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Gardening in Florida for Beginners

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Are you looking to start a new garden and trying to decide what plants you want to grow? We’ve put together a gardener’s 101 guide to setting up the perfect garden in your own home. Read on to find out how to choose the design, plants, and soil for your first Florida garden.

Find Your Zone and Schedule

There are three regional gardening zones in Florida, each with their own unique biome of thriving plants and gardening techniques. You can find out whether you are in the northern, central, or southern zone by checking out the map here.

Planning Calendar

Once you know your zone, you can select the month you want to begin gardening. This calendar will give you a rundown of not just what plants to add but what maintenance and care is best for that time of year. 

For example, the month of May in northern Florida, which includes the Gainesville area, is a great time to cultivate heat-loving plants. Some of your options include basil, sweet potatoes, and peas.  Though with the heat, you’ll want to be watching out for spring pests and taking extra care of any tomato plants you’ve planted, such as avoiding getting the leaves wet and snipping off tomato suckers.

Designing Your Garden

Before you jump right to buying your plants and seeds, it’s important to plan out the design. From garden beds to good soil, find out what suits your needs below.

Pick the Layout

How much space are you working with? Depending on the amount of space you have, you can choose potted plants, raised garden beds, or directly plant into your yard. Keep in mind that many plants have a difficult time growing in Florida soil, which is why raised garden beds or potted plants may be ideal.

Get Your Hands Dirty 

Florida is known for having soil that’s sandy and full of clay. For happy, thriving plants, you’ll need to add healthy soil to your garden. One of the biggest deterrents from planting directly into a yard is that the quality of the soil is far below that of the soil you buy at the store.

Track the Sun

Different types of plants require different levels of sunlight. Before you start constructing your garden, take a look at where the sun touches your yard throughout the day. Some plants like sunflowers even prefer morning light over the intense afternoon sun, so take into account the types of plants you’re looking to grow.

Start Your Gardening Journey with Ward’s

Did you know that Ward’s Supermarket carries a selection of seasonal seeds? Once a month, we have a local supplier bring in the best seeds for that time of the year to help your Florida garden flourish. 

From luscious plants to unique seeds, Ward’s has everything you need to get your garden up and running. Visit our store in Gainesville to pick up all of your gardening essentials today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best month to plant vegetables in Florida?

There are two times of the year when it’s best to seed new vegetables in Florida. Early March is ideal for springtime vegetables like peppers and corn. Whereas September is ideal for cold-weather crops like broccoli and kale.

What should I add to my soil before planting vegetables?

It’s recommended to add organic material such as compost to your soil when gardening in Florida. This helps add nutrients and assist with water drainage. It’s not recommended to add chemical fertilizers to any plants you will consume or even with those you don’t, as it’s only a short-term boost.

What is the growing season in Florida?

The three main growing seasons are based on zones. North Florida typically begins in September and goes through March. Central Florida runs mid-September through March. And south Florida generally starts in late October and can run as late as February.

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