ANNOUNCEMENT

To our valued residents and volunteers:

Due to the COVID-19 developments and guidelines provided by the University of Florida,
the following are implemented immediately.

The Crestview office is open to the public by appointment. Our lobby is set up to promote social distancing and you must follow those guidelines upon arrival. Extension Agents are manning the office on a rotating basis so appointments are required to ensure that the person you need to speak with will, in fact, be in the office on the day of your visit.

All Master Gardener Volunteer activities are canceled. This includes classes, meetings, lectures, etc. One Master Gardener Volunteer will be permitted to work in the office so long as it has been pre-approved by the coordinator. Volunteers will not be permitted to meet with the public face-to-face, but will be able to respond to emails, telephone calls, and do soil testing when required.

The Annex located on Hollywood Blvd. is closed to the public and volunteers.

The Niceville location at the Senior Center is closed to the public and volunteers.

Residents may call (850.689.5850) or email us regarding their horticulture questions in lieu of physically going to the office. We will be responding to emails and phone calls regularly.

Our main concern is keeping our residents, staff, and our volunteers safe during this time.

We apologize for any inconvenience.


These restrictions are in place until such time as changed per instructions from the
University of Florida, State/Local Governments, or the Federal government.

Drought-tolerant landscape plants

CONSIDER BEAUTYBERRY | UF/IFAS Extension Florida Master Gardener ...

When we go through dry periods in North Florida, some residents become interested in drought-tolerant plants to include in their landscapes. The need for irrigation can be reduced when drought-tolerant plants are used. But don’t overuse these plants. Remember we have periods of rainy weather, too. 

Some drought-tolerant plants have poor tolerance to the other extreme – too much water. There are a few plants that can tolerate both extremes, but they are the exception. Avoid using drought-tolerant plants on naturally wet or poorly drained sites. But if you have the typical deep sandy, well-drained soil Florida is famous for, you’d do well to include some drought-tolerant plants on your site. 

Drought-tolerant plants are especially well suited for areas that receive little to no irrigation. 

Some plants are genetically better able to withstand drought. They have a built-in tolerance of drought. Many of our Florida native plants are designed to grow in our poor water holding sandy soils. Many of the plants native to arid areas of the world possess high drought-tolerance. These plants have characteristics that allow them to survive dry weather better. These features include thicker or waxier leaves, large surface root areas or deep roots, and the ability to drop leaves in drought and regain them when moisture is adequate. 

It’s important to realize that these plants must first establish a root system before they can cope with severe dry weather. Plan to irrigate during dry periods for the first season to allow them to become established. 

Some outstanding trees to consider include: crape myrtle, redbud, Chinese pistache, cedar (Cedrus species), hawthorn (Crataegus species), American holly, yaupon holly, Southern red cedar (Juniperus species), Live oak, Sand live oak, winged elm, pond cypress, and bald cypress. Some people are surprised to learn that pond cypress and bald cypress have high drought-tolerance because these trees are associated with swamps, many times growing in standing water. But once established on a dry site, they exhibit very good drought-tolerance. 

Some outstanding shrubs with drought-tolerance include glossy abelia, dwarf yaupon holly, Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis species), beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), pineapple guava, junipers, oleander, spiraea, blueberry or sparkleberry (Vaccinium species), viburnum, Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) and coontie (Zamia pumila). 

Some outstanding drought-tolerant groundcovers to consider include: beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis), daylily, juniper, lantana, liriope, rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides), Asiatic jasmine and society garlic. Many of the ornamental grasses such as Gulf muhly are good choices as well. 

For more ideas on developing a Florida-friendly, water-wise landscape, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County or visit the below website. https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/index.html

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

Control Irrigation to control dollarweed in lawns

Questions From The Plant Clinic: Dollarweed - UF/IFAS Extension ...

The first line of defense in controlling dollarweed, also referred to as pennywort, is to take control of your irrigation system. You’ll find it difficult or impossible to control dollarweed in naturally wet areas or where irrigation occurs frequently. 

Dollarweed grows low to the ground and resembles a small lily pad with one round leaf per leaf stem. The leaf stem originates in the center of the round leaf, similar to an umbrella. The leaves are about a silver dollar in size, hence the name dollarweed.  

This native broadleaf plant thrives in areas with excess water. It can be considered an aquatic plant, as it will grow in standing water in ponds and lakes. But it also will grow as a terrestrial plant and can be found growing in the deep sand of dunes along the coast. So it is quite adaptable, including having excellent tolerance of salt spray and brackish water. But in lawns, it prefers and does its best in areas that stay overly wet. 

