Holiday Giving

Recently, in what I thought would be a quick Saturday errand, I got stuck in traffic. It took me a moment to realize that the holidays are upon us.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF®), from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday weekend, beating the 164 million estimated shoppers from an earlier survey. In fact, shoppers spent $ 1 million a minute on Black Friday and about $ 6.6 billion in total on Cyber Monday. The NRF® also found that consumers, both young and old, were spending more than last year, with both groups using the internet to browse for the best deals.

While it appears many consumers can spend unrestrained during the holidays, a lot of consumers find the holiday season stressful. Holidays require a lot of planning, and of course time and money.

A sensible way to approach the holiday season is to decide up-front what best fits the path you want to take. Come up with a plan, make a list (check it twice), and then stick to it.  You will be amazed at how this simple list trick can relax you and make your holidays more enjoyable and less stressful.

The American Financial Services Association Education Foundation has some useful ideas for using a holiday spending plan. First, create a holiday budget that is feasible for you, and be sure to include all the incidentals from decorations to wrapping materials. Next, prepare your list(s), then do your homework. There is a lot of competition for the consumer’s money, and searching the web not only for information but also for the best deals can help you stick to your budget and save some money (Example: some stores honor other store’s pricing).

Other ideas to help stay within your budget this holiday include:

  • Draw names with set limits on gift giving (Example: Aunt Marge – $ 15.00)
  • Make a gift (Example: Cranberry muffins)
  • Provide a service (Example: tackle a chore for a friend, neighbor, or loved one)
  • Switch to giving gifts of experience (Example: tickets to an event) The gift of experience can be both practical and educational, and moreover, memories are worth more than stuff!

Try not to get bogged down by holiday spending this holiday season. I encourage you to create a plan, write up a list (check it twice) and stick to it.  You will be glad you did!

The University of Florida Extension/IFAS – Leon County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Institution.

PG

Author: Heidi Copeland – hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida
Educational Program Focus:
•Food, Nutrition and Wellness

•Child Development and Parenting


http:leon.ifas.edu

Living Well in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/12/02/holiday-giving/

Gadsden Tomato Forum December 7 2017

Gadsden Tomato Forum December 7 2017

Gadsden Tomato Forum December 7 2017. 8:00am-2:00pm

At the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC)

155 Research Rd, Quincy, FL 32351

For more information contact

Shep Eubanks

Phone: (850) 875-7255

bigbuck@ufl.edu

 

 

 

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.


http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/12/01/gadsden-tomato-forum-december-7-2017/

Treat Tulips as Annuals in Florida

Treat Tulips as Annuals in Florida

Tulips at the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. Image Credit: IFAS Gardening Solutions

Q. I’ve seen the beautiful tulips of Amsterdam and would like to grow some here in North Florida. So I ordered some tulip bulbs. Can I plant these in North Florida? 

A. Tulips are treated as annuals in Florida. We have two problems with tulips this far south. First, they do not receive enough cold weather to meet their requirements to bloom. Secondly, it gets hot quick enough in the spring to cause the foliage to die prematurely, which does not allow the tulip plants enough time to store sugars in the bulb to resume growth the following year. As a result, the bulbs become smaller and weak and flower poorly if at all the following year. At best you may get one to three years’ worth of blooms out of a tulip in our area no matter what you do. Most tulips will only bloom once in our area and then they are spent. Florida doesn’t provide the right kind of weather for tulips. We may have cold weather for a few nights. Then it warms again. This goes on all winter. Tulips need consistently cold weather in order to initiate flower buds. 

You can provide an “artificial cold winter” by placing the bulbs in a refrigerator for about 8 weeks prior to planting. This requires purchasing the bulbs ahead of time in order to provide this chilling treatment and still have time to plant during late fall to mid-winter (late November to mid-January). Some nurseries sell pre-chilled bulbs, most don’t. The above treatment will meet their requirements for flowering but does nothing to offset the fact that it gets warm too quickly in the spring for tulips.  

The few people that grow tulips in Florida either buy pre-chilled bulbs or place them in the refrigerator, plant them, enjoy their blooms the following spring and then throw them away. They treat them like annuals.

 

 

PG

Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/12/01/treat-tulips-as-annuals-in-florida/

Scarlet Lure of Chinese Tallow

Scarlet Lure of Chinese Tallow

Chinese tallow displays red fall color in North Florida. Photo: J_McConnell, UF/IFAS

In northwest Florida as we transition into fall, we don’t usually see a spectacular display of color change in the forest or our landscapes. Mixed in with the evergreen pines, oaks, and magnolias, we get sporadic spots of yellow and red from our native hickories, sweetgum, and sumac but otherwise it can be rather dull. It’s no wonder that people are reluctant to part with a blaze of red in their landscapes in the form of the invasive Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum L. aka Triadica sebifera L.).

