If you love the taste of vegetables right out of the garden, then you might want to try growing your own. August is the time to prepare for a fall vegetable garden. Successful vegetable gardens are the result of planning, constant care, and the will to make things grow. With the current emphasis on the environment you might even want to try growing organically.
Start planning now: Consider the size of your family and the amount of produce you can use or may want to share. If you have not had a vegetable garden in the past, you may want to start small and not underestimate the work involved.
Choose the location: Select a spot with good, well-drained soil near a water supply that is not shaded by tall buildings or trees. Most vegetables need six to eight hours of full sun each day. Enclosing the garden with a fence can help keep out small critters that may want to eat your tender plants or developing veggies.
The garden design: Many gardeners find it helpful to draw out on paper the location of each row and the crop or succession of crops to be planted. Since we garden in the fall, winter and early spring here, remember that the sun is lower in the south sky. So plant your tallest plants to the north and successively shorter plants as you move to the south in your garden to avoid tall plants shading short plants.
Fortify the soil: Most Florida soils benefit from applications of various forms of organic material such as manure, rotted leaves, compost and cover crops. Now is the best time to thoroughly mix liberal amounts of organics in the soil well in advance of September planting dates. Spread 25 to 100 pounds of compost or manure per 100 square feet if you do not plan to use a commercial organic fertilizer. Compost can also be applied at planting time.
Source: Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. Learn more at askextension.org or pinellascountyextension.org.