Tag Archive: Spring

Look Who Is Enjoying the Beach This Spring… An Alligator!

Look Who Is Enjoying the Beach This Spring… An Alligator!

I received a call the week before Earth Day to let me know that an alligator was laying on Pensacola Beach, on the Gulf side, near the gate to Ft. Pickens. This is certainly not something you see every day.

Alligator basking on the Escambia River; photo: Molly O’Connnor

Two questions came up…

One, Is this weird?

Two, Can alligators tolerate salt water?

Let us start with question 1 – is this weird?

Actually, it is not as weird as you may think. Alligators have been found on barrier islands of the northern Gulf of Mexico for decades.  I myself have seen them at Big Sabine (though it has been many years since I saw one).  As a student at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, we found them on Dauphin Island and on Petit Bois Island in Mississippi; I am sure they are on Horn Island in Mississippi as well.  It is listed on the Gulf Islands National Seashore guide as one of the animals you may encounter in the park.  They have been reported in the dune lakes of Walton County, and I have seen them at St. Andrew’s State Park in Panama City.  So yea, they are found in our coastal areas – even the barrier islands.  However, they do prefer the freshwater bodies of water on these islands.  Which brings up the second question…

 

 

Question 2 – can they tolerate salt water?

The quick answer is yes, for a period. There are several reptiles in Florida that can tolerate periods of seawater. Those who spend long periods in brackish to marine waters have lachrymal glands to remove and excrete salt from their blood stream.  This keeps the cells of their body in a more “fresh” environment and thus, can tolerate salt water for longer periods.  Marine turtles, the most salt tolerant of all reptiles, excrete this salt through these glands located near their eyes.  This gives them the appearance of “tears” or “crying” when they are on land.  They are actually secreting salt from their body.

 

Alligators do not have well developed lachrymal glands. However, their tough skin is impermeable to absorbing seawater.  They have thinner areas of skin where saltwater can enter and of course they can swallow seawater.  Because of this, they cannot tolerate seawater very long and must eventually return to freshwater.

 

Alligators, like most Florida reptiles, do have to bask on land to warm their bodies in the morning. This is needed for proper digestion as well as other functions.  It is also another way that alligators can avoid salty water for periods of time.  I understand the alligator still had the faint yellow cross bands on its tail, indicating a younger animal, who may have wondered into the wrong location.

 

As far as being a danger to humans, you have to “read” the animal. Wild alligators have a natural fear of humans and would prefer to avoid us.  According to the FWC, there have been 388 alligator attacks on Floridians since 1948, about 6 per year.  263 of those were considered “major” attacks, about 3 per year.  24 were fatal, about 0.4 per year (1 every 3 years).  Wild alligators can be a problem if

  1. The animal is very large – it will consider larger prey like humans
  2. Attacking a pet (even on a leash) and indirectly attacking the pet owner
  3. Swimming in bodies of water with large alligators, especially at night (when they most often feed)
  4. The person was near a nest or young – alligators are very defensive of their young and nest

Any alligator can become a problem when fed. They lose their natural fear of humans and see us as a source of easy food – though they more often go after our pets, which are easier; they are more willing to approach us looking for an opportunity.  Thus, is against Florida law to feed alligators.

 

I am not sure whether the alligator seen that week was acting aggressively or not but certainly could have been a problem. A “nuisance” alligator is defined by FWC as one being larger than four feet and acting aggressively towards humans or pets.  If this is the case, they have a team of trappers who will come to collect the animal.  It is not recommended that individuals try to capture these animals.  As with snakes, many people bitten by alligators were trying to either catch them or kill them.  It is best to leave this to the professionals.

 

Though it is a bit nerve racking to see an alligator on the beach, they are part of Florida’s environment. Like sharks swimming along our shores, alligators should not be approached but rather contact a local authority to alert them of the possible danger.

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/29/look-who-is-enjoying-the-beach-this-spring-an-alligator/

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/

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.

