Tag Archive: Tips

Seven Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Seven Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Jazz up traditional peanut butter sandwiches with raisins or carrot straws.

Now that school is back in session, are your struggling to find healthy and safe lunches to pack?  Do you cringe with every peanut butter and jelly sandwich you make?  If you are like me, finding healthy lunch time meals that are packed with nutrition, offer some variety, and won’t end up in the trash requires planning, creativity, and lots of energy!

  1. Get children involved! Even young school-age children can help make their own lunch.  Give children healthy choices and let them decide lunch menus.  Children may be more willing to eat the food you pack if they have been involved in the process.
  2. Dunk it and dip it. Children love finger foods they can dip.  Serve raw vegetables with hummus or fresh fruit with yogurt.
  3. Offer some “fun foods.” Let children choose some low-calorie fun foods.  Healthy or low-calorie options for the sweet or crunchy tooth include pretzels, plain popcorn, mini rice cakes, low-fat pudding, a miniature chocolate bar, or a rice crispy treat.
  4. Jazz up boring favorites. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a nutritious favorite.  Liven them up with carrot straws or raisins.  Add color and nutrition to sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, or sliced vegetables.
  5. Keep lunches safe. Make sandwiches the night before and freeze them.  Freeze juice boxes or water bottles to keep foods cool and for a cool lunchtime beverage.  Experiment to be sure there is enough time before lunch for the items to thaw.
  6. Re-think leftovers. Even if children don’t have access to a microwave to reheat food from last night’s dinner, some leftovers work for lunch, too. Try cold pizza, meat sliced for a sandwich, or pasta salad.
  7. Skip the fuss and sign up for the National School Lunch Program. While some schools may offer free and reduced-price lunches to eligible families, the school lunch program is for everyone.  School lunches provide low cost, balanced meals that follow USDA dietary guidelines.  Take a break from packing lunch and check out your school’s lunch menu.

Turkey Rolls:
2 flour tortillas
2 tsp mayonnaise
2 slices thinly sliced deli turkey
½ cup shredded lettuce
2 Tbsp shredded cheese, any type

Lay out tortillas. Spread with mayonnaise. Layer turkey slice, lettuce and cheese onto tortillas. Roll up and wrap. Makes 2 servings.

One serving provides 218 calories, 9 g total fat, 20 g carbohydrate and 14 g protein.
Exchanges – 1 bread, 2 meats, 2 fats.

Recipe source:  Janis G. Hunter, HGIC Nutrition Specialist, and Katherine L. Cason, Professor, Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University, New 08/08. Revised 09/11. Image added 8/15.  HGIC 4114



Author: Kendra Zamojski – hughson@ufl.edu

Kendra Zamojski is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent III in the Northwest District.

Kendra Zamojski

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/24/seven-tips-for-a-healthy-school-lunch/

Summer Irrigation Tips

July’s hot summer weather has given way to August’s 31 days of what will likely be temperatures and humidity equally elevated and intense. Wishes for November’s cooler thermometer reading are already creeping into daily conversations. The lawns and gardens in Wakulla County have rains as a mitigating factor to counteract the wilting potential of normal to excessive temperature readings. Unfortunately the arrival of water from above is not on a set or easily predictable schedule.

Traditionally, summer is the wettest season in Florida, with more than half of the annual rainfall occurring during the June to September “wet season”. Florida’s highest average annual rainfall occurs in the Panhandle with averages exceeding 60 inches per year. The Pensacola and Tallahassee weather stations are listed among the ten “wettest” stations in the nation. Still, this pattern of seasonal precipitation can vary greatly between locations, years and even days.  This variability often results in the need to water the lawn, landscape and garden. By following a few guidelines, you can produce the best results for plants under stress and conserve a vital and limited resource.

It is most efficient to apply water between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. for several reasons. Only water that is in contact with roots can be absorbed by the plant. If water is applied after 10:00 a.m., a substantial portion of it will evaporate before it reaches the roots; more will then need to be applied and this resource’s productivity will be reduced. Never water late in the afternoon as evaporation will still be a problem, and wet turf and plants will invite a variety of fungal diseases to flourish as night settles.

