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discerning weeders

A Newsletter of the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Association –– June 2011

MG Meeting, June 1st, Shalimar Baptist Church Home Visits For the class of 2010, if you have not made a home visit with one of the veteran MGs, there should be plenty of opportunities left to get this requirement checked off your to do list now that Spring has sprung and we call it summer! You are probably finished with your office training, answering questions over the phone and assisting walk-in customers with plant and pest ID. The more you do this, the easier it becomes and the sooner you will learn that you cannot know it all. We work as a group and we all have strengths and weaknesses. Most of the people who visit the offices are delighted that someone is willing to help solve their problem. It is a good feeling to send away a “satisfied customer”. That may involve telling someone you don’t know the answer or cannot identify the pest or plant. Just don’t drop the issue...find out from someone who does know the answer. Problem solving involves asking forty questions...your forty (or twelve) questions will Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

Lynn Fabian be different from someone else’s forty. The more questions you ask, the closer you will get to a good answer or solution to a homeowner’s problem. With that in mind, there is a document on the IFAS website titled “Determining Problems on Woody Ornamentals Over the Telephone”. <> It has been newly revised but the basic information has stayed the same. Download a copy and keep it handy. Don’t be misled by the fact it deals with woody ornamentals. The same basic guidelines apply to many problem solving situations. First the basics: Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer (often called open-ended questions); don’t jump to conclusions, keep an open mind; find out who the customer MGs we work with homeowners, not commercial clients; don’t put down anyone’s ideas...try to lead them to the UF research based answer and to give up on the grits idea.

Whether on the phone or during a home visit, ask questions about the perceived problem. Find out just what kind of plant it is; how long has it been planted, what other plants are showing symptoms; how long has it been going on. Read the IFAS document and get some other ideas on how to proceed. On a recent home visit I had the privilege of watching Andy D. work with a number of landscape problems. A major question was “why is the grass dying”. The other questions ranged from what to do about cold damaged sago palms to replacing dead trees in the landscape. And finally we made it to the big “LAWN” question. Large brown/gray areas were evident in the lawn. It was planted less than a year ago and looked very good in places, especially

around the edges, and very stressed in the middle. A cycle through the circuits of the irrigation system brought out some obvious answers: sprinkler heads were broken or inoperable and a major feeder line to the front lawn was damaged. There was little water pressure to the irrigation heads surrounding the brown/gray areas in the center of the lawn. Knowing the “disease de jour” helps eliminate a disease that might cause a similar problem in a lawn. It isn’t always a disease. Sometimes it is a mechanical malfunction. The only thing that needed spraying in this case was more water. Questions, questions, questions. Keep asking them. Its a great way to learn.

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. James Thurber

Update on Locally Grown Food We have checked out the Okaloosa County Farmerʼs Market a couple of times. The first trip to the fairgrounds found only two vendors and the second visit had four folks selling. Has anyone else been out there to shop? The Market is open year round on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6 a.m. until 12 noon.

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

Lynn Fabian You have to ask! Some of the produce is purchased for resale and some is locally grown. Akerʼs in Baker says the strawberry season will continue week by week in May. As of last Thursday (26th) there were still berries to pick. They carry fresh produce in season.


Brooks Produce stand is on Hwy 4 south of the traffic light in Baker.

der the pavilion canopy on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

The Daily News carried a piece about a farmerʼs market recently. Apparently someone is trying to start one in Destin. 6-farmers-grow.html

Chilton County (AL) peaches are beginning to arrive in Crestview on north Hwy 85.

Still unoccupied: the veggie stand at the corner of SR85 South (Government Ave) and John Sims Parkway.

Remember, local produce is probably fresher than other produce but it does not mean it is organic. It certainly should have a lower carbon footprint. Food co-ops in Okaloosa County:

A vendor of fresh veggies and fruits comes to the corner of Range Road and Highway 20 E. near the BP station across from the Bay Drive entrance to Bluewater. He comes on Fridays and Sundays spring, summer and fall from 7:00 AM until Noon. I haven’t checked this one out as yet.