 

 

PG

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/

Warm Winter Influences Spring Bloom Times

Warm Winter Influences Spring Bloom Times

 

Photo caption: Local azaleas were prematurely blooming

This winter’s exceptional weather has deceived some popular springtime ornamental shrubs and fruit trees into flowering prematurely. Azaleas, for example, began blooming because of winter temperatures mush warmer than average.

There are number of variables which determine when a plant will bloom each year, including the sun, water, and air temperature. To understand why the plants bloom, there should be an understanding of “photoperiodism”, meaning the effects of light and darkness on some plant species.

Certain plants respond to the day length. Some are long day plants which flower in spring and summer, and some are short day plants flowering in fall and winter. Then there are plants which will bloom in any season, identified as day neutral plants.

Long and short day plants will not be directly affected by prevailing weather conditions. For example chrysanthemums, which are short day plant naturally bloom in winter.

These plants can be forced to bloom in summer by keeping them in a dark room for 12 hours a day for several weeks. Many nurseries supplying florist uses this technique and utilize greenhouses with blackout systems. They also use grow lights to produce early season blooms on spring/summer flowers sold for Valentine Day.

For those neutral day plants there is “vernalization”. These plants must be exposed to cold weather to some greater or lesser amount.

Most temperate fruit trees need exposure to cold temperatures. When winters are too mild or contain intermittent warmer periods, dormancy is prematurely terminated and bud break starts.

Most of the exposed buds of these fruit trees can survive freezing temperatures, but many of their flowers will be killed if exposed to a late arriving hard freeze or frost.

After the freeze most of the flowers may appear normal, but the center part of the flower where the reproductive organs reside are killed and result in no fruit formation. Covering plants in-bloom provides some freeze protection.

With a warm early winter, like December 2016, there has been irregular and premature flowering.

Another consideration is fruit trees or shrubs pruned too early winter. Warm weather combined with the pruning stimulates the growth of new shoots.

There is a hormone produced in lateral or terminal shoot buds which travels down the shoots inhibiting their growth. When the terminal shoots are pruned too early the growth inhibiting hormone is removed.

The warm days during winter may cause these newly pruned plants to form new shoots. The new growth is tender and very susceptible to freeze injuries. Pruning in late January or February will likely deliver the best results.

For shrubs like azaleas and gardenias, flower buds are set in summer, long before they can be identified by most people. Losing the buds, no matter the cause, after midsummer drastically decreases the number of flowers the following spring.

To learn more about the spring bloom for 2017, visit the UF/IFAS  County Extension website

By: Gohar Umar, FAMU Extension Horticulture Specialist, and Les Harrison, Wakulla County Extension Director

 Photo caption: Local azaleas were prematurely blooming

PG

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/2017/02/03/warm-winter-influences-spring-bloom-times/

Upcoming Events: Spring into Gardening – Solutions !

Upcoming Events: Spring into Gardening – Solutions !

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/27/upcoming-events-spring-into-gardening-solutions/

Spring Growth Differences in Bahiagrass Varieties

Spring Growth Differences in Bahiagrass Varieties

Let me begin with a disclaimer; this article contains no research data and no recommendations, but only some observations that I thought might be useful to those of you thinking about perennial forage options.

All of the pictures included in this article were taken in the Forage Demonstration Garden at the Washington County Extension Office in Chipley, on May 11th. Similar gardens can be found at most of the extension offices throughout the Panhandle. These gardens were installed last summer giving all the plants a chance to get acclimated and established prior to going into winter dormancy. As the different forage varieties came out of dormancy and started growing this spring they each performed quite differently. These varietal differences are to be expected but they are vividly displayed in the demonstration gardens where multiple varieties are grown in such close proximity.

