Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
After the recent rains, many people are left with large areas of standing water on their property. These areas are not only breeding ground for insects, they also cause harm to any landscape plants that may be in the flooded area. If your landscape is frequently flooded in the summer months you may want to consider making some grading changes to your yard by adding swales, berms or ditches. French drains, tile systems and catchment basins such as rain barrels or cisterns can also be helpful in eliminating standing water. Consider a rain garden if the area floods but drains quickly. A rain garden is a low area filled with plants that catches and filters rainwater.
Will your plants survive the flooding? Some plants have a higher tolerance to flooding than others. The Bald Cypress can handle being under water indefinitely while the Laurel Oak is extremely sensitive. Large amounts of water can have different effects on different plants. Flood damage can affect trees for 2-3 years beyond the initial flood and should be inspected by a certified arborist to determine what action to take in caring for your flood damaged trees. They are now susceptible to fungus, disease and insect problems and must be monitored closely.
Erosion can also cause problems to landscape plants by affecting the root system. If soil has washed away from the root zone, more should be added both under and over the exposed roots. The plant should not be pruned until it shows signs of recovery, but a slow-release fertilizer can be applied. Any sand or soil on the leaf and stem surfaces should be removed as it can damage the plant.
Flood damage in the lawn depends on the type of turf (Bermuda and St. Augustine have a better tolerance than Bahia), the water depth, the temperature of the water and the health of the turf prior to the flooding. Most types of turf can survive for about 4 to 6 days submerged in water; areas submerged longer will not survive and will need to be replaced. If your turf has survived a flood, aerate and lightly fertilize after the water has receded.
To learn more about caring for plants after a flood or severe storm contact the UF/IFAS Extension, Polk County at (863) 519-1047.
Tuesday, July 28, 6:00-7:30 pm
Polk County Extension Service
1702 Highway 17 South, Bartow
Learn the basics of water conservation and stormwater runoff prevention using rain barrels. In this hands-on program, you will create and take home a 55-gallon rain barrel. Rain barrels (including spigots) will be available for purchase for $25. Call 863-519-8677, ext. 121, to register or register online. You will NOT receive a confirmation of your registration.
Tuesday, August 4, 10:00 am-12:00 pm
Lake Wales Public Library
290 Cypress Gardens Lane, Lake Wales
In this FREE workshop you will learn what groundcovers, perennials, trees and shrubs work well in Polk County landscapes. The workshop will cover 65 Florida-friendly plants and how they can be installed and maintained the Florida-friendly way! Call (863) 519-8677 ext. 121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the workshop. You will NOT receive a confirmation of your registration.
Thursday, August 6, 6:00-7:30 pm
Lakeland Police Department, Community Room
219 North Massachusetts Avenue, 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. At this workshop 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.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
How Easy is it to Install a Micro-Irrigation System? Beth Bodenstein Explains Her Installation Experience
May 12th, 2009 8:14 am by Beth Bodenstein
Ed: This is the second in a series of articles from Polk is Florida-Friendly
For almost two years now I’ve been preaching the gospel of micro irrigation. Estimates are that 50% of our total potable water consumption goes towards lawns and gardens. The use of micro irrigation is a valuable tool conserving our water resources.
But here’s the catch – I’d never actually installed or used a micro system, and was thinking it was about time to rectify that situation. Then I spent a week sharing a booth at Sun n Fun with Jo Reese, the charming sales rep for the Dundee company that manufactures one of the most popular brands of micro irrigation products . I learned that the concept for micro irrigation was born in Polk County, as an option for the citrus industry. The residential use of micro was an offshoot of that commercial use and the product is still manufactured right here in Polk, and distributed nationally.
Last week I realized the time had come. I enlisted a ‘supervisor’ and we traveled over to my local retailer. I only have three beds that needed to be watered, but I purchased the starter kit plus extras because I really wasn’t sure how many misters I’d need. The kit comes with a very useful DVD that explains the installation process, and we took the time to watch that first, while leaving the large supply tube unrolled in the yard, softening up in the sun.
I’m always a little nervous when a project involves the cutting of materials, so it was with great trepidation that I lifted my tool to make the first cut of the supply tube. My ‘supervisor’ assured me that it was the right thing to do so I snipped away. We fed the tube under the house behind the front steps, and then stretched it around to the end of the beds. The kit comes with a handy dandy gizmo that clamps of the tube, but leaves you with the ability to extend the system if desired. Now we realized that I’d probably want 90* elbow connectors so the tube would follow the lines of the house, so back to my local retailer went.
Armed with the new fittings it only took about twenty minutes to get the supply tubing in place and connected. Now came the fun part – time to hook up the individual misters. Everything needed to do this, including the hole punch tool, is included in the starter kit. To my surprise I only needed one of the extra misters that I bought, for a total of 6 along a 50’run. After my ‘supervisor’ demonstrated on the first one, installing them went quickly. Adjusting the spray heads took a few minutes more. I’d estimate total time involved for this part was about 30 minutes.
I had so much material left over that it warranted a third trip to my local retailer. I returned enough items to pay for a pack of drippers and a timer. I didn’t want to think I was too lazy to walk outside and turn on the faucet, so I had considered the timer to be a luxury item - once installed I realized it made sense. I used the drippers for potted plants, including a new potted herb garden. Now, when I go on vacation, my garden will continue to be watered regularly and I won’t come home to find dead plants.
Total time spent on this project was about 4 hours. Most of that came from the three trips to the store. Actual time spent on the actual installation was maybe an hour, and the only tool I needed was a pair of scissors. As for water conservation, this system uses ten gallons/hour. I have the timer set to water for 20 minutes every other day, so I’m only using about 10 gallons/week. This is probably about 25% of what I used when I was watering everything with a hose. The system comes on at 4:00AM, so the water has a chance to sink in slowly before the heat of the day. The timer has a manual mode so if/when the summer rains begin I can turn it off.
For minimal effort and reasonable cost I’ve made a great improvement in my garden, while at the same time doing my part to conserve water…truly a win-win situation. And now when I talk to people at events and workshops I can speak from personal experience, making my message more effective.
Friday, May 1, 2009
The Rosinweed at the Extension Office in Bartow is in full bloom despite the dry and hot weather. This perennial is a great choice for hot and dry gardens! It is a clumping perennial that sends up vibrant yellow flowers all summer long. It will slowly spread in the garden, making a lovely bright patch that attracts butterflies and various pollinators. It is a great addition to any yard!
Rosinweed at the UF/IFAS Polk County
Extension Service garden in Bartow.