May 26, 2010

HOT Summer Classes with COOL information!!!

Attend Pinellas County Extension’s June Classes

Pinellas County Extension offers residents a wide variety of classes to help them make sustainable decisions.

Be sure to check out our lunch break online classes in June, “Solutions in 30.” Each week this month you will learn or rediscover all about using energy efficient lighting choices for your home and office, how to get your plot ready for your fall vegetable garden, what to do to start saving for your retirement, and ways to help protect your child from cyberbullying along with ways for him or her to become a good cybercitizen.

Solutions in 30:
June 9, 2010 - Lighting Your Way to Energy Efficiency
June 16, 2010 - Get Ready for Vegetable Gardening
June 23, 2010 - Saving for Retirement
June 30, 2010 - Cyberbullying and Cybercitizenship

Commercial (Pesticide/FNGLA/ISA) CEUs:
June 17, 2010 - Best Management Practices

Lawn & Garden:
June 9, 2010 - Storm Proofing Trees 2pm
June 9, 2010 - Storm Proofing Trees 6pm
June 12, 2010 - Summer Lawn and Garden Problems
June 13, 2010 - A Palm Road Trip – The Palms of Australia
June 17, 2010 - Landscape Facelift
June 22, 2010 - Florida Vegetable Gardening
June 26, 2010 - Rain Harvesting Workshop

Urban Wildlife:
June 5, 2010 - Basically Bats!
June 13, 2010 - Florida Botanical Gardens - Bird and Wildlife Walk
June 20, 2010 - Tracking Wildlife
June 30, 2010 - Florida Botanical Gardens – Evening Nature Walk

Sustainable Living:
June 19, 2010 - Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project
June 22, 2010 - The Five Biggest Myths of Climate Change

4-H Youth Development:
June 19, 2010 - College 101: New College Student’s Success

You can register for classes online at
Please look for and click on the “Online Class Registration” button on the right hand side near the top of the page.

May 24, 2010

Florida Friendly Color for the Summer Heat

Bob Albanese, Extension Specialist, Pinellas County Extension

Now that we are coming into the end of spring and, with a bit of luck into the beginning of our summer rainy season, you may be noticing that the winter annuals you planted are just past peak color and starting to look a bit shabby. It is time to pull them out and toss them into the compost bin (even though you may be able to get a few more weeks out of them). All that green material and moisture in the leaves will make great compost to add to the flower beds. While the weather may seem like summer we still have a few weeks left that are cool enough to get summer annuals established before the real heat arrives. When the rain starts in a few weeks (again with any luck) it will be just in time to take over the chore of watering through the summer. When choosing summer annuals you should be sure to match the needs of the plant to the demands of the site (growing needs vs. growing conditions). Remember “right plant right place” is one of the most important parts of Florida Friendly Landscapes and gardens. Unlike landscape beds annual beds usually do best if they are left without mulch or only very lightly mulched. What I like to do to give the appearance of a mulched bed is to mulch the outside 12 inches of the bed while leaving the middle un-mulched. When planting I space the plants so that they will fill in completely and plant in a checker board pattern so that they grow together a bit faster. Another trick is to plant the set a bit higher than they are in the pots, as this helps to offset many root rot diseases.

Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia)
There are several new hybrids of this lovely short lived perennial (colors include shades of purple, pink, bi-colors, and white), you can find it in small pots or gallon size plants, It grows in full sun to partial shade growing to about 18 inches tall and has few problems except the need for regular watering. Another plus is that it can easily be propagated by cuttings.

Beach Daisy or beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis)
This plant is a wonderful. It’s an extremely drought resistant native groundcover that thrives in full sun. It can be grown from seed or you can set out small plants. The spacing should be about two feet apart because it becomes easily established and grows quickly sprawling over a large area. Once established it grows to about two feet tall and will survive on rainfall in full sun. After 18 to 24 months the plants may become ungainly and show signs of old age; when this happens pull the offensive plant out, harvest and sprinkle the seed over the exposed area and wait for some rain to start the re-growing.

Dragon Wing Begonia (Begonia ‘Dragon Wing Red’)
This hybrid is a great show of color for locations from part sun to shady locations. Be sure to get them acclimated to the sun before the heat of summer arrives. They will top out at about 16 inches tall and bloom continuously. With proper care you should be able to have a great show of color into the winter season. Space the plants about 12 inches apart, remember to fertilize at planting time with a good 100% slow release formula and water them a few times a week. This plant is always a joy to see in the landscape.

