december 2014 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:
Drier Weather is Here!
most wonderful time
of the year to garden in the Sunshine state. There are many reasons for
this. First, the weather is much cooler and the humidity
be lower. Most all of the flowers that we loved to grow
now can be grown down here (at least for the next couple of months
before the heat and humidity return). And almost everything seems to be
in bloom (especially orchids)!
you began your
vegetables a couple of months ago you should be now, or shortly will
be, seeing the fruits of your labor. But be careful of garden pests,
such as caterpillars, cutworms, leafhoppers, aphids, thrips and other
critters making plans to harvest
before you do.
season has finally ended. Which is good news. The bad news is that
December is a dry month, so you must be sure to water your plants
regularly. This is especially important if the rare blast of polar air
should make its way down here from north of Canada, as had happened in
1961, 1977, 1983, and 1985.
not your garden is less susceptible to frost damage when the ground is
wet rather than dry. So be sure to water your plants well the night
before a hard freeze is expected.
protection tips include
moving mulch away from young plants since mulch prevents the upward
radiation of warmth
soil to the plants
and will make your plants freeze faster. Putting sheets over your most
tender plants works well in creating an insulating boundary.
Return-stack heaters can be used to prevent frost damage by raising the
temperature of the surrounding air (this is the most often used
protection by citrus groves during freezes). Some large-scale farms
even go to the extent of hiring helicopters to fly low over their crops
to keep the air stirred-up so the colder air does not settle too long
near the ground and do damage to their tender plants.
starting a traditional garden this month are:
Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots,
Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Cucumbers, Endive,
Escarole, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Onion Sets, Parsley, Peppers,
Pumpkins, Rhubarb, Romaine, Rutabagas, Spinach, Squash, Strawberries,
Sweet Corn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips and almost any other
vegetable 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, Sweet Felching Nasturtiums, Pansies, Salvias,
Scabiosa, Snapdragons, Statice, Stock, Strawflowers, Sweetpeas, Sweet
William, Verbenas, and other cool season flowers.
Sources: Florida Home Grown;
Month by Month
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, December 21st at 3pm. We will be having our Holiday
gathering at Lake Walsingham Park,
12615 102 Ave N, Largo, FL 33778.
Park is situated on 354 acres, divided by 100-acre Walsingham Lake,
one-quarter mile west of the Pinellas Trail. There are two entrances,
one on Walsingham Road and one on 102nd Avenue North. Pay heed to the late
start time of 3pm. This is because the Largo Botanical Garden
across the street is having their annual light show which starts at
5:30pm, so we should be able to go over after our party.
We will be at pavillion 1 at Lake Walsingham. This year the club
will be providing the sliced ham and turkey, and you should plan to
bring a side dish and/or dessert. Water and ice will be provided.
This year we will be having a holiday cookie contest. Bring your
best/favorite HOMEMADE holiday cookies along with a copy of the recipe,
and our team of judges will select the best, most delicious cookies to
win a year's free membership in the club! Likewise, we will have
an ugly holiday sweater/sweatshirt contest with a free membership up
We are going to have our 50/50 baseball raffle. The kitty is over
$100.00 this month, since no one has won for the past 5 months.
Winner will split the pot with the club!
We will have a raffle for the door prizes, too.
If you plan to
bring a guest, please email
Joe so he can make your guest a nametag.
to Members page
The wild, red
poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a native of Mexico and Central
America. It was introduced into cultivation in the US by Joel Roberts
Poinsett, first US ambassador to Mexico, in the 1820’s, and was
later named for him. One hundred years later, Paul Ecke Sr. of
Encinitas, California sought to make potted poinsettias the official
flower of Christmas. Through the breeding and business efforts of his
family, his dream was realized by the early 1960’s, and by the
time of his death in the early 90’s, Ecke poinsettias accounted
for 80% of all plant sales at Christmas time.
Contrary to popular
belief, poinsettias are not the least bit toxic, though like all
Euphorbias they do contain a milky sap that can be irritating to some
people’s skin. Also, what most people take to be the flowers are
actually modified leaves, called bracts, which surround the tiny,
yellow, true flowers.
After so many
decades of Ecke breeding, the options are far from being limited to the
traditional red. Recent introductions include many bi-colored varieties
and unusual forms. Plum Pudding has purple bracts, Jingle Bell’s
bracts are red splashed with white, and the Winter Rose series have
bracts that are curled and clustered like a dahlia.
All of these new
varieties should do as well in the Florida garden as the traditional
red, giving us some interesting landscaping options for winter color.
Much is made of the poinsettia’s need for consistent hours of
darkness in the fall to initiate blooming for the holidays. I have
found that they do just fine on their own, with the decreasing daylight
hours of October naturally inducing flower production toward the end of
Novermber. Just avoid planting them in a location where strong
artificial light will reach them at any time during the night. Bract
color peaks in late December and early January, eventually fading in
To produce the fullest plants
with the most colorful bracts, plant them in rich soil with perfect
drainage. Poinsettias grow well in full sun, but not extreme heat, so
choose a location away from the hottest sun, where the plants will be
in light shade or partial shade in the fall and winter. Keep them
consistently moist, and fertilize once a month from March through
September. Pruning after September 10 will not allow enough time for
colorful bracts to develop on all branches. Pinch them back in early
March, May and July, and if they need it again, before September 10.
This will give you a plant with lots of branches that doesn’t get
too tall or leggy.
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.
December - Lake Walsingham Park
January - OPEN
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