Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


Leave a comment

Q: I would like to grow bok choy. Can I do it here?

 

Bok choy

Bok choy

A:  Chinese cabbage has been grown in Asia since the 5th century, but was not grown in the United States until about a century ago. It is now grown for sale primarily in California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Florida. We have a local producer here in Callahan so don’t be afraid to try some of the different varieties to determine which will work best for you.  Many home gardeners around the state include Chinese cabbage in their fall and winter gardens. B. campestris L. (Chinensis group) is sometimes called B. chinensis. The most commonly accepted designations are bok choy or pak choi. Many refer to it as Chinese mustard. Bok choy is a nonheading form of Chinese cabbage, with several thick white leafstalks (petioles) and smooth, glossy, dark green, round leaf blades forming a celery-like cluster. There are not as many bok choy varieties available as there are of the pe-tsai type. There is a closely related flowering type of bok choy called choi sum (B. chinensis var. parachinensis). “Sum” in Cantonese means flower stalk. ‘Chinese Tsai Shim’ is a dark green variety of the flowering type, and ‘Hon Tsai’ is a purple variety of the flowering type. Both varieties have small yellow flowers borne on top of erect flower stalks. Bok choy should be grown in the fall or winter in Northeast Florida, in soil similar to other cabbage varieties.  The soil should be kept moist but not wet.  The major diseases are downy mildew, black speck, virus, and bacterial soft rot. Insect pests are cabbage worms and aphids. For more complete information on bok choy, read the University of Florida publication:  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mv036

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Q: What can you tell me about the Dynamite® crape myrtles?

Red Rocket Crape MyrtleA:  Dynamite ® crape myrtles are the red flowering plants.  So dramatic and beautiful, they have become a favorite in the landscape since the late 1990s.  The original Dynamite ® (trademarked as Whit II) tree grows to over 12 feet tall but there are dwarf varieties which only get to about 4 feet tall such as Petite Red Imp™, Monimp™, and Tightwad Red®, Whit V™ and Victor.  Other crape myrtle trees with red flowers can grow to heights of 4 to 10 feet such as Cheyenne (from the U.S. National Arboretum), Christiana which flowers earlier than most other selections, Siren Red® with the trademarked name of Whit VII and Tonto. Other red flowering crape myrtle trees growing over 12 feet tall are Arapaho (from the U.S. National Arboretum), Centennial Spirit, Red Rocket® (trademarked name of Whit IV).  Some of these varieties may provide us with better disease resistance – especially those from the National Arboretum. For more complete information look over the University of Florida publication on red crape myrtles:    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep256

Red Rocket Crape Myrtle


Leave a comment

Q: What kind of wasp is this?

Black Yellow Mud Dauber

Black Yellow Mud Dauber

A:  Thank you so much for bringing me a black and yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium. This attractive wasp can be found from southern Canada to Central America and the West Indies. It has a very distinct, long pedicel or waist attachment which is between the thorax and abdomen.  The pedicel can be nearly twice as long as the abdomen.  The wings of the black and yellow wasp are amber or smoky in color.  The legs of this insect are black and yellow. The pedicel can be black or yellow but it will form a small yellow spot where it attaches to the top of the abdominal area. The black and yellow coloring tells other predators this insect should be left alone. The adult females collect mud for their nests, thus the name, “mud dauber.” Each adult female wasp will build a nest of about 25 cylindrical cells or more at a sheltered location, such as the eaves of the house, in a barn or shed, or under a bridge. She will lay one egg per cell and insert a spider for the larva to consume once it has hatched; then she seals the cell with mud. While all wasps can sting multiple times, black and yellow wasps are generally gentle in nature and not easily provoked. We do not recommend poking them or handling them but as a rule – they are not aggressive. I know people do not often like so see the mud cases on their homes, but if possible, consider leaving them alone. Because they are hunters, we consider them beneficial.  The adults also feed on nectar from local flowers.