Photo Courtesy: Les Harrison, UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension

In the case of landscapes and gardens, water should be applied only when the moisture in the root zone system has been depleted to an unacceptable level, usually by 1/2 to 2/3 of the stored soil-water. There are several ways to determine when the soil-water reservoir has been depleted beyond an acceptable level.  The simplest method is a visual inspection of the turf or plants. Common symptoms of water stress include leaf color changes to a bluish-gray tint, footprints which linger long after being pressed into the grass and curled or folded leaf blades. Be sure the sprinklers are delivering water to the target area as water which misses the soil and is applied to hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks will be wasted. It also may pose an environmental problem in the form of runoff.  Surface runoff that flows past the landscape will usually reach streams, ponds, or the Gulf of Mexico. If it picks up pollutants along the way, they too will reach the surface water bodies. 

Over watering can be just as damaging as too little water. Excessive irrigation water can infiltrate the ground and reach groundwater aquifers. This issue is complicated when groundwater runs close to the surface. Excessive nutrients or pollutants can be discharged into surface bodies or move vertically into the deeper land layers.  The connected springs and sinkholes in Wakulla County make the movement of surface water a common concern.  Responsible and efficient irrigation will have positive effects far beyond the front yard.

To learn more about the effective use of water in Wakulla County’s landscapes, contact your UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://wakulla.ifas.ufl.edu/


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/2017/08/12/summer-irrigation-tips/

Tips for Successful Pond Weed Management

Tips for Successful Pond Weed Management

Weeds can transform a pond from a source of enjoyment to a source of frustration. Utilizing a logical, systematic approach to aquatic weed management can greatly increase your likelihood of success.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Every year as the temperatures get warmer the number of calls related to weed problems in fish ponds increases. That was the case this year also, with one notable difference; the calls started coming in March and April, not June and July as they would during a “typical” year. Aquatic weeds typically die back or have greatly reduced growth rates during the winter months.  This past winter was very mild, however, so many aquatic weeds got an early start this spring.  So, what does this mean for pond owners? Whatever level of weed pressure you’ve had in recent years will likely be worse this year. With that in mind, the following are a few suggestions to help you keep your aquatic weed issues under control or, if it’s too late for that, find more success in you control efforts.

Limit nutrients entering you pond

If you are still in a position where you are preventing aquatic weed problems, congratulations. Perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to prevent or limit the severity of aquatic weed infestations is to limit the amount of nutrients that enter you pond. In many instances, aquatic plant growth is limited only by nutrient availability, when nutrients like Nitrogen and Phosphorus are introduced to a pond plant and algal growth can increase dramatically.

Nutrients can come from many sources: fertilizers applied close to the water’s edge, livestock manure, grass clippings and yard waste discarded in the pond, and fish feedd are common sources of nutrients that find their way into farm ponds. Nutrients are often washed into ponds via runoff from the surrounding landscape. A barrier of vegetation around the shoreline can help lessen the amount of runoff that enters the pond. Limiting the amount of nutrients available, and their ability to enter your pond will go a long way to minimize the aggravations associated with aquatic weeds.

Keeping shorelines completely void of vegetation might be more convenient for fishing but bare banks do nothing to prevent run off from entering the pond. Allowing the grass to grow immediately adjacent to the water’s edge would be preferable.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Monitor your pond closely and address changes quickly

As a pond owner, you, most likely, see your pond more often than anybody else. This puts you in the best position to notice small changes. Aquatic weeds can be dealt with fairly easily and with relatively little expense, if they are addressed when the weeds are new and the infestation is small. This is in stark contrast to the effort and expense that are often associated with cleaning up a severe infestation. Anything that is different is worth noticing and monitoring. Management practices should quickly be applied to any new weeds that show signs of spreading. This close monitoring is also essential after problem weeds have been managed to help insure re-infestation does not occur.

Identify problem weeds – Don’t guess

I wish this suggestion went without saying, but experience has taught me that it is not unheard of for pond owners to undertake a course of action without knowing precisely what weed(s) they are up against. As previously eluded to, aquatic weed control efforts are not easy and can be quite expensive. Don’t risk wasting time and money on a control plan that is not built on solid facts. Take the time to get all the weeds you are fighting identified. Effective management plans are very specific. There is no, best herbicide for all weeds. To further complicate matters, multiple species of aquatic weeds frequently grow mixed together. All problem species will need to be identified and accounted for in the management plan for satisfactory results to be achieved.

