimes known as scallions, take four months with bulb onions taking five months or longer.In reality, onions are biennial but are usually grown as annuals.

Historical evidence of onion usage dates back 7,000 years to the Bronze Age. It is uncertain if these bulbs were cultivated or collected in the wild.

Their ease of transportation, long shelf life, and many uses made them an ideal candidate for long distance travel and trade in the days before refrigeration and high-speed movement of vegetables. Every culture and nation has its own special uses for onions.

Today’s onions provide the consumer with a combination of excellent nutrition, and good storage and handling qualities while enhancing the flavor of many meats, vegetables and salads. The bulbs come in three colors (red, yellow and white) which add to the visual quality of the dining experience.

Onions deliver vitamins B-6, C and Folic Acid. They are naturally low in sodium and fats, and contain four percent sugar.

Onions have compounds such as favonoids and phenolics which have had numerous positive health benefits attributed to them. Their consumption can be part of a healthy diet.

Properly handled onions have a potentially long storage life. Store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area with 45 to 55 degrees the ideal temperature range.

To learn more about growing onions grown in north Florida, visit your UF/IFAS County Extension office or read the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.


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/2015/03/24/onions-taste-good-easy-to-grow-and-many-varieties-from-which-to-choose/

Flies That Help Our Garden Grow

Hover Fly. Image Credit EDIS, Roy Frye

Hover Fly. Image Credit EDIS, Roy Frye

When someone mentions flies, we think of buzzing around our heads, maggots in decomposing materials, and unclean conditions. It is time to change those thoughts, at least in the garden. There are several flies commonly found in landscapes that provide a valuable service in pest management. The long-legged fly is a beautiful fly that is normally metallic copper, blue or green. It is very slender with long, thin legs and is common in most gardens. The larvae or maggots can be found in moist soil or rotted vegetation and like the adults are predaceous on aphids, thrips, mites, and other small-bodied arthropods. The hover fly is also found around flowers and has the rare ability to hover and fly backwards. Because of their yellow-striped abdomen and similar coloring, these flies are often mistaken for bees. Adults visit flowers for nectar and help with pollination while the larvae primarily feed on aphids.

The tachinid fly, is similar to the house fly in appearance, but is an excellent parasite of pest caterpillars, beetles and bugs. The adults are gray or black in color with stiff hairs on their bodies. The larvae spend their lives feeding inside the bodies of unwanted insects and are so valuable that exotic tachinids have been introduced into North America as part of biological control programs.
Tachinid Fly. Image Credit UF / IFAS Entomology Department

Tachinid Fly. Image Credit UF / IFAS Entomology Department

For more information on beneficial organisms visit Featured Creatures at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/
To help with on-site identification, Beneficial Bugs ID Cards are avail able at http://ifasbooks.ufl.edu

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/10/14/flies-that-help-our-garden-grow/

What Crops to Grow in 2014?

What Crops to Grow in 2014?

Provided by Dr. Nathan Smith, UGA Extension Economist

Provided by Dr. Nathan Smith, UGA Extension Economist

Rome Ethredge, UGA Seminole County Extension Coordinator
Seminole Crop E News

What are our planting options for 2014?  Dr. Nathan Smith, UGA Extension Ag Economist, developed crop economic return estimates for 2014.  These estimates are helpful in making those tough planting decisions for next year.  The chart above is for irrigated crops, and the one below for dryland acres.

For more specifics on corn forecasts for next year, check out:  Corn for 2014?

Provided by Dr. Nathan Smith, UGA Extension Economist

Provided by Dr. Nathan Smith, UGA Extension Economist


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/12/14/what-crops-to-grow-in-2014/

Starting a Fruit Orchard or an Edible Landscape? What Should I Grow? Fall is the Time to Decide !

fruitThe avid gardener has heard on many occasions that fall is the best time of the year to plant trees and shrubs. Correct! Now is the time to start a fruit orchard or an edible landscape.  As the seasons transition into much cooler weather, now is the ideal planting season for hardy trees, shrubs and ground covers (Trawick, 2013). 

In the fall, plants require less water to get established and stress factors associated with planting in full sun are reduced.  Although weather is cool, soil temperatures continue to be warm enough throughout the season to promote root growth.  Thus by planting in the fall, the plant becomes more established by having a better and more vigorous root system than a plant that is planted at springtime.

Deciding what to grow sometimes is limited by what is available in a given area.  Mail and online sales can be tricky if for those unaware about which fruit species perofrms best in Northwest Florida.  To aid in this planning process, Ia link to a University of Florida IFAS publication (HS1218) is included that contains a directory of certified Florida nurseries offering fruit and nut crops.  While it was developed to assist farmers locate fruit and nuts cultivars in Florida, it is helpful to begin thinking about what to grow and where to find it.  The publication also lists recommended fruit and nut species and cultivars for North Florida, including north-central Florida.

 Fruitscapes is a University of Florida website dedicated to fruit trees in Florida, which will increase understanding of fruit tree cultural and pest management requirements for all readers. Also explore “Temperate Fruit Crops” .  Bookmark this webpage and refer to it as needed.  Also, consult with your county extension office in your area.


Author: Alex Bolques – abol@ufl.edu

FAMU/CAFS, Gadsden County Extension, Horticulture and Small Farms Extension Agent

Alex Bolques

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/10/25/starting-a-fruit-orchard-or-an-edible-landscape-what-should-i-grow-fall-is-the-time-to-decide/

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