Join Us August 7 for the 2021 Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop

Join Us August 7 for the 2021 Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop

Join us via Zoom on Saturday, August 7, for our Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop. Graphic by Molly Jameson.

Join us via Zoom on Saturday, August 7, for our Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop. Graphic by Molly Jameson.

Join Us August 7 for the 2021 Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop

Planting vegetable seeds and growing a garden is a great way to get outdoors and appreciate nature. Since 2015, the Leon County Public Library has supported gardeners in Leon County by providing vegetable seed packets for patrons to take home and plant in their gardens.

To kick off the Fall 2021 Seed Library, agents with UF/IFAS Leon County Extension are hosting the Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop on Saturday, August 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.

During the virtual workshop, Extension agents will discuss planting seeds, growing vegetables, and how to incorporate veggies into healthy meals and snacks. The workshop coincides with the first day the seeds in the Fall 2021 Seed Library will become available. Residents of Leon County can check out three sample seed packets per month with their library cards from all Leon County library branches.

Even if you are not a resident of Leon County, everyone is welcome to join us at the virtual workshop. Along with the gardening portion of the workshop, there will also be a live virtual cooking demonstration featuring vegetables available in the Fall 2021 Seed Library Program.

For more information about the Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop, please visit our Eventbrite page: https://seedlibraryworkshop2021.eventbrite.com. There is no cost to attend the workshop, but registration is required.

If you are a resident of Leon County, all you need is your Leon County library card to check out the vegetable seeds. Don’t have a library card? No problem! Leon County residents can apply online at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library online card application page here: https://lcpl.ent.sirsi.net/custom/web/registration/.

Here is the list of the vegetable seed varieties that will be available starting August 7: Common Arugula, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Chantenay Red Core Carrots, Michihili Chinese Cabbage, Slo-bolt Cilantro, Alabama Blue Collards, Early White Vienna Kohlrabi, Rocky Top Salad Blend Lettuce, Pink Beauty Radishes, and Tokinashi Turnips.

The Sweet Treat Known as the Tupelo Honey Festival

The Sweet Treat Known as the Tupelo Honey Festival

The Annual Tupelo Honey Festival will be held Saturday, May 15th from 9 am – 4 pm central time at Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka. This is your chance to take part in a local treat. Area honey producers will be on hand to sell their honey in a variety of sizes. There will also be food, art and crafts, and live music.

For decades, tupelo honey has been synonymous with Gulf county. The nectar from the tupelo gum tree (Nyssa ogeche), produces some of the finest honey in the world. The common name “tupelo” is derived from language of the Muscogee Nation, also known as the Creek Indian Nation. The meaning of the word is “swamp tree”, as this tree flourishes in areas of wet soils and seasonal flooding. Gulf County is home to one of the largest tupelo forests on earth.

A honeybee visiting tupelo blossoms.

A honeybee visiting tupelo blossoms. Photo Credit: Gulf County Tourist Development Council.

The tupelo bloom season lasts from approximately mid-April to the end of May. This is an anxious time for beekeepers. Tupelo blooms are very temperamental and delicate in nature. For this short period, beekeepers hope for little wind or rain and no cold temperatures, as any of these factors can make or break tupelo honey production. Regardless of seasonal impacts, the demand for Gulf County’s tupelo honey never subsides.

Please visit http://www.tupelohoneyfestival.com/ for more information on the festival. For more information on beekeeping, contact your local county extension office.

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.

Plant with Purpose at the Leon County Extension Office

Plant with Purpose at the Leon County Extension Office

Plant with Purpose: Written by Rachel Mathes

Last spring, we were all ready to host another Open House and Plant Sale on Mother’s Day weekend. When the realities of the pandemic became clear, we canceled the event for the safety of everyone involved. We typically have more than 500 visitors and dozens of volunteers on site. This year we are happy to announce we have adapted our annual fundraiser to a monthly learning and growing opportunity for the whole community.

growing milkweed

Master Gardener Volunteer Jeanne Breland is growing native milkweed in her monarch exclusion fortress for a Plant with Purpose talk and sale in the spring. Previous years’ milkweed have been eaten by monarch caterpillars before the sale so Jeanne has built her fortress to get the best results. Photo by Rachel Mathes

Our Master Gardener Volunteers will be teaching Thursday evening classes on particular plant groups throughout the year in our new series: Plant with Purpose. Topics will range from milkweed to shade plants to vegetables and herbs for different seasons. Attendees can attend the talks for free and grow along with us with the purchase of a box. These boxes are modeled after community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes you can purchase from local farms. Buyers will get a variety of the plants discussed in the plant lesson that week.  For example, in our first event, Growing a Pizza Garden, we will have two tomato plants, two pepper plants, and one basil plant available for $20. Throughout the year, prices and number of plants will vary depending on the topic.

