The Neighborhood Gardener May 2020
In May’s issue of the Neighborhood Gardener we share resources for the countless Floridians who began victory gardens during quarantine. This issue includes information about building raised beds at home, planting and harvesting greens, online continuing education opportunities, and even eradicating sedge. We’re also excited to continue the Florida MGV Book Club this month with Rhonda Fleming Hayes’ Pollinator Friendly Gardening. You can access the full newsletter, here, or read on for a synopsis of each article.
The Neighborhood Gardener is the monthly e-newsletter from the University of Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program. Through it we’ll share information on state happenings and useful resources. Click here to sign up to receive the newsletter the second Friday of each month.
Below is a little bit about each article featured this month. You can read the full stories on the Master Gardener Volunteer website, or by clicking the links below.
We are excited to announce the next book choice of the Florida MGV Book Club. This May you’re invited to a community reading of “Pollinator Friendly Gardening,” by Rhonda Fleming Hayes. Hayes is a Minnesota Extension Master Gardener, and as enthusiastic about research-based solutions as we are. Whether you are out to save the bees, hoping to avoid hand-pollinating squash, or just looking for a good read, we hope you will join us.
Vegetable gardening is a great way to grow your own food and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Unfortunately, Florida’s soils don’t always lend themselves to growing vegetables. If this is true of your landscape, raised beds may be the solution you’ve been looking for. This article will walk you through the materials, construction, and cautions you need to get started. We’ll also share some tips on site selection and bed orientation to help you maximize your harvest.
For our Master Gardener Volunteers and community of Florida gardeners, continuing education is a priority. Last month’s article, “Webinars to Keep You Growing,” was so popular that we’re adding more highlights from our archive of webinars. This month you can enjoy learning about olives, roses, alternatives to turfgrass, refuges for wildlife, things that make us say “ouch,” and so much more.
“Greens” are a staple in traditional Southern cooking. But this terms covers a number of plants, including spinach, collards, kale, mustard, turnip greens, and Swiss chard. Most of these nutritious vegetables are cool-season crops, but Swiss chard can be planted as late as May (March in South Florida). Two lesser known greens, New Zealand spinach and Malabar spinach, also grow well during warm months in Florida.
Many Floridians are discovering or rediscovering the joys of gardening as we stay home and stay healthy. Did you know that gardening is actually really good for your health in addition to growing fresh produce? Gardening activities such as raking, weeding, and pruning provide moderate exercise to keep gardeners healthy and fit. An analysis in 2016 researchers found that gardening and being in nature reduced symptoms of anxiety. Other reports have seen a decrease in reported stress and mood disturbances in gardeners when compared to other populations.
Sedges are grass-like plants and considered one of the world’s most pernicious weeds. They invade gardens and turf across the planet. Even Antarctica is host to an invasive sedge species! With an introduction like that, it’s no surprise that sedges are a problem in Florida’s turf and gardens. Water management and early identification are the keys to keeping this weed at bay.
Now’s the time for summer annuals like salvia, torenia, wax begonia, and ornamental peppers. Plant heat-loving herbs like basil, oregano, Mexican tarragon, and rosemary. May is also a good time to prepare for hurricane season by checking trees for damaged or weak branches and pruning if needed. Consider hiring an ISA-certified arborist for bigger jobs.
For more month-by-month gardening tips, check out the Florida Gardening Calendar. Three different editions of the calendar provide specific tips for each of Florida’s gardening regions—North, Central, and South.