The Neighborhood Gardener – January

Clusters of small pink redbud flowers on branch

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Happy New Year, gardeners!

Highlights from 2021

The numbers 2021 in a green grasslike texture2021 was a colorful year and our social media captured the variety well. Native beautyberry, weed ID videos, the eastern lubber, rain gardens, and more. We covered a lot of ground in the last twelve months! Join us as we look back at our most popular gardening posts from last year — inspiring, surprising, and sometimes even challenging. Read on for the top 10 trends from our MGV social media channels in 2021.

Cues to Care

Neatly pruned flowering hedge next to walkwayHelp your neighbors appreciate and accept Florida-Friendly landscapes with "cues to care." Cues to care are landscape elements that signal that a landscape is actively being cared for. If your landscape is on the less traditional side, cues to care can help soften the contrast between your yard and the more traditional landscape next door. In this new article we share 10 of our favorite cues to care.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard with yellow stalk and green leavesSwiss chard is easy to grow and, because of its colorful stalks, it is often grown as a border plant as well as a vegetable. Mixes of multiple chard varieties are so vibrant that they are marketed as "rainbow chard." While we usually plant chard in Florida as a cool season vegetable, it handles heat as well. Its mild flavor and tender leaves earned it the name "spinach beet." We have planting advice and recommended varieties in this newly expanded article on Swiss chard.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberIt's January and you know what that means? Yes, we have a new year, but another truly Florida experience happens in winter, and that is the abundance of Florida strawberries. Frankly, I think we Floridians are slightly spoiled by the wealth of fresh local strawberries in our markets during the winter months. Remember that our northern neighbors are shoveling snow and reading seed catalogs in the dark, while we are enjoying abundant sunshine and all the fresh strawberries we care to have.Learn more about Florida strawberries.

Plant of the Month: Chickasaw Plum

Small white flowers with long yellow-tipped stamensOne of the first trees to flower each year and an excellent pollinator resource, Chickasaw plum is native to Florida and a number of other states. Each spring, even before new leaves appear, these trees are covered with clusters of tiny, fragrant, white flowers. Then small fruits appear, turning from red to yellow as they ripen. The tart plums can be eaten fresh or turned into tasty jelly, and they're also enjoyed by wildlife. They are hardy to USDA zones 5-9 and can grow up to 25 feet tall, but are more often found in the 6- to 12-foot range. Read the full article on Prunus angustifolia.

MGV Book Club

Cover of the How Plants Work bookAre you looking for a good read? Check out the Florida MGV Book List! Foodscapes, plant physiology, composting, backyard ecology, there's always something new to learn in the world of gardening. The Florida MGV Book Club will continue reading together each summer. Stay tuned — we'll announce our summer read soon. Learn more about the Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Book Club.

January in Your Garden

Woman planting a treeMany edible crops can be planted this month throughout the state, including Irish potatoes. Prune non-spring flowering shrubs and trees this month to improve form. Maintain crapemyrtles by removing seed pods, small twiggy growth, and crossing branches to improve the appearance and form of the plant, if desired; hard pruning is not required. Celebrate Florida Arbor Day (the third Friday of January) by planting a tree in your yard or community.

For more month-by-month gardening tips, check out the Florida Gardening Calendar. Three different editions of the calendar provide specific tips for each of Florida's gardening regions—North, Central, and South.

What's Going On?

If your Master Gardener Volunteer program or Extension office is having an event, be sure to share it with us.