Gardener's Corner

Join us for tips, helps, questions and answers about the gardening world. Monitored by a Certified Master Gardener but wisdom is shared by ALL.

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Gardener's Corner

Chief Walks In Shadows is a Florida State Master Gardener.
He will post information that he feels will benefit everyone as a whole. But basically this will be a question and answer group.
Chief Walks will answer all questions asked to him directly. He has over 40 years of experience. And a sizable personal research library.

We are here to meet ALL of your gardening questions and/or related subjects.



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The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate zones; each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone. If you see a hardiness zone in a catalog or plant description, chances are it refers to the USDA map. To find your USDA Hardiness Zone or use the map below. 



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Comment by Chris Durbin on December 1, 2018 at 10:01am

I thought this was an interesting take on brambles.

Comment by Chief Walks on November 29, 2018 at 8:21am

Dear Chief Walks,
I overheard two master gardeners talking about winter seeding. Ever heard of it? I could use a gardening fix.

Ben from Indiana

Ben, it’s one of my favorite things to do during the winter. In my case, I’ve already prepared some beds by covering them with several inches of compost, but you could do the same thing during a thaw.

My favorite vegetables to winter sow are radishes, lettuce and spinach. Towards the end of winter I’ll throw a packet of seeds over the compost and scratch them in. The seeds will sit there until they are ready to sprout, emulating nature. They will usually germinate early in the season, providing lots of tender, sweet thinning to enjoy in the first garden salad of the season.

Comment by Chief Walks on November 25, 2018 at 12:51pm

How To Make A Garden Room – Tips For Enclosing A Garden

When you’re designing an outdoor living space, there aren’t too many hard and fast rules you have to follow. It’s your space, after all, and it should reflect your style and wants. One thing you’ll almost definitely want, however, is some sense of enclosure, especially if you live in a more densely populated area. Having an outdoor space that’s all your own is practically essential. Keep reading to learn more about designing a small garden space and how to make a garden room.

Designing a Small Garden Space

Enclosed residential gardens are more than just backyards. They should feel like outdoor extensions of your house, a place you can appreciate the sounds and smells of nature while still enjoying the comforts of home.

One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to create a sense of enclosure, effectively carving out your own little piece of the outdoors and turning it into a living space. There are several very easy ways to go about this.

How to Make a Garden Room

The most important and basic thing to do when enclosing a garden is to put up walls. These can be solid, physical walls, such as a fence, or they can be a bit more fluid. Some other options include shrubs, small trees, trellises with vining plants, or even hanging fabric. You can, of course, combine several of these elements to create a more eclectic look.

Another important element is cover. Since you’re mostly going to be using your outdoor space in warm weather, it’s important to have at least some shade. You can achieve this with an arbor or pergola, an awning or if you already have one, a big tree.

Lights are a good idea too after the sun has set, they add to the illusion that your home is flowing outside. These can double as defining walls or, if strung across the space, like a canopy.

Whatever else you add to your outdoor living space is up to you. Depending on your space, you may want a full dining table or just a couple of chairs. Of course, you’ll want at least some flowers or greenery, and a little art never hurt.

As long as you have a sense of enclosure, a little outdoor space that’s all your own, the world is your oyster.

Comment by Chief Walks on November 21, 2018 at 9:38am

Inchworm Information: Are Inchworms Bad For Plants

Various types of inchworms are found in and near the home garden. Also known as cankerworms, spanworms, or loopers, these pests are responsible for frustrating damage in both the vegetable garden and the home orchard. By knowing the signs and symptoms of these common pests, gardeners are better able to defend against future crop damage. Read on to learn more about inchworm control.

What is an Inchworm?
The name inchworm refers to the larvae of moths in the Geometridae family. Derived from the way in which it moves, its namesake may be somewhat misleading. Although referred to as a “worm,” the larvae of these moths are actually caterpillars. The larvae feed on the leaves of various plants such as Apple, Oak, Mulberry, and Elm trees.

Are Inchworms Bad?
While the presence of a few caterpillars is usually not a cause for concern, severe infestations may be much more alarming. In these cases, it is possible that entire trees may become defoliated due to the inchworms’ aggressive appetite. While plants are usually able to recover from mild damage, severe recurring issues with inchworms may lead to weakened health or eventual loss of the trees.

Since inchworms feed on a wide variety of trees, including both fruit and shade trees, it is likely the first place that the larvae will be observed. Frustratingly, home orchardists may notice varying degrees of damage to fruit trees. Luckily, there are some means of control which home growers may take to defend against these pests.

