Spring Gardening

Research what to grow

Check UF/IFAS suggested planting dates to plan to get an early start for spring. Most warm season vegetables can be placed outside when they are 6-8 weeks old and after the danger of the last frost passes. The average last frost for Flagler County is around the second week of March. It is also important to do some research on what will grow well in the area. The University of Florida has conducted trials of different varieties of vegetables to determine which selections have the right genetics to withstand common pests and diseases found in our state. Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) is an example of a common pathogen found in Florida. Growers should select varieties that have been shown to have resistance to this virus that affects tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, other crops, and even weeds in the solanaceae family. If searching online seed catalogs, try to focus on plants that are well suited for the South East. It is great to experiment with a few new things each season. However, to ensure good yields the majority of the plants should be tried and tested for our challenging growing area.

Don’t guess, get a soil test:Get a baseline on your soil’s pH level. UF/IFAS Extension, Flagler County provides free soil testing for Flagler County Residents. The pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity in the soil. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, lower than 7 is acidic, and above 7 is alkaline. Most flowers and vegetables thrive in soils that are between 5.8 and 6.3, or slightly acidic. Soils that are between 5.5 and 7.0 do not require adjustment. Contact your county extension agent for information on how to adjust your pH.
Choose the right location: Vegetables and flowers need a lot of sunlight to grow, so choose a sight that receives light most of the day. Consider choosing a location with a water source conveniently located nearby. Most plants need good drainage to support healthy roots. Sites that have standing water after rains may be better suited for a rain garden. If soil testing indicated a problem with pH consider site amendment to adjust pH or creating a raised bed filled with garden soil and compost.

Draw up a plan: Make a full list of needed supplies and draw up a plan including desired plants and spacing. Be sure to include special consideration such as trellising support structures. Allow enough space in the plan for harvesting from all sides and movement between rows. Try to anticipate possible pests that may be attracted to ripening vegetables and construct appropriate barriers including netting.
Follow suggested planting dates: Check UF/IFAS suggested planting dates to get an early start for spring. Most warm season vegetables can be placed outside when they are 6-8 weeks old and after the danger of the last frost has passed. For Flagler County our average last frost date before spring is the last week of March. You can start transplants indoors under artificial lights to supplement natural light near a window. As the day approaches to transplant seedlings into the garden, begin to harden them off by leaving them outside in a sheltered location to experience some cooler temperatures. This will help them acclimate to outside temperatures and toughen them up to increase survival during transplant into the garden.
Mix it up:Try to practice crop rotation by avoiding planting plants in the same family in the same location year after year. This is important because pests rely on the same type of plants for food and their populations can grow over time due to continued supply. Crop rotation can be especially challenging in a small yard with limited space. It may be a good idea to give the garden a break occasionally or add new amendments to revitalize the soil. Plant parasitic roundworms called nematodes that feed on plant roots also build up over time, reducing yields and making gardening frustrating. Solarization is a technique that can be used to temporarily reduce nematode, pathogen, and weed seeds in soil by heating it up. The technique utilizes clear plastic to trap the sun’s energy.
For more information please visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in856 “Introduction to Soil Solarization”, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021 “Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide”

What to Plant:

Herbs: To plant from seed this month include parsley, dill, fennel, oregano, and sage. For more please visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_herbs “Herbs”
Vegetables: From seed plant quick finishing cool season vegetables including broccoli and salad crops such as arugula, lettuce, and spinach. Start warm season vegetables from seed.
Winter Annuals: Plant snapdragons, alyssum, calendula, delphinium, dusty miller, and ornamental cabbage. For more information please see Gardening with Annuals in Florida: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg319 “Gardening with Annuals in Florida”What to Do:
Lawns: Grass is growing more slowly this time of year. The roots of warm season grasses “slough off” this time of year making them less able to utilize nutrients from fertilizer. Fertilizer application is not recommended until March. For more Information please visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep236 “Homeowner Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn”
Continue to water 1 day per week during Eastern Standard Time (November through March) Odd number addresses irrigate Saturdays, even numbered homes irrigate Sundays. For more information please visit http://www.palmcoastgov.com/government/utility/water-conservation, City of Palm Coast, Water Conservation Ordinance Information
Deciduous Fruit Trees: Now is a good time to plant dormant trees to allow them to develop roots before warm, dry weather of spring arrives. It is also a good time to prune established dormant fruit trees. For more information please visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HS/HS36500.pdf “Training and Pruning Florida Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums”

What Not to Do:

Don’t trim your azaleas, the flower buds have already set. Harsh pruning will remove flowers that will appear in spring. Pruning should be done soon after flowering is over and not after the fourth of July.

Sol Looker Horticulture Extension Agent, Flagler County.


