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Key Considerations for Achieving Gardening Goals

Peppers, squash, eggplant, and cucumbers are some of Florida’s warm season vegetables. In general, the Summer is too hot, even for warm season veggies, in Florida. Check the calendar for optimal planting dates!

This gardening guide will help you to achieve your gardening goals!

  1. Determine your goals as a grower
  2. Based on who you are feeding, what do they want to eat?
  3. Before you get excited, consider your resources. Be realistic about limiting factors:
    • Cost
    • Time

      Small container gardens can be productive and beautiful for growing some of your own food.

    • Space
    • Light
    • Airflow
    • Access to water source
    • Access to drainage
    • Access to power source (may be necessary for alternative grow systems)
    • Harvesting, processing, and storage for crops
  4. Consider the different types of gardening techniques and growing systems that may suit your needs.
    • Embrace limitations so you can be successful with what you do have to offer your garden.  Apartment bound?  Micro greens, tabletop hydroponic systems, or growing with artificial lights can be successful. Not much time? Research self-watering and automated growing systems, or install micro irrigation on a timer. Cost constrained? Analyze your budget. Carrots and corn may be more affordable to purchase at the grocery store.

      Passive hydroponic systems can be easy, affordable, and productive for growing greens from buckets to baby pools.  Learn more about passive hydroponics here!

  5. Determine which crops are suitable for the gardening technique of your choice. 
    • Consult with your local Extension Agent if you need help with crop compatibility.
  6. Research those crops. Get started with Vegetable Gardening in Florida or get into details on the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS).
    • Seasons
    • Nutrient requirements
    • Pest and disease issues
    • Post-harvest processing, handling, and food safety
  7. Prevent pests and disease using Integrated Pest Management by:
    • Considering the selection of resistant cultivars (search seed catalogs)

      Pests enjoy your crops as much as you do. Beneficial insects may help you control pests. Identification is key for knowing good bugs from bad bugs.

    • Sanitation
    • Use of natural enemies and beneficial insects
    • Grow in season and/ or protect your crops
  8. Scout for potentially damaging pests. Proper identification is key because most insects are helpful or harmless.
  9. Congratulations!  Enjoy your harvest, prepare delicious meals, and preserve your crops for consumption throughout the year!

    The right bucket, tray, and pair of snips will help your harvest.

The intent of this blog is to help you determine how to be realistic about accomplishing your gardening goals. Everyone has different goals, resources, and values that will dictate their food choices. If you want to save money on food, you will need to consider your costs and maybe grow something that is expensive to purchase at the grocery store. Maybe gardening is therapeutic for you, so even though carrots are quite affordable at the grocery store, you find that growing carrots on your own is cheaper than a therapist! Perhaps you want to reduce the frequency of grocery store visits, so having some of your own collards and kale out back no matter what the cost is valuable to your family. If you are head chef for your home, maybe you have always wanted to treat yourself to a fresh potato like you have seen on all those global foodie TV shows.

Support Florida agriculture buy purchasing and requesting Florida grown!

Growing your own food is empowering and exciting. It is challenging at times, and a harvest is never guaranteed. The best gardeners have probably killed the most plants, but those gardeners embrace the lessons their gardens teach them season after season… green thumbs are earned. And remember, if growing your own is just not your thing, Florida’s farmers are working really hard to feed your family.  Check produce labels at the grocery store, go to the farmers market, venture out to local farms, and buy Fresh From Florida!

The UF/IFAS Bookstore has some handy resources and field guides that you may find useful, too!