One of the most common subjects that many people ask me about is about Armadillos, those strange-looking mammals. Many people think that these animals are rodents but in reality, they are not. These animals actually belong to the Xenarthra family. Their closest relatives are sloths and anteaters. The main characteristic of these animals is the hard shell that covers their body. This shell is made up of bone that covers and protects the animals back. They also have bony plates that protect their tails.
Armadillos love to dig. This will be attested by many Florida homeowners who wake up in the morning to see their lawn look like a battlefield. They have short and very strong legs that are well adapted for digging for insects or for making a shelter in the ground. They also have very sharp claws that act as a defense mechanism and also helps them to dig in the hardest of dirt.
The diet of the armadillo consists mainly of insects such as ants, beetles and grubs. This is what they are digging for in your lawn. Although these animals are not blind, they do have very poor eyesight.
The best way to keep these critters from making your yard look like a battlefield is to control the food that they crave. Since Armadillos are after your insects and grubs, treat your lawn on a regular basis with a good quality insect control. Be sure to treat your entire lawn area for best results. Keep in mind that armadillo's like thinner bladed grass such as Bahia or Bermuda as opposed to the very thick Floratam or St. Augustine varieties.
Many people use herbs to flavor their food but what about the flowers that these plants and many others produce? You will be surprised to know that many of them are edible and are great for seasoning your favorite recipes. An example of this is garlic blossoms. These flowers can be white or pink and the flower has a zingy garlic flavor that is not as strong as the flavor from the garlic bulb. Basil is another great example. You know the flavor of the basil herb but the flowers they produce are also edible. They have a flavor similar to the basil plant but it has a milder taste. This can add a great flavor to salads. Broccoli is another example that produces edible flowers. If broccoli is left to grow long enough, they will produce bright yellow flowers called florets. These yellow flowers are edible and will have a mild spicy flavor that tastes great in salads or stir-fry.
If you are from the North Country, you will be familiar with the bright yellow flowers called dandelions. Most of us thought of them as a nuisance that we had to pick out of our lawns. The surprising fact is that these flowers are edible. Dandelions are actually in the daisy family and they have a very sweet honey-like flavor. The flowers taste best when they are picked as young flowers. You can eat these blooms steamed or even raw. Great in salads or as a garnish for other dishes.
Pansies, most of us have used them as a great winter flowering annual for years but the flowers are also edible. The flower petals have a slightly green or grassy flavor. The petals are great in salads and soups.
Sunflowers, you know them for their distinctive large flowers that look great in your yard. These large colorful flowers are also edible. The flower is best when eaten in the bud stage that is described to have a taste similar to artichokes. Once the flowers are open, the taste can be very bitter. The buds can be steamed and used in many of your favorite dishes.
With all these great flowers that are available for consumption I will caution that you should know where the flowers came from and if they have sprayed with any insecticides etc. before experimenting with them. Probably the best scenario is to grow the plants yourself from seed. This way you know they have not been sprayed with any hazardous chemicals.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site www.hometowngarden.com.