Posted: January 31, 2019

Category: Home Landscapes


Mimi Vreeland

June 18, 2021

Thank you for your feedback, Frank. Here are a couple of links to our EDIS documents on beneficial insects. The following links include more of the commonly seen beneficial insects: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_beneficial_insects and https://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/lso/BANKER%20IST/Beneficial%20Insects%202.pdf that you can cut and paste into your browser. Though not an exhaustive compilation, they are a good start for identifying beneficial insects in your garden. Have a great day!

Frank Ebersold
June 18, 2021

Many thanks, that information is a real eye opener and I'm sure there are more beneficial insects out there. Do you have a reference guide, thanks, Frank..

Ilana Shimmel

December 8, 2020

Hello! Participants must be a member of 4-H or FFA to show in the fair.

Nancy Swinderman
December 7, 2020

Do you have to be a member of 4H to enter chickens in the fair? My granddaughter raises hens and would like to participate

Maia McGuire

November 19, 2020

Hi Lauren, I've checked with some of our plant restoration experts and they say there probably isn't anything that you can do to improve the chances of recovery, but that the plants are surprisingly resilient, so hopefully most will do just fine given a little time...

Lauren Levy
November 17, 2020

I am a homeowner in Pinellas County. We lost about 40% of our summer planting during Tropical Storm Eta. Is there anything you recommend we do for the remaining plants to help them recover, or is best to leave them alone, and let Mother Nature take care of it?

November 7, 2020

Leroy was a household name in global aquaculture in the 1980s and 90s, serving as President of the World Aquaculture Society in 1994 when I was a graduate student in Germany and in the UK. Someone who knew so much and gave so much his whole life. Rest in Peace, Leroy!

Carol Roberts
November 7, 2020

LeRoy joined our St. Lucie Extension office in the year 2000 and was an instant fit with our crew. He amazed us with all the projects he was involved in already and then he added more. He made sure we all got some of the farm raised shrimp from the IRREC project next door! He always spoke so proudly of his wife and daughters. He will be missed.

Bob Glazer
November 7, 2020

LeRpy was a colleague but even more importantly, a very close friend. I find myself constantly thinking that I need to call him to talk about something that just happened. He has left a hole in my heart that will be there forever. Sleep well, amigo.

Maia McGuire

August 10, 2020

I'm afraid we are not able to help you find buyers for the saw palmetto berries.

Cheyanne Jones
August 8, 2020

Who do i sale these berries to

Mimi Vreeland

July 13, 2020

Hello, Marilyn. Yes, we do! Please go onto our website at flagler.ifas.ufl.edu and look for the updated blog posting about our Thursday Plant Clinic. There is a zoom registration link at the top of the announcement just below the title. Just click on that live link and a Meeting ID and password will be sent to you. This is the same ID and password for the whole month of July. We look forward to seeing there and please pass the word on to other friends or neighbors that would like to attend our virtual plant clinic.

Marilyn Munoz
June 29, 2020

do you have a zoom class for July?

Maia McGuire

June 23, 2020

Sorry, I do not know of any opportunities for obtaining free sea oats or other dune plants...

Robert La Barbera
June 23, 2020

does the state provide free plants

Maia McGuire

February 3, 2020

Hi Gerry, I am going to forward your question about funding to my colleague Erik Lovestrand in the UF/IFAS Extension Franklin County Office (elovestrand@ufl.edu) as he may be more aware of support that might be available in your area. The manual "Dune Restoration and Enhancement for the Florida Panhandle" might also be of interest--you can find it at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SG/SG15600.pdf. It recommends planting sea oats between December and April, with preferred dates being in March and April. Maia McGuire

February 2, 2020

We are also trying to restore the dunes and sea oats on a section of Carrabelle Beach on the Gulf Coast near Apalachicola after Hurricane Michael leveled the dunes and the sea oats. Are you aware of any local, state or federal programs to help on the purchase of the sea oats. We have already done a lot of work on the first steps to reestablish the sand dunes. Also, what is the best time to plant? THANKS for any suggestions you might have.

Maia McGuire

September 21, 2019

Hi Jack, sorry for the delay in responding--we are in the process of hiring a new horticulture agent. I am not sure why the link did not work for you--it is correct. Flagler County is considered to be outside the growing area for mangoes, although that could change as temperatures warm. Currently the northern limit for growing is Merritt Island (Brevard County). See https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/MG/MG21600.pdf for more information.

Jack Kimball
August 10, 2019

Link for growing peach trees doesn't work. Also, how do you grow mangoes ? This is for Flagler county - central Fl. Jackkimball126@gmail.com (757) 693-1207 Thank you, Jack Kimball

Maia McGuire

July 30, 2019

Great to hear that!

July 30, 2019

Thank you for this article. St George Island here. I followed your suggestions, including the use of hydrating polymer (despite having been discouraged from using this material by others). Planted 1200 liners over about 1 month. Last plantings dome about 6-8 weeks ago. 97-98% survival rate with great majority thriving!