Six bahiagrass varieties in the Forage Demonstration Garden in Washington County. From lower left to right the varieties are; Argentine, Sand Mountain, Pensacola, Tifton 9, TifQuik, UF Riata. The rest of the front row are harvested limpograss varieties. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Six bahiagrass varieties in the Forage Demonstration Garden in Washington County.
From lower left to right the varieties are; Argentine, Sand Mountain, Pensacola, Tifton 9, TifQuik, UF Riata. The rest of the front row are harvested limpograss varieties.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

The variation in the forage yields of bahiagrass varieties are largely a product of the length of their growing season. Newer varieties have been selected to have less sensitivity to day length resulting in earlier emergence in the spring and longer persistence in the fall. At the peak of the growing season all of the varieties grow at approximately the same rate. There are six varieties of bahiagrass in the garden (Argentine, Sand Mountain, Pensacola, TifQuik, Tifton 9, and UF Riata).  A quick glance at their growth thus far this spring bares out the differences in length of growing season.  While increased yields are generally a good thing in forage varieties, on some operations longer growing seasons may not be. As previously stated, there is no recommendation here, simply observations and food for thought.

Which of these varieties appear to provide the earliest available grazing? Which of these varieties might work well with overseeded winter annuals? Questions like these need to be addressed when selecting a forage variety. Understanding the differences in the varieties is the only way to accurately answer the questions that are key to your operation. For a more in-depth and scientific comparison of the common bahiagrass varieties see What’s the Best Grass for Pastures in the Panhandle. To see the varieties in person contact your county’s Ag Extension Agent.

Note the additional growth exhibited by TifQuik when compared to Tifton 9. TifQuik has been selected fro less day length sensitivity hence a longer growing season. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Note the additional growth exhibited by TifQuik when compared to Tifton 9. TifQuik has been selected for less day length sensitivity,  hence a longer growing season.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Close-ups of three of the six varieties. All images were taken on the same day and all varieties have been managed exactly the same. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Close-ups of Argentine, Pensacola, and Tifton 9 bahiagrass taken on May 11, 2016. All varieties have been managed exactly the same.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Close-ups of three of the six varieties. All images were taken on the same day and all varieties have been managed exactly the same. Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Close-ups of TifQuik, Sand Mountain, and Riata bahiagrass taken on May 11, 2016. All varieties have been managed exactly the same.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

 

PG

Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/14/spring-growth-differences-in-bahiagrass-varieties/

Cool, Wet Spring Favors Azalea and Camellia Leaf Gall

Cool, Wet Spring Favors Azalea and Camellia Leaf Gall

Do you have azaleas or camellias with leaves that are thickened, curled and waxy in appearance? This is fairly common this year and is caused by a fungus.

Camellia leaf gall on Sasanqua Camellia. Note swollen, malformed leaves. Photo credit: Larry Williams

Camellia leaf gall on Sasanqua Camellia. Note swollen, malformed leaves. Photo credit: Larry Williams

Exobasidium vaccinii is a fungus that causes leaves, and in some cases flower petals, to enlarge abnormally and is commonly referred to as azalea leaf and flower gall.

Infected azalea and camellia leaves become large and distorted. Eventually a white powder covers the galls. The white growth consists of spores, which is how the fungus reproduces. Galls ultimately turn brown and harden. Not every leaf will be infected.

The disease relies on airborne spores produced in the whitish mold on the surface of galls in late spring to early summer to reproduce. Some plant pathologists believe that once the spores are released, they are blown and washed to leaf and flower buds where they cause new infections. Galls then form the following spring. Other plant pathologists think that the spores are produced the following year from the old dried, brown galls that fell to the ground around infected plants the previous year. In spring, the spores blow and splash onto new leaves and petals as they emerge causing infection. One or both lines of thought may be true. But in either case, it’s important to remove and dispose of infected leaves before they turn white with spores.

Once you see evidence of infected leaves, it’s too late for chemical control. Besides, there currently is no effective or practical fungicide to control this disease in home landscapes. But you can reduce the amount of infection the following year by pruning infected leaves and throwing them away before spores develop. After removing infected leaves with galls, never leave them on the ground around the plants.

It’s best to bury, burn or place infected leaves in a plastic bag and throw them away. This disease is more severe during a cool, wet spring, which we experienced this year. It’s advisable to not add to the problem by artificially providing the “wet weather” the spores need by frequently using an overhead sprinkler and keeping the foliage wet in the spring during disease development. This is exactly what this and many other plant diseases need – wet conditions. It’s best to water established landscape plants on an as needed basis.