Lawns should be watered on an as-needed basis. An irrigation system is a tool to supplement rainfall, not to water in addition to adequate rainfall. 

University of Florida’s research demonstrated a reduction in dollarweed numbers by merely reducing the frequency of irrigation. In plots which were initially heavily planted to dollarweed, weekly irrigation significantly reduced dollarweed infestation to 6% dollarweed canopy as compared to daily irrigation with a 30% dollarweed canopy during a three-year study. 

Chemical control of dollarweed is best achieved during spring and fall while temperatures are mild and while this plant is actively growing. One herbicide application usually will not eliminate this weed. 

Always read and follow the product’s label directions and precautions when using any pesticide, including herbicides. 

It is a must not to irrigate too often to win the battle with this weed.

For additional recommendations on controlling dollarweed, including recommended lawn herbicides, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County, or below are two links to UF/IFAS Extension publications – one on dollarweed and one on how to water a Florida lawn.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep389https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh025 

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

Calibrate irrigation system for a healthier lawn

Calibrating sprinklers on campus, photo by Michael Gutierrez, UF/IFAS
Photo by Michael Gutierrez, UF/IFAS

Calibrating your sprinkler system is easy, and it can result in a healthier lawn.  

Here’s how to do it. 

Obtain five to ten straight-sided cans. Empty tuna fish, cat food, or soup cans will work. 

With an in-ground irrigation system, randomly place cans within the irrigated area, so they catch water when the irrigation system is running. Calibrate each zone separately. With a hose-end sprinkler, evenly space cans in a straight row, so the first can is close to the sprinkler, and the last can in the row is at the edge of the watering pattern. 

Turn the water on for 15 minutes. 

Next, carefully measure the depth of water in each can with a ruler. The more exact your measurement, the better your calibration will be. Measurements to the nearest 1/8 inch are adequate.

Then, find the average depth of water collected in the cans (add up the depths and then divide by the number of cans). Or, pour contents of all the cans into one can, measure the depth of water, and divide by the total number of cans. 

Let’s say that you find that you’ve collected an average of ¼ inch of water in the cans as a result of letting the irrigation run for fifteen minutes. That means you would have to allow your irrigation system run for thirty minutes to apply ½ inch of water or forty-five minutes to apply ¾ of an inch of water, etc. 

Do this calibration exercise during the same time of day the system is usually run, so water pressures are similar.  

Watering frequently for short intervals of time develops a shallow, weak rooted lawn and landscape.  

To develop a lawn with deeper roots that will go through hot, dry weather in better shape, switch the automatic timer to manual. This is the reason for calibrating your irrigation system. Apply ½ to ¾ inch of water to the lawn only when the grass indicates that water is needed. When the grass needs water, leaf blades fold – like a book closing, footprints remain in the lawn long after being made, and the lawn turns grayish in spots.

When thirty to forty percent of the lawn begins to show these signs of water need, it’s time to apply ½ to ¾ inch of water. Don’t water again until the lawn begins to show these signs of water need. 

By applying ½ to ¾ inch of water on an as-needed basis, your lawn will develop a deeper root system. As a result, it will be less susceptible to damage from pests and environmental stresses. 

Here is a link to a UF/IFAS Extension video on how to calibrate an irrigation system. 

https://clce.ifas.ufl.edu/media/trenholm_calibration.html

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

Have patience with lawn this spring

Cold injury to lawn. Photo courtesy of Larry Williams

It is common for North Florida lawns to come out of winter weak. And, it can be slow for lawns to improve during the transition from being dormant to resuming growth in spring. During this time, not being satisfied with the appearance of a lawn, homeowners frequently make matters worse by trying to “jumpstart” their lawns. And, with more people being at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, there may be more lawn mistakes being made this spring. 

Having patience and understanding timing on fertilizing and watering a North Florida lawn is key to allowing a lawn to do the best it’s going to do during this transition from winter to a new growing season.

We are just beginning to move into the correct time to apply the first fertilizer application in a home lawn. 

Two genetic factors cause a lawn to resume growth approaching springtime – day length and temperature. The correct day length comes before the correct soil temperature.

