Wondering what to do with your quarantine garden? Because Florida fall remains warm, gardeners in the Sunshine State can start their cool-weather crops later in the season. However, the part of the state you live in will determine what you can plant and when.
Did you plant a garden to help yourself stay sane during quarantine? You’re not alone. New gardeners everywhere are wondering what to do with their summer gardens now that it’s fall. For Floridians, the good news is that our warm-weather gardens last longer than in most other parts of the country. We don’t have deep freezes to worry about, either, so we have more leeway regarding planting time and crop options.
However, what you should and should not do depends on where in Florida you live. Let’s take a look at the state’s three regions and how to best transition your summer quarantine garden into the fall season.
If you live in South Florida, garden away! As you very well know, the fall temperatures in this part of the state rarely drop very low, so you can continue growing warm-weather crops through the fall. October vegetables include beans, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, and even tomatoes. Your crop choices continue to be plentiful into November.
Central Florida sees cooler weather through the winter than South Florida, but it can still support planting late into the fall. You can plant plenty of herbs this month and next, as they enjoy the dry weather and cool temperatures. Parsley, sage, chives, cilantro, thyme, and garlic will all do well. Now is the time to plant vegetables that will produce throughout the winter months, like broccoli, lettuce, kale, and collards. Next month, plant beets, cabbage, and carrots.
While South Floridians can more or less plant into the winter, you need to pay more attention to timing if you live in North Florida. Now is the time to plant your fall crops, as they may have difficulty germinating and growing if you plant them too far into the cold-weather season. Cool-season crops for North Florida include collards, broccoli, kohlrabi, peas, kale, fava beans, radishes, and onions.
General Fall Gardening Tips
Across the state, keep these things in mind now that fall has begun.
Prepare the Soil
Soil preparation is key in Florida. Most of the state has sandy soil and is low in organic matter, requiring that you add materials like compost, rotted leaves, or an organic commercial mix to prepare the garden. We recommend that you do this three weeks before planting.
Provide Plenty of Water
Whether the temperatures are dropping where you live or not, rains are tapering off, and we are moving into the dry season. You may have turned off your irrigation system but make sure that your plants, especially warm-weather vegetables, are receiving proper hydration! This amount depends on the maturity of the crops and the type of soil.
Look for Pests
In every step of garden preparation, keep an eye out for signs of pests. Turn the soil and remove any weeds a month before planting to keep insects away. If you buy starter plants at a garden center, look carefully for disease and insects before taking the plants home. If you spot pests in your garden, pick them off by hand or spray the plants with a hose. Use mulch to keep weeds down and to reduce nematode damage.