Growing Winter Strawberries Workshop

Growing Winter Strawberries Workshop

Where: Washington County Agriculture Center 1424 Jackson Ave

When: Saturday November 11, 9:00am-12:00pm

Cost: $10.00. Refreshments Served

Limit 30 participants

Strawberry plant plugs will be provided to participants !

On site demonstration !

Pre Registration required for count: Contact Nikki or Cynthia at 850-638-6180 or email Matthew Orwat at



Now is the time for Northwest Florida gardeners to plant strawberries for bountiful production of fruit beginning in January and continuing into May. The following procedure will lead to a successful strawberry garden if followed:

The best location for strawberry production provides well-drained, moist, sandy soil with substantial organic matter. It must not be too wet. A fertilizer scheme of 2 lbs of a 6-8-8 fertilizer per 100 sq ft should be broadcasted over the plot, and spaded or disked in. Prepare the bed by leveling out the soil.  Commonly, a preferred system is the development of a hill system, which entails making a raised bed 6-8 inches high and 24 inches wide. A raised bed can be filled with well-rotted compost mixed at a 50:50 rate with soil. After bed preparation, provide another application of fertilizer in a single, narrowband in the middle of the bed, 4 to 8 inches deep, but DO NOT apply fertilizer directly below the plants, as the fertilizer may burn the young transplants. Do not use fertilizer with more than 6% nitrogen on strawberries, so that they have less chance of burning and greater chance of setting sweet, quality fruit.

Short day, certified disease free plants for Florida such as Sweet Charlie and Camarosa should be purchased from a reputable nursery.

If growing the plants using plastic mulch or grow fabric, put drip irrigation underneath in the form of drip emitters or bubbler type soaker hose.

When setting out the transplants:

  • Keep plants moist before planting
  • Spread roots out in fan-shape
  • Set plants in moist soil at the correct depth. Do not cover the plants crown with dirt or leave its roots exposed above the soil.
  • Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart.
  • Pack the soil firmly around the roots, then sprinkle with water. Overhead sprinkling may keep the tops from drying out until the roots can get established.

For best results, strawberries should be mulched. Black polyethylene plastic mulch at 1 to 1½ mil thick is best (completely cover the top and sides of bed before planting). Be sure the bed is firm, formed correctly, moist, and fertilized adequately. Place soil on the edges of the plastic to hold it in place. Cut slits in the plastic for the transplants.

When using alternatives like straw, bark or other natural organic materials mulch to a depth of 1 to 2 inches, but do not completely cover the plant.

Controlling Brush & Invasive Species Workshop

Controlling Brush & Invasive Species Workshop

Encroaching brush, whether native or invasive, can be a problem for properties large and small. Fighting woody brush and other hard-to-kill weed species can be challenging for property owners. Many factors affect the effectiveness and efficiency of control efforts.

Timing of the application is a key factor that many property owners fail to consider. The cooler, fall and winter months are an excellent time to control a wide variety of troublesome brush species. With this in mind, the Washington County Extension Agents will be presenting a class, Controlling Brush & Invasive Species on November 9, 2017. The class will focus on plant identification and specific chemical control strategies that are effective in the fall and winter months. Herbicide selection and application techniques will be addressed in detail.

Controlling Brush & Invasive Species will be held at the Washington County Agricultural Center (1424 Jackson Ave., Chipley, FL) on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 6:30 in the evening. Refreshments and printed reference materials will provided. There is a $5 registration fee for the class, payable at the door. Advanced registration for the class is appreciated. If you have questions or would like to register please contact Mark Mauldin at the Washington County Extension Office (850-638-6180 or


Mushroom Growing Workshop – November 18

Mushroom Growing Workshop – November 18

The Jackson County Master Gardeners are hosting a hosting a Mushroom Growing Workshop on Saturday, November 18 at the Jackson County Extension Office, 2741 Penn Ave., Marianna, FL.