Two images of a common combination of aquatic weeds in Washington County, spikerush and filamentous algae. Correctly identifying both of these species is key to developing an effective management plan. Different herbicides would be needed to control each species and grass carp show very different preferences for each species.  Photo Credit: Mark Mauldin

Evaluate all control options

You noticed a new problem weed; you got the weed identified; now you want to do something about it. With aquatic weeds, like most problems in life, you have options. For a given weed scenario there are control measures that will work well, some that won’t work at all, and many that fall somewhere in between. As a pond owner you must balance the effectiveness of a given control option with the associated expense and effort. Control options could include physical removal of the weeds, introduction of herbivorous fish (triploid grass carp), the use of an aquatic herbicide(s), or any combination thereof.

More often than not, my conversations with clients regarding aquatic weed control options, center on the use of aquatic herbicides. There are many products to choose from that vary considerably in their efficacy on specific weed species, price, local availability, and ease of use. Selecting the correct herbicide is crucial. Just because a product is on the shelf at the local retailer does not mean that is the best option for the situation you are facing.


Note: Even if an appropriate herbicide is selected it must be applied correctly in order to be effective. Carefully read and follow all label instructions when using any herbicide. The keys to effective herbicide use are often in the application information provided in the label.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Aquatic weed management is complicated. There are more factors to consider those addressed here. Chances are that if you own a pond, you will have to deal with aquatic weeds this year. Don’t let the situation overwhelm you, approach it with a well thought out plan. There are resources available to assist you; take advantage of them. There are links to a variety of online resources throughout this article. Additionally, your county’s UF/IFAS Extension agent(s) are available to provide you additional information on any of the topic addressed and help you develop a plan for addressing your aquatic weed issues.

For more information related to this topic, use the links to the following publications:

Weed Control in Florida Ponds

Southern Region Aquatic Weed Management: Herbicides

Grass Carp: A Fish for Biological Management of Aquatic Weeds in Florida



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.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/04/tips-for-successful-pond-weed-management/

Cattle Fly Control Tips

Cattle Fly Control Tips

A cloud of horn flies (the numerous white specks), Haematobia irritans irritans (Linnaeus), feeding on cows. Photo credit: Lane Foil, Louisiana State University. Source:  Horn Fly Haematobia irritans irritans

Dr. Lew Strickland, Extension Veterinarian,Department of Animal Science,University of Tennessee

Now that warm weather has arrived, everyone will start to focus on all the chores that have to be done to “gear” up for the upcoming season, including fly control. Fly infestation reduces performance and the economic loss from each horn fly biting an animal 30 times/day can also be substantial.
Certain flies are responsible for spreading diseases such as pink eye and potentially Anaplasmosis and or Bovine Leukosis, so to decrease disease risk to your livestock here are a few tips to reduce the flies’ impact on your farm’s production.
  • Horn fly. Photo credit: J. F. Butler, University of Florida. Source:  External Parasites on Beef Cattle

    Feed a larvicide or an insect growth regulator early in the season starting 30 days before flies typically emerge. Continue to feed until 30 days after a killing frost.

  • Pour-ons. During spring turnout time, you can use a product that is labeled to control internal parasites, as these products also have efficacy against horn flies. Later in the year, use products only labeled for flies and/or lice. Using pour-on dewormers multiple times throughout the year could lead to internal parasite resistance issues.
  • Dust bags/cattle rubs. The advantage of a dust bag or rub is that, if placed at a site where all cattle must use it (watering trough, mineral lick), it can provide economical control of face and horn flies. Proper placement and keeping it charged with insecticide are the keys. Also, strips that can be mounted to mineral feeders can also be an efficient way to apply insecticide to the face of cattle.
  • Topical sprays. Timely application of fly sprays or paint ball style packets throughout the year can be effective in reducing the fly population, but can be time-consuming if cattle are grazing an extensive area.
  • Fly tags. The key to using tags is to wait until you have 200 flies/cow to place the tags. If applied too early, there will be decreased efficiency. Use pyrethroid tags for two consecutive years, then switch to an organophosphate tag for one year to reduce pyrethroid resistance. Also, there are new generation fly tags that contain different insecticides and are quite helpful in controlling fly populations. Always follow label directions on the number of tags/cow. Be sure to remove tags at the end of the season to prevent resistance problems.
  • Don’t mix classes of chemicals in the pour-ons, topicals, and fly tags within the same year. Use the same class 1-2 years, then rotate.
  • Fly predators. Not all flies are bad. Fly predators, nature’s own self-inflicted enemy, can be your ally in the fight against pest flies. These are tiny, non-stinging, non-biting wasps that feed on fly larvae and interrupt the breeding cycle of flies, destroying the next generation of flies before they hatch into disease-carrying adults. These predators can be used in areas where cattle tend to congregate and manure tends to accumulate, just apply the predators to manure piles in these areas. Replenish your fly predator supply once a month from April to September; otherwise the fly life cycle will only be broken for a few weeks. (Source:  Chris Carter, Southern States)
A multifaceted approach is best for attaining your goal of “controlling” flies, so using just one strategy from the above list probably won’t give you the results you anticipate. Since there are so many products on the market for fly control, work with your Extension Agent or veterinarian to develop a plan to control flies that best suits your cattle operation.