Emerald Coast Organic Not-for-profit Co-op 119 Truxton Ave Ft. Walton Beach, FL 850-225-9188

There is a farmer’s market in Crestview on Industrial Dr; northbound on Hwy 85, turn right at the corner of Stillwell and 85N then left on Industrial. The Market is located in the field on the right un-

Off the Vine Organic Produce Contact Shana Wolf 850-374-2181

Walk on the Wild Side – June A very warm and dry May heads into June and the beginning of summer. Let's hope it brings much needed rain and many beautiful days ahead. Here are some interesting wildlife happenings going on in this month: Birds It’s breeding season for laughing gulls, least terns, oystercatchers, and black skimmers. They nest on spoil islands, undisturbed Oystercatcher beaches, and even rooftops when their preferred habitat is unavailable. Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

Linda Meyers Mockingbirds may attack pedestrians who wander too close to nesting sites arance

Mammals Southern Flying Squirrel is starting its breeding season. Red bats and Seminole bats give birth. Photo: zF, Stanley & L. R. Kenyon; botfly/abotfly/overview.htm


Reptiles Snook begin moving into inlets and passes It's the height of the Gopher Tortoise season.

Special dates in June June 1, 1952: First sighting of cattle egrets in Florida. June 14, 1969: Last sighting of Ivory-billed woodpeckers in Florida.

Insects Cicadas emerge from their underground growth period to begin making their classic summer sound. Photo by Lyle J. Buss, UF

The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. Zeno 335 BC-264 BC


More Ivory-billed Information What a surprise to see the last entry from Lindaʼs “Walk” article. Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Florida??? And now some evidence they may be in our backyard?!!! cosam/departments/biology/faculty/webpages/hi ll/ivorybill/index.html This site is worth some time to visit even if it proves to be smoke and mirrors but the researchers are pretty confident they have found solid activity of Ivory-bills in the Choctawhatchee River Basin.

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

Lynn Fabian We kayaked some of the backwaters of the river last month and heard some woodpecker calls and drums but nothing close and nothing seen. At least one of the woodpeckers we saw was quite small (sorry, I didnʼt have the binoculars on it) and obviously not an I-BW. Wouldnʼt that be a kick if verifiable evidence was found of an “extinct” bird, alive and well in our own backyard? Sorry, Arkansas! If you want to read more, see


–MG Meeting, June 1, Shalimar Baptist Church, 9:00 a.m. –BMP classes, 2nd Wed. each month thru October. (Next one, June 8, 0930-1130, Annex.) –Nursery workday, 8:30 a.m., Annex, last Wednesday each month thru October. (Also, every Friday morning. Bring water and your lunch. –Plant Clinic, June 16, 1000-1300, Annex –BIA Home Show in Crestview, 24 Sept –State Conference, Orlando, 24-26 Oct (E-mail events to Editor/Compost Pile)

Last Word

Lynn Fabian

Over the past year MGs have been working with Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. Lockey B. has been the moving force on this and she enlisted Andy D. to compile a book that was recently presented to the board members of Fisher House. The book identifies landscape plants that are on the property; the care information is presented as individual sheets showing how the plants should be cared for in our area. Located on Eglin AFB, Fisher House is designed to be a temporary home for families of military personnel who are undergoing treatment at the base hospital.

The final version of the book will be available after review of the information by Larry and Sheila.

The book was recently presented to Tom Rice, incoming president of the Board of Directors of Fisher House of the Emerald Coast.

Do I sense an award package in the making??

The E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center is open to the public starting Friday, June 3 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per adult and $2 for children.

area schools. These hours will be good through the end of August.

This is called a grand opening. Until recently the center was only available to classes from Okaloosa County Master Gardeners

Some of the MGs and agents were involved with helping the Center during the start up phase. It will be interesting to see how things have changed in the last year. 5

It has been seven years since Lockey pointed her finger at me and said “I want you to do the newsletter”. And for more issues than I would like count, I have compiled the articles other MGs have sent me and written other articles to present to you.

please let Bill B. or Sandy O. know of your interest. The newsletter is what you make it. I would like to see what someone else will do. See you on Wednesday. ––Lynn

I think it is time to move on. If you have an interest in the newsletter, in whatever capacity,

About Us

The Compost Pile is a publication of the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Association.

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Association is a volunteer organization sponsored by Okaloosa County Extension and the University of Florida IFAS.

The Foundation for the Gator equal opportunity institution. Lynn Fabian, Editor Linda Meyers, Co-Editor Ed Fabian, First Reader Marg Stewart, Web Site Coordinator

Okaloosa County Master Gardeners


June, 2011  

For the class of 2010, if you have not made a home visit with one of the veteran MGs, there should be plenty of opportunities left to get th...

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