We are nearing the end of the spring planting season in Florida. The last danger of frost has come and gone, and it’s time to start planting warm weather plants and vegetables. Usually, the spring season extends until April in central Florida, but because it has been so hot, and we have gotten so few chill hours, the season has speed up about a month. This is why I don’t recommend you start planting things like peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, or lettuces at this point. But, why? Bugs, insects, and disease thrive in a hot and moist climate, so their populations boom in the summer. Summer is not a planting season for most Florida fruits and veggies. Because their populations sky rocket, they are hard to control and in the end, the outcomes do not justify the means. So, what can you grow at this point? Not much grows in the Florida summer, but a handful do thrive, and those vegetables are sweet potatoes and okra. (http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/summer_vegetables.shtml)
If you have already planted and have other veggies growing in the garden, that’s good too. Since I have started my position, I helped start two community gardens, and am working on my third. They aren’t too big, but will still produce plenty of produce!
Fig 1 Fig 2
One thing I learned when transplanting, is that plants can get sunburnt. The technical term is called sunscald, and it happens when plants are transplanted from a very shady area to full sun. My mistake was doing exactly just that. What I should have done was to slowly increase the sun exposure by placing them under a shady tree for a week and then full sun. Below is a picture of my sunburnt eggplants. The white discoloration is a symptom of sunscald. : (
Fig 3 Fig 4
The damage became worse, and the leaves turned black. This is a form of necrosis, as the burned tissue dies. Hopefully the damage is not so extensive that my plants die.
So sunscald was my lesson for the week, and I most definitely will not make that mistake again.
From my garden to yours,
Our next blog: Spider mites and Thrips
Down the road: Fertilization and Calculations
Future topics: Anticipating and bouncing back from the elements. What can I do about a last minute frost?
Eden Santiago-Gomez is the Community Gardens Program Assistant, with UF/Pasco County Extension Office. Eden is creating community gardens throughout the county, starting in little ol’ Dade City. The program is designed to help low-income communities grow their own food to diversify and increase their nutrition intake, while also increasing financial security.
Deciding to start a community garden, or a smaller garden at home, is always a great decision. So many marvelous things can derive from it like fruits and veggies (of course;) and less obviously, positive community development. But, what happens when your beautiful plants become diseased, infected with bugs/insects, or simply struggle against the elements of nature? The following is an observational narrative of my personal struggles and remedies throughout the central Florida season. I focus on what to look out for (aka: warning signs and symptoms), most common pests, gentle solutions to get rid of pests, and how to prevent disease.