Vegetables can be grown year round in Florida if you pay attention to the appropriate planting dates found on the Planting Guide at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021
When planning a vegetable garden, locate it in an area with at least 6 hours of sun daily and a water source nearby. For homeowners who have deer, rabbits or other “nighttime noshers”-plan on fencing your garden.
Plan on improving your planting site with additions of organic material. Adding composted materials such as Mushroom Compost and Black Kow Manure are good suggestions.
Soil PH is important because it determines how available nutrients are to plants. The best PH range for vegetable gardens is between PH 5.8-6.3. If your soil is between 5.5 and 7.0, no adjustments are required. University of Florida Extension service can do a soil testing for you if required.
Fertilizing your crops can be done using a fertilizer specific for gardens. Broadcast fertilizer over the garden plot just before planting. During the growing season, 2-3 light applications can be applied as needed. Apply fertilizer just beyond the outside leaves. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, kale and collards benefit from additions of nitrogen containing fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate. Tuber and root crops such as carrots and potatoes respond to potassium fertilizer such as Muriate of Potash.
Irrigation is required for vegetable crops but they will not tolerate excessive water. Youn g plants require frequent but light irrigation. Mature plants need more water but less often. Using mulch and organic material will also lessen water requirements.
Pests are a fact of life- weeds, insects and diseases etc. There are many options available for reducing your specific problem, but pesticides should be your last resort.
Alternative methods for pest and disease control are:
• Follow the recommended planting dates (see chart at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021)
• Rotate vegetables
• Till or hand turn the soil frequently
• Control weeds by mulching and hand pulling
• Choose vegetable varieties that are resistant
• Purchase healthy plants
• Keep plants healthy and vigorous with the appropriate amount of water and fertilizer. Healthy plants are more able to survive insects and disease.
• Monitor and scout your plants at least twice weekly.
Use pesticides wisely- only when a serious problem exists. Speak to staff at Verdego for your best options or for any questions you may have.