We hope with this new model of presentations and plant sales will enable us to remain Covid-safe while still bringing horticulture education to the community. Classes will be held on Thursday evenings from 6-7 pm via Zoom. Register on our Eventbrite to get the Zoom link emailed to you before each talk. Plant pick up will be the following Saturday from 10 am to noon. Master Gardener Volunteers will load up your plant box in a contact-free drive thru at the UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Office at 615 Paul Russell Rd.

propagation table

Propagation of angel wing begonia and other plants by Joan Peloso, Master Gardener Volunteer.

Master Gardener Volunteers are already growing plants for you to purchase throughout the year. Landscape plants, herbs, vegetables, shrubs and even trees will be available later in the year. Funds raised from this series help fund our Horticulture programming. Some notable programs that will benefit from Plant with Purpose include our Demonstration Garden, 4-H Horticulture Club, the Veterans’ Garden Group at the VA Tallahassee Outpatient Clinic, and various school gardens we help support throughout Leon County.

In the last year, we have adapted many of our programs to meet virtually, and even created new ones like our Wednesday Webinar series where we explore different horticulture topics twice a month with guest speakers from around the Panhandle. While we still can’t meet in person to get down in the dirt with all of our community programs, we hope that the Plant with Purpose series will help fill the hole left by our cancelled Open House and Plant Sale. Join us for the first installment of Plant with Purpose on Thursday March 18th from 6-7pm. Pick up for purchased plant boxes will be Saturday March 20th from 10am-noon.

To register for this event and other events at the Leon County Extension Office, please visit the Leon County Extension Office Events Registration Page.

Leon County’s Spring 2021 Seed Library Program Starts February 13

Leon County’s Spring 2021 Seed Library Program Starts February 13

Sugar snap peas prefer to be planted when the soil is cool and the pods are delicious raw or cooked. Photo by Full Earth Farm.

Sugar snap peas prefer to be planted when the soil is cool and the pods are delicious raw or cooked. Photo by Full Earth Farm.

Leon County’s Spring 2021 Seed Library Program Starts February 13

Although we are still experiencing the coolness of winter, the spring gardening season is right around the corner. To get a head start on the heat that will start taking over by May – and certainly by June – it is important to have a spring garden plan. If you want to start your veggies from seed, certain crops, such as tomatoes, need to be seeded soon for best results. Other warm-loving crops, like squash and cucumbers, also benefit from an early start to beat the life cycles of many common pests.

Need seeds to start your garden? Well, if you live in Leon County, you are in luck. Starting on February 13, 2021, residents of Leon County can “check out” up to three sample seed packets per month with their library card as part of Leon County’s Seed Library Program. The vegetable seeds can be checked out from any of the seven library branch locations. Leon County residents can apply for a library card online at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library online card application page (https://lcpl.ent.sirsi.net/custom/web/registration/).

A young volunteer helped pack seeds from home for the Spring 2021 Leon County Seed Library Program. Photo by Jeanne Breland.

A young volunteer helped pack seeds from home for the Spring 2021 Leon County Seed Library Program. Photo by Jeanne Breland.

Here are the vegetable seed varieties that will be available starting February 13:

  • Italian Large Leaf Basil. This is a fast-growing plant, with four-inch-long green leaves that have an anise flavor and a sweet aroma.
  • Jackson Wonder Butterbeans. A high yielding heirloom, these beans produce pods with three to five reddish colored beans in each. When dried, the beans develop a mottled pattern.
  • A & C Pickling Cucumber. Plants are productive, producing many straight, dark-green fruits that are great for pickling when they are four to six inches long. Eaten fresh, they can be grown out to 10 inches.
  • Edisto 47 Melon. Plants prosper in hot, humid climates and produce mildly sweet five-pound cantaloupes in about 90 days.
  • Burmese Okra. Plants have very large leaves and at about 18-inches tall, produce slender curved 9 to 12 inch okra pods that are virtually spineless. Under 10 inches, pods can be eaten raw and are less viscous than some other varieties.
  • Sugar Snap Peas. Plants produce sweet, crisp pods that can be eaten raw or cooked. Seeds germinate well in cool soil and plant growth is vigorous, requiring support.
  • Corno di Toro Sweet Bell Pepper. This productive pepper, whose name translates to “Horn of the Bull,” produces thick horn-shaped fruit that is flavorful and great eaten raw or cooked.
  • Butternut Waltham Squash. This winter squash produces four-to-five-pound fruits with necks that are thick, straight, and cylindrical. The flesh of the fruit is smooth and has a flavor that sweetens with storage.
  • Black Krim Tomato. This Russian heirloom has indeterminate growth and produces 8 to16 ounce, brown-to-red fruit with a deep smoky flavor. The shoulders of the tomatoes are brownish green and darken with more heat and sunlight.
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato. This deep-red small cherry tomato has indeterminate growth and produces soft fruit that is very sweet and full of flavor.