In the home landscape, the fungus does not cause any long-term problems for the plant. It just makes the plant’s leaves look ugly. Infected leaves will usually fall prematurely.

PG

Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/13/cool-wet-spring-favors-azalea-and-camellia-leaf-gall/

Grazing Management during Spring Transition

Figure 1. Thick stands of clover and cool-season grass during the spring-summer transition might hurt the regrowth of warm-season perennials in overseeded pastures. Adjust stocking rate and graze off the cool-season annuals to allow warm-season perennials to regrow. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Figure 1. Thick stands of clover and cool-season grass during the spring transition might hurt the regrowth of warm-season perennials in overseeded pastures. Adjust stocking rate and graze off the cool-season annuals to allow warm-season perennials to regrow. Photo credit: Jose Dubeux

Spring is an important time of year to manage grazing of pastures. During the spring, warm-season perennials start to emerge from their cool-season dormancy. If you overseeded your pastures with cool-season forages, you need to manage the competition that happens during this transition period. Spring is also the prime season for growth of annual ryegrass and clovers.  Solid, thick stands of clover and annual ryegrass (Figure 1 above) can actually injure warm-season perennial stands. It is a good practice to stock these overseeded pastures heavily and graze off the cool-season annuals by the end of March or early April to help reduce competition, as the warm-season perennials emerge. Once the cool-season forage is grazed off, the warm season forages can more rapidly emerge and be more competitive, until the the cool-season forages phase out.

Warm-season perennials do vary regarding spring growth. There are early (e.g. UF-Riata) and late (e.g. Argentine) varieties of bahiagrass and bermudagrass (eg. Jiggs earlier than Tifton-85). Early varieties will suffer more from competition during this transition period. These varieties start to regrow earlier in the spring, when the cool-season forages are still in their prime.  The more the grass struggles the more root reserves will be depleted, leading to potential stand losses. Late varieties will start re-growing later, likely reducing this problem, however, there may still be a need to manage the grazing in order to minimize the competition. Increasing the grazing pressure during late March through early April will allow warm-season perennials to emerge and get off to a faster start. In Figure 2 below, you can see all of the forages: clovers, small grains, perennial peanut and bahiagrass that are all vying  for nutrients and moisture at this time of year.

 Figure 2. Spring-summer transition from clover/small grains to perennial peanut/bahiagrass pastures. Photo credit: Erick Santos

Figure 2. Spring-summer transition from clover/small grains to perennial peanut/bahiagrass pastures. Photo credit: Erick Santos

Another key aspect during the transition from cold to warm temperatures is the increase in soil nutrients, because of soil organic matter (SOM) mineralization. This is especially true in soils with greater organic matter. It is not a good practice to overgraze the warm-season perennials at any time, but particularly at the beginning of the grazing season. This is the time of the year when emerging grasses are using their stored reserves for new growth. If you overgraze during this time, those reserves could be depleted to the point of stand loss. You must allow time for the plant to produce new leaves and capture nutrients to promote more rapid growth. Do not lose the summer grazing season in the first month! Utilize lenient grazing pressure until it has formed enough leaf area to rebuild reserves. Plants need to intercept sunlight in order to grow and they can’t do that without leaves. After enough leaf area is formed, then you can increase the stocking rate and reap the benefits of good grazing management. Fertilization is always important in order to meet nutrient demand by plants, so a soil test should be performed in the winter. Spring fertilization will enhance plant growth so they reach the rapid plant growing phase earlier.

Take-Home Message

Grazing management during the spring-summer transition is key to persistence of warm-season perennials. Reducing competition from winter annuals as warm-season perennials are emerging will improve their persistence. Limited grazing pressure until warm-season perennials have produced adequate leaf area to restore reserves will boost productivity for the remainder of the season. Don’t weaken your pastures in the first month of grazing!