Sometime during March, the day length is right to trigger our lawns to begin to come out of winter dormancy and resume growth. This is when many people, not having patience, attempt to “jumpstart” their lawns. They pour the fertilizers, pesticides, and water to their lawns, attempting to “force” their lawns to green up. But, the lawn can still be weak, awaiting warmer soil temperatures for favorable root growth. Consistently warmer nights are required to warm the soil. As a result, it’s best to wait until mid-April before applying fertilizer to a North Florida lawn. 

To develop a lawn with deep roots that will go through hot, dry weather in better shape, it’s best to switch the automatic timer to manual. Apply ½ to ¾ inch of water to the lawn only when the grass indicates that water is needed. When the grass needs water, leaf blades fold – like a book closing, footprints remain in the lawn long after being made, and the lawn turns grayish in spots. 

When thirty to forty percent of the lawn begins to show these signs of water need, it’s time to irrigate. Don’t water again until the lawn begins to show these signs of water need. Place empty cans such as cat food or tuna cans in the irrigated area to determine how long to let the irrigation run in order to apply ½ to ¾ inch of water. 

Have patience with your lawn this spring, read and apply the best management practices for a Florida lawn found in the below UF/IFAS Extension publication. To have a copy mailed to you, call or email me. 

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep236

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

Sticker weed in lawns continues to poke people and pets

TREAT WINTER WEEDS NOW, by Larry Williams UF/IFAS Extension ...

Questions concerning a sticker weed in lawns continues. One example was a phone call from a lady who recently moved to our area from a northern state. She noticed her dog having problems walking through an area in her lawn; it appeared that something was hurting the dog. Upon investigating the area, she found a weed growing flat to the ground with stickers that hurt to the touch. 

The weed is lawn burweed. This weed is a winter annual or cool-season weed that I’ve written about in the past. The lady wanted to know how to control this weed. I explained to her that attempting to control this weed now (late April) was not going to accomplish much. And then I explained the cycle of life for this annual winter weed. 

Burweed seeds germinate in fall. The low growing weeds resemble miniature parsley plants and remain small and inconspicuous during winter. During late winter and early spring, this often unnoticed weed begins to grow in width, forming spine-tipped burs in its leaf axils rapidly. 

These sharp, spiny burs hurt. Burweeds can make a lawn area useless until the weeds die and decompose during late spring or early summer, based on when temperatures become warm enough to kill the plants. During cool, moist springs, burweeds persist longer.  

Once burs form, the plant is in a reproductive stage producing seeds. Treating the weeds at this time does not do away with the stickers. Killing burweed after it has the painful burs can make matters worse, resulting in the burs becoming stiffer. 

Burweed can be controlled easily during winter months before spiny burs become a problem and before seeds are produced. But if you wait, you’ll have to put up with the pain and inconvenience until the burs wither away, which may not be until sometime during May or June. This can become an endless and unnecessary cycle. Controlling burweed before the burs develop is key to breaking this cycle and eliminating the weed.  

December through early February is the time to apply an herbicide to control burweed. A few lawn herbicides to look for are those that contain atrazine, imazaquin, or 2,4-D. Centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass have good tolerance to atrazine. Although labeled for use on most of our permanent lawn species, 2,4-D herbicides can injure centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, especially during periods of hot weather. Use lower rates of 2,4-D herbicides on centipede and St. Augustine lawns. 

Always follow label instructions and precautions when using any pesticide, including herbicides! 

Timing is key to controlling lawn burweed. 

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

INVASIVE SPECIES

Next week (May 18-22) is Florida Invasive Species Awareness Week and we will be broadcasting invasive topics and information on Facebook LIVE each day beginning at 9:00 AM CDT. 

Our schedule

Mon May 18 – The Opening Kick-Off; join extension agents as we discuss, and answer questions, on the invasive issue in general, and in the panhandle.  We will also be discussing some of the terminologies.

Tue May 19 – Giant Salvinia; this is a problem plant in some of the ponds in the Florida panhandle.  One we would like to eliminate.  Learn more about the plant and how to manage it. 

Wed May 20 – Feral Hogs; these guys are a problem everywhere. 

Thu May 21 – Regal Demoiselle; this is a new non-native fish in the Gulf.  We hope to educate everyone on what it looks like and help us report them for management. 

Fri May 22 – The Wrap Up; we will discussing how you can help report and remove these, and other invasive species from your yards or community parks. 

Again, join us each morning at 9:00

https://www.facebook.com/PanhandleOutdoorsNews/

SEAFOOD @ YOUR FINGERTIPS

Florida is considered the fishing capital of the United States – so, it is no wonder we consume a lot of seafood. 

