The Florida Gardener is the official publication of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Each issue covers all facets of garden club activity to include: educational opportunities, legislative alerts, current projects, upcoming events, community projects, book reviews, and more. Published 4x per year.
Florida scrub-jays and scrub habitat to be celebrated at Feb. 23 festival
Why is keeping Florida “shrubby”” important to the Florida scrub-jay, the only bird species unique to this state?
It’s because the bright blue and gray bird needs scrub habitat — dry, sandy areas with low shrubs and a few trees — to survive.
Come to the 10th annual Florida Scrub-Jay Festival on Saturday, Feb. 23 in downtown Titusville at the Julia Street parking lot to learn more about this threatened species and its reliance on healthy scrub habitat. You can also enjoy organized bike rides, field trips, nature exhibits, children’s crafts and games, live music, and a watercolor exhibit at the free event. (Note: the festival was rescheduled from its previous location, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, but there may be field trips there.)
“Sandy beaches are what people typically associate with Florida, but we also have sandy scrub habitat crucial to the survival of the Florida scrub-jay and other native wildlife,” said Craig Faulhaber, avian coordinator at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “Scrub habitat is being conserved today on many public lands, including Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a partner in this year’s Florida Scrub-Jay Festival.”
Scrub-jay populations have fallen dramatically since the late 1800s, primarily because of loss of scrub habitat and lack of natural or prescribed fires. Prescribed fires and other habitat management are necessary to keep scrub shrubby and maintain quality habitat. The sandy soils of scrub habitat also naturally absorb rainwater and filter it into the aquifers that provide Florida’s drinking water.
Increase your chances of seeing and helping Florida scrub-jays by:
Volunteering with Jay Watch, a citizen-science effort coordinated by Audubon Florida. Jay Watch volunteers are trained to conduct scientific surveys that measure the population numbers and nesting success of Florida scrub-jays. The FWC is a Jay Watch partner.
Keeping your cats indoors to protect scrub-jays and other wildlife.
Reducing use of pesticides around your home, since scrub-jays feed on insects.
Reporting harassment or harm to scrub-jays or their nests to FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.
What is the Florida scrub-jay call like? More like a screech than a song, since it is in the same family as the crow. And like crows, scrub-jays are bold, smart and full of personality. Hear thesound of a Florida scrub-jay by going to AllAboutBirds.org and searching for Florida scrub-jay.
Find out about this bird’s biology and behavior by going to MyFWC.com and clicking on “Engaging in Conservation,” where you will see “Species Profiles” and can select the “Birds” category to find the Florida scrub-jay’s profile.
Does the thought of digging a new garden make you just opt for a large potting container instead?
This is no one’s favorite garden chore, but there’s no way around it. Your chosen site will probably have grass on it or at least weeds. These must be cleared somehow before you can plant anything.
Tilling without removing the grass or weeds is best done in the fall so that the grass will have a chance to begin decomposing during the winter. Even so, you will probably see new grass and weeds emerging in the spring. It’s better to either remove the existing vegetation completely or to smother it.
NO DIGGING for the “patient” Gardener
A sharp flat-edged spade can be used to slice out the sod. If you have poor soil and need to amend it with organic matter or other nutrients, removing the sod may be your best bet, so that you can till in theamendments.
Removing sod can be heavy work, and you wind up losing good topsoil along with the sod. If your soil is in relatively good shape, it is possible to leave the grass in place and build on top of it. Place a thick layer (8-10 sheets) of newspaper over the garden bed and wet it thoroughly. Then cover the newspaper with 4-6 inches of good soil. The newspaper will eventually decompose, and the turf and weeds will be smothered. There may be some defiant weeds that poke through, but not so many you can hand weed them.
Starting with good soil means you won’t have to add a lot of artificialfertilizerto your garden. If you’ve fed the soil with amendments, the soil will feed your plants
Do you have creative garden ideas? Subscribe to our blog to learn and share!
Imagine having a bag of Figs in your refrigerator for about a year. No one is going to eat them! I decided to take that practically full bag and plant the figs in “my growing pot”. (That’s the pot for all my experiments!)
I totally forgot what I planted since I frequently stick flower stems, seeds, etc, into that growing pot, anything really, just for fun.
Much to my surprise some nice large green leaves popped up. I put a photo onto Facebook to try to get help identifying the leaf. (I forgot what I planted – it was a year ago) Everyone guessed wrong. It turned out to be Fig Trees!!!
I have two in the ground but they sure liked being in that pot best!
This pineapple , you guessed it, is of course the green top of one I twisted off – bought at the store!
Black Eyed Peas are fun to grow
Black Eyed Peas
My friend gave me a baggie full of beans and said they’d put nitrogen back into the soil. Yes bought at the store!
Now that growing pot got taken over by Celery. I just pulled 7 out and placed in garden.
Sorry to say they are not store bought. They actually grew from seeds, I tossed in a year before!
Watch how to grow more store bought vegetables from my garden friend.
Please keep pets in and safe from attacks as it is Coyote mating season.
In the 30 years as a Deltona resident, this is the first time I’ve heard that Coyotes are lurking around!
There have also been reports of wounded cats and dogs on the Neighbors App. Typically Coyotes aren’t usually a threat. I’ve learned this from posts by neighbors as well as the Sheriff Dept.
Also the lakes (watersheds) are full. If you haven’t been on India Blvd lately, take a ride and see how high the water table is. What could have been burrows, could now be flooded forcing Coyotes out into neighborhoods. That’s my opinion.
