By Lloyd Singleton
It’s right here, right now – spring in Lake County is the best time and place to be gardening. Our subtropical climate frees us to prepare garden beds after the frosts of January and February, allowing plants more time to mature before the summer heat kicks in. It’s also the time when plant sales and garden workshops start popping up, offering us a harvest of new possibilities and the questions that go with them. So where do you start?
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or you’re planting seeds for the first time, you can turn to the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service for help. UF/IFAS Extension has over 100 years of experience working with Florida gardeners, and we have a bushel basket of informational resources ready to use.
The Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS) is an online database with over 3,600 peer-reviewed publications about all aspects of gardening in Florida. Standout titles include the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide, Organic Vegetable Gardening in Florida, and Gardening in Raised Beds, as well as publications about specific vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and landscape plants—if you can name it, there’s probably a handy fact sheet about it.
Having a beautiful home garden or landscape shouldn’t have to be hard on your wallet or the environment. Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) helps homeowners and green industry professionals learn how to use low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices. Head on over to the FFL website to learn about the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program in your county.
This site from UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology brings Florida homeowners and gardeners the best information about Florida-friendly plants, sustainable landscape practices, and ways to beautify your yard and garden.
Florida Master Gardeners are UF/IFAS Extension-trained volunteers who offer gardening education within the community, at schools, garden clubs, plant sales and farmers’ markets. Master Gardeners are an excellent source of face-to-face gardening information, and a richly satisfying experience if you’re interested in volunteer work.
The next training course at the Lake County Extension office is scheduled to begin Summer 2018. Classes meet three days a week for 8 weeks from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
For many gardeners, the second most important place in their home is their bookshelf. UF/IFAS has an online bookstore where you can order books, ID decks, posters and DVDs for your gardening library and gifts for the gardener in your life. Whether it’s a guide to organic vegetables, keeping your palms healthy or managing pests without pesticides, this bookstore has something for you.
Your Local UF/IFAS Extension Office
Every county in Florida has one: a local office staffed by faculty from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, experienced experts dedicated to using the latest scientific research to help find solutions to your gardening issues. Extension offices often have demonstration gardens and hold workshops, phone and site consultations, open houses and special events in your community.
Some examples of upcoming programs in Lake County include: Landscape & Garden Fair on March 24 and 25, and the Master Gardener Plant sale on April 14, 2018.
Contact the UF/IFAS Extension Lake County office at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/Lake or at 352-343-4101.
UF/IFAS Extension specialists and Master Gardener volunteers are a familiar presence at gardening workshops, plant sales, county fairs, farmers’ markets and other events happening in your community.