Inchworm Control Options
In most cases, treatment for inchworm damage is not necessary. Healthy and stress-free trees are not commonly impacted by inchworms beyond minimal damage. Additionally, larvae populations are often naturally controlled and managed by the presence of predators such as birds and beneficial insects.

If, however, the homeowner feels that the use of chemical controls is necessary, there are a wide range of chemical pesticides available. When choosing a control, make certain that the product chosen is safe for use in the home vegetable garden or on fruit trees. When choosing to use chemical pesticides, it is essential to read product use labels carefully and extensively before application.

An alternative to chemical pesticide use is the application of Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural soil bacteria that is perfectly safe for humans and other critters but detrimental to caterpillar species.

Comment by Chief Walks on November 21, 2018 at 9:37am

Fall Leaf Management – What To Do With Fall Leaves

A good share of the nation’s solid waste consists of fall leaves, which uses up tremendous amounts of landfill space and wastes a precious source of organic matter and natural nutrients from the environment. Fall leaf management can be a pain, but it isn’t necessary to send this precious resource to the dump. There are several alternatives for autumn leaf disposal; here are a few of the most “do-able” options.

How to Get Rid of Fallen Leaves
Curious about what to do with fall leaves other than having them hauled away? Consider these options:

Mulch: Use a mulching mower to chop leaves into small pieces. They will fall back onto the lawn where the organic material will benefit the soil. You can also spread 3 to 6 inches (8-15 cm.) of the chopped leaves as mulch in beds and around trees and shrubs. If you don’t have a mulching mower, make a couple of extra passes over the lawn with a regular mower to chop the leaves, without the benefit of a mower bag. This task should be done frequently before the leaves become too deep to manage.

Compost: If you’ve never created a compost pile, you’re missing out on one of the best of all autumn leaf uses. Simply toss them into the compost bin. You can also compost weeds, grass clippings, and spent plants at the end of the growing season, as well as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, used paper towels and eggshells.

Enriching the vegetable garden: If you have a vegetable garden, plow autumn leaves into the soil in autumn. The leaves will decompose by spring planting time. If you want, you can mix a little granular fertilizer into the soil to speed decomposition of the leaves.

Leaf mold: If you have an abundance of autumn leaves, pack them, either shredded or whole, into large plastic yard bags. Moisten the leaves, seal the bag securely, and store them in a cool, dark place. In a couple of years (or less if the leaves are chopped or shredded), you’ll have rich leaf mold that will do wonders for your flowers beds and vegetable garden.

If you don’t have a shredder, small chipper/shredders are relatively inexpensive. Alternatively, most garden centers have chipper/shredders for rent.

Comment by Chief Walks on November 15, 2018 at 1:11pm
Comment by Chief Walks on October 25, 2018 at 8:59am
Comment by Chief Walks on October 17, 2018 at 9:21am
Comment by Chief Walks on October 16, 2018 at 4:36pm
Comment by Chief Walks on September 14, 2018 at 7:54am
Proper Palm Pruning
Mid-September is the peak of hurricane season; you only need to look at a weather forecast to be reminded of that. The mere word hurricane strikes fear in our hearts and sends us running in preparation mode.

The words hurricane pruning would strike fear in a palm tree's heart if it had one. The practice of hurricane pruning our beautiful palm trees has been around for decades. This is an unhealthy practice perpetuated by landscapers who want to sell you a service. It is bad for your wallet, but more importantly bad for the palms.

The practice of hurricane-pruning a palm is when all but a few fronds are removed. Palms are naturally able to withstand the high winds that hurricanes bring so this practice is unnecessary and can seriously damage the palm. Only dead or damaged leaves should be removed from palms. Flower stalks and fruit stalks can also be removed if they are causing an issue.

When removing dead leaves, cut the leaf bases close, but do not cut into the trunk. Never pull or tear leaves off, as this damages the interior of the trunk and can be a gateway for pests or diseases. And remember to sterilize tools between each palm (especially Canary Island date palms) to reduce the likelihood of spreading diseases.

Excessive pruning affects the vigor, nutritional health, cold hardiness, and in some cases it can even spread disease. You can choose to not prune the palms at all and leave the brown leaves as a roosting spot for wildlife such as bats. Some Florida municipalities do not prune their palms during bat maternity season (April 16th through August 14th) to protect the habitat of these beneficial creatures.

Remember that proper pruning of your palm trees will keep them as beautiful component of your Florida-Friendly Landscape, even during hurricane season.

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