You Can Totally Grow a Garden!
Despite the North Florida temperatures still creeping up into the 90s by midday, there is the promise of cooler days ahead drifting in the air! Pumpkin lattes, roasted root veggies, warm hues of orange, red and brown. To say I’m excited about the arrival of fall next month would be a vast understatement. One thing that gets me especially giddy is planning out our fall veg garden. If you’ve been toying with the idea of planting a garden, there is no time better than now to start prepping. It’s easier than you might think!
Before we moved to our current house in Midtown, I dreamt of being an urban gardener but I was nervous. I figured it would consume my life. Soil testing, pest controlling, soil amending. Egads! I just want to chomp on some broccoli. I’m glad I finally took the plunge and put two small 4’ by 4’ boxes in our front yard. Nathan Ballentine from Man in Overalls (who literally wears overalls all the time and it’s adorable) hauled in the dirt-compost mix for me and I popped in starter plants purchased from Native Nurseries. I read enough to know what plants were too much hassle (asparagus, for one!) and just stuck with the easiest ones I figured we’d eat. For our spring garden it was tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and a few others. Most everything flourished and I felt like all I really had to do was weed every so often (we kept the beds organic), water and harvest! That first garden gave me the confidence I needed to keep going and it showed me that for my needs, a simple little garden would do the trick. It was also a great learning experience for our young daughter who delighted in digging in the dirt and watching our garden grow and change through the season.
One thing I’ve learned in the 3 seasons of having a fall garden is what is and isn’t worth the effort to plant for us. One fall, I planted 3 eggplant plants only to realized after dozens were harvested that I’m the only one in our family who really ate them. So next fall, we skipped the eggplant and I’d just buy one from the store if I had a hankering. That same fall I had only planted 3 kale plants. Turns out, my family can down some kale! So the next fall we planted 6 kale plants only to learn that this fall, we need to plant a few more. That’s the beauty of a seasonal garden. Plant and learn.
Now is prime time to sow seeds to transplant come September. The ideal plants to sow now are: beans (pole, bush and lima), sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, Southern and English peas, fall tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, celery, collards, endive/escarole, kale, leek, lettuce, turnips and mustard greens. So basically, tons of deliciousness.
The moral of the story: If you want a veg garden, then bite the bullet and plant one! Do some reading up (the University of Florida gardening extension office has some great resources), talk to neighbors who garden, look at gardens online, talk to the folks at your local nursery, do whatever you need to do to realize you can totally do this thing. And do it!
Happy planting, friends.