9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
• Learn to grow oyster mushrooms.
• Learn about mushroom nutrition.
• Learn to culture your own mushroom spawn.
• Take home two inoculated mushroom bags!
• A home cooked lunch is included!
Registration Fee $20.00
Includes Lunch
Space is Limited
Bring a jar of peanut butter to donate to the Backpack for KIDS program and you will be entered in a special raffle!
To register, contact the Extension Service at (850)482-9620 or
Pre-register by November 16th.

Mysterious Growths on Bald Cypress

Mysterious Growths on Bald Cypress

Cypress twig galls on bald cypress leaves. Photo: J_McConnell, UF/IFAS

Bald cypress Taxodium distichum is a native tree that is commonly planted in landscapes because it is adaptable to many sites and grows quickly. It is an interesting tree because it has soft flat leaves that fall off in the winter like other deciduous shade trees; however, it belongs to the Cypress family which consists mostly of needled evergreens.

Like the other cypresses, bald cypress produces cones in the fall, which is a primary means of reproduction for the species in natural settings. During the same season that cones are maturing, you might also see what looks like cones forming at the tips of branches among the leaflets rather than along the stem. These mysterious growths are not cones but rather twig galls.

Bald cypress twig galls are abnormal growths of leaf bud tissue triggered by the attack of the cypress twig gall midge Taxodiomyia cupressiananassa. In late spring, adult midges lay eggs on new leaves of the bald cypress. As the eggs hatch and midge larvae start feeding on the bald cypress leaves the growth of a twig gall is induced. The larvae take advantage of this gall using it for food and shelter throughout the larval stage and into the pupal stage. After pupation, adults emerge from the galls, mate, and females lay an average of 120 eggs over a two-day lifespan as an adult. This first generation lays eggs on mature leaves which starts the cycle again. The galls formed by the second generation of the year fall off and overwinter on the ground.

The galls do not appear to affect the health of trees overall, although the weight of heavily infested branches may cause drooping. There are many natural enemies of the twig cypress gall midge, so applying insecticides are not recommended since they may cause harm to non-target insects. The simplest management option is to collect and destroy the galls in the spring and fall to reduce populations the following season.

To read more about bald cypress trees or the twig gall please see the following publications:

Cypress Twig Gall Midge, Taxodiomyia cupressiananassa

Taxodium distichum: Bald Cypress

An Easily Preventable Tree Planting Problem

An Easily Preventable Tree Planting Problem

Trees are a landscape asset for many homeowners. When a new tree is installed in our landscapes, we can’t wait for it to mature to provide shade or landscape interest.  The heartbreak for many homeowners comes when this important part of their landscape, begins to decline five to ten years after establishment.  We often consider a pest as the cause. The common culprit is often hidden below the mulch and soil and is easily preventable.

When larger specimen trees are installed in residential and commercial landscapes, they may be delivered with materials that help hold the rootball in place.   Strapping often runs over the rootball and when trees are young is several inches away from the trunk.  Installers or homeowners often do not cut the strapping during installation.

As this tree continue to grow, the rootball straps will interfere with normal trunk development. Cutting the straps takes only a few seconds at the time of planting. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF / IFAS Extension Escambia County

Over the years, tree trunks will grow in diameter and eventually reach the strapping.  Because the strapping is still firmly in place, it can cut into a growing tree, resulting in girdling.  Although many trees try to overcome the injured area by forming new wood over and around the girdling, this is a major stress that interferes with water and food movement in the plant.  What we see is a tree that may be slower to leaf out in the spring, a thinning canopy, and twig dieback.  These symptoms may be confused with another cause since the strapping is normally hidden from view.

The crape myrtle on the right has a very thin canopy. Investigation found a severe area of girdling from strapping left uncut at planting. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF / IFAS Extension Escambia County.

If you do have a tree that exhibits the above listed symptoms, it never hurts to look at the trunk and root flare just below the mulch and soil surface. If you find strapping still in place, cut it so that it is loose.  Depending on the severity of the problem, this may not save the tree but it is worth a try on your important investment.