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...for discerning weeders October, 2012


Inside this issue:

Walk on the Wild 2 Side Coming Events


What Would You


Do If.....? Book Review


Witches Brew


Weed of the


Month Puzzle Page


It’s a Jungle Out


Sometimes being a champion of ‘Lost Causes’ can put us in awkward situations but that does not stop me from trying to make a difference when I can. Our recent non-hurricane-called-Isaac forced many of us to make preparations that were wellmeant, but mostly not necessary. So be it. Fore warned is forearmed...or is that four armed?? Whatever. The shutters were closed, the large plants were placed on the ground and the patio furniture found a home in the already crowded garage.

how could the critters and their habitat (my stringy fennel) survive? Uh, Oh! I noticed an egg layer had been visiting us on more than one occasion. Here were some little caterpillars. Finally pulled out the Minno book, Florida Butterfly Gardening and discovered the animated bird dropping was one of the first larval stages of the Black Swallowtail butterfly. Ed agreed we needed to do something to try to help them survive the coming winds so he lifted the pots from the flower beds and moved them into the screened porch. The caterpillars would get some protection from the winds and still have their greens to grow on.

There! Yum!


Last Word


Mark Your



DON’T FORGET! You have to log your hours onto the VMS system!

And then these little strays caught my eye. Momma swallowtail had been busily plying her stock in trade and had deposited eggs all across the fennel. I have been growing fennel for a couple of years and using bits here and there in the soup pot. Must admit, though, the plants were looking a little ragged. Supposed to be a perennial but I don’t think it is long for this earth. Obviously Mrs. S had been at her work for some time before we caught her in the act as there were many eggs and some caterpillars that were fairly far along in their journey to chrysalis stage. I figured they would probably survive. But what if the ‘cane developed and was strong; 1

Let’s see, we had one day of anticipating TS Isaac and two days of waiting for the torrential rains to not show up. Only had one or two squalls through our part of the county. Then a couple of days taking care of other projects and finally we moved the pots of fennel and caterpillars back out into the garden where they could continue to do what caterpillars do. Before the move, we did a few pictures of the ‘family’. I was surprised to see there were no more ‘junior’ caterpillars. Everyone was growing up (or out) without the slightest hesitation.


cont’d from page 1 laying a few eggs here and there. The sight of a butterfly always brings a little thrill. Such beauty in such a fragile package. Hope we have lots more swallowtails next year. Oh, yes. About the housebreaking. Never mind, can’t be done. Just sweep it up when all is said and done. Easier than a new puppy though.

One of the juniors was caught in transition. It is always amazing how creatures without stretchy skins make the transition from one stage to the next. This caterpillar had attached its aft end to the fennel stem and began to emerge into the next stage. Sort of looks like a young girl squeezing out of those oh, too tight jeans. Must have been something of a relief. Although you can’t see it well in the picture, the cast off skin looks like a pile of old clothes. I was happy to see our adoptees had not only survived their trip to shelter but had thrived. Hope Mrs. S. was as lucky and is still


by Linda Meyers

Courtesy of Fall has finally arrived in Florida, and along with cooler days and nights, we get to enjoy new animals migrating and other fascinating wildlife activity in our area. Birds Warbler migration peaks early this month. Sandhill cranes that nested in more northern latitudes begin to move down to join our resident birds. Ducks begin to arrive for the winter. Grosbeaks, warblers, tanagers, orioles, and thrushes begin migrating south for the winter. Mammals Flying squirrels will be moving into pecan groves as the nuts ripen. Black bears are feeding heavily in preparation for winter. Amphibians Flatwoods salamanders breed in the first rains of October. Insects Monarch butterfly migration nears its peak along Florida’s Gulf coast. Fish Redfish and trout move up creeks and rivers in north Florida. Fall spawning of the red ear sunfish. Large mouth bass are active in cooler waters. Plants and Trees Plant trees and shrubs, like holly and dogwood, that produce berries to feed wildlife. Blazing star, summer farewell and other wildflowers bloom in the pine uplands. 2

Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance Pesticide License October 9th 7am to 3:30pm Green Industries Best Management Practices October 25th 8:15am to 3:15pm

32nd Annual

FLORIDA MASTER GARDENER CONTINUED TRAINING CONFERENCE October 1-3, 2012 Clearwater Beach Hilton Clearwater Beach, Florida


WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF......? Recently, we asked our members to submit answers to three questions.