This fast growing, deciduous tree was initially introduced to the United States in 1776 by Benjamin Franklin. It was promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s for the potential to create a soap industry. It was planted as an ornamental because it grows quickly in nearly any type of site condition, has attractive white fruit, and red fall color. Unfortunately, over the years it spread into numerous states and habitats unchecked displacing native vegetation and disrupting wildlife food sources. Eventually, it was recognized as an invasive pest and is currently listed as a noxious weed in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Chinese Tallow is a prolific seed producer and is sexually mature as young as three years and may continue to produce viable seeds to the ripe age of 100. Although some birds eat the berries (part of the dispersal method), sap in the leaves and berries are poisonous to some other animals including cattle.

To prevent the continued spread of this plant, consider removing from your property and replacing with native species. Buy plants from reputable licensed nurseries with good weed management programs. Be able to recognize Chinese Tallow and do not accept plants from well-meaning gardeners who wish to share a foolproof shade tree!

For more information see Natural Area Weeds: Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum L.)

USDA NRCS Plant Guide Chinese Tallow Tree Triadica sebiera (L.) Small

Alternatives to Invasive Plants Commonly Found in North Florida Landscapes

PG

Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/12/01/scarlet-lure-of-chinese-tallow/

Mountain Snow in the Panhandle

Mountain Snow in the Panhandle

There are plants that gardeners may know and love from other regions that just do not perform well in the heat, humidity, and soils of our area. One example is the Japanese pieris, an attractive evergreen shrub with showy white blooms in spring. This shrub has a few specific environmental requirements that make it unsuitable for most gardens along the Panhandle, including the need for rich organic soil that holds some moisture but is well drained.

Late winter/early spring flowers on the Mountain Snow. New foliage also emerges reddish. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

 

For those of you who thought that a garden with Japanese pieris is only a dream, the nursery industry has now made your dream a reality. Part of the Southern Living plant collection is a more heat tolerant Japanese pieris called Mountain Snow™ that is showing promise.  Site selection is still very important.  Mountain Snow™ will grow best with summer shade and in beds that are amended with organic material.  Water must be applied when rainfall is lacking and soil must be well drained.

Shrubs will grow about 4 feet by 3 feet. Flower buds cover this established plant. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

Although those requirements can not be met in all landscapes, there are gardens like the Escambia County Demonstration Garden where a Mountain Snow™ plant will grow well. Our shrub is planted in an irrigated ornamental bed with organic mulch on top and receives summer shade from a deciduous tree.  At two years old, it appears to be doing well in our area.  If you have a garden spot with the conditions appropriate, consider trying this shrub for early season interest.

PG

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/12/01/mountain-snow-in-the-panhandle/

Improve Your Life with Panhandle E-Extension Newsletters and UF/IFAS EDIS Resources

Improve Your Life with Panhandle E-Extension Newsletters and UF/IFAS EDIS Resources

If you are a regular reader of Gardening in the Panhandle, you know that this e-newsletter covers many topics related to ornamental and vegetable gardening, Florida-friendly landscaping, pest management, and lawn and garden fertility.

But did you also know that UF/IFAS Extension in the Florida Panhandle has four other E-newsletters covering topics such as Florida agriculture, wildlife and natural resources, 4-H youth, economic well-being, health and nutrition, and overall life quality for individuals and families?

These other E-Extension in the Panhandle newsletters include Panhandle Agriculture , Panhandle Outdoors,  4-H in the Panhandle, and Living Well in the Panhandle.

Notice

Additionally, UF/IFAS also has an extensive collection of publications on many of these e-newsletter topics. If you haven’t already, check out the Extension Data Information Source (EDIS) website. It is a comprehensive, single-source repository of all current UF/IFAS numbered peer-reviewed publications. Visit EDIS for a complete listing.

As a Gardening in the Panhandle enthusiast, here is a list of horticulture and gardening related EDIS publications you might find useful:

Vegetable Gardening

Home Lawns and Landscapes

Soil and Fertility

Pest Management

PG

Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/11/27/improve-your-life-with-panhandle-e-extension-newsletters-and-ufifas-edis-resources/

Happy Thanksgiving from your Gardening in the Panhandle Team !

Happy Thanksgiving from your Gardening in the Panhandle Team !

Happy Thanksgiving from your Gardening in the Panhandle Team !

 

image credit blogs.ifas.ufl.edu

 

 

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/11/23/happy-thanksgiving-from-your-gardening-in-the-panhandle-team/

Dine In Day Pledge

Dine In Day Pledge

Dine In Day, December 3rd, is a day to set aside and share a nutritious meal with family, friends, and colleagues and have good conversation. Dining In at home together really does make a difference in the lives of our families – biological or otherwise. Sharing a meal is so fundamental to the human experience that sometimes we take this simple task for granted. Dining In at home together decreases our families’ chance of being overweight or obese. It improves our families’ relationships. We save money and eat healthier when Dining In.

Not enough time, busy schedules, and too much stress, however, might make this seemingly impossible for many families.

So here are some tips that might make Dining In a little easier for you and your family from AAFCS (American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences).

