Showing posts from October, 2011
And You Thought YOUR Snails Were Big.........

Recently there has been an incidence of Giant African Land Snails abbreviated as GALS, in the Coral Gables neighborhood in Miami. The local residents have seen a few snails here and there, but as with all introduced pests of any size, it is cause for caution and observation. 
Make no mistake about the creature, it is a large snail, with a shell measuring over 6 inches long. As with many snails, it has an appetite for plants, and this species can eat a LOT of plant material. It would be bad enough if the snail just ate plants, but this species also carries a disease that can affect your health: meningitis. The snails are available through pet stores worldwide, and are used in religious ceremonies, especially by Caribbean religions. After a boy smuggled a few snails into Miami as pets in the 1970s, they quickly became a serious pest. The Department of Agriculture eradicated them in 3 years after a protracted program of hand-catching the snails…
Can we really plantHummingbird gardens ?

I believe the answer is "yes". It would be safe to say that, as with butterfly gardens, it is not a plant-a-few-plants-and-they-will-arrive scenario. As with butterflies, hummingbirds enjoy sunlight, plenty of plants to feed on, and instant availability of shade cover in which to escape from predators. Planting a wide variety of plants attractive to butterflies often nets the added benefit of attracting 'hummers'.

In this section of the country, we have a small selection of hummingbird species, even during migration season. By far the most common species is the Ruby-Throat, and if you're really lucky, you'll see the emerald green flash of a male bird, about the size of a small dragonfly, and moving even faster. The bird's ability to defy the laws of aerodynamic flight is simply amazing. The birds can start and stop in no time at all, and they are fun to watch if a group gets together in a feeding area. The border wa…
Preparing Your Garden and Turf for Autumn

"Autumn" in South Florida is such a subtle concept that you would need a calendar to know when it happened. Perhaps the more accurate terms for what Northerners would call Autumn would the "less rainy" season, or the "I don't sweat all day" season. It means that days are getting shorter, the heavy rain and high humidity will slowly diminish but the daytime heat will continue. This means several things for your garden. Grass will still need watering, but by November, it will need less, as it will respond to short daylengths and start to slow down. You can help this by using a lower-nitrogen fertilizer, such as 15-0-15 or even a 12-2-12. The equal balance of the first and third numbers is important, since it fosters root and stem development, not so much leaf and grass growth. 

Trees will really slow down growth, and some have stopped already. We might even see some light defoliation in the very dry days of N…