Spade or plow the plot at least three weeks before planting. At planting time, rework the soil into a smooth, firm surface. You can also create your own “garden gold” by converting yard wastes to compost. Composing is easy to do and yields manure-like, organic fertilizer/soil conditioner, which highly benefits Florida’s infertile native soil.
Unless very large quantities of organic matter are applied, commercial synthetic fertilizer is usually needed for Florida gardens. A soil test will help you understand which grade of fertilizer you will need. During the growing season, 2 or 3 light applications of fertilizer can be applied as needed. Apply the fertilizer just beyond the outside leaves.
Step5: Irrigate & Drain
Vegetables cannot tolerate standing water from excessive rainfall or irrigation. At the same time, vegetables need soil moisture to grow and produce. Frequency of irrigation depends upon the age of the crop and your soil type.
Young plants need frequent but light irrigation; maturing crops need more water but less often. Sandy soils demand more frequent irrigation than clay, muck, or amended soils. Conserve water by using mulch, organic matter, and techniques such as drip irrigation. Make a slight depression at the base of plants to hold water until absorbed by the soil.
Step6: Pest Management
Pests in the vegetable garden include weeds, insects, mites, diseases, nematodes, and even animals such as raccoons and birds that might consume the vegetable crop. A gardener has many options for reducing pest problems. Pesticides can be harmful to people, pets, beneficial insects, and the natural environment and should be used only after all other pest-management steps have been taken.
We hope to hear about your personal garden sprouting soon!
For more resources, tips, and other information, read the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide created by the University of Florida.