For more information on this subject, and control recommendations in Florida, use the following publication links:

Horn Fly Haematobia irritans irritans

Horn Fly Management


Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/cattle-fly-control-tips/

Food Safety Tips for the Perfect Summer Picnic

Food Safety Tips for the Perfect Summer Picnic

There are few things more iconic during summer than a picnic.  There’s just something fresh and fun about sharing a meal in the park or at the beach with family and friends.  But just because you’re enjoying the warm, gentle breeze doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind.  By following a few simple food safety tips, you can ensure that your perfectly planned picnic doesn’t make you sick.

Planning it out.  Not all foods are picnic-appropriate.  Anything that requires a lot of perishable ingredients and/or a lot of preparation should be avoided.  Stick with foods that require little or no cooking and that contain just a few ingredients.  Foods such as fruits and vegetables (especially whole ones), hard cheeses, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, bread, and crackers are ideal picnic items.  Anything made with commercially processed custard or mayonnaise will stay safe as long as they are kept cold.

Packing it up. Use a cooler, if possible, and store cold foods together so they can help each other stay colder longer.  Use ice or frozen gel packs to help keep foods cold.  Pack foods directly from the refrigerator into the cooler; don’t leave them sitting out before packing.  Store ready-to-eat foods separately from raw meats.  If packing up hot foods, be sure to keep them in a thermos or other insulated dish.  DO NOT store them in the same container as the cold foods.  Paper towels, disposable utensils, and a food thermometer are ideal picnic accessories.  Remember, keep cold foods below 41 degrees F and hot foods above 135 degrees F.  Do your best to keep the cooler away from direct sunlight by storing it in the shade and be sure to replenish the ice and/or frozen gel packs when they melt.  Consider packing drinks in a separate cooler, as they are consumed more frequently; this will reduce the exposure of food items to warm air until you’re ready to eat.

Preparing the feast.  All food items should be kept at the proper temperature at all times.  When cooking raw meats, use separate plates for the raw and cooked products and clean and sanitize utensils between uses.  Cook meat to the proper recommended internal temperature to ensure doneness and safety.  Click here for a list of recommended internal cooking temperatures.

Presenting the bounty.  Discard any perishable foods that have been left out for longer than two hours.  In really hot weather (generally above 90 degrees F), foods should not be left out longer than one hour.  Keep food protected in storage containers such as coolers and lidded dishes to minimize contamination from flies and other pests.  Serve small portions of food at a time and keep the rest in the cooler.

Picnics are an important part of summer and with just a little bit of planning and a few useful tips and tools, they can be safe and delicious for everyone!

Source: Beaugh, Kristina. “Checklist for the Perfect Summer Picnic,” Foodsafety.gov blog, June 16, 2015.  URL: https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2015/06/picnic.html.



Author: Samantha Kennedy, M.S. – skennedy@ufl.edu

Samantha is the Family & Consumer Sciences agent in Wakulla County. She has worked for UF/IFAS Extension since 2004. She has a B.S. in both Microbiology & Cell Science and Nutritional Sciences and an M.S. in Agricultural Education, both from UF. Her areas of expertise are nutrition, health & wellness, chronic disease prevention, food safety, disaster preparedness, and financial literacy. You can reach her via email at skennedy@ufl.edu or by calling (850) 926-3931.

Samantha Kennedy, M.S.

