The most conscientious gardeners are now concerned about all the wet soils and lawns they have to contend with. This is the usual mix of seasonal predicaments they face every year.
Too dry and hot, then too wet and hot. Always in danger of too windy with the tantalizing baby tropical storms twirling around us in the gulf and ocean. Which way will Mother Nature test our patience and skills?
Gardeners living in Southwest Florida are resigned to these fluctuations and some even enjoy the challenges. Pick your favorite weather station and pay attention to what they advise. They are not always correct with their predictions but their educated guessing is sure better than the average gardeners.
It does not take long to figure out that those big, fat, black clouds rumbling overhead may be full of rain, but they are not really going to send down a deluge, today. It soon comes as no surprise that a sunny sky will quickly cloud over with out any stormy clouds and drop an inch of rain.
It is somewhat irritating to be caught in a driving rainstorm on the way home from your favorite garden center and discover that not a drop of rain has fallen on your needy garden, again.
One Christmas gift that is always appropriate here is an umbrella. No need to worry if the recipient already has one. Two umbrellas are the way to go, especially if you are good at keeping one in the car and one in the house.
The soggy yard can be as bad as the soggy garden. There are lots of diseases in a soggy lawn. The worst critter to destroy your lawn is called a grub. When you look out at lawn and it is full of a flock of long-legged, fat, white birds with a delicate curving beak, they have stopped by for a snack. These birds are ibis, they appear in a flock of 5 to 15. The mature birds are all white but they may have some youngsters along for the snack.
When they walk around a bit on your lawn and then quickly move next door, you know there are no grubs on your lawn, right then. Grubs do not move into the adjourning lawn because of the feeding birds, however you do need to watch for patches of loose grass that you can pick up from the lawn.
They show in other ways also. You can contact the Fort Myers Extension Office for information, or a reliable lawn service to rectify a grub problem.
Hopefully, everyone, including the lawn service people, are properly observing the current fertilizing ordinance for all Lee County lawns. A copy of that should be available at he Extension Office also.
This is a good time to feed palms with some Manganese sulfate to protect them from a recurring problem called frizzle top, which is a Manganese deficiency. The palms will appear stunted, crinkled and curled at the tips. If not treated they will die.
Use 2 or 3 pounds per palm - depending on their size. I have about 10 queens and I just do a feeding about now whether they need it or not. I learned prevention is the best way to keep them healthy. Read up on your palms, keep them healthy.
The big bunches of orange-colored berry-like things hanging around in some palms right now can be cut off and not harm the palm. They do make a mess if not cut off neatly. Beware they are much heavier than they look.
Flower wise, you might want to plant some hardy pentas, or marigolds. I have seen some beautiful coleus around this year, just really big and bushy. I think they do better when the little, single flowering stem is kept trimmed off. They will last for a couple of months, depending on the weather. You can just keep re-planting them also by clipping a stem and removing most of the leaves and drop them in some water and they will grow great roots -just re-plant them. Sometimes I have a pot full for the lania or even for inside the house for a special occasion. They come in so many colors it is sometimes hard to pick which one.
Impatiens are a nice pot plant also. They do like a lot of water and will become leggy if you don't watch them. I have some on my lania that are always happy all summer long in the shade of an Erica palm that is snuggled into a corner soil area.
Yes, I do cut and replant them off and on, but they are cheerful little plants and I cannot resist them. I have plenty of water for them because I always have a container by the sink to use gray water for several things on the lania.
Colorful caladiums are popping up well now. The green and white ones seem to look beautiful wherever you plant them. They like sun and partial shade and do need to be a little damp when first planted. Once they start growing, they do fine with the sprinkler or rainwater. They come in all sizes and colors.
Make sure you are spraying around outside doors and in garages for any of the creepy little critters that come in out of the rain. I have had several too many this year.
Keep cool and if you are not able to plant right now, plan for later.
Happy gardening until we meet again.
H.I. Jean Shields is a past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.