I am interested in doing some vegetable gardening. Is there a place to find information as to the right times to plant and varieties of vegetables that do well in the Stuart area? Can you provide a little help for winter veggie gardeners?
John, Via email
Veggies may be grown year-round in tropical and subtropical locations, but the months from September – April generally yield the most satisfactory results. Due to the unique soils and subtropical climate – gardening is a little different and can be disappointing to the uninitiated.
Some of the best hands-on resources for Florida vegetable gardeners come from the University of Florida and Professor Emeritus Dr. James M. Stephens. His Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide (now revised with new author contributions) contains much info for expert and beginning gardeners, including planting dates by region, best varieties, and recommendations on everything from soil preparation to pest control. A call or visit to your local County Extension Office may also garner a copy.
James Stephens also authored several noteworthy booklets, Vegetable Gardening in Florida and the Manual of Minor Vegetables which are typically available at local bookstores or online retail book outlets. The 2010 Guide to Florida Fruit & Vegetable Gardening by Robert Bowden is a great resource. Bowden is the Executive Director of Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL and his book is factual and entertaining. The Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida: Revised Edition by Tom McCubbin is not just a guide for veggie gardeners but an easy-to-use manual for all things landscape and garden.
However, hanging out with gardeners is the best way to learn about gardening. Join the local garden club or plant society, volunteer at a local school to help with the school garden, and go to garden-oriented programs. Check out the garden calendar in the newspaper or online for your area each week to find events.
Finally, explore Master Gardener training presented by the University of Florida in cooperation with local county governments. Current University-trained Master Gardeners are available to answer questions in Florida County Extension Offices. Finally, check back often at Yard-Doc.com for info about gardening, a little help for winter veggie gardeners, and landscape topics.
This column first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.