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/food-safety-tips-for-the-perfect-summer-picnic/

Tips on How to Manage Water in Your Landscape

Tips on How to Manage Water in Your Landscape



Although we’ve received much-needed rainfall of late, it’s still a struggle to manage moisture levels in our Panhandle landscapes this summer. During wet summer seasons, one recurring issue is that watering plants too much can have as much of an ill effect as not watering enough.

Shallow rooted plants, as well as newly set plants can easily become water stressed. Some people lightly water their plants each day. With this practice, one is only watering an inch or less of the topsoil. Most roots are deeper than this. Instead of a light watering every day, soaking the plant a few times a week works better. A soil that has been soaked will retain moisture for several days. This is a very good practice for young plants. In contrast, some people soak their plants to often. This essential drowns the roots by eliminating vital oxygen in the root zone. This can also cause root rot. Leaves that turn brown at the tips or edges, as well as leaf drop, are displaying signs of overwatering.


The following are tips from the UF/IFAS Florida-Friendly Landscape Program. These tips will help conserve water by providing best management practices for your landscape:


  • Choose the right plant for the right place: Be sure to place plants in your landscape that match existing environmental conditions.
  • Water Thoughtfully: Water early in the morning and water when plants and turfgrass start to wilt. Refrain from watering in the late afternoon or evening. This is when insects and diseases are most active.
  • Perform regular irrigation maintenance: Remember, an irrigation system is only effective if it is maintained regularly. Check for and repair leaks. If using a pop-up heads for turfgrass, point heads away from driveways and sidewalks.
  • Calibrate turfgrass irrigation system: Ideal amount of water to apply to turfgrass is ½”- ¾”. A simple test can be done to calibrate. Place a coffee or tuna cans throughout the landscape. Run the irrigation system for 30 minutes. Average the depth of the water containers. Adjust running time to apply the ½”- ¾” rate.
  • Use micro-irrigation in gardens and individual plants: Drip, or microspray irrigation systems apply water directly to the root system with limited surface evaporation.
  • Make a rain barrel: Rain barrels are an inexpensive way to capture rainwater from your roof. This can translate into a big impact on your water bill as well.
  • Mulch plants: Mulch helps keep moisture in the root zone. Two to three inches in-depth, for a few feet in diameter will work well for trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables.
  • Mow correctly: Mowing your grass at the highest recommended length is key. Be sure to cut no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow. Keep mowing blades sharp as dull cuts often cause grass to be prone to disease.
  • Be a weather watcher: Wait at least 24 hours after a rainfall event to water. If rain is in the forecast, wait 48 hours until irrigating. Use a rain gauge or install a rain shut-off device to monitor irrigation scheduling.

For more information on water conservation principles contact your local county extension office.

Supporting information can be found at the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation & Ecology’s Drought Toolkit: http://clce.ifas.ufl.edu/drought_toolkit/


Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture & Natural Resource, Horticulture, Sea Grant

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/29/tips-on-how-to-manage-water-in-your-landscape/

Boating Safety Tips for REEL Summer Fun!

Boating Safety Tips for REEL Summer Fun!

Anticipation of the catch is what thousands of Panhandle boaters will have on their minds as they leave the docks this summer for a day of fishing. However, a hasty departure in their excitement to get to that favorite spot may be the recipe for an outing some would prefer to forget; or worse, a tragedy that could have been prevented.

Inshore fishing near Pensacola Pass
Photo: Molly O’Connor

Here are a few things to consider when planning a day on the water that will greatly increase your odds of having success in what matters most; a fun day and safe return for all. Heck, you can always make up some fish stories.

Equipment Check: A basic safety check involves many key aspects that can make or break a trip.

Trailer: (current tag, tires, lights, tie downs, safety chain and winch condition)
Boat: (current registration, navigation gear, vhf radio, motor condition, fuel/oil check, navigation lights, battery, anchor and rope, boat plugs, paddles)
Safety equipment: (flares, fire extinguisher, personal flotation, emergency locator beacon, sound producing device)
Tools: (basic kit with vice grips, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, screw drivers, adjustable wrench, etc.)
Miscellaneous: (sun screen, food, hat, rain gear, polarized glasses, drinking water, cell phone, dry bag, first-aid kit, medicine)
Fishing gear and bait, of course! (Insert garage full of “stuff” here)

Refer to this Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) LINK to know the legal requirements for safety gear on the size vessel you will be using. These vary depending on the length and design of the hull. In addition, the FWC provides information on the Boating Safety Education Course that is a requirement for anyone born on or after January 1, 1988; and a good idea for us “more mature” folks too.

