Florida Fall Gardening Starts NOW!

Florida Fall Gardening Starts Now!

Florida has the distinction of being the Southern-most of the 48 contiguous States, and as such, our growing and gardening seasons are a bit different than most of the rest of the country.  

gardening plant hardiness zone map from the USDA
Our Agricultural Zones for our beautiful state – what it really says: “It’s HOT”.

People that move here from more northern climates are a bit lost at first when it comes to gardening. They’re used to the commercials for big box stores telling them when to plant – and having that information be correct.  Here, it’s not necessarily correct, in fact, they can steer you completely wrong!  Here’s a nice guide I wrote for our “Northern Transplants” to the Sunshine state. 

In response to the #1 question we get at Shell’s – “what can I plant right now?” – this week’s blog is about what you can do right now to start your Florida Fall Garden.

Florida Fall Gardening Seed Planting

Because we can garden in Florida all year long, it’s hard to sometimes figure out what to plant when.  The UF/IFAS guides are very helpful in this.  Here’s the August chart from the extension office:

what to plant in august gardening guide
The UF/IFAS extension office service has great guides on what to do when in the garden. I tend to follow the North “Easily Survives Transplanting” and the Central list for my Fall Seeds that I plant in August.

As you can see, August is a great time to start your seeds for Fall.  Most everything you can grow in Spring can be grown in Fall.  There are exceptions, of course, and we go over that in our “What to Plant in Your Fall Florida Garden” class – coming soon as an online webinar course for social distancing purposes!

Seed Planting – Sow in pots or in the ground?

Another common question is “Where/how should I plant my seeds?”

gardening places to plant seeds
There’s many options on where to plant seeds!

Well, the best answer I can give is “it depends.”

Some crops cannot be transplanted very easily, and those should be planted directly in the ground (or wherever they’re going to live their lives).  Others grow really easily no matter where you’re starting them, and thus can be done in seed trays or pots – or the EarthBOX!

Examples of plants that shouldn’t be transplanted because they damage very easily: carrots, celery, mustards. That said, people have done transplanting with few issues!

Gardening is an adventure – the purpose is to TRY things and see if they work!

What growing medium should I plant my seeds in for any type of gardening?

There’s so many answers to this question.  Potting soil works just fine for most people.  It’s got good drainage, aeration, and organic material.

growing mediums in gardening for seed planting
Many options for seed starting that we carry here at Shell’s! Even more than what is pictured here!

Many people really like seed starting or germination mixes as well. These mixes are lighter weight to ensure that the seeds don’t rot and have the best chance of sprouting. Most of them have no soil in them whatsoever, rather they’re made of things like coco coir, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and/or compost.

Do my seeds need fertilizer to be put in the soil/germination medium?

I absolutely LOVE this question. Because the answer is NO. Seeds have everything they need to sprout already inside them – and that makes gardening just a little bit easier.

 Had to put some nerdy biology stuff in here – it’s literally in my DNA. This is an example anatomy of a seed (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica).

See that big grey area of the body of the corn kernal? That area is a stockpile of energy that the embryo uses to grow and differentiate into to roots, stems and leaves, and it’s called the endosperm.  It uses that until it can grow to the point where it starts its own photosynthesis. Pretty cool, right?

Beginner’s gardening tip: Seeds will need water – not too much! – and warmth to sprout.

Once they have their second/third leaves, then they’re about ready for some extra food when you transplant to help them get through the shock of transplanting. 

>>>Don’t know how to transplant? Don’t worry, we’ll be covering that at the beginning of next month right here in the blog!  So look out for that.<<<

What is this colored stuff on my seeds?

Some seeds have a coloration coated on their surfaces.  The purpose could be one of two things.

the purpose of seed coloring, gardening
Examples of seeds that are colored.

The first, and most common in bulk seeds, is a light coating of a water-soluble fungicide. The purpose of this coat is to protect susceptible seeds from rotting due to fungus in the soil before it has time to sprout.

You see, fungus is GREAT to have in the soil for decomposition of your organic materials like leaves, sticks, and compost. BUT, the same fungi that do that magical work can also decompose more fragile seeds before they have a chance to do their thing, decreasing your germination rates significantly.

But don’t worry, those fungicides break down very quickly and don’t have a lasting effect on the local biodiversity and ecosystem.  It just gives the seeds a fighting chance.  None of the fungicide ends up in the food you’re trying to produce (promise!!).

Fungi are awesome at reproduction! (Source: YellowElanor.com)

The other reason to color the seeds are for the purpose of seeing the seeds that you put in the soil. Some seeds are very small and hard to see, so some companies put a harmless coloring on the seeds to make them stand out against the color of the soil.  So if you drop one, or plant too many in a hole while you’re gardening, you can find them and put them where they belong.

The other reason to color the seeds are for the purpose of seeing the seeds that you put in the soil. Some seeds are very small and hard to see, so some companies put a harmless coloring on the seeds to make them stand out against the color of the soil.  So if you drop one, or plant too many in a hole, you can find them and put them where they belong.

Next Steps: Pick and Plant Your Fall Gardening Seeds

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get you started on your Fall Garden. Get seeds for things that you want to plant.

fall gardening
This is what you have to look forward to when you start seeds right now for Fall!

I like to use seeds for things that are easy to grow. I also like to use them for vegetables/fruits that you can’t often find as a starter plant.  Specialty and rare plants, heirloom varieties, and very specific hybrids are just some of the reasons to pick up seeds.

 (by the way, starter plants arrive at Shell’s in September…just FYI)

Have a list of seeds you’re looking for, or have extra to trade? Join our Shell’s Garden Community on Facebook and talk to other local gardeners in there to make some swaps! You can also ask questions and get answers from our group members (and me!).

Shell's Garden Community - your private group about local gardening on Facebook!
Join us!

Normally I’d be inviting you to a free Monthly Community Seed Swap, but because of COVID-19 these activities are suspended right now.  Of course you can always use the store as a meetup point to make your swaps, we’d love to see you!

I hope this article helps get you motivated to start some seeds for your Fall Garden right now.

I hope this article helps get you motivated to start some seeds for your Fall Garden right now.

Until next time, Keep Growing!

Sincerely,

Marissa

One response to “Florida Fall Gardening Starts NOW!”

  1. […] month, so if you want some tips for seed planting in fall, take a look at last week’s blog: Florida Fall Gardening Starts NOW! for more on […]

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