Yet many feel intimidated, or uncomfortable, preparing seafood – some are concerned about safety – some are concerned about price. 

To answer some of these concerns Florida Sea Grant will be broadcasting SEAFOOD @ YOUR FINGERTIPS on FACEBOOK every Wednesday evening at 5:00 PM CDT – 6:00 PM EDT

Each week we will have a different dish prepared by a Sea Grant Agent who will not only teach about the preparation of the species but about where to get the product and more.

This week – Libby Carnahan (Sea Grant Pinellas County) will be preparing a couple of dishes using canned tuna – one of the most popular seafood products in the U.S. 

The “Seafood at Your Fingertips LIVE” series begins at 6 p.m. EST on Wednesday, May 13, and can be found on the Florida Sea Grant Facebook page at www.facebook.com/floridaseagrant.

Agents will post blogs with recipes and ingredient lists one week prior to their presentation for viewers who want to cook along with them. These blogs and an ocean of additional information — including recipes, nutrition facts, and videos — can be found on the Florida Sea Grant website at flseagrant.org/seafood/SeafoodAtYourFingertips.

Why let your yard be a source of worry?

Photo courtesy of University of Florida/IFAS Charlotte County Extension

In times like these, it seems that our own perceived “problems” pale in comparison to the “big picture.”

In my day-to-day work, I have the opportunity to help people solve problems with their landscapes, lawns, and gardens. I enjoy the problem-solving part of my job as an extension agent.

You’d be surprised how upset some people can be about a few weeds, a dying petunia or a tomato with a crack in it. They’ll let small things like this upset their entire world. It’s as if they think we live in a perfect world when it comes to expectations for the plants in their landscape.

It has become apparent to me that too many people spend too much time letting too many small things bother them too much.

When my twin sister, Linda, and I were growing up in a small town in middle Georgia, an elderly couple (Mr. and Mrs. Hunt) would crack pecans and give the shelled halves to us to eat. They’d hand the shelled pecans to us over the fence that separated our yards. At five or six years old, this was a treat for my sister and me.

I remember their landscape. I remember Mrs. Hunt sweeping their dirt driveway lined with coconut sized rocks using handmade brooms. I remember their pink flowering dogwoods in spring. I remember their old fashion yellow and orange daylilies during summer. I remember the fascination of seeing red spider lilies seemingly come from nowhere in the fall underneath deciduous trees as they displayed their autumn colors. I remember Mrs. Hunt letting me smell a flower from a sweetshrub plant, which reminded me of sweet apples. The deep red blooms and dark green leaves of this shrub complemented the white wooden wall on the east side of their home.

I remember climbing a large mulberry tree in their backyard and picking and eating the berries. I remember watching Mr. Hunt prune grapevines growing on an overhead trellis. I remember learning about the history of a ginkgo tree planted just outside a chicken pin in their side yard. I remember watching hummingbirds flying in and out of the reddish-orange funnel-shaped blooms of a large trumpet vine growing on an old metal frame of a water tank.

I don’t remember the weeds, even though I know there must have been weeds in the Hunt’s landscape. I know there was the occasional pecan that didn’t fill out or that was worm-infested. And I’m sure the replacement of a plant had to happen on occasion. But these are not the things that made lasting impressions for me.

The big picture is not the weeds, the dying petunia plant, or the pecan with a worm in it. Sure, you will have weeds in your yard and individual plants that don’t survive. Just don’t let these things become the source of worry. In my opinion, a landscape should be a source of pleasure, a place to learn, and a place to pass along lasting memories.

With all there is to worry about in this world (as recent days have revealed), why let your own backyard be one of them?

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

ANNOUNCEMENT

To our valued residents and volunteers:

Due to the COVID-19 developments and guidelines provided by the University of Florida, the following are implemented immediately.

  • All Master Gardener Volunteer activities are canceled. This includes classes, meetings, lectures, etc.
  • The Annex located on Hollywood Blvd., is closed but will be accepting phone calls through the Extension Office.
  • The Niceville location at the Senior Center is closed.
  • The Crestview office located on Airport Road will be open but with limited staffing.


We encourage our residents to call or email us regarding their horticulture questions in lieu of physically going to the office. We will be responding to emails and phone calls regularly.

Our main concern is keeping our residents and our volunteers safe during this time. 

We apologize for any inconvenience.

These restrictions are in place until April 30th but may change per instructions from the University of Florida, State/Local Governments, or the Federal government.