The Neighborhood Gardener – January

A light pink camellia flower

Happy New Year, gardeners!

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Gardening for Wellness

A man and boy working in a raised bed full of plantsThere are a variety of reasons why one may decide to start a garden or build a beautiful landscape, but one of the often-overlooked benefits of gardening is wellness. Working in your garden or landscape yields a plethora of health benefits and can be a major factor in boosting your quality of life. This new article on Gardening Solutions lists the benefits of getting outside.

Miracle Fruit

Small, red, shiny, oval berries of miracle fruit plantAlternative, natural sweeteners are all the rage as we search for sweet flavors without the calories. Miracle fruit is one such option that isn’t particularly flavorful on its own, but turns sour flavors sweet! Although it’s native to West Africa, miracle fruit can grow in Florida gardens too. Learn more about miraculous tropical plant.
(Photo miracle fruit berries courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr)

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberThe seed catalogs and garden websites are asking, “Are you ready for Spring?” when here in Florida we know it is just a few moments away. Now as Florida gardeners, I know you are ready, but are the tools in the shed good to go for a busy gardening season? It is time to go through the shed or garage and take stock of your tools and equipment. Read Wendy's advice for starting the gardening year right.

Plant of the Month: Arugula

Arugula plants growing in a raised bedArugula is a leafy green vegetable native to the Mediterranean that’s known for its sharp, spicy flavor. Seeds can be sown every two to three weeks from the fall through the spring to provide a continual supply of young greens. As a bonus, arugula is relatively pest and disease free! Arugula is typically planted in the fall in full sun with well-drained and rich soil. Learn more about Eruca sativa.


Round, thin-skinned white potatoes, photo by Lance Cheung USDADid you know that each American eats an average of 125 pounds of potatoes per year? Fortunately, there are many varieties that thrive in the Florida garden so you can grow them yourself. Most southern gardeners choose to grow white- or red-skinned potatoes since they grow better in our climate than russets. Learn how to grow potatoes in your garden.

January in Your Garden

A pile of orange carrots at a farmers marketFlorida Arbor Day is the third Friday of January. Contact your county Extension office to see if there are Arbor Day tree sales or giveaways in your area. Many vegetables can be planted this time of year, including carrots. Maintain crapemyrtles by removing seed pods, small twiggy growth, and crossing branches to improve appearance and form; hard pruning is not required.

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.