  1. Make family meals a priority and agree upon a schedule.
  2. Try to have regular family meals two to three times per week.
  3. If dinnertime doesn’t work, have family breakfasts or snacks.
  4. Keep meals simple. Slow cookers save time in the evening!
  5. Double recipes and freeze food for a second meal.
  6. Set aside 30 minutes on the weekend for meal planning.
  7. Make family meals fun and include children in food preparation. How about having breakfast for dinner?
  8. Discuss neutral or positive topics at the table. Stumped for what to talk about? Try this conversation starter: “What fun thing did you do today?”
  9. Eliminate distractions like TV and cell phones.
  10. Eat slowly and enjoy your time as a family!

Dine In with Family

To help you make the pledge to Dine In with your family December 3rd, go to http://www.aafcs.org/fcsday/commit-to-dining-in/fcs-day-sign-up and make your very easy commitment today. After that, see how many more Dine In days you can make with your family.

To learn more about the Benefits of Family Meals, read http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY136200.pdf

PG

Author: Angela Hinkle – ahinkle@ufl.edu

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Living Well in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/11/20/dine-in-day-pledge/

Thanks, I Kneaded That

Thanks, I Kneaded That

Kneading Dough
Photo credit: Angela Hinkle

One of the most beloved smells across cultures and classes is baking bread. It brings about associations of home and comfort – even among folks who have never even experienced baking bread at home! The tactile experience of touching, folding, and pushing dough – or kneading – is considered by many to be one of the most pleasant touches in the world. Kneading dough is important in making bread and rolls light, airy, and chewy.  (After all, who wants flat, tough bread?) But kneading dough and baking bread also has evolved into a type of therapy that social workers and psychologists use in workshops – similar to art therapy. If you use your own kitchen, you don’t even have to go to a workshop.

Making, baking, and breaking bread together is a great way to build bonds and a sense of home and warmth. Generally speaking, when we prepare food, our hands help us to create an increased sense of self-esteem and confidence. The kneading and baking of bread in particular helps to unlock or spark our creativity. The repetitive pressure your hands release when kneading a batch of bread dough also can release some of the frustrations we face in a day. Kneading and baking allow us to mindfully do something productive (though it may actually seem to be mindless). And when you’ve finished, you end up with a great edible reward for you and those with whom you share your bread blessings.

To calm your nerves, purposefully create and prepare a wholesome food, and increase your daily positivity, knead some dough and bake a loaf of bread today. To get started, try King Arthur Flour Hearth Bread (aka “The Easiest Loaf of Bread You’ll Ever Bake”); click on https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/hearth-bread-recipe .

Kneading is something many of us need.  Maybe you’ll even help a friend in knead.

 

PG

Author: Angela Hinkle – ahinkle@ufl.edu

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Living Well in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/11/20/thanks-i-kneaded-that/

He’s Bored, But He Didn’t Kill Your Tree

He’s Bored, But He Didn’t Kill Your Tree

Sometimes you don’t realize a tree is dying until it is dead.  A few weeks ago, we got a call from a client who said he had insects killing his trees.  Before having someone drive out to the property, our Master Gardener volunteer recommended that the client bring in some of the insects for us to take a look.  It turned out the insects invading his pine tree were a type of longhorned beetle, but more specimens were required for identification.  A site visit soon ensued.

There were a number of pine trees on the property, however only one was infested with the insects in question.  Upon closer investigation, we noticed a number of different sized holes in the tree.  The larger holes are nearly the size of a dime.

Arrowhead borer damage on a pine tree.

Arrowhead borer damage on a pine tree. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

It turns out the insects making the larger holes are a type of longhorned beetle known as an arrowhead borer (Xylotrechus sagittatus).  The borers are brown to black in color with a reddish hue.  They are moderately hairy and some specimens contain arrowhead markings pointing toward their heads.  Adults feed on the bark of damaged or fire-killed pines.  The adults are attracted to lights and may be mistaken for crickets because they run very fast.  Eggs are laid in bark and larvae feed on sapwood, then tunnel deeper, often tunneling within a single annual ring.  The borers pupate inside the tree and the newly emerged adults chew their way out.

A picture of an arrowhead borer.

Arrowhead Borer. Photo Credit: Tom Murray bugguide.net.

Given the fact that arrowhead borers are attracted to dead or dying trees, the killer of this particular tree is still in question.  The smaller holes in the bark picture above were created by a much smaller beetle, but we were unable to get a specimen.  We did see a couple of these beetles running around when we dug deeper into the bark.  The small beetles that we saw closely resembled a type of Ips engraver beetle.  Beetles in this genus have been known to kill trees, but most likely they weren’t the culprits either.  Based on the overall appearance of the tree and the fact that other trees in the area were not infested with beetles, it is believed the tree was killed by other means.  The tree was likely struck by lightening or suffered from poor genetics because it did not have a good form for a pine tree.

If you have a questionable looking tree on your property or if you have insects you would like identified, please feel free to stop by your local Extension Office and ask a Master Gardener!

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/11/20/hes-bored-but-he-didnt-kill-your-tree/

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