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County Extension

  • Bringing back the pollinators

    By Sam Marshall

     

    Did you know that your backyard has the ability to support more than 1,000 different species of insects at any given time? Given that there may be upwards of 10 quintillion individual insects on the planet at one time, it should come as no surprise that insects have a remarkable ability to adapt an amazing diversity of habitats, including our backyards. So read on to learn more about you can protect pollinators.

     

    Why the urgency?

  • New ideas for spinach

    According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), spinach was first cultivated more than 2,000 years ago in Iran. By 1806, it had become a popular vegetable in America and in the 1920s the U.S. pushed spinach commercially, with the Popeye cartoon becoming a great advocate for spinach consumption.

     

    Spinach seems to beone of those foods you either like or don’t. Spinach can be eaten raw in salads and as a cooked green, much like turnip or collard greens.

     

  • Vegetarian protein sources

    A couple weeks ago I wrote about using beans as a source of plant protein in your diet. Protein is an essential nutrient the body uses to build and repair tissue. Protein also helps build bone, muscle and blood. Meat, fish are poultry are good sources of protein. But, if you’re a vegetarian, getting enough protein from sources other than animal products is important to consider when planning meals.

  • The beauty of summer-flowering mimosa is fleeting

    When most think of a mimosa, it’s a good excuse to drink a bit of sparkling wine early in the day with some of Florida’s favorite breakfast beverage. Those of us with the permanent dirt (soil) under our fingernails think of a summer-flowering plant with the botanical name of Albizzia julibrissin that definitely doesn’t roll off the tongue. While the Latin may be a bit cumbersome, the pink flowers on this fast- and easy-to-grow small tree catch the attention of even casual gardeners.

  • The beauty of summer-flowering mimosa is fleeting

    When most think of a mimosa, it’s a good excuse to drink a bit of sparkling wine early in the day with some of Florida’s favorite breakfast beverage. Those of us with the permanent dirt (soil) under our fingernails think of a summer-flowering plant with the botanical name of Albizzia julibrissin that definitely doesn’t roll off the tongue. While the Latin may be a bit cumbersome, the pink flowers on this fast- and easy-to-grow small tree catch the attention of even casual gardeners.

  • Wallet, waistline and environment

    Last March I wrote about National Nutrition Month. This is an annual campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year, the theme was “Go Further with Food” and the educational focus was on right-sizing the amounts of foods we buy and eat, both to maintain a healthy weight and a balanced diet, but also to reduce food waste across the country.

  • Saturated soils cause root-related problems

    The weather of late reminds me of the tired, old joke about the disgruntled restaurant patron who asks the surly waiter, “What’s a fly doing in my soup?” A cursory glance brought the comment, “It looks like the backstroke, sir.”

    Backstroke, butterfly or freestyle, lots of us have been dealing with too much water lately. While that may be only a minor inconvenience for most of us solved with a good umbrella, our plants aren’t so fortunate. Saturated soils mean we will see lots of root-related problems.

  • Where do you store your butter?

    So, what are your thoughts? Do you keep your butter at room temperature, in the refrigerator or in the freezer?

    If you read this column frequently, you know I frequently stress the “two-hour” rule that states perishable foods should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

    Why? At the two-hour mark, there has been enough time for any bacteria in or on the food to have multiplied to a level that could make someone sick.

  • Crape myrtles are hot-weather high performers

    Summer may be the time for kicking back and relaxing for humans, but it’s a stressful time in the garden. Hot days, warm nights and short-term droughts conspire to send those plants that prefer the cooler times into horticultural heaven sometimes known as the compost pile. But, if you want easy summer living in the garden and you want to show your team spirit, crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.) are hot-weather high performers.

  • More on eating beans

    In last week’s column I made the case for replacing some of the meat in your diet with beans. Overall, beans have fewer calories and saturated fats and more fiber than meat. I’m not talking about green beans or string beans, but those that are called “dry” beans. These are beans like kidney, black, pinto, garbanzo and navy.