Right Now In The Garden: Planting for Florida’s Fall Growing Season

Right Now In The Garden: Planting for Florida’s Fall Growing Season
By Marissa

As I mentioned in the previous blog, Florida is gardening Nirvana. I’m so excited about all the extra garden opportunities we get that I can’t stop sharing my enthusiasm about it!

We can grow crops from January through December with little weather interference – definitely no problems with snow! Without the freezing winter temperatures our gardening flexibility is quite impressive, and you should really be taking advantage of it.

The #GrowYourOwn movement is huge these days – resourceful gardeners are grasping the growing knowledge of the past and applying it to right now, finding new clever ways to get better and more food out of less space. Our garden produce is healthy, tasty, and really really good for you. I think it’s awesome to find new ways to get the most from our gardens and homes!

Growing your own food has many benefits:

  • Getting outside is great exercise, no matter the size of your garden. Gardening includes movements that are not overly strenuous but can increase your heart rate enough to burn fat, plus it’s satisfying and fun;
  • You get sunshine, which increases your Vitamin D and relieves stress symptoms and depression;
  • You breathe fresh air, helping you clear carbon and acid overload in the body, clearing your head and relaxing your body;
  • You sweat, which helps clear toxins from the body through the skin;
  • Gardening has been proven to lower blood pressure and stress chemical markers in your body;
  • It keeps your mind active, both the left and right brain hemispheres are engaged when gardening and problem-solving for the garden;
  • The produce you work for tastes 100 times better than store-bought (just try a bite and you’ll be convinced). When you grow something yourself, you know what’s in it, and on it – you can make it pesticide and chemical-free if you want, without the extra grocery store “organic” fees, as well as being confident that it was grown responsibly. Part of your food tasting better is the peace of mind that comes with your garden vegetables;
  • Bonus – it’s really fun!

Cool, right?

What grows in the Fall in Florida, you ask? To the left is a pretty list of lovely produce that you can start now. I even included a bonus – some flowers that pair nicely with these fruits and veggies. For planting spacing and seed depths and how long it will take for harvest, come in to the store and get our Planting Guide for September/October – it has more details and info on it for your reading pleasure.

 

It’s like Spring all over again! Those poor Northern states don’t know what they’re missing shivering away all winter.

You’ll love having a Fall garden, so why not get started today? Even if you only plant tomatoes and peppers, you’ll be making your own food out of dirt and seeds. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings to pick something off of a plant you grew yourself and take a bite of it.

In fact, most of my tomatoes don’t even make it back into the house. They’re so tempting I eat them right there in the garden!

 

Lots of these plants grow GREAT in an Earthbox! If you’re interested in finding out how to plant and grow in the Earthbox revolutionary gardening system, sign up for our class on September 15th! There are 2 times available. Bring a friend!

All attendees get a goody bag with a coupon that can be used towards supplies for your Earthbox, and special day-of pricing on your very own Earthbox; it’s almost like getting your money back for the class!

Happy Gardening!

Marissa

Marissa – Writer for Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply

I’m an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 

The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, “If you’re not killing plants, you’re not stretching yourself as a gardener.” Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they’re delicious!)  Thanks for reading!

Special thank you to Abby’s Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

Helping Your Garden Recover From A Freeze

Helping Your Garden Recover From A Freeze
By Marissa

Happy New Year! We are in the coldest part of our year here in Florida, with the frostiest temperatures typically spanning January and February. Sometimes it is very mild, other times, like the first week and the middle of January 2018, it gets icy here in the Tampa area. How did your garden and yard fare the frost?

We hope you took precautions, such as using N-Sulate crop cover fabric, as we suggested on our social media feed during the frost period earlier this month. Despite our best efforts though, plants can still be affected by the cold. This article should help you figure out what cold damage looks like and how to help your plants recover.

Inspection

Freeze-damaged plants usually have a distinctive look, but it can also depend on the type of plant to be able to see it. In general, any changes to a plant directly after a freeze are considered freeze damage. It can look like the leaves of the plant are wilted, yellowed, browned, or burned. Stems can be crispy and dry, or slimy and mushy with an unpleasant odor. If fruit is damaged by frost it usually looks like it has soft spots.

The spots and damage appears where the water inside the plant froze and then thawed. Water expands when it freezes. If you’ve ever overfilled a water bottle and then froze it, the bottle usually breaks! The same happens inside your plants. The expansion damages the structure of the plant or fruit in that area and it becomes damaged.

