Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mushroom Mania

By Jean Field, Pinellas County Extension Horticulturalist

Eeek! Mushrooms in my lawn…that means fungus. I must kill them. What can I spray them with? There must be something I can use!” These are the questions we get from panic-stricken homeowners right after a heavy rain. Don’t worry; these mushrooms don’t harm the landscape or your lawn. They thrive on moisture and the decomposition of organic matter in soil. If you have mushrooms, your soil is both moist and it contains organic matter…not such a bad situation after all.

Don’t like they way they look? You can remove them by hand or mow them. To prevent them from sprouting, simply reduce the moisture you give to your landscape. Daily rains promote good mushroom growth. If you hand-remove the mushrooms, you will have fewer in the future. Be sure to wear gloves when removing mushrooms and wash your hands well when finished.

Still want to eat home-grown mushrooms? Consider buying a do-it-yourself kit from mail-order suppliers. You can grow shitake, oyster, Portobello and other flavorful mushrooms to satisfy your cooking delights.

Remember, never eat any mushrooms you find in your garden or in the woods. Many poisonous mushrooms in Florida look very similar to the harmless ones.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Want a flower to make you happy?

By Pam Brown, Urban Horticulture Extension Agent
Try planting some Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) seeds or better yet, buy some plants for instant effect. These plants form a clumping, two-foot-tall mound of foliage topped with large, bright yellow flowers. They need full sun and well drained soil. Being very drought tolerant and salt tolerant as well makes Black-eyed Susan a wonderful flower for our gardens in Pinellas County. Plants should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart for mass planting. You can also sew seed directly into the garden bed. The seed germinates in 5 – 10 days once the soil temperature reaches 70 – 75 degrees, and they produce flowers 10 – 14 weeks later. Once the seeds germinate and have several true leaves, thin the plants to the recommended planting distance. Leaving the planting too thick can decrease air flow around the mature plants and increase the incidence of fungal diseases.

This flower can make you happy just looking at it. The cultivars available today are a far cry from the roadside Black-eyed Susans of the past.

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