Time to garden!

With food prices climbing toward the sky it may be time to consider pulling that brown thumb out of your pocket and adding a little green paint to it.  Growing a garden can be a humbling experience, especially in Florida, but despite the fact, that you may feel your thumb is brown, remember, you can always change things.  Truthfully, gardening is mostly a matter of being persistent.  Once you know the basics, it’s a matter of applying them. The commitment begins with planning and getting started early.

How’s your soil?

Prepping your garden is especially important. Your fall garden can start as early as August so clearing the ground and sorting out your soil issues early is very important.  Things like soil pH should have been addressed months ago but it’s always better late than never. Your local extension office can help you with that. In Highlands County, we offer simple pH tests in our office for three dollars. For $10 and a small shipping fee, we can show you how to get a test from the University of Florida that’ll give you a soil nutrient profile and a recommendation to adjust your pH. Either way, you’ll want to start soon.

Florida is different

For our northern friends that have moved to Florida for our mild climate, the planting times will be totally different than back home.  Because the planting seasons are very different in Florida, timing is the key. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants can be planted in early August or even late July in Florida. Commercial tomatoes are in the ground in late July to take advantage of an early October crop. If your garden’s not ready for planting, start them in small pots or plant cell trays to be transplanted later.   Peppers can also be started in the summer heat and they are slow to germinate so planting them in containers works well. otherwise, they may easily be lost in a barrage of weeds that also thrive on heat. Learn about more vegetable planting times and other tips by attending my fall vegetable gardening class. Find out how below.

Ask the Experts

UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County is offering a fall vegetable gardening class on August 13th running from 9 am until 12:30 pm. Click Here to register or learn more. Along with the class, you’ll get a one hundred-page booklet of University of Florida information on Florida vegetable gardening.  Call the Extension office at 863 402-6540 to learn more about our monthly classes and how to receive our monthly “Putting Down Roots” Highlands County Master Gardner Volunteer newsletter.  We usually have a different class on the 2nd Saturday of every month! September’s class will be on honeybees and beekeeping.

A young boy sits on his grandpas lap on a wagon in the Garden


Gardening is for the young and old alike. IFAS extenson offers something to all ages. Photo IFAS communications

Stay in touch!

In Highlands County, our office is at 4509 George Blvd., Sebring. The Master Gardener Help Desk is open Monday – Friday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.

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by David Austin

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

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