 If money, time, and space were no object, I would add __________ to my garden/landscape. A gardener

Landscape help

Walking paths

Koi pond

A pergola or covered porch

Terracing and additional retaining walls


State of the art greenhouse

A pergola

Another eye opener. We evidently have a lot of folks who should be able to do the fertilizer calculations based on the number of math fans. Do have to admit that Lunch was my favorite class ONLY when they had mystery meat. Yup, I was a fan of it.

 Quick! Without thinking about it, you are stranded on a desert island, name one book that you’d want to have with you. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Unbroken by The Bible Laura Hillenbrand and A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith

Hardscape—a half In-ground tank to Lake, pool, bayou circle arbor to collect rain water frame the pool (after the pool is fixed) Maid, butler, baker, gardener

An orchard

Lord of the Rings

Robinson Caruso

How to Survive on Special Forces a Desert Island Survival Guide A book that describes all beneficial plants on the island for health and wellness

 The one class that I enjoyed the most in school was __________. History









Mechanical drawing



Greenhouse management and operations

French and Bacteriology

Ethics and Art organic chemistry (yes, I’m weird)

How to Survive on a Desert Island

I could say The Atlas bible but if I’m going to be stuck on an island by myself I’d want Tom Brown’s guide to wild , edible and medicinal plants

A large water fea- Pergola and a ture designed by a wood privacy landscape fence architect Interesting that hardscape items featured so prominently. Additional help came in a close second. Although if someone does get a maid, butler, baker, AND gardener....we are moving in with that person. Water, either saving it or using it as a feature was also a popular item on the wish list.

Gone With The Wind

The Bible

Permanent landscape service


Crossword puzzle book

Pride and Prejudice You can’t have just one book!

The Bible

Another unique gathering. It does seem that we have quite a few folks who lean towards the practical as well as some really heavy reading! Thanks to: Bob Bayer, Pat Collins, Sylvia Cowen, Mike Crow, Andy Donatelli, Shari Farrell, Judy Fitzhugh, John Hipp, Marilyn Koser, Linda Meyers, Jane Montgomery, Sandie Olsen, John Palm, Ed Smith, Marg Stewart, Carol Strom, and Faye Todd for responding! See if you can match up the responses to the person! No, we aren’t telling :) For November, we’re going to be asking our members to provide something that they are thankful for. You’ll be able to list your family and friends but you ALSO have to list SOMETHING—a THING that you are thankful for.



by Ed Smith and Marg Stewart

Ed. Note: Ed Smith had mentioned a book to me and since I thought the subject was interesting, I asked him to write a review on it. Thank you Ed! I’m still waiting on my copy to arrive. And since it is October, the month of ghouls and goblins, we just had to add a little eerie installment as well.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Boyle Taylor Ph.D. ISBN 0452295548 An important book for all those who have friends and family that you care about and that should include all of you. It provides a better understanding of what really happens to a stroke victim and it is written by the patient. Although this is not a horticultural presentation it does make an interesting reference to “the garden of your mind”. ( Be careful what you plant there ) To provide clarity she has included two chapters explaining the anatomical details of brain function. This, you would expect from a neuroanatomist however if this proves daunting, you may skip over these without losing the real meaning of her story. Dr. Jill Taylor, a specialist in the field of neuroanatomy, was in a very unique position to analyze her own stroke at the very young age of 37. At the time of the stroke she was doing research at Harvard’s Brain Bank. She was living alone, with no suspicious medical history, when it became apparent her brain was not responding in a normal way. This is her story. As you read her book visualize yourself or a loved one in a similar predicament and you will learn to look at a stroke victim in a new way. She explains the communication difficulties most often encountered and NO, talking louder does not help. Words have to be deciphered by a damaged and slow to respond network. Understanding the sound of the word does not correlate to knowing the meaning of it. The brain becomes slower in its response and forms new pathways to old stored memories. Many other areas of proper care and recovery are detailed from the perspective of a trained specialist. I know of no other work of this caliber. After years of recuperation her work in brain research continues but with a much deeper understanding . She now knows of the deep inner peace we can experience when the information seeking portion of the brain is quieted. Dr. Taylor considers her stroke a blessing as it has so greatly expanded her knowledge which she wishes to pass along to you. You may also be interested in viewing her presentation at TED Conference. Just search her name at

