Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Composting Workshop

Celebrate Compost Awareness Week (May 3-9) by attending a composting workshop!
A composting workshop will be held on Monday, May 4, 6:00-7:30 pm at Circle Bar B Reserve, Polk's Nature Discovery Center, on Winter Lake Road in Lakeland. In this free workshop you will learn the many methods of composting, the benefits of using compost and how easy it is to practice home composting. In celebration of Compost Awareness Week you will be able to purchase an Earth Machine compost bin for $40 and a kitchen scrap bucket for $10. Register early as supplies are limited! This program is being offered by the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program and the City of Lakeland Lakes and Stormwater Division. Call 863-519-8677 ext 121 to register, or register online. You will NOT receive a confirmation of your registration.

Create an irrigation system using your rain barrel!

A creative way to use your rain barrel (if we ever get rain!) is to use a pond pump and micro-irrigation system to dispense the water. This system was set up by The Health Chic House in Haines City and was inexpensive and easy to install.

The micro-irrigation system was used to irrigate a container garden of herbs on the patio. The same principle would apply to a planting bed, mulched area in the landscape, row of shrubs, etc. You can see the drip line running to the containers and slowly emmitting rain water. The irrigation system can even be on a timer (install the timer on the outlet where the pond pump is plugged in).

This is a view into the top of the rain barrel. You can see the small pump on the bottom of the barrel. The wire coming out of the barrel is simply plugged into an exterior outlet when the homeowner is ready to irrigate with the micro-irrigation system. What a great set up!

This is the view of the barrel on the back patio of The Health Chic House. The barrel is open on top to collect water and it makes installing and using a pump easy.
I hope this gave you some new ideas on how you can use your rain barrel. There are so many ways that you can get creative with your rain barrel! Now about that rain....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Creative Ideas for Rain Barrels

This is a great time of year to get your rain barrels constructed and working. has a great article with lots of tips for unique designs:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Annuals to Plant in Florida??

It is confusing for people who are new to Florida (or new to gardening) to know what time of year you are supposed to plant certain annual plants. The plants that you may have grown in the summer up north, may only do well in the winter in Central Florida. Use the University of Florida's circular on bedding plants to determine what annuals to plant when.

Pentas are great annuals for hot summer months. Plant them in early summer.

Ageratum should be planted in the early spring in Central Florida.

Begonias do the best when they are planted in the early spring.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Practice Earth Day Every Day in April

Martha Stewart's Whole Living site has a list of 30 things that you can do to celebrate Earth Day. Since today is the first month of April (and the month in which Earth Day falls), there is no better time to start. View the calendar here.

Water Conservation Tips

There are many things we can do to conserve water in our homes and landscapes. In honor of Water Conservation Month we are providing you with some helpful conservation tips. By following some or all of the tips you can conserve and preserve our valuable water resources as well as save money. Engage the entire family in the effort to conserve water and make it fun for kids. The following tips (and more) can be found on or you can call your Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program to obtain publications listing water-saving tips.

1. Fix your dripping faucets. Be a water detective and search for dripping or leaking faucets—
they can waste 300 gallons of water or more each month!
2. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth! Everyone in the family can participate in
saving water this way!
3. Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater off of the roof. This water can be used to water
plants. Make it a fun family project by painting and decorating the rain barrel prior to
installing it.
4. Raise the mower blade! Mow your lawn at the highest setting to ensure strong roots and
increase drought tolerance. This will also make the job a little easier!
5. Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load.
6. Take shorter showers. Make it a contest and set a timer to see who in the family can take the
shortest shower and award prizes.
7. Use micro-irrigation to water your landscape plants. Micro-irrigation is the most efficient
way to irrigate and the systems are easy to install.
8. Choose plants that are drought-tolerant. Look for Florida-friendly plants that will require
less water after establishment.
9. Encourage everyone in the family to conserve water by making a doorknob sign reminding
them to conserve in high water use areas of the home. This can be a great craft project for
the family.
10. Water early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation.

The Polk County Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program can show you how to design and maintain a landscape that requires less water, fertilizer and pesticides. For more information on this program contact Anne Yasalonis at the Polk County Extension Service (863) 519-8677 ext 121 or visit the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods website at On our website you will find a list of upcoming free workshops, a Florida-friendly yard application, a Florida-friendly plant database for Polk County landscapes, and other useful information. You may also call the Extension Service if you would like to receive a free copy of the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods handbook.

April is Water Conservation Month!

April is Water Conservation Month! In addition to atttending some of the many programs that we are offering in the month of April, here are some other ideas that you can use to help conserve and preserve our most precious resource: water.

Install Florida-friendly plants.

Organize an activity to teach others about water conservation. These fourth grade students are teaching kindergarten students the importance of water conservation.

Spread the word about conservation! Organize a poster campaign at your local school, place of work, church, etc. reminding people to do their part and conserve water!