 

For more information on this topic, please see the following publication:

Grazing Management Concepts and Practices

 

PG

Author: dubeux – dubeux@ufl.edu

dubeux

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/15/grazing-management-during-spring-transition/

Spring versus Summer Weaning for Fall Calving Cows

Spring versus Summer Weaning for Fall Calving Cows

Ona Cows

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Cow calf producers with fall-calving cows have options as to the optimum date to wean the calves.  Traditionally fall-born calves are weaned at an older age than spring-born calves.  Late summer grass will usually allow cows to regain body condition before the next calving season begins in early September.  Questions may arise about any benefit to weaning the calves at 7 months of age in April rather than wait until early July when they are 9 to 10 months of age.

Oklahoma State University animal scientists evaluated weaning dates of 158 Angus fall-calving cows over a 4 year period.  Cows were allowed to nurse their calves for about 210 days (April Weaning) or 300 days (July Weaning).  All cows calved in September or October and were weaned in mid-April (April Wean) or mid-July (July Wean).  April-weaned young cows had greater re-breeding percentages (98.4% versus 89.3%) than July weaned young cows.  However, there was no advantage in the re-breeding performance of April-weaned mature cows  compared to July-weaned mature cows (90.2% versus 96.7%).  April-weaned cows were heavier and fleshier at calving than July weaned cows.

Calves weaned in July were 90 days older and 204 pounds heavier (642 lb versus 438 lb) when weaned than were the April-weaned calves.  The April-weaned calves were allowed to graze native pasture after weaning and weighed 607 pounds in mid July.  For most years, it appears more advantageous to delay weaning of calves born to cows 4 years or older to July, while considering April weaning for cows 3 years of age or younger.     Young cows in marginal (BCS=4) or thinner body condition would benefit from April weaning of the fall-born calves.

Source: Hudson and co-workers. Journal of Animal Science 2010 vol. 88:1577

 

PG

Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/02/spring-versus-summer-weaning-for-fall-calving-cows/

Start Planting the Spring Vegetable Garden

Start Planting the Spring Vegetable Garden

With weather warming up and daylight savings time right around the corner, we are in the midst of prime time for planting spring vegetable gardens. Gardeners routinely growing vegetable gardens should note that it is best to rotate plant families when planning a vegetable garden. See the table below to determine which families should be rotated.

* okra is not a member of the solanaceae, but may be included as part of the solanaceae rotation

* okra is not a member of the solanaceae, but may be included as part of the solanaceae rotation

SONY DSCVegetable gardens should be located on sites receiving at least 6 hours of sun per day, consisting of well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Since most Florida soils are low in organic matter, composted organic matter should be added before or at planting time. Uncomposted organic matter should be mixed into soil one month before planting. Vegetable garden pH should be between 5.8 and 6.3 to maximize absorption of nutrients. If it is lower, addition of agricultural grade lime or dolomite will be necessary. Obtain a soil test from your local extension office to determine if liming is needed.

Once soil test results are available, fertilizer amounts will be able to be determined. Many gardeners use commonly available fertilizers such as 10-10-10 or 8-8-8, with micro nutrients, following directions on the package to determine the amount to apply. The soil test will determine if phosphorous is needed, so follow those results when choosing a fertilizer. When fertilizing, broadcast the fertilizer over the garden area at pre-plant, then apply as needed throughout the season. This will likely consist of 2-3 light applications applied beyond the reach of the outer leaves.

Irrigation of vegetable gardens is best done with drip, so that fungal disease is not spread by getting leaves wet. An added benefit of drip irrigation is a reduction in the quantity of water needed. Gardens may also be top dressed by mulch or organic matter to aid in water conservation and soil temperature reduction.

In March, bush beans, pole beans, lima beans, cantaloupes, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers southern peas, sweet potatoes, summer squash, and tomatoes may be planted. Some crops grow easier from transplants, while others grow better from direct seeding.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and sweet potatoes are best established by transplanting. Cucumbers, cantaloupes, summer squash, beans, peas and okra are best established by direct seeding. Summer squash may be transplanted, but is more vigorous and productive when direct seeded.

Be sure to choose varieties adapted to North Florida by consulting the charts on pages 8, 9 and 10 of the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/12/start-planting-the-spring-vegetable-garden/

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