Even if you are not taking to the water in a powerboat, many of the same common-sense and legal requirements apply to personal watercraft, kayaks and canoes. This FWC LINK provides the requirements for class-A recreational vessels less than 16 feet in length and canoes and kayaks.

In addition to all of the “stuff” you’ll need for a good day, you should also have knowledge of the waters that you will be boating on. Appropriate navigational charts are important but first-hand knowledge is always the best. If you are not familiar with the area you are boating on, at least talk to someone you know who has been in that area. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take along this friend, who would probably enjoy a day on the water too.

When you think about it, there really is a lot of stuff to keep up with when you are going out on the water as the responsible party. But the last thing you want to do is skimp on the safety aspects of your planned adventure. You would be better off to have left your favorite rod in the garage, next to your lucky hat.


Author: Erik Lovestrand – elovestrand@ufl.edu

Erik Lovestrand

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/03/boating-safety-tips-for-reel-summer-fun/

Tick Tips

American Dog Tick. Photo: L. Buss, UF/IFAS

You’ve probably heard some tips to prevent picking up ticks in the past, but did you ever wonder why some work and others don’t? Understanding the life cycle and behavior of common ticks can help you succeed with your prevention measures.

Life Cycle of American Dog Tick. Credit: Centers for Disease Control

A general life cycle for ticks includes four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The egg hatches into larva which require a blood meal to molt into a nymph which again requires a blood meal before molting to an adult.
The adult female also requires blood feeding in order to produce eggs, which she lays in high numbers – some species lay up to 6,500 eggs!
Because blood is required for development, ticks have to be resourceful in finding hosts. Knowing this can help you understand why some tips work better than others.
Tick Tips
  • Wear clothing that covers skin and avoid sitting on the ground or logs in brushy areas. Adult ticks exhibit a behavior called “questing” where they climb to the top of grasses and vegetation with their forelegs extended and wait for a host to come by.  The American Dog Tick‘s primary host are dogs, but they will also target cattle, horses, and humans.
  • Apply repellents to exposed skin and clothing (different products are labeled for where they are applied, follow all directions). These chemicals repel ticks and can reduce likelihood of tick attachment, but ticks have been known to crawl over treated areas to access untreated body parts.
  • Keep grass and vegetation maintained and clean up debris that may harbor small mammals and rodents. Early in the tick life cycle it targets smaller animals for blood and they can
    hide or shelter in debris piles and vegetation.
  • Always shower and check yourself for ticks after being in areas where ticks may live, especially when temperatures are warm. Nymphs can be less than 1 mm long, so check carefully!
For instructions on how to properly remove a tick that has embedded, visit UF Health Tick Removal.

Female Lone Star tick that has not fed. Photo: L. Buss, UF/IFAS

Lone Star Tick female engorged on blood. Photo: L. Buss, UF/IFAS


Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/01/tick-tips/

Tips for Transplanting

Be careful planting cucurbit transplants, as they have sensitive roots. Photo by Molly Jameson.

When I think of the end of winter and the hot temperatures that will soon be here to stay in the Florida Panhandle, I often feel a little melancholy. But the one silver lining that always picks me back up is remembering what warmer temperatures will mean in the garden. This is the start to all the fun, colorful, fruiting crops. Think of the oranges, reds, yellows, and even purples that will soon fill their vines.

As an extension agent, one of the questions I am often asked is whether to start summer vegetables from seed directly in the garden, or to start seeds in pots and transplant them later. The answer is – as is often the case – it depends.

Are you planting tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant? Well, the beginning of April is too late to start from seeds with these crops in our neck of the woods. Buy transplants! Are you growing beans, okra, or root crops? Now that we are past the risk of frost, put those seeds directly into your garden. Are you growing cucurbits, like squash, cucumbers, or melons? You have a choice. You could seed them directly, or you could start seeds in pots. What is the advantage of starting in pots, you ask? Well – this will give you the chance to pick the strongest plants and will allow you to transplant them exactly where you want them. The disadvantage? Other than the extra work, cucurbits tend to be sensitive to disturbance. Be sure to handle with care and do not over water once your seedlings have sprouted.