Gaillardia (Gaillardia aristata)
This is one of my favorite plants for summer color. Not only are they so easy to grow you might call them “bullet proof”. They are great for attracting butterflies. They flower easily and profusely with delightful showy bunches of yellow and orange bloom. They establish quickly after planting and are quite capable of surviving on rainfall only. Full sun is best but they will tolerate half a of day shade and still bloom with a good show of color. Mature height is about 18 inches tall, spreading to about a foot wide. This is another one of those wonderful plants that once you have it in the yard you will most likely always have it because it t reseeds profusely assuring that the next crop is only a rainfall away.

Gazania Daisy (Gazania nivea)
Gazania daisies are a colorful fix if you need low growing color with exotic color and patterns in the blooms. They excel in full sun and are very drought resistant; rainfall is almost always adequate. The blooms open each morning and close each afternoon around 3:00pm, and once planted in the right location you should enjoy them for a very long time. The only down side of this lovely painted daisy is that they require dead heading (cutting off spent blooms) to encourage more bloom.

‘Mona Lavender’ (Plectranthus X)
Mona Lavender is a fairly new hybrid that blooms very well in part shade with regular water. You’ll need to deadhead it occasionally which at the same time will encourage fuller growth and more blooms.

New Look Celosia (Celosia argentea X)
Not all Celosia are durable enough to grow through our Florida summer heat and sun, “New Look” will perform and look great the whole time.

Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
Peppers are not only surprisingly durable in our hot summer sun; plant them where there is good drainage and plenty of sun. They typically grow to be about 20 inches tall, frequently have attractive foliage and produce multicolor peppers in profusion.

Periwinkle/Vinca (Cathcartus X)
There are many new hybrids of this long time summer bedding plant in Florida. A well draining soil is a must for this plant and I strongly recommend planting the sets higher than the surrounding soil by about 10%. The once limited color range has expanded from only polka dot, white or pink to include grape, salmon, peach and others. Full sun is fine. Rainfall will be sufficient if established and with any luck they will hold up till the first frost or freeze.

Purple leaf Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Purple Ruffles')
If you like deep purple and have affection for pesto, you might want to try this plant. When it is planted in a large grouping it is quite stunning. The foliage is spectacular all summer in full sun. They will need some supplemental watering but it is worth it! They grow to be about 20 inches tall and get very full/dense. As I mentioned earlier, at the end of the season you get the bonus of all that fabulous foliage which makes a delicious Pesto.

Purslane/Portulatca (Portulaca grandiflora)
A delightful very low growing very drought resistant succulent plant that bloom from late spring to early December, and are capable of surviving on rainfall. They are available in many colors and bloom in profusion in the full sun; the blooms open mid morning and close by 3:00pm. Mealy bugs and scale are occasionally pests.

Salvia spp. (Salvia X)
There are many different salvia that do well in the summer, some survive on rainfall and some may require supplemental water. There are many which thrive in full sun and several need a bit of relief from the full day of sun so partial sun is best for those. They are all great for attracting butterflies and humming birds. Another plus is that many of them will live here for years as long as you do a severe pruning at the end of the growing season to rejuvenate them.

Zinnia X (Zinnia X)
There are several new or “Improved” Zinnias for our summer season, and they are all very drought resistant. One of my favorites is a small mounding plant called ‘Zinnia liniarus’. It thrives in full to partial sun make a mound about 15 inches round, blooms continually and is relatively trouble free. The flowers come in a limited color range creamy white and yellow. A new hybrid has larger blooms and pink flowers, unfortunately I have not had first hand experience growing it so I am not sure how well it will perform in our summers.
The link below is to the UF trial gardens in “G”-ville, the “warm season” annuals are what we would pant here in central Florida.


May 19, 2010

New Horticulture Agent Joins Pinellas County Extension

5/19/10 |
Theresa Badurek, Urban Horticulture/Master Gardener Coordinator, Pinellas County Extension

We are at a critical crossroads here in Pinellas County. As the most densely populated county in the state of Florida, we have a responsibility to make use of the most environmentally friendly practices available. As the new Urban Horticulture Agent for Pinellas County I will provide our community with access to the resources of the University of Florida through educational programs, activities, events, and publications. These resources will give us the tools we need to bring the most advanced and researched environmentally friendly practices available to the citizens of Pinellas County.

