January 2015 newsletter
Hard to believe Winter is on the way.
Florida gardener's almanac
The flowers of all
are the seeds of today.
monthly timetable of gardening chores:
Winter is Here!
January is a great month to begin
planning and planting your spring vegetable and flower gardens. The
dry and daytime temperatures rarely go above 85°F. The nights get
rarely below freezing - although many years ago, January 19, 1977 to be exact, a trace of snow
fell in Miami and cities north.
Freight Trains of cold Polar air will push their way out of Canada and
Florida, sometimes getting only as far as Central Florida, other times
barreling their way down to the Keys. Last
year was memorable for two of these
Siberian Express cold fronts,
which dropped temperatures below freezing in Tampa for five nights!
Because this month tends to be so dry,
your lawn and plants require supplemental applications of water.
January is also an important
gardeners in South Florida to
fertilize tropical fruit trees, lawns, and shrubs.
Citrus trees especially, should be
this month. Insect pests, plant diseases, and nutritional deficiencies
become apparent now. Aphids, whitefly,
caterpillars, grasshoppers, and scale insects attack citrus. Citrus trees can also become home to sooty
mold, fungus, foot rot, gummosis, "greasy spot" and a host of other
diseases resulting from poor nutrition. Now
would be an excellent time to
schedule (on your new calendar of
course) regular feedings of 6-6-6 fertilizer around the drip
line of your
trees. The rule of applying fertilizer to fruit trees is one
pound of fertilizer for each year of the tree's age.
Watermelon anyone? Now is a good
watermelon if you are in Central or South Florida
(North Floridians should wait until March).
bets for starting a traditional garden this month are:
Florida Home Grown - Florida Gardening Month By Month
Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots,
Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Cucumbers, Endive,
Escarole, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mustard, Onion Sets, Parsley,
Peas, Peppers, Pumpkins, Rhubarb, Romaine, Rutabagas, Spinach, Squash,
Strawberries, Sweet Corn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips Watermelons,
and almost any other vegetable or fruit you desire.
Anise, Basil, Borage, Chives, Chervil, Coriander, Fennel, Garlic,
Lavender, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Sesame, Sweet
Marjoram, Thyme and most other herbs.
Amaryllis, Asters, Baby's Breath, Bachelor's Buttons, Balsam,
Calendulas, Callas, Candytufts, Carnations, Cosmos, Cockscombs,
Daisies, Dianthus, Forget-Me-Nots, Gaillardias, Gladiolas, Globe
Amaranth, Hollyhocks, Lace Flowers, Lilies, Lobelias, Lupines,
Marigolds, Narcissus, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Poppies, Salvias, Scabiosa,
Snapdragons, Statice, Stock, Strawflowers, Sweetpeas, Sweet William,
Verbenas, and other cool season flowers and bulbs.
Of further interest to
Garden in Sarasota
1825 4th Street N, St Pete.
County Extension Service calendar for lots more gardening
Beautiful Commission in St. Petersburg
Kopsick Palm Arboretum in St. Petersburg
Monthly meetings at Moccasin
2750 Park Trail Ln., Clearwater:
1st Monday, October – May, 7:00-9:00pm.
Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society
First Wednesday of month, 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
3rd Thursday, 7:30-9:30pm
Our next meeting is
on Sunday, January 18th at 1pm. Gary and Gary have graciously offered
to host as we had no set location for this first month of the new year.
Their lovely home is in Seminole Heights, and they have a
beautifully spaceous and well landscaped yard with a secluded
swimming pool. Please bring a chair to sit on as seating is
We will have our usual pot luck and plant raffle, so bring something
yummy to share and if you bring a plant for the raffle, you are
guaranteed to get one in return.
We are going to stop our 50/50 baseball raffle. Since it took
nearly 6 months of drawings for a winner, the interest has waned.