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart is not a who done it book, nor is it completely blood thirsty. Well, maybe just a teeny bit. The contents of this book are in alphabetical order by the common name of some of our, shall we say, less than welcome botanical buddies. Each section includes legends and stories of what happened with each plant (one example includes killing off two priests at dinner—accidentally). There are also wonderful wood-cut type drawings of each plant. Descriptions, symptoms, and other information is also included. The author also included a really well done bibliography that includes helpful information on additional books you may want to check out if you want more detailed information on poisonous plants. The book is published using a unique brownish paper, making the volume appear to be very old. I noticed a few people had mentioned that it was a bit difficult to read due to that. I personally thought it was a nifty touch. Also found several folks who had a problem with the format of the book when viewed on an e-reader so be aware they may not have fixed the technical problems in that venue. So, if you want a unique book for the ‘haunting’ holidays, check out Wicked Plants—just be sure to remove it from your coffee table prior to having a dinner party! 5

MASTER GARDENER’S WITCHES BREW Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Fillet of bright green snake, in the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of cat-tails and tongue of hog. Moldy potatoes and scorpion’s sting, Lizard’s leg, turkey vulture's wing, Rabbit fur and tail of rat, Crumpled straw garden hat. Withered claws from things that bite, Shredded leaves and gardenias white. For a charm of powerful trouble, Rotten tomatoes froth and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Dead flowers, dried up weeds, Spider’s web and tallow tree seeds, Add fertilizer it’s odor foul, Then stir it well with a garden trowel. Cool it with a screech owl’s blood, Then the charm is firm and good. Strain it. Drain it once it’s mellowed, through a cheesecloth, aged and yellowed. Store it. Pour it ‘neath the stars, into dirty mason jars. Last add some sugar so it’s sweet, Serve to members next time they meet. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. William Shakespeare

by Linda Meyers

Some interesting facts about several of the “wild” ingredients:

Northern Rough Green Snake - non-venomous, adult size 22-32” in length, slender bright green snake with a cream to yellow belly. Found in mixed hardwood and bottomland forests as well as hardwood hammocks. Because of its arboreal behavior, it prefers densely leafed trees and shrubs often at the edge of fields and around ponds. Feeds primarily on insects found on the leaves and stems of trees and shrubs. Their eggs are laid in mid to late summer, with 3-12 hatchlings. When disturbed it typically ceases all movement and will sometimes sway to mimic the movement of the surrounding wind-blown foliage. There are no other native green snakes in Florida. Central Newt - these amphibians are 2.5-4” in length. They are found in the central states and along the Gulf Coast and southeastern coastal plain. They have olive dorsal color, blackspotted yellow belly; red dorsolateral spots sometimes edged in black. The life cycle of newts is complex, having both an aquatic and a terrestrial stage. The skin secretions of central newts are quite toxic. Courtship and breeding are accomplished in the water by the aquatic adults. Females attach the eggs to water plants. Following successful incubation, externallygilled aquatic larvae emerge from the eggs. Developmental durations in all stages of a newt’s life—egg, larvae, eft and adult—are highly variable and are at largely dictated by ambient temperatures. Central newts have the ability to regenerate tissue including limbs, jaws, eyes and other organs, making them the subject of research in the field of regenerative medicine. Scorpion - flattened, crablike animals with 10 legs and fleshy tail ending in an enlarged, upturned tip that bears a stinger. They are 1-4” in length, normally live outdoors, but will invade homes and buildings. Scorpions sting when provoked or disturbed. Their venom is a neurotoxin, a dose is usually insufficient to prove fatal to an adult human. The site of the sting will be sore and swollen. Most active at night, they feed on insects, spiders or similar small animal life. They are cannibalistic and readily eat their own species, and females often eat their own young. There are several species that occur in Florida. Turkey Vulture - these large eagle size birds are 25” tall and weigh 3.5-5.3 lbs. with a wingspan of 72”. They are blackish brown with red head and legs, tips of bills are white, and underside of wings are lined in gray. Turkey Vultures are scavengers and in some areas they are considered valuable for their removal of garbage and disease-causing carrion. They live in landfills, pastures, or wherever they can find sources of carrion. Highly social, they fly together in small groups. At night they often gather in large roosts. Usually silent, when feeding or at the nest, they hiss or grunt. The female will lay 2 whitish eggs placed without nest or lining in a crevice in rocks, hollow tree or in a fallen hollow log. Vultures will defecate on their legs to keep themselves cool. If threatened with attack, they will disgorge their stomach contents. Eastern Screech Owl - a small, woodland owl. There are two color phases, a gray phase and a reddish-brown phase. The iris is bright yellow and the bill is gray-green, with tufts of bristly feathers around its base. A nocturnal bird, with activity beginning after sunset. The Eastern Screech Owl flies fairly rapidly with a steady wing beat. They rarely glide or hover, but may fly with erratic movements, when maneuvering through wooded areas. When threatened, this owl will stretch its body and tighten its feathers in order to look like a branch stub to avoid detection, but will take flight when it knows it has been detected. Their diet includes rats, chipmunks, squirrels, shrews, bats, moles, large flying insects, birds, fish, snakes, lizards, soft-shelled turtles, frogs, toads, salamanders, crayfish, snails, spiders, earthworms, scorpions, and centipedes. Breeding season is from mid March to mid May. They nest almost exclusively in tree cavities, with enlarged natural cavities being preferred. No nest material is added, and the 2 to 8 (average 3-5) eggs are laid on natural sawdust on the floor of the cavity.


