As we gear up for Fall Planting, we celebrate this blog’s 5th birthday (woohoo!!) – and my own birthday too – I wanted to bring you a review of some of our previous Fall Gardening articles that you might have missed. Also I wanted to offer a few insights that I’ve picked up along the way.
We’re in a period of transition here in the store, and it’s mirroring the transition period happening not only in all of retail but in society as a whole. That transition is making us balance self-sufficiency with dwindling availability in many categories…which is something that we have not had to consider in many American generations.
Many are turning to gardening to fill gaps left by overall food insufficiency, and this is where we can shine here at Shell’s. We are literally here to help you grow your own food and help you get the supplies you need to do it.
Of course, if you’re from “Up North”, you may not know that the Fall and Winter are Florida’s biggest agriculture seasons.
Yep, you heard it right. Fall Gardening, and Winter Gardening, is a thing here.
When you’re used to bundling up and coccooning by the fireplace, we’re outside planting rows of veggies, staking tomato plants, trellising winter squash vines, and popping in Strawberry plugs to overwinter in our mild climate (to give us berries as early as January!).
Even professional agriculture operations operate mostly during the winter months. Look at Plant City and all the Strawberry farmers in that area. Ruskin too with the tomatoes.
I look at Fall as a time to take a few risks in the garden. Plant some things that might be outside your agricultural zone. As long as you’re OK with the plant maybe not making it by the time the late Spring and Summer heat roll around, you might be able to get away with having some alpine flowers, or some of the more finicky cut flowers or vegetables that just can’t take the heat.
One of the things I love to do in the Fall (and in the Winter) is to play with structures and hardscape items in the garden. A well-placed obelisk can grow peas in Winter and pole beans in Summer.
A hoop trellis can grow melons in Spring and Winter Squash in the Fall. Building something in the later seasons outside (or just putting something together) isn’t as bad when the temperatures aren’t 120F with the heat index.
Even though our store is busiest in the Spring for the gardening department, I prefer to shop for gardening stuff in the Fall. I think of Fall Gardening time as the “second chance” to garden where I can take what I learned in the Spring and apply it, really hone my skills on the goals I want to achieve.
When it’s hot out, and I’m not gardening (I’m not young any more, the heat just kills me!), I like to plan my garden, create and fill in my journal if I didn’t do it consistently during the season, and just think about what’s next.
Here’s some good information on Florida Fall Gardening, especially for beginners (but even us old hacks might find some useful reminders!).
Do you have a garden journal? It doesn’t have to be fancy – a cheap spiral bound notebook is fine, or you can get a nice 3-ring binder and make your own pages. It just has to be functional for you. It’s a place to keep your notes on what was planted and when, what you harvested, what made it and what didn’t, what pests you faced and what you did that worked (and what didn’t work).
You can put pictures if you want. Draw diagrams. Write it like a journal with stories and other notations/doodles. Whatever you can look back and remember what you learned so that you can apply it to your next gardening endeavors, and/or reproduce your successes. It’s a place to dream, too.
With the cost of goods on the rise, as well as transportation costs, food prices are going up too. I predict that there will be more food insecurity, and even the possibility of not being able to get produce from grocery stores in the not so distant future.
I’m not trying to alarm you. It’s just a trend I am seeing, and my perspective is nearly 40 years of gardening interest and practice and an interest in sociological and sustainability issues.
There is no better time to learn how to garden and to provide fresh delicious produce for your family. If you’ve never tried before, I hope you’ll take the opportunity this Fall to get started, and give it a try!
As always, we’re here to help. From seeds, to plants, to fertilizers and pest control, and more, we’ve got you covered on most anything that we can actually get (there are shortages everywhere – plastics, metals, certain seeds due to crop failures, and more).
Until next time, Keep Growing!
P.S. Here’s a link to UF IFAS and their August planting guide.