The seasons keep turning, and it’s time to plan, prepare, and plant vegetables. A lot of good comes from planting a garden. Gardening is a life-affirming activity. Working with family and friends brings joy and a promise of good things to come. Plant vegetables for joy, celebration, and tasty family meals.
For first-time gardeners, a few considerations and some planning before planting will make the garden thrive. Here are a few of my favorite tips for getting started on a veggie patch.
Veggies grow best with plenty of sun and water. The garden plot or containers should receive a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day; 8 hours is better. Plan for supplemental irrigation; this is the beginning of the dry season in many warm-season areas, and watering the garden should be easy. Use timers and low-volume irrigation kits, which are available at nurseries, garden centers, and online. Install or build a compost bin nearby for a place to put weeds and other garden debris.
The choice of what to grow is simple in my mind, grow what will be eaten by your tribe. Add a few plants of something new and intriguing to keep things interesting. Green beans, collards, eggplant, tomatoes, radishes, and lettuce are easy and tasty. Even kale for trendy kale chips grows well in the fall garden. Check out the University of Florida/IFAS Vegetable Gardening Guide for varieties adapted to Florida. Also, Bob Bowden’s Florida Fruit & Vegetable Gardening: Plant, Grow, and Harvest the Best Edibles is comprehensive and chocked full of information.
This is the time to plant and prepare, make a paper plan, start seeds for transplants, visit a local garden center or nursery for supplies and inspiration. Add some organic matter to the garden. Organic matter improves the soil by increasing the capacity to hold water and nutrients. It also improves plant health and resistance to pests. If growing in containers, use fresh, sterile soil. If the garden is a plot outside, adding un-composted clippings, leaves, or another organic material is a good idea. Mix such items into the soil 4 to 6 weeks before planting. Compost can be placed on the soil surface at any time.
What constitutes a garden has also changed. It can be a large plot or small postage-stamp-sized bed, containers on the patio, a window box, or a couple of bags of potting soil thrown on the back porch split and planted with a salad garden. Let the imagination run free, plant veggies everywhere; they can even be tucked in with traditional flower beds in the landscape.
Vegetable gardening is easy, rewarding, and profitable. Get the whole family or neighborhood involved and grow something; it is gardening season. Plant vegetables for joy, celebration, and tasty additions to family meals.
This article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.