Weed of the Month

by Jenny Gillis

Torpedo Grass, Panicum repens

Chemical: (*note...use the highest % of the weed killer available... possibly found at a farm store or "pro" supplier! But folTorpedo Grass, Panicum repens, is a species of grass known by low the directions, carefully!) many common names, including torpedo grass, creeping panic, panic rampant, couch panicum, wainaku grass, quack grass, Be really careful using around water! Use a plastic bottle to apply directly to the Torpedo - rather than a spray that will dog-tooth grass, and sometimes, bullet grass. It has been over-spray onto waterways or on desirable plants. called "one of the world's worst weeds." Seed was imported from Africa or Asia in the late 1800’s by the United States De"Glyphosate has been the most effective herbicide used to conpartment of Agriculture to trol Torpedo Grass. A 2 to 3% solution of grow as a forage grass for glyphosate (Roundup, etc.) is very effective. cattle. Torpedo grass loved Imazapyr (Arsenal, Chopper, Habitat) is also growing in the US – espevery effective at 0.5 to 1% solution. cially in Florida! It was deliberately planted throughBe sure to include a non-ionic surfactant out southern Florida and it ( such as Concentrated Dish Liquid, or Hi easily escaped cultivation. Yield Spreader Sticker) at 0.25% (10 mLs or 2 Now it has become one of teaspoons per gallon of spray solution). These Florida’s most serious herbicides are systemic (move throughout weeds! However, Torpedo plant tissue) so care must be exercised to grass is not listed on Federminimize off-target damage. In addition, al or Florida’s Noxious Imazapyr has soil activity, so care must be Weed List - yet. Torpedo grass grows well in shallow water and exercised around sensitive species such as oaks (Quercus marshy areas and it was thought it would be good for stabiliz- spp.). ing river and lake banks. But it quickly outgrew Florida’s native vegetation and by the early 1990’s it had overtaken more Torpedo Grass is most difficult to control when partially subthan 70% of Florida’s public waters. The denseness of floating mersed in water. Regardless of habitat conditions, multiple remats impedes water flow in ditches and canals. The dense sprays may be required for complete control.” grass restricts recreational use of sandy coastal habitats and shoreline areas of lakes and ponds. Torpedo grass is also a ma- jor problem for the sod, citrus and golf course industries. Now, homeowners are beginning to find it growing in flower beds and lawns. The grass can grow to about 3 ft. tall with flat, stiff, sometimes folded, leaf blades – possibly covered with a waxy or whitish coating. Torpedo grass produces seed heads but the seed does not germinate well in Florida but it spreads easily by the speedy growth of the “torpedo” shaped root tips – hence the name. Controlling Torpedo Grass is not easy. Digging it out is nearly impossible. If the roots or fat rhizomes are cut each one will grow – even tiny pieces produce new plants! The Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida, IFAS, has studies underway to find an effective biological control, but they are not available yet. This is the current recommendation to get rid of Torpedo: “Unfortunately, there is not much you can do when torpedo grass gets established. It is a grassy weed, and once it gets going there is no control. A broad weed control such as Roundup or Nature's Avenger will kill torpedo grass after a couple of treatments but will also kill your lawn grass! 7

Puzzle Page

courtesy of Sandie Olsen (1)





It’s a Jungle Out There!

By Stacey Taylor

The dog days of summer are gone (thank goodness!) and the glorious days of fall have finally arrived. The cooler temps, lower humidity and an actual breeze make you want to get outside and get your hands dirty. But beware, it’s a jungle out there and the small things out there, they pack a powerful punch! The small things I am referring to are slug caterpillars.

long. Last year while hanging doors, I found a Crowned Caterpillar (Isa textula) on my gutter . This year’s find was a Hag Moth Caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium) on the gate latch.

Many of you remember the tale of my first encounter with a slug caterpillar. For those of you who haven’t heard the story, the abbreviated version is that I ended up in the Milton ER with heart attack symptoms. What really happened was that I had been envenomed by a slug caterpillar, the Puss Caterpillar or Megalopyge opercularis to be specific. Actually, to be even more specific, the shed skin of a puss catPuss Caterpillar erpillar! Since then, I have found these in my yard and in my brother’s yard in Largo, FL. If you find one, DO NOT touch it and DO NOT touch anything you use to touch it.