What To Do

If you think your garden has some frost damage, I recommend to observe your plants closely for changes over the next week or two after the freeze has passed. Wilted leaves and stems that don’t perk up after the first week will probably not make it. The more obvious damage is the parts completely burned by frost. You will want to remove and discard (or compost!) any of the slimy stinky kind of damage as soon as possible to encourage the recovery of the rest of the plant and keep fungus and mold at bay. The other “dry” types of damage can be left alone, as they will help protect the plant from further injury.

If the entire plant is burned down to the ground, remove all of the stem and leaves and clean up the burned debris to help prevent fungus and mold.. Many annuals will be burned completely, as they are supposed to die off when the frost comes (thus the name Annuals, as in, they have to be replaced annually).

Tropical plants are also very susceptible to freeze burn, as they are not meant to be grown in areas that get any freezing temperatures (but we do anyway, gardeners are a stubborn lot). However on tropicals, even if all the foliage is burned away, come April or May you’ll often see new shoots. Clear out the dead parts before they invite fungus or mold, but wait and see what happens before you dig up the whole root ball!

Watering

Watering the soil after the temperature has returned to above-freezing is a good idea, but only if it is not supposed to freeze again the next night. Frozen ground can steal water from plant roots, and thus from foliage.

Water from the hose will be warmer than the ground and will help give the plant a little jump start. Offer the plants 1” of water, or give containers enough to allow water to flow freely out. Afterwards water as you would normally, and keep a close eye on your plants when you do to stay on top of changes – positive or negative.

Should I fertilize?

While I would love to say “yes” to this, I would actually discourage winter fertilizing. Fertilizer causes new above-ground growth, and frost paired with new growth is usually not a good combination. New leaves and stems are much more susceptible to cold damage than established stems. Additionally, growing new shoots now would also stress the already-stressed plant when it is trying to recover from the freeze.

I wouldn’t fertilize until you are reasonably sure that you have passed the frost window for the whole season.

Check your Frost Zone Indicator to see your approximate average dates of  last frost (and please note, this is ONLY a guideline, and not meant to be foolproof!).

#ProTip: For fall/winter planting here in Florida, it is best to use a slow-release fertilizer or very nutrient-rich compost at the time of planting. Regularly fertilize or add compost up until before the first frost, stopping feeding through the frost period until the threat of freezing has passed. That way any latent nutrients in the soil during frost times will help the plant survive and recover from colder temperatures until Spring.

There’s my best advice for recovering your garden after a freeze. I hope it was helpful! Thanks, Marissa 

Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply

I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!)  Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

Providing Pollinator Habitats

Considering the decline in pollinator populations, it is imperative that we provide pollinator habitats.

A couple of days ago in Protect The Pollinators we talked about the important role that pollinators play in the food chain. We also went over how pollinators are declining in numbers.

We can provide food and shelter to help keep local pollinator populations in our area healthy and helpful.

Tips To Attract A Pollinator

pollinator– Plant an area of flowers rich in nectar and pollen which flower at different times during the growing season

– Plant larger clumps of the same variety

– Plant flowers in sunny areas that are sheltered from wind

– Bees favorite colors are blue, purple, white, and yellow and they like a variety of shapes

– Do not use any pesticides in the area that you are leaving for the pollinators, chemical or organic

pollinator – Provide sheltered areas for pollinators to nest, and if you are so inclined, you can raise colonies of honeybees!

 

 

 

 

 

Pollinator Flower Favorites

Here’s a pretty infographic you can refer to when you are planting your Pollinator Garden.

pollinators flowers bees

Thanks,

Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

Container Prep for Fall Planting & Infographic

It’s nearly fall, and in Florida that means it’s about time for the bonus round – an extra growing season that our northern neighbors don’t get.  With few exceptions, we really can grow food year-round!  And many of us grow container crops.   So many things grow really well in containers that in a limited-space urban setting like Tampa, planting this way just makes sense for many gardeners.

Here’s a helpful infographic I put together today to prep for Fall Container Gardening.

As always, if you need help, advice on what to plant, or supplies for this project, feel free to stop in, ask a question in the comments below, and/or contact us.

Container Gardening Preparation

container gardening preparation

Let me know what you think about the infographic – is it helpful? Would you like another one for something else? I’m all ears!  And, they’re kinda fun to make.  🙂

Thanks,

Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.