Planning your Spring Vegetable Garden
Even though it is still the winter season in central Florida, it is time to think about what vegetables you will plant, grow, and harvest this spring. Spring gardening in central Florida starts when the threat of frost and freeze are over (late February/early March) and extends through the months before the summer heat sets in. Typically, summer is another planting season, and often the time of year that many central Florida gardeners take a break.
Wondering what to grow and where to start? Start by using the Florida Gardening Guide to determine what to plant now. In February, you can start beans (bush, pole, and lima), cucumbers, melons, corn, peppers, and potatoes. Of course, there are a few other vegetables you can start now, and you can continue to sow seeds of lettuce and greens for the next month as well. Select vegetables that you enjoy eating, are expensive to purchase, or that you have trouble finding in local grocery stores. Consider how much time you are willing to commit to gardening. If you do not have a lot of free time, consider starting small by growing just a few plants that require minimal maintenance. Additionally, consider how much money you want to spend. Seeds will be less expensive than transplants, and a small garden will require less soil and water. Starting small is a good way to try out vegetable gardening and it’s easy to increase in scale should you decide to do so.
Once you determine what to grow, and where to grow it. You will need to create a plan. The plan should reflect how much space you have for the garden as well as the layout of the vegetables and number of vegetable plants to be grown. Make sure to include space for rows between vegetables, group similar plants (such as herbs) together as they will require similar maintenance, and create a plan for crop rotation. Consider utilizing techniques such as companion planting (planting two different crops together for mutual benefit) and succession planting (planting small amounts of a crop throughout the growing season so that you harvest multiple small batches rather than one large crop) particularly if you are gardening in a small space. Finally, label your vegetables as you plant them.
As you prepare to plant, utilize UF/IFAS vegetable gardening tutorials on how to plant seeds and transplants to ensure success. The UF/IFAS Extension Plant Clinic can also help. Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk. The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Give us a call, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.
An Equal Opportunity Institution.