Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Gardening Tips

September brings the official first day of fall (September 22nd) and the introduction of pumpkin spice- well just about everything. Acorns have even started forming. The degree or two cooler temperatures, later sunrise, and earlier sunset may have you thinking about tackling some overdue garden projects from this summer.

Here are some tips and reminders to keep your garden and landscape in order this month:
  •   Scout and monitor your lawn for signs of damage from chinch bugs, fall armyworms, sod webworms, and mole crickets.
  •   Mow lawns at the correct height: Bahiagrass = 3-4 inches; St Augustinegrass = 3.5-4 inches; Bermudagrass = 0.75-1.5 inches. Consider converting turfgrass areas into groundcover or landscape beds for lower maintenance.
  •   Adjust your irrigation to only when plants need it.
  •   Check irrigation filters and clean if needed.
  •   Begin planning landscape modifications to save water in the cooler, dryer months ahead.
  •   Prepare your fall vegetable garden with seeds or transplants. For planting dates and varieties check out the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021
  •   Herbs tolerant of warm temperatures can be planted including basil, mint, rosemary, and Mexican tarragon.
  •   Annuals such as zinnia, celosia, wax begonia, and coleus can add seasonal variety to planting beds or pots.

*This information was adapted from the Central Florida Gardening Calendar- ENH1189 by Sydney Park Brown: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep450#SECTION_9 and UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Fact Sheet: Month-by-Month Irrigation Checklist by Anne Yasalonis: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/documents/FFL%20Fact%20Sheet-Month%20by%20Month%20Irrigation.pdf.

To keep your landscape looking beautiful, use less water, and reduce stormwater runoff remember to incorporate the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™:

1. Right plant, right place
2. Water efficiently
3. Fertilize appropriately
4. Mulch
5. Attract wildlife
6. Manage yard pests responsibly
7. Recycle
8. Reduce stormwater runoff
9. Protect the waterfront

For more information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ visit: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/index.shtml

Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 863-519-1041 or http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Reducing Mosquito Breeding Sources in the Landscape

With rain expected over the next couple of days it seems important to discuss water holding objects in the landscape in an effort to reduce opportunities for container mosquitoes to breed.

Preventing container mosquitoes from breeding in the landscape includes dumping or flushing standing water once a week, along with scrubbing solid surfaces with a sponge. Some common objects in the landscape that may hold water include bird baths, flowerpot saucers, buckets, watering cans, bromeliads, and roof gutters, to name a few.

Rain barrels are another object in the landscape that are used to collect and hold rainwater. To prevent mosquito breeding in rain barrels, use a covered rain barrel instead of an open container to collect rainwater. They need to be tightly sealed with a lid or screen to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Remember to monitor and keep the water level below the screen lid to prevent standing water.

One way to increase awareness and efficiency in this process is to develop a weekly checklist. Take time to walk around the landscape and look for objects, such as those listed above, and create a list of items and their location that currently or could potentially hold water. Emptying any standing water in these object can easily be done once a week along with your regular gardening activities.
The UF/IFAS Extension Polk County has developed a weekly checklist to reduce mosquito breeding opportunities in objects found in the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Demonstration Garden located at 1702 Highway 17 South, Bartow, FL 33830.

Here is our checklist that you can use as a sample to create your own:

UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Demonstration Garden
Weekly Checklist to Reduce Mosquito Populations in the Landscape    
1.  Rinse any standing water in bromeliads with clean water and pressure using a garden hose.
* The following areas/garden sections contain bromeliads:
                           a.      Color Garden
                           b.      Shade Garden  
2. Dump water from bird baths and scrub clean with a sponge before replacing with clean water.
* The following areas/garden sections contain bird baths:
                           a.      Color Garden
                           b.      Foundation Garden
                           c.      Butterfly Garden 
3.Check rain barrels for water level and drain if needed. 
4. Check roof gutter downspouts for standing water at drainage points.
 If standing water is present, rinse with clean water using the garden hose and scrub rock pavers if present.
5. Check roof gutters for debris that may prevent water from draining. Remove any debris that is found.

For more information on mosquito prevention around your landscape:

EDIS document—Florida Container Mosquitoes

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  “Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water” http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2016/03/zikaandwater/

Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 863-519-1041 or http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/.