By Rebecca Fending
April is Lawn and Garden Month, aptly appointed due to the arrival of spring. Now is the time of year when green thumbs start to defrost and we tend to start planning our yearly garden. From vegetables to decorative flowers, here are a few tips that can help your garden flourish.
How to help your garden succeed this spring
As you start planning your garden, especially for those whose first year is this one, always start by growing your plants from seed. Stores that carry plants and other gardening goods offer seed starter kits. These include small pods of dirt to grow your seedlings in, and a plastic cover to help hold in moisture and heat. Drop a few seeds in and lightly water them daily as you watch green sprouts appear. This method offers the most success, in my experience, for both flowers and vegetables.
Always be sure to scope out the sun. Depending on what plants you are planning to raise, some varieties prefer full sun, while others need shade. Research what plants you would like, then determine where would be the best location for them to thrive.
Invest in quality soil when planting anything. The soil should be chock-full of nutrients necessary for seedlings to succeed, as well as well-draining soil. This will prevent mold or other detrimental conditions for plants from developing.
If you are potting your plants, be sure not to overcrowd the pot. Research how much room is needed for what you’re planting.
Adding mulch on top of your soil is a great way to inhibit the growth of weeds and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, a threat especially likely Floridian gardeners given the ruthless sun. Add about two to three inches deep of mulch in your in-ground flower beds to help with these potential issues.
What are the best plants to garden in Florida and when? Here are some tips from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences:
Vegetables best for Florida
- In spring, sweet corn, cucumber, tomato, peppers and watermelon are best as the weather is warm but has not yet reached the scorching temperatures we see later in the summer.
- For summer gardening, try planting sweet potatoes, southern peas, cherry tomatoes and okra.
Flowers best for Florida
- Coreopsis is Florida’s cheery-faced state flower for good reason. These hardy plants can withstand drought and attract butterflies.
- Pentas love Florida weather! They bloom nonstop and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Garvinea gerberas also thrive in Florida from spring to fall, or year-round in southern Florida.