Florida is an excellent state for growing vegetables. Its subtropical temperature, accompanied by the warm and rainy seasons, makes it an ideal place for gardening your veggies. However, there are a lot of things to consider when you want to pursue planting your very own vegetable garden. Here are five tips for growing vegetables in your Florida backyard:
1. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH FLORIDA’S GROWING VEGETABLES ZONES.
Growing vegetables varies greatly between growing zones. Growing zones or zone maps compare the climates of where plants would grow and adapt well. The United States Department of Agriculture provided us with this map (called the USDA Hardiness Zone Map) which divides the country into eleven planting regions or zones, each having a number representation. Each growing zone is 10°F warmer / colder in an average winter than the adjacent zone.
For example, if you reside in the northern parts of Florida, you would be part of USDA Growing Zone 8 (10 – 20°F / -12.2 – 6.7°C). This means that the climate in that zone could only support vegetables like beets, cabbage, carrots, kale, and lettuce, among others. It cannot support fruits like cherries, peaches, and some grapes. The most southern part of Florida is in Zone 11a with its lowest temperature ranging from 40 – 45°F / 4.4 – 7.2°C. If you wish to check which zone your garden is under, use the zone finder here.
2. KNOW WHAT VEGETABLES TO PLANT AND WHEN.
After learning the growing zones, you would then need to schedule your planting. Narrow your choices by selecting which vegetables are easiest to grow through the different seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Spring (February to May) would most likely support cool-weather vegetables. Lettuce, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, peas, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, turnips, potatoes, okra, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet corn, and squash are some of the easiest crops to plant during this season. Just remember to keep the vegetable’s soil moist by watering it from time to time. Spring in Florida can be quite dry sometimes.
Winter and fall are usually drier seasons compared to summer and spring. Remember to water your vegetables but not so much. Cold temperature accompanied by water could freeze and kill many vegetables, especially during winter. You may plant beets, kale, leeks, beans, garlic, cauliflower, and parsnips during October and November. Plant onions, potatoes, peas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and herbs during December.
During summer, the temperature is high, and so is humidity. Peppers, herbs, and romaine lettuce are favorite vegetables to plant. Plant onion, squash, sweet potato, lima beans, cassava, cowpeas, eggplant, pumpkin, corn, celery, broccoli and Brussel sprouts from May to September. During this dry season, it is essential to keep your soil moist and sprinklers working.
Planting schedule, including the first and last frost dates, is vital. You can check the correct months or seasons of planting and transplanting of your vegetable seeds/plants in the Florida vegetable planting calendar here.
3. IDENTIFY COMMON VEGETABLE PROBLEMS.
Numerous problems can occur throughout the duration of your vegetable growing. Here are some common vegetable problems you could face and how you ought to solve them.
- No seed germination: Generally, the cause of no seed germination is the environmental condition. When the soil is too cold, too dry, or too wet, the seed will not grow. The seeds can also be too old and could not germinate anymore. One more reason is that the insects/birds eat the seeds. Just remember to take care of the soil by allowing enough water, use fresh seeds, and protect the seeds from small bugs /animals.
- Wilting: Wilting is caused by either not enough or too much water, too much fertilizer, not enough sunlight, and pests. Solve these problems by giving the vegetable an ample amount of water, fertilizer, sunlight, and organic insecticide. Remember to keep your soil moist for successful vegetable growth. Dethatching may help you with this problem.
- Poor Yield: This is caused by the incorrect weather or climate at which you plan to grow your vegetables. It can also be caused by the absence of pollination, which can be easily corrected by placing flowering plants nearby. Keep the soil moist and add fertilizer when necessary. Give the vegetable time to mature. You can visit here for your fertilization services.
- Diseases: These diseases are often caused by fungi or other pests that attack your vegetable. Some common diseases and how to fight and treat them are found here. If you can not do it on your own, hire professionals to control this.
4. LEARN THE ART OF VEGETABLE COMPANION PLANTING.
There are numerous combinations of vegetables that work and grow better together in the garden. This way of gardening is called companion planting. It is done to drive away insects/pests and to allow the normal growth of your vegetables. Here is a sample companion planting chart.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR LAWN AND GARDEN BOX.
A happy lawn means a happy backyard for your growing vegetables. Make sure that it is properly maintained, clean, and lush. Make sure your vegetable patch is free from weeds and pests. Also, remember to keep your soil healthy and moist by adding fertilizers and dethatching.
6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR GROWING VEGETABLES IN YOUR BACKYARD!
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