We are all eager to get back into our gardens, but right now can seem like the less fun part of Florida vegetable gardens. Weeds, pests, and heat have taken over. So what can we do NOW to prepare for fall?
Pull those weeds
Hand pulling weeds is a great option, but can seem like a daunting task if you haven’t kept up with removing your weeds. Hand pulling provides some exercise and a chance to be in the garden. If you let the weeds get too big then they can quickly become overwhelming and be a pest magnet. You can till your garden as well, but if you practice no-till or low till options then using a shovel is a great option. If the weeds have not gone to seed then you can just lay them in the garden as a green mulch until they decay deterring more weeds. Or you can move them to the compost pile.
If you have chickens then this is the perfect time to let them wander the garden with you. They will scratch and till the soil for you. They will also eat bugs you scare when you are weeding. Plus, they make the task that much more enjoyable.
Plan your fall garden
Take a little time now to decide what you are going to plant this fall, if you need to redo or add trellising, and if you need to add compost to the soil. By planning your garden you can determine when you need to plant and how. Are you going to do seeds indoors or direct sow? Maybe this year you want to try intercropping? Are you going to try a new variety of something? Whatever the case, planning it out will ensure that you plant at the right time and lessen failures. Check out UF’s Vegetable Gardening Guide for the proper timing and other helpful tips at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021.
We are getting close to when you might want to start some of your seeds. If you haven’t already ordered seeds then now is the time. Make sure seed packets are dated for the current year or previous unless they have been stored at cool temperatures. This helps ensure a good germination rate. There are many options for getting seeds. You can go to a local store, purchase online, or check your library to see if they have a seed library. If you live in Columbia County then you are in luck because we do! You can also join seed swap groups.
Begin planting in trays
Sometimes it is helpful to start seeds indoors in trays for fall gardens. If you have a cool enough area you can start seeds like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, peppers, and Brussel sprouts. Consider trying artichoke this year. They like to germinate in warmer temperatures and produce fruit when it is cooler.
While we may not be able to harvest a whole lot from our North Florida garden in August there is still plenty to do. Taking time to do the tips above will ensure that you are ready to plant at the beginning of October.