I joined the University of Florida/IFAS team at the Pinellas County Extension office on March 26th as the Urban Horticulture Extension Agent/Master Gardener Coordinator. My goal is to give our residents the tools they need to create and maintain Florida-Friendly landscapes. As the Master Gardener Coordinator I will work with the volunteer team to inspire, educate, and motivate existing and new Master Gardener volunteers. These Master Gardeners will be leaders in carrying this environmental stewardship message to our county.

My educational background begins with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Central Florida. My studies there were concentrated on botany and Florida ecosystems. I then earned a master’s degree in landscape architecture at the University of Florida, where I focused on the use of design to advance environmentally-friendly practices. During my time as a professional designer I practiced Florida Friendly landscape principles, Firewise principles, CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Design), and many other design tools that I hope to share with the people of Pinellas County. The position of Urban Horticulture Agent is the perfect platform for that type of stewardship. In addition to my role as community educator, I maintain an arborist license and a green building (LEED) accreditation.

As a Pinellas County native I look forward to teaching and growing with all of you. This is a place that I hold near and dear, and I am personally invested in the responsible care of our lands and waters. Please be sure to check out our “Planting Pinellas” blog at for updates on plants, insects, and other relevant topics regarding your Florida Friendly landscape.

May 17, 2010

Florida 4-H Horse Program

5/17/10 |
Jean Rogalsky, 4-H Agent, Pinellas County Extension

The mention of a youth horse program usually brings to mind the image of young riders on their horses or caring for the horses. Surprisingly, only two of the six events of the Florida 4-H Horse Program actually require the use of a horse. Further, the purpose of the Florida 4-H Horse Program is to offer youth opportunities to “improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, discipline, and responsibility while creating an atmosphere for learning and awareness of the life about us” (Dr. Ed Johnson, Florida 4-H Area & State Horse Shows Official Rules 2010).
One might say that the horse program is more than just horsing around.

Here are the six events of the Florida 4-H Horse Program:
Horse Demonstrations & Public Speaking allow 4-H youth to teach others something they have learned through their horse project work. These presentations are the result of the 4-H’er processing and applying the lessons they have learned. Demonstrations and speeches are first given on the club or county level. The top presentations then go to the State Horse Events at the University of Florida.

Horse Judging is the event where youth learn to evaluate a horse’s form and rank or place it to other horses or a standard. In addition to learning about horses, the 4-H’er also develops decision making skills. The oral reasons section teaches the participant to defend his or her decisions to others. This is definitely an important life skill in any situation.

Horse Quiz Bowl is a team competition on all equine topics. Team competitions teach cooperation as well as competitive skills. This competition is part of the State Horse Events.

Hippology participants use a combination of horse knowledge and experience to complete a written exam, ID items, place items, judge, and team problems. This state competition takes place in March at the Orange County Extension Office.

Horsemanship School does require a horse and enough experience and skill to care for the horse for the five day camp. This includes grooming, saddling, and mounting without assistance. Each day riders are on horseback for approximately five hours. This is an intensive week of hands on learning and fun.

Horse Shows are often seen as the reward for participating in the horse project. Many clubs, associations, or counties host their own shows as a way to qualify riders to the Area show. There are six Areas in the state and each has a show to qualify riders for the summer State 4-H Horse Show. In Pinellas County, the 4-H leader determines when the rider is ready to participate in an Area show and only after the 4-H member presents a demonstration or speech to their club and shows significant progress in their project book. The ability to ride well and safely is only the first requirement to compete in a show. One must be organized, prepared, knowledgeable of the rules, and have the persistence to continue when things don’t go as planned.
The 2010 Area E 4-H horse Show took place April 23-25 at the Florida State Fairgrounds. There were 179 riders and horses from ten counties registered for this event. Of the 36 riders from Pinellas County, 11 have qualified to attend the State 4-H Horse Show. Amanda Benedict of All Things Equine, Charly Miller of Seminole Riders, and Jade Baranich of Pony Pals received high points for the county. While the number of points gained varied from rider to rider, all were winners because of the life skills they gained while competing in this horse event.

