Growing Gardeners, A Starter Kit

Looking to garden in Sarasota, FL but unsure where to start? Worry not, because UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension has resources you can put in your toolkit that can get you started AND keep you growing for years to come. These resources belong in your toolkit because you can return to them again and again as you manifest your garden, and if you don’t have a space to garden, we have resources for that, too!

Why garden?

Setting aside my personal bias of thinking gardening is awesome- gardening has some wonderful health benefits. It can be a moderate form of exercise and can incorporate flexibility and stretching, cardio, strength, balance, and more. Plus, if you are edible gardening- you can eat the fruit of your efforts, too! Not only can gardening benefit your physical body, but many folks find it fulfilling, therapeutic, and that it can lower their stress and anxiety.

Who are the resources for?

Some folks say they’ve never had a ‘green thumb’ or that they are entirely brand new to gardening, but more often I hear from people that are frustrated and feel like their ‘green thumb’ abandoned them along the highway as they moved south to Florida. The change to Florida gardening doesn’t have to be painful. Taking some time to update your gardening toolkit with current, research-based information now can save you time, money, and frustration down the road.

Where can you find these resources?

The Growing Gardeners recorded webinar is available for viewing on Youtube, after watching enjoy exploring the different playlists themed to various gardening topics, and more. If you prefer to attend a live webinar explore the class listings on our Eventbrite. Both of these links are easily found in the “Find Your Opportunity” ribbon at the bottom of our website. It also has links for frequently requested resources, like how to contact our master gardeners to ask questions, how to request a topical speaker for an event, how to get your soil tested, and more.

Image of website with "Find Your Opportunity" ribbon of usefule links is circled in red as well as the social media links.
You don’t have to remember all the links. This ribbon at the bottom of our website has most handily listed.

Many more resources on topics of composting, how to become a master gardener volunteer, how to join a community garden are all on our website usually using the menu, or the search function. You can also follow our social media, like Facebook, to stay looped in about special events and informative videos and blogs, too. Links to all our social media platforms are shown as icons in the blue area at the bottom of our webpage. See image above for visual reference.

When vegetable gardening in Florida we have a catalog of online learning available to watch and read at your leisure. The Edible Gardening Series has recorded webinars- usually 10-20 minutes long, resource listings, blogs, and more all geared to growing veg in our area. There are fancy and sometimes costly online garden planners that do not take into consideration our growing climate. When checking seasonality for planting vegetables one of your easiest references only requires your zip code and its free!

To explore edible gardening in a fun and low-cost way, try growing with our One Seed program. Annually we share growing information along with seeds of a single crop through the county libraries, classes, tabling events, and more. When we release the crop, it is usually announced as a blog so follow the One_Seed tag. Seeds are available as supplies last, and typically released in fall. The One Seed classes are usually interactive and informative about how to grow the crop and ways to enjoy eating it, too.

Additional resources to gardening by month infographics and monthly gardening calendars were shared in the webinar as well. Suggestions were shared, like gleaning inspiration from visits to demonstration gardens, yards, plant nurseries, botanical gardens, arboretums, parks, and more. Before planting- just remember to ask IFAS so you can be sure you have the right plant for the right place. Simply enter the name of the plant and “IFAS” in your keyword search to learn more about spacing, light requirements, and more. Or you can type a topic, like ‘salt tolerant’ and “IFAS” to learn what plants may be suitable for your conditions.

A gardener without a garden, what to do?

There are many ways to dig into gardening -even if you lack the space to garden at home. Some folks may explore container gardening, some may join a community garden to grow vegetables, and others may volunteer at a school, church, non-profit, workspace, park, or other space to share their joy of gardening while stewarding a space to the benefit of others. The master gardener volunteer program is one way people learn about gardening in Florida if they want to volunteer in their community.

These tools can be referenced over and over as you grow your Florida gardening skills. Interested in learning specific gardening skills, or growing something specific, please reach out with suggestion so we can direct you to a resource. Perhaps your inquiry will inspire our next class, blog, or video, creating another resource for your gardening toolkit.



Posted: April 2, 2024

Category: Fruits & Vegetables, Health & Nutrition, Horticulture, Work & Life
Tags: Edible_gardening, Faq, Gardening, How_to_garden_in_FL, StarterKit, Vegetable_gardening, When_to_plant_in_FL

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