We will try to come up with some other interesting thing to do by
If you plan to
bring a guest, please email
Joe so he can make your guest a nametag.
to Members page
The plant of the month is the schefflera arboricola
or the dwarf umbrella plant. Just drive around your neighborhood
and you are sure to spot them growing in most front yards as they make
wonderful landscape plants. Their slow growth and short stature
make them excellent candidates for hedges and under window fillers, but
don't let the dwarf moniker fool you. This evergreen can grow as
high as 6-12 feet if allowed to do so.
The schefflera arboricola was brought to America from its native Taiwan
and Southern China as a house plant. It is very tolerant of poor
growing conditions and neglect, and is forgiving of long stretches of
low water. It is also very adaptable to light. While it
prefers the brightest spot in a shady yard, it can tolerate full shade
to full sun.
The leaves form in clusters of seven to nine leaves in a palmate
structure. While traditionally a rich green in color, the dwarf
umbrella has been cultivated to varigated leaves of green and
yellow. "The flowers are produced in a
20 cm panicle of small umbels, each umbel
7-10 mm diameter with 5-10 flowers," according to Wikipedia.
I describe it as producing 8" clusters of berries that change
color from green to yellow to brown, often with tiny white
flowers. As a houseplant, it seldom flowers indoors.
The schefflera arboricola lends itself wonderfully to the art of
bonsai. They produce aerial roots easily and can take on a banyan form
without much work. Their lack of a woodsy bark make them
difficult to shape by wiring, but through pruning and regrowth will
give the tree the desired movement.
I have two dwarf schefflera in the horseshoe of the circular drive of
my front yard that I got in one of our plant raffles. I planted
them 5 years ago and that was the last time I hand watered them.
They are the easiest shrubs to maintain and produce a raintree
shape in miniature just through annual pruning of the berry bracts.
Happy New Year!
The new year has started out with a bang, but our last meeting of the
year ended with a whimper. We met
at Walsingham Park on a dreary Sunday afternoon and shortly after we
arrived came the deluge!
It was a small turn-out, only 20 people, but we still had a very nice
time, even if we did end up huddled under the pavillion for most of it!
Of course Joe and Bob were on hand to welcome everyone, with Gary
joining in the welcoming committee.
We had 4 guest come and they joined the club! Welcome to everyone
who joined the club in 2014. Let's hope that 2015 surpasses the
We decorated the picnic tables with tablecloths, poinettias and mini
pinetrees, and the appetizers ranged from guacamole and chips, spinach
dip, crudites, and even to warm brie.
My hat's off to whoever made the barbecue beans. They were a
wonderful treat! Send me the recipe when you can as they
were too good to keep to yourself!
future meeting locations
The time has
come to start filling in the schedule for next year's meetings.
The months fill up quickly, so let me know when you wish to host.
January - Gary and Gary's in
February - Ron and Vince in St. Pete
March - OPEN
April - Joe and Bob
May - OPEN
June - OPEN
July - OPEN
August - OPEN
September - OPEN
October - OPEN
November - John and Norm
in Palm Harbor
December - OPEN
Sometime in Spring - Island's
In keeping with the holiday atmosphere, I didn't hold a regular
meeting. I just pointed out that we had no one volunteer to host
for January. Gary L quickly volunteered to host so we are not to be
homeless this month. Thank you Gary and Gary for your constant
generosity! Hopefully others will follow suit.
We held a cookie contest. The majority ruled on which cookie
deserved to win the prize of a free year's membership. Since
there were only three different cookies entered - Fruitcake cookies,
lemon snowballs and oatmeal craisin cookies - it was an easy win for
the oatmeal cookies. I am far too humble to admit that I made
them, so let's just say the cookie maker thanks all who voted for me,
No one wore a holiday sweater or sweatshirt, so that contest didn't
happen. That left Joe and Bob to run the 50/50 Baseball raffle.
After 6 months without a winner, and more than $160 in the pot,
an ace was the first card pulled from the deck and the winner was Joe! Everyone
was very happy to see him win!
Finally, we were going to have door prizes of all the poinsettias and
mini-pine trees, but since we had the same amount of prizes as people
by this time, everyone was given their pick to take home, just as the