Jim Kasserman
July 7, 2019

Your article here is the helpful I've found anywhere. Thank you.

Maia McGuire

April 8, 2019

The answer somewhat depends on the quantities you will be needing--there are a few wholesalers listed on the Florida Association of Native Nurseries' website. However, they only sell wholesale. If you are looking for a retail outlet, there are a few retailers listed here. You may also be able to work with a local nursery and have them purchase from a wholesaler and then re-sell them. The sources listed on the websites may not be the only ones (the websites only list members of the Association of Native Nurseries), but they are a good starting point. I hope this helps!

Maia McGuire

April 8, 2019

Pages 77-78 of the publication, Dune Restoration and Enhancement for the Florida Panhandle​, might be helpful!

Jim Kasserman
April 8, 2019

Any advice on propagation from local seeds to replenish hurricane depleted dunes ?

April 7, 2019

I am looking to purchase sea oatsplants for doing restoration in Gulf County, Fl. affected by hurricane Michael if you know of any suggestions where I could purchase these, thanks

Wendy Mussoline

March 7, 2019

Hi...Thanks for the heads up...I'll pass that on to our website team...

March 7, 2019

Hello there, I do think your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I liok at your web site in Safari, itt lookjs fine but when opening in Intfernet Explorer, it's ggot some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick head up! Besides that, wonderful website!

Maia McGuire

January 7, 2019

Hi Janet--you might want to check out some of the activities on the K-12 page at www.plasticaware.org. Unfortunately there is no simple answer, and there is always the risk of making the problem seem so big that people may feel hopeless to do anything. I think it's best to focus on small acts--if every student in the class did not use one straw a week, for example. In a year, each student would have prevented 52 plastic straws from being thrown away. For a class of 20 students, that's 1,040 straws! This may help them realize that one person can make a difference, and if they can get others to take simple actions, their efforts will be multiplied greatly! Feel free to contact me directly at mpmcg@ufl.edu.

janet stull
January 7, 2019

I'm an elementary art teacher in central Pennsylvania and would love some hints, tips or classes on how to reach our kids about the need to act. I talk about it and we recycle and make art using recycled objects - I just feel that I could use some ideas. Thank you, Janet

Maia McGuire

October 6, 2018

Hi Jack. That's a great question. The thought seems to be that the population of pteropods increases based on food availability. Winds and currents can affect where the pteropods are located and whether (and when) the shells will get washed up on beaches. It isn't an uncommon occurrence in Florida (considering the state as a whole), but often occurs over a relatively small stretch of beaches at a time. The shells can wash back into the ocean with subsequent tides, so they may only be apparent on a particular beach for a few days.

Jack Putz
October 5, 2018

Great explanation, but why are there so many on the beach...I've never seen them before...what happened or what is happening?

Maia McGuire

September 7, 2018

Whether or not you need a permit (in Florida, the permits come from the Department of Environmental Protection) depends on the size of the area to be planted, whether or not a sprinkler/irrigation system will be installed, etc. You may be required to coordinate with the local sea turtle patrol if planting will be done during sea turtle nesting season (to ensure no damage is done to nests that may be in or near the area to be planted. You can find your local DEP contact at https://floridadep.gov/water/coastal-construction-control-line/content/district-field-representatives-contact-list. That person will be able to advise you as to whether or not you need a permit (and if so, how to go about obtaining one).

Mary bruce
September 6, 2018

Do you have to have a permit to plant sea oats?

Maia McGuire

August 7, 2018

Hi Nancy, There is one retailer near you listed with the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (www.afnn.org). 7 Pines Native Plant Nursery is in Defuniak Springs, and it sells sea oats in gallon pots, according to the website. There may be other retailers who carry sea oats but are not members of that association. Hope t his helps!

nancy Roberts
August 5, 2018

I live in okaloosa county and would like to get some sea oat plants...where would that be possible?

Anna Eppinger

February 9, 2018

It is worth the trip! Be sure to get there early - it fills up fast and you'll see lots of other wildlife in the morning :)

Maia McGuire

February 7, 2018

I am glad you found it useful :)

February 6, 2018

Maia, Thank you so much for this valuable information.

Amy Taff
February 2, 2018

Wow! I’m packing my bag for a visit. I had no idea you would be able to see so many manatee in such a short distance. It’s also so exciting to hear about our youth being able to see these creatures in person. Certainly this experience will be a meaniful memory. Thank you for the post!

Maia McGuire

February 2, 2018

Thanks for your question, Cindy. We have added a link at the bottom of the post to a website that has some images. Hope that helps!

Cindy Triay
January 31, 2018

Thank you very much for all this information. Can you provide pictures of what you describe of on the infected trees?

Comments are closed.

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