The common factor (at least in my yard) seems to be oak trees – it is a food source for all of these. And, these are not the only offenders. Auburn University has a great

In addition to the Puss, I have found other slug caterpillars in my yard, which is no small feat as they are only about an inch

Hag Moth Caterpillar

Crowned Caterpillar article called “Stinging Caterpillars A Guide to Recognition of Species Found on Alabama Trees” available at http:// So remember, while you are out there enjoying Florida’s best gardening season, be careful, it’s a jungle out there.


By Karen Harper and Marg Stewart

With Fall here and the holidays fast apAnd since we’re focusing on pumpkin, proaching, how about a few yummy addi- how about a batch of Pumpkin-Chocolate tions to those festive get togethers? Cheesecake Bars? Go to http:// .

worlds, chocolate, cheesecake AND pumpkin, go to http:// to check out this heavenly Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake! Warning! Serving deserts like these may result in guests staying longer!

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake. This recipe answers the question as to what could be better than a warm slice of coffee cake on a crisp Fall day. Go to http:// and check out this easy recipe. Last but not least, for the best of all 9

Marg Stewart—Editor Shari Farrell, Karen Harper and Linda Meyers—Co-Editors

Have pictures or an idea for an article? Send it in! Articles and pictures are always welcome.

Your member site:

LAST WORD My husband and I recently watched a documentary on the Shakers. I’m still amazed at the quality and beauty of their buildings, furniture, and everyday items that they produced. One of their sayings resonates with me, “Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.” Shakers believed that work was a form of prayer and everything they did and made should be done in that manner. So I started pondering the past few days. I’ve been determined to have the backyard , ripped out, cleaned up and thoroughly prepped for early planting. Thankfully, I had some help for the heavy lifting portion. That help did come at a price. When a non-plant person is helping a plant-person, you will have the inevitable (a) discussion as to why the really ‘pretty’ plant had to be yanked (it was a weed) and (b) plants that weren’t supposed to be yanked were occasionally sent to the compost pile. In the long run, the yard did get finished (well finished for the time being). I’ll be facing fewer tasks later on as a result of all this work. My housework suffered a bit and I know happy hubby is seriously doubting whether it will be done before I leave for the Conference. I still have errands to run, things to get accomplished….rush, rush, rush. But wait a minute, perhaps the Shakers were on the right track. “Do your work as though you had a thousand years to

Marg Stewart live…” is the beginning portion of the quote. I did some searching and found that Shakers believed (and practiced) that their work would contain no wasted effort and would strive for perfection. They perceived that their work was to be accomplished as productively as possible with diligent attention to the details of the task at hand. So, perhaps, the key to getting through these next few days isn’t the AMOUNT that gets done, but paying attention to the QUALITY of what gets accomplished. The last part of the quote, “…as if you were to die tomorrow,” does hit home. Would I really want anyone to see the laundry not put away? Would I want the trash cans not empty, the carpets not swept? Heck no! It wouldn’t hurt to take 30 minutes in the morning to do some of the ‘quiet chores.’ Just looking around I can see what could be done in those 30 minutes that would impact the whole rest of the day. In this day and age of everything having to be fast, fast, fast, wouldn’t it be better to make sure it was done right? Who knows, slowing down a bit and paying attention to the details just might result in projects taking less time and less effort because they’re done right the first time. You know? I think those Shakers were on to something. Who knows—I might actually get the housework done, the errands run, and then thoroughly enjoy time in the hammock without worrying about chores that are left undone.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR General Membership Meeting—October 12th @ 9am. Extension Annex, Ft. Walton. CARPOOLING IS A MUST! General Membership Meeting—November 7th @ 9am. Extension Office, Crestview (we hope in the new building) General Membership Meeting—December 5th @ 9am. Shalimar Baptist Church. This will be a VERY short meeting followed immediately by our Christmas Party!

The Foundation for the Gator Nation.....An equal opportunity institution.

Keep in mind that new Board member elections will be coming up as well as the 2013 budget will be presented. We look forward to seeing you at the meetings! ANSWERS TO PUZZLE PAGE: (1) The last person too the basket along with the egg. (2) He was a lighthouse keeper. (3) Take the 2nd glass and pour the contents into the 5th glass. (4) Simple, all the others were women! 10

October, 2012  

Witches brew, caterpillars, book reviews and so much more!

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