PLANNING A GARDEN IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Are you ready to start planning a garden?
We invite you to skip the binge learning, and start taking it step by step. As a result, you are going to learn as you grow. Furthermore, you can stop worrying so much about doing everything perfect. Gardening is fun! You get to learn about what it takes to grow food, try different flavors, get outdoors, and you get to be certain your food is up to your level of standards.
More importantly than trying to perfect every stage of gardening right now, lets just get you to conquer the very first step with these 9 Tips for Planning a garden in South Florida:
1. Within sight, within mind.
Find a space that you visit often so you won’t forget it. This could be a spot along the way to your car, by your back patio or any other spot that you see daily. This garden is by the pool and easily seen by a kitchen window.
2. Appropriate sunlight all year.
Many people think they want to give their garden as much shade as possible in Florida’s sun. Not true. 6 hours of full sun or more is what fruiting plants (Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Melon, Strawberries..) need to produce well. Other plants need at least 4 hours. Keep in mind the shade patterns change during our seasons.
3. Easy to water, hard to over water.
Make sure you can get it within hose reach so it’s easy to water. Also, keep it away from your lawn sprinklers. Lawn sprinklers and gardens just aren’t friends. We explain that in this post about watering container gardens
4. Less steps are best.
You want to eat from your garden, right? Most often, you can harvest for each meal and skip that fridge. If it’s something you will harvest often, plan your garden close by so it’s not a hassle to pick.
5. High and dry.
There is no denying that in South Florida, we can get a lot of rain. If you live in more developed area’s, most likely your land has been graded for water to run off. For those that live in more rural areas like our farm, we can flood easily. Pick a more elevated area, if you have one on our flat land. If your completely flat, use raised beds. During a bad rain storm raised bed paths flood and the top of the beds (usually) stay dry. Just make sure to mulch your pathways deeply. Oh, and don’t build your beds more than 12 inches unless you like spending extra $$$.
For areas that flood: Raise your beds by digging the pathways out and throwing the soil on top of the garden bed. Afterwards, back fill with 6 to 12 inches of mulch. This reduces problems from flooding, irrigation needs, and builds healthy soil. (note: this is the after photo of the main image)
6. Protected from the bad guys.
If you have pests like iguanas, you are going to want to make it difficult for them to get to. Worst comes to worst, a simple chicken wire fence is all it takes to keep them out.
7. Away from chemical spray.
Look out for patterns of dead grass from your neighbors. The last thing you want is for your organic garden to accidentally get hit by a chemical drift.
8. No septic drain fields, yuck!
If you are gardening in the ground, a best practice is to keep your plants 50 feet from the drain field of your septic system. If this is not an option, containers will be your best choice.
9. Everything grows (or so we hope!).
Your plants will start small, but they will grow larger over time. Don’t make the mistake of planting a huge plant in a small space, or planting a tree in an area that will cause future shade if you need full sun. Instead, plant your large trees in the north and smallest plants in the south of your property. With that being said, we love gardening underneath young trees while they don’t cause too much shade.
Go ahead, we give you permission to have your first gardening date outdoors.
Get your gardening gear (maybe a little wine) and go outside to relax. Observe your surroundings and find a place where you and your garden will be most happy. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t stress it too much. Get it as close as possible and go with your best options.
Once you find the spot, now you can create your garden design. Our next post will guide your decision on the size of your garden, pathways, and soil depth.
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Want to be more hands on?
Don’t miss our Preparing The Space of Your New Garden hands-on learning experience
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