Transplant into the garden when the plant is about the length of its pot. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Whether you grew the seeds in pots yourself or acquired transplants elsewhere, there are certain practices you can follow to ensure your plant babies have a good start. Here are a few tips when it comes to transplanting into the garden:

What should be considered when purchasing transplants? When purchasing transplants, it is important to make sure the plant is healthy. Look for plants with strong stems, green leaves, and no signs of pest or disease damage. Ideally, the plant should not be much taller than the length of its pot, and should be about as tall as it is wide. Also, avoid vegetable plants that are already producing fruit, this is an indication they have been in their pot too long, prompting them to become stressed. When stressed, annuals often feel they need to hurry and produce seeds to carry on the next generation.

When should transplants be planted into the garden? For spring gardens, plant transplants once danger of frost has passed (late March in the Panhandle), when the transplant has had time to develop a strong root system, and when the transplant is about the length of its pot. If you are growing your seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, allow the plant to “harden-off” by placing the plants outdoors in partial shade for a few hours a day for about a week before transplanting.

What is the transplanting process?

  • First, prepare your garden site with compost and other soil amendments.
  • Water your plants very thoroughly just before planting to decrease transplant shock. The entire root system should be completely wet.
  • Dig a hole that is at least double the width of the plant’s root ball.

    Add fresh compost or worm castings to each planting hole to give your plants an extra nutrient boost. Photo by Molly Jameson.

  • Add one to two handfuls of fresh compost or worm castings to each hole. These soil amendments will improve soil health, introduce beneficial microbes, and provide a slow- release nutrient source for your growing seedlings.
  • Avoid covering any leaves or stems under the soil surface. Remove these lower leaves and stems with sharp garden clippers to minimize the size of the wound.
  • Avoid touching the stem and avoid disturbing the root ball when removing the transplant from its pot. Gently squeeze the pot to loosen the potting soil and turn the transplant sideways or upside down with the palm of your hand to gently “catch” the transplant.
  • Unless the transplant is a tomato, plant it so that the soil level is about the soil level of the transplant, making sure the plant has good structure to decrease susceptibility of falling over as it grows.
  • If transplanting a tomato, plant deeper than the soil level of the transplant, as tomatoes can grow what are called “adventitious” roots – roots that grow from their stem – that will improve overall root development.
  • Make sure to cover up all roots, and water the soil around the plant thoroughly. Continue to water deeply, keeping the soil moist but not soggy, for the next three to four days while the plant becomes established. You can then begin to switch to a normal watering pattern.
  • Always water the soil around the plant, not the plant leaves, throughout the season to decrease susceptibility to disease.

Remember: gardening is a science and an art! And just like art, there are many aspects that are open to interpretation. Have fun gardening – experiment and try new techniques. Keep a journal tracking all your gardening adventures. With time, this can become your road map to the sweetest of summer fruit.


Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/08/tips-for-transplanting/

Large Limb Removal Tips

There are a number of reasons to remove large limbs from mature trees. The three most common reasons are to either remove dead wood, to keep limbs from interfering with one another and rubbing or growing together, or to keep the tree from having narrow crotch angles. (“Narrow crotch angle” is not a very charming phrase, but it simply refers to branches that grow at angles less than 45° relevant to the trunk.)

Photo Credit: Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Removing tree limbs larger than four inches in diameter should be done with care. Three cuts per limb are often needed to avoid tearing the bark down the side of the tree’s trunk.

  1. Make the first cut on the underside of the branch about 18 inches from the trunk. Undercut one-third to one-half way through the branch.

    First Cut. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.


  2. Make the second cut on the topside of the branch an inch further out on the branch; cut until the branch breaks free.

    Second Cut. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.


  3. Before making the final cut, identify the branch collar. The branch collar grows from the stem tissue around the base of the branch. Make pruning cuts so that only branch tissue (wood on the branch side of the collar) is removed. Be careful to prune just beyond the branch collar, but don’t leave a stub.

    Final Cut. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.


It is important to take your time whenever working with power equipment and trees in your landscape. You usually only have one chance to get the cut right and you don’t want to injure yourself or ruin your tree.


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/2017/02/11/large-limb-removal-tips/

Older posts «