“Deltona Lakes” are back if only temporarily.
The “Neighbors App Alerts” have been helping our neighbors monitor car thefts, break in’s, crazy activity “AND” find their LOST pets.
It’s free! I think it’s pretty neat.
Our local law enforcement has joined as well to help in real-time and It’s anonymous – by radius. Share with your neighbors!!!
It’s a little too soon for Speed Weeks 🏁 in Daytona so it “must be “Seed Weeks”! 🤪
If you are following this blog, then you will see it’s already time to transplant the seeds that were just in baggies!
“Recycling” the days trash into useful vessels
What a difference a few days makes. Shhh, had to eat all the Krispy Kreme donuts to put the box to good use! Oatmeal box, egg crate, toilet rolls, dog food box; etc!
“Recycling” all in a days work as well!
The Lettuce and Calabrese Broccoli actually sprouted in 2 days and grew quite fast. I had to use a skewer stick to push roots down further into soil. Tomorrow they’ll be jumping out to the garden by themselves!
I am getting ready for the season. The last frost predictions are usually mid February to be safe. Weather is unpredictable so be prepared to cover tender new growth if you do set them in ground.
The purple color is from the grow light. Not really needed but since I have one, why not!
This is the simplest way to get a head start that I have tried. I use a sponge for most seeds but with so many I have to use a wet paper towel.
As you can see, I wet the towel (just short of dripping) and place in a sealed baggy. If you have never tried this, most all seeds sprout. Make sure you have room in your garden. Now is the perfect time to till or turn the earth.
Add amendments or your favorite medium to the beds. When those soaking seeds get an inch or two big you can sow. It’s best to transfer new seedlings into small pots to get established before setting out into the elements.
If you have any wildlife that frequent your yard, be diligent in protecting against invaders!
Squirrels in my yard are my biggest culprits. I watched a squirrel eat the leaves off my hibiscus! They eat everything. Rats are also a problem as well as any animals that eats grubs, or greens. Inexpensive wire fencing helps deter.
If you have ideas on how to keep pests out if your garden, comment and let us know!
It’s never too early to be prepared so let’s get growing!!!
The list above is shared from UFl but NOT ALL will grow in your location in Central Florida. The list is by no means an exact science with so many unique locations to consider
Lakes, open areas, dry areas, scrub areas, soil quality, PH, soil amendments, sunlight or lack of, seasonal weather events,; etc, all play a part in the health of your garden
“Native” plants are pretty much whatever grows naturally without human placement. That is “my opinion” from 30 years of trial and error. I’ve watched nature decide what filled the empty spaces in my yard Some were allowed to remain but others had to go. The yard and garden transformations from year to year are ever changing I don’t always agree with Mother Nature but I believe, I know, she knows best!
My goal from the first year living in Florida was, not to watch another plant freeze, or die due of dehydration from heat, or dry to a crispy dried branch!! After all, I had personal relationships with some (actually all) of these plants. Did I mention what it cost to “wing it”? Or how I had what I thought was a green thumb…..until I moved from “South Jersey” to Florida! Thank goodness I was up for this new challenge!
When you see your favorite little joys bite the dust it is heartbreaking. I do not like loosing things that give me so much joy. Anyone who shares a gardening passion can understand that! I knew it was time to stop watering dead plants AND stop wasting money as well It’s a wonderfully different experience now
SO – I joined Deltona Garden Club and my little piece of paradise began to grow! The knowledgeable ladies and men I had the pleasure of meeting, taught me so much Sadly many of my mentors are gone but I am hoping to keep the garden club legacy alive by sharing stories such as this
Florida celebrates Arbor Day every January as well as every April 26th.
Cool days of winter are perfect.
Celebrate “Arbor Day Florida” today by planting a tree. *Or not? It’s usually a great time to plant trees that are in a dormant stage. ⚠️ (*I’d wait until after the freeze we are expecting Sunday here in the southeast.)
“What types of trees are dormant in Florida?” “What type of tree grows in Florida?”
If you take a look around your neighborhood, take note of trees that have lost their leaves! If you aren’t sure what kinds of trees they are, pick up a few leaves. Take a photo of height and placement for reference.
Trees aren’t just for oxygenation, erosion, wildlife, etc, but for cost savings if you’re a homeowner.
Planting the right tree in the correct place can cut your cooling costs in half. Florida sun can be scorching and relentless on the hottest summer days. Save your interior carpet, furniture, curtains from fading, or “disintegrating” all together!
The hottest time of day for the “rays” to be most intense is around 4 pm at my home. The sun setting in the west doesn’t loose much punch on the way down. Hot as 2 o’clock noon if not hotter. An aluminum awning had to be put over the window immediately after building the home. Took some time for trees to be tall enough to be effective.
Electric bills too high? Plant a 🌳. See you in April!
We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year.
Used aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled item in the U.S., but other types of aluminum, such as siding, gutters, car components, storm window frames, and lawn furniture can also be recycled.
A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days.
An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!
The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees.
This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 (2 billion) trees per year!
We throw away enough paper and wood each year to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year.
Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
If all our newspapers were recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!
Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
Recycling plastic can save twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year. Glass
Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill a giant skyscraper – all of which are recyclable! A glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose ‐‐ longer if it’s in the landfill.
The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100‐watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.
An estimated 80,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum foil to cover over 50 acres of space ‐‐ that’s almost 40 football fields. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute!
A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water. Motor oil never wears out; it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re‐refined and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil.
A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That’s a lot of containers ‐‐ make sure they’re recycled!