For more information on the Florida 4-H Horse Program, go to

For information on the Pinellas County 4-H Program, go to

May 6, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Oil Spill and Seafood from Florida’s Gulf Coast

May 6, 2010 |
Advisory from Dr. Steve Otwell, Seafood Specialist, Florida Sea Grant College Program

Is seafood from Florida’s Gulf coast safe to eat?

All seafood sold in Florida retail stores, supermarkets and restaurants will remain safe to consume prior to and during any potential exposure to contamination from the pending oil spill. Traditional food safety controls have been supplemented with additional emergency response plans by the pertinent federal, state and county authorities. Control measures include monitoring of the harvest waters and products, cautionary closures of certain waters and fisheries, analytical and sensory monitoring of products, and public advisories. Likewise, seafood will be provided from many areas that are not subject to potential exposure to the oil spill.

How do authorities determine the safety of seafood that may be exposed to an oil spill?

Standard analytical tests involving sophisticated laboratory instrumentation are used to detect a variety of potential chemical contaminants associated with water, sediments and seafood that have been exposed to oil spills. Likewise, special sensory methods have been developed and successfully used by trained experts to detect certain aromas in seafood exposed to oil spills. The associated contaminants emit strong and easily detected aromas such that sensory monitoring can be cost-effective and more immediate than the more prolonged analytical procedures. Together, the analytical tests and sensory methods have provided proven measures for product safety. These methods are available through the responsible federal and state programs and various academic research programs that are being positioned for response about the Gulf region.

Should I eat seafood that I catch for myself and family?

In the event of any contamination, state authorities will try to restrict local harvest and recreational activities to coastal waters that are declared open and approved. Public advisories will be posted and broadcast through many agencies, radio stations and televised news. Progressive updates and contact information will be posted on various websites such as the site maintained by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the designated lead agency in Florida ( Recreational fishermen should avoid areas with obvious signs of oil contamination on the surface of the water, or on the neighboring beaches and vegetation. Also it is not prudent to eat fish that look distressed, are behaving in a strange manner, or have been found dead. The contaminants associated with an oil spill can be detected with simple sensory checks for odors. Any fish or seafood with an oily, fuel-like odor, either when raw or cooked, should not be eaten, and should be reported to authorities.

Will local seafood be contaminated by the oil spill?

There is no contamination at this time (May 5, 2010), but predictions suggest the leaking oil could accumulate and reach the Florida coasts. If exposed to the various types of chemicals associated with the oil spill, certain coastal marine animals can be killed or contaminated. The amount of exposure will vary depending on the type of oil present and type of seafood involved. Previous experience from other oil spills about the world indicate that some of the more mobile species can detect and avoid the contaminants, but other slower, burrowing and bottom-dwelling species are more susceptible to exposure. Exposure can be directly from the water, through the aquatic food chain, and/or from contaminated sediments.

Will all exposed seafood remain contaminated?

Once exposure ceases, many marine animals can gradually eliminate the contaminants encountered in an oil spill. The rate of elimination can vary from days to months depending on the amount and type of oil exposure and the metabolism of the particular animals. The levels of contamination will be progressively monitored by authorities before, during and after exposure to assure seafood safety before allowing commercial and recreational harvest.

What are the typical contaminants found in seafood exposed to oil spills?

A large variety of chemicals can be involved in an oil spill. The most common contaminants associated with seafood are collectively known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. These are more common because their water-soluble characteristics allow more exposure to aquatic animals. Interestingly, PAHs are found throughout our environment including our food supply, both raw and cooked. There have been no recorded illnesses due to PAH exposure at most levels encountered in our environment or other foods, but elevated levels will require controls to prevent excessive exposure. There are no established limits for PAH exposure to assure food safety, but from prior experience with other oil spills, guidelines have been calculated for consideration. These guidelines account for both the amount and duration of exposure, and they vary by type of seafood. The guidelines are based on highly sensitive analytical detection of contaminants at concentration levels as low as parts per billion (ppb; one part contaminant per one billion parts of edible seafood). Federal and state authorities will use these guidelines to determine the safety level for seafood and the associated advice for harvest and consumption.

For the latest information regarding the oil spill please visit .

Download Official Press Release