Whether you are located in Leon County or not, everyone is welcome to join us Saturday, February 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., for our Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop. Via Zoom, agents with UF/IFAS Extension Leon County will discuss spring vegetable gardening techniques and food waste prevention. There will also be a live cooking demonstration showing how to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home, featuring vegetables available in the Spring 2021 Seed Library Program.

For more information about the Leon County Seed Library Virtual Workshop, please visit our Eventbrite page: https://spring2021leoncountyseedlibrary.eventbrite.com. There is no cost to attend the workshop, but registration is required.

Happy spring gardening!

Arbor Day 2020

Arbor Day 2020

Master Gardeners demonstrate correct tree planting techniques.

Last week, we celebrated Florida’s Arbor Day. “What?” you may say—“Isn’t Arbor Day in the spring?” Well, yes and no. National Arbor Day is celebrated in the spring (April 24 this year), usually within a day or two of Earth Day. However, because of the wide range of climatic environments throughout the United States, each state has its own date based on ideal growing conditions. As it stands, Florida’s is the 3rd Friday in January, as we are situated so very far south. Alabama and Georgia, where so many of us north Floridians experience similar weather, hold their Arbor Days in late February.

Contrary to popular opinion, the optimal planting time for trees is not in the spring, but in fall and winter. Planting during dormancy allows trees to focus their energy resources on growing healthy roots. In the coming spring, a steady supply of warmth, sunshine, and pollinators will bring on leaf growth, flowers, and fruit.

Check with your local Extension offices, garden clubs, and municipalities to find out if there is an Arbor Day event near you! Several local agencies have joined forces to organize tree giveaway events and sales in observance of Florida’s Arbor Day.

Saturday, January 25th

Leon County: UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Master Gardeners will assist with the county’s Arbor Day tree planting at 9 a.m. Martha Wellman Park, 5317 W. Tennessee St., Tallahassee.

 

New Demonstrations in the UF/IFAS Extension Building at the North Florida Fair

New Demonstrations in the UF/IFAS Extension Building at the North Florida Fair

There are hands-on agricultural crop displays and much more in the UF/IFAS building at the North Florida Fair. Photo by Molly Jameson.

There are hands-on agricultural crop displays and much more in the UF/IFAS building at the North Florida Fair. Photo by Molly Jameson.

New Demonstrations in the UF/IFAS Extension Building at the North Florida Fair

Every year during the North Florida Fair in Tallahassee, extension agents from all over the Florida Panhandle showcase their various programming in the UF/IFAS exhibitor building. This includes educational displays and hands-on activities in areas such as horticulture, agriculture, livestock, 4-H youth, natural resources, and family and consumer sciences.

Once you have your fill of fair rides and funnel cake, see a live educational demonstration at the UF/IFAS building! Photo by Molly Jameson.

Once you have your fill of fair rides and funnel cake, see a live educational demonstration at the UF/IFAS building! Photo by Molly Jameson.

For instance, visitors can view and touch agricultural crops grown in our area, play in a giant tub of actual cotton, match images of song birds with their names, make a 4-H craft, and learn about the importance of wildlife habitat for animals.

This year, Extension is including even more to do and learn in the UF/IFAS building. There will be live demonstrations taking place throughout the fair week, which is November 7 to 17 this year.

Did you know you can convert recycled containers, such as milk jugs and soda bottles into self-watering planters? Or that when saltwater reef fishing, if fish are brought to the surface too quickly, it can rupture their organs? Learn all about these concepts and more during the UF/IFAS Extension Live Demonstrations.

UF/IFAS Live Demonstration Schedule:

Turn all types of containers into self-watering gardens, such as planting a strawberry in a plastic jug using strips of old cloth as a wick. Photo by John Edwards.

Turn all types of containers into self-watering gardens, such as planting a strawberry in a plastic jug using strips of old cloth as a wick. Photo by John Edwards.

Saturday, November 9:

  • 1:00 p.m. – Food Safety with Extension Agent Kendra Zamojski
  • 2:00 p.m. – Avoiding Barotrauma while Deep Sea Fishing with Extension Agent Andrea Albertin

Monday, November 11:

  • 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.  – Reef Fish Catch and Release Techniques with Extension Agent Laura Tiu

Tuesday, November 12:

  • 6:30 p.m.  – Rose Propagation with Extension Agent Matt Orwat

Thursday, November 14:

  • 6:15 p.m. – Starting Plants in Recycled Newspaper with Extension Agent Paula Davis
  • 7:00 p.m. – Food Safety with Extension Agents Laurie Osgood and Amy Mullins

Saturday, November 16:

  • 3:00 p.m. – Planting with Recycled Containers with Extension Agents Molly Jameson, Mark Tancig, and Allison Leo

Sunday, November 17:

  • 7:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.  – Reef Fish Catch and Release Techniques with Extension Agent Erik Lovestrand

For more information about the North Florida Fair, visit the website at http://northfloridafair.com/.

See you at the fair!