by Sarah G. Mason
While the warm spring months may get your green thumb going, fall is actually a wonderful time for many gardening activities. As an added bonus, it’s also that special time of year when you can save a ton of cash on gardening equipment. Here’s a guide for what to expect and how to succeed this fall gardening season.
First, it’s important to take note of Florida’s unique features. From sandy soil, to four different growing zones across the state, to numerous types of insects, Florida gardening can be challenging for first-timers or new residents. To find the proper plants for your plot depending on particular water needs, soil type and special interests, visit the Florida Native Plant Society’s website and site configurator at www.fnps.org/plants/refinelist/Gilchrist, and check out Gainesville in the section labeled 8B.
Fall is an especially prudent time to start a vegetable garden. Just be sure to remove any dead or diseased plants and roots from spring and summer plants before you get started. Some of the best cool-season vegetables to start in September include radishes, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, carrots, leek, kale, collards and onions.
Be sure to keep an eye out for insects and disease in your garden. By the fall, these baddies have had all summer to build up their populations. Watch all plants carefully for any issues, and take the proper measures when you notice something seems off. For recommendations, contact your local Residential Horticulture Extension Agent.
To start your veggies, check the pH level of your soil to see if it’s necessary to add any additional nutrients. Then, a few weeks before you plan on planting, till your soil and add compost or manure for better fertilization. Your garden should be in a spot that’s close to your water supply and attracts at least six to eight hours of direct sun each day. Gardeners should avoid placing their plot too close to trees or hedges that will cause excess shade. Place your garden near your home in order to keep a close eye on it.
Fall is also the perfect time to plant herbs. A few herbs can be grown indoors, but the majority of herbs should be planted as part of a flower garden or along the border of your garden. Seeds of common herbs can be found at most local retail stores. The following are excellent choices for Florida: borage, coriander, basil, anise, dill, fennel, ginger, rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme.
Choosing the right gardening tools can save you a lot of trouble. Visiting the experts at your local home improvement store or local gardening store can help you find tools that are the right fit for your body and your gardening needs. Then, you should maintain your tools. For example, you should sharpen your shovel each year for the best results. To protect your hands while using these tools, select gardening gloves with padded palms and reinforced knuckles.
Good luck with your garden this fall, and don’t forget to relax and have fun! The results will certainly be worth the effort.