GARDENING

If you dig daffodils, plant them now for a winter bloom


Published: Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

Q: Is this the time to plant daffodils? Will they even grow in Florida?

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Plant Carlton daffodils in a location that gets at least six hours of daylight, if possible.

Courtesy of Wendy Wilber

A: Yes, you can grow daffodils here, but you have to select the kinds of daffodils that will grow and follow a few planting tricks.

The best varieties for our area are Carlton, Chinese Sacred, Erlicheer and Ice Follies. In North Central Florida, plant the bulbs in October and November. I try to get them in by Thanksgiving for flowers in February. Select a spot that gets plenty of sunshine; more than six hours a day, if possible.

Well-drained soil is best, and make sure that the planting bed is free from competing tree roots. Plant the bulbs at 4 to 6 inches deep. If you plant them too shallowly, they will make a lot of leaves and may not flower. A good rule of thumb for daff bulbs is to plant them two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Space them about 6 inches apart. That's a hands-length apart if you don't have your ruler in the garden with you.

This spacing gives enough room for the bulbs to multiply. Water once they are in the ground, and follow with light waterings when the leaves start to show. Stop watering once they have flowered. If you have an irrigation system, don't let the sprinklers hit the daffodil bed. Too much water during the summer can cause the bulbs to rot. Also, don't mulch the daffodil bed with pine bark; it causes the bulbs to decline and keeps the soil too moist. You do not have to dig or lift the bulbs every year. Dig the bulbs every three years to divide them and space them out; lifting the bulbs keeps them blooming and looking their best.

For more information about daffodils, look up the guide book called "Daffodils in Florida" by Linda and Sara Van Beck, and visit the UF/IFAS Extension website, www.solutionsforyourlife.com.

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Q: I have just started juicing and realized I am using a good deal of kale. Is it hard to grow at home?

A: Kale is a fantastic vegetable to grow in the home garden. It is considered a cool-season cooking green similar to collards and cabbage. Many people are trying to get more green vegetables into their diet and have found that juicing kale is an easy way to do it. There isn't that much juice in a few kale leaves so you can go through a bunch of kale in one serving. It is great cooked, as well. Luckily, kale is easy to grow from seed or from transplants. Look for varieties like Blue Curled Scotch, Dwarf Siberian and Tuscano. There is one called Dinosaur Kale that might get young ones interested in trying a bite.

They can be planted from September to March. In fact, a cold snap will make the leaves sweeter. Harvest just a few leaves at a time or take the entire head. Usually, there is enough time to plant more kale given the long growing season. Try it in containers as well as in the traditional in-ground garden. It is an easy, healthy vegetable to grow.

For more information about kale and other plants for the fall garden, call the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County office at 955-2402, and talk to a Master Gardener Volunteer. Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at wlwilber@ifas.ufl.edu.

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