Plant a Tree to Celebrate Arbor Day!

East Bay Holly

East Bay Holly. Photo by Mary Derrick, UF IFAS


[important]The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.  ~Chinese Proverb[/important]

In Florida, Arbor Day is always celebrated on the third Friday of January. In 2014, Arbor Day falls on Friday, January 17.

Consider planting a tree to enhance your property. Trees provide many benefits such as:

  • Shade for leisure activities
  • Lower energy costs for cooling
  • Cover and food for wildlife
  • Screen from unsightly views
  • Privacy from neighbors
  • Addition of value to your property; click here to determine the monetary value of a tree


If you have plenty of trees already, consider getting involved in a local community group that is sponsoring Arbor Day tree plantings. Or maybe your local church, park, non-profit or school would appreciate the donation and planting of a new tree.

So what trees are best to choose for the Florida panhandle?  Some things to consider are soil type and pH, light, and any overhead obstructions. Click here for a publication that discusses what to consider when choosing a tree. Florida Trees for the Urban and Suburban Landscape will help you choose a particular tree species for your site. Considerations in tree selection may include bloom color and season, mature size, hurricane resistance, and whether it is evergreen or deciduous.

Once you have chosen a great tree for your specific site, proper installation and care is crucial to the success of your new tree. Click here to learn all about planting and caring for your tree.

For more information please see:

Arbor Day Foundation: Florida

Native Trees for North Florida

Palms for North Florida

Planting Trees in Landscapes

National Tree Benefit Calculator

Thinning Vegetable Seedlings

For best root development, thin carrots to 2-3 inches between each plant.

For best root development, thin carrots to 2-3 inches between each plant.

Many common cool season vegetable garden plants are started in raised beds by direct planting of seeds. It is important to follow the guidelines in the ‘Monthly Vegetable Planting Guide’ (Page 6) for plant spacing and seed depth.  It is possible to thin out seedlings that are growing too close, but seeds that are planted at the incorrect depth may not germinate.

Vegetable seedlings will need to be thinned out after germination to allow for adequate space for leaf or root development.  Crowded vegetables will compete with each other for water, nutrients, and sunlight and never produce quality plants.

Here are some tips for thinning seedlings:

  • When plants are about 1 to 2 inches tall or have two sets of ‘true leaves’, it is time to thin out any crowded plants.
  • Look up the proper spacing between plants and thin out appropriately.
  • Pull out seedlings with fingers or forceps to make space or use small
    scissors to cut off seedlings at the ground level.
  • It will initially look like there is lots of room between seedlings but realize plants will grow quickly to utilize all available space.

Winterizing Garden Tools

Garden Tools. Photo courtesy: UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions

Garden Tools. Photo courtesy: UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions

Due to a lack of snow, Florida’s winter landscape chores are relatively uncomplicated. However, that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. As the growing season comes to a close and gardeners mow, snip and spade for the final time, it’s time to consider proper cleaning and storage of all that equipment. A little preventative maintenance can avoid frustration and expensive repair in the future. When  tools are maintained properly their life is extended substantially and their work efficiency is increased. A few examples of preventative care include cleaning and sanitizing, sharpening blades, and maintaining power equipment.

When cleaning  tools, remove caked on soil or vegetation using a wire brush, scraper or a strong stream of water. Sharpen hoes, pruners, loppers and saws.

Always remember to check tools thoroughly for loose screws or nuts and tighten them accordingly. Spraying the bare metal parts and cutting edges of tools with a penetrating oil, such as WD-40, will help prevent rust. It is thought that wiping tools’ wooden handles with boiled linseed oil will help prevent wood from cracking and drying.

Another item to consider while preparing one’s landscape for the winter is the garden hose. While hoses don’t need a great deal of care, a few small steps are important if they are to last. Store hoses on hose supports or reels or coil them loosely rather than hanging them on nails. Using hose supports or reels prevents the hose from sagging and kinking. Drain all the water and store in a dry location before storing hoses away for the winter.

Power equipment, such as lawn mowers, may require additional winter preparations. Always refer to the owner’s manual for specific information. However, in general, the following steps can be taken to winterize this equipment.

Remove collected grease, dirt and plant material from the equipment. It is always beneficial to check for loose screws and nuts and tighten them accordingly. Remember to sharpen cutting edges. If equipment has a four-cycle engine, change the oil by following instructions listed in the owner’s manual. Remove all gasoline from tank. It’s good to run the engine a turn or two to coat the cylinder walls with oil, and then replace the plug.

Two-cycle engines, or engines that run with a gas and oil mixture, also should have the oil-gas mixture removed for the winter. Run the engine with the choke open to remove fuel from the lines. Check the spark plug and replace if it is worn. Replace other worn or damaged parts as well. Always avoid storing gasoline over the winter. Old gasoline does not ignite easily, making the machines using it work harder.

Once the cold weather creeps in to Florida, gardeners may feel as if they can sit back and wait for spring, however, don’t neglect proper maintenance of garden tools. When the weather warms up, properly working garden equipment will be the gardens’ best asset!

For more information feel free to contact your local Extension Office.

Spring Into Vegetable Gardening

Spring Into Vegetable Gardening


Dates:  Tuesdays, January 14- February 4, 2014counties

Time:  6:00PM-7:30PM (Central Time Zone)                               

Cost:  $30 per person or $45/couple                                

Location:  Local UF/IFAS Extension County Office


Eventbrite - Spring into Vegetable Gardening


Florida Arbor Day


Removal of the container and inspection of the rootball is critical to tree survival.

Removal of the container and inspection of the rootball is critical to tree survival.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.  The second best time is Arbor Day 2014.  Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, so the next one is January 17, 2014.

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care.  As a formal holiday, it was first observed on April 10, 1872 in the state of Nebraska.  Today, every state and many countries join in the recognition of trees impact on people and the environment.

 Trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources.  They keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade, and help make our landscapes look beautiful.  A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year.  That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four.


The idea for Arbor Day in the U.S. began with Julius Sterling Morton.  In 1854 he moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska.  J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and nature lover who noticed that there were virtually no trees in Nebraska.  He wrote and spoke about environmental stewardship and encouraged everyone to plant trees.  Morton emphasized that trees were needed to act as windbreaks, to stabilize the soil, to provide shade, as well as, fuel and building materials for the early pioneers to prosper in the developing state.

Proper planting depth and adequate watering can ensure long term survival.

Proper planting depth and adequate watering can ensure long-term survival.

In 1872, The State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by J. Sterling Morton “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.”  On April 10, 1872 one million trees were planted in Nebraska in honor of the first Arbor Day.  Shortly after the 1872 observance, several other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day.  By 1920, 45 states and territories celebrated Arbor Day.  Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day during his presidency in 1970.


Today, all 50 states in the U.S. have official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that has the correct climatological conditions for planting trees.  For Florida, the ideal tree planting time is January, so Florida’s Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of the month.  Similar events are observed throughout the world.  In Israel it is the Tu B Shevat (New Year for Trees) on January 16, 2014.  Germany has Tag des Baumes on April 25.  Japan and Korea celebrate an entire week in April.  Even, Iceland one of the treeless countries in the world observes Student’s Afforestation Day.


The trees planted on Arbor Day show a concern for future generations.  The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow and some day provide wood products, wildlife habitat erosion control, shelter from wind and sun, beauty, and inspiration for ourselves and our children.


Clayton ( Sheila's grandson) will reap the benefits of the trees planted this Arbor Day.

Clayton ( Sheila’s grandson) will reap the benefits of the trees planted this Arbor Day.

“It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.”

 ~Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Arbor Day Message