Do you plan to have a fall vegetable garden? In our area, that means planting in August and September, which means you need to prepare now. If you haven't already done so, plan the layout of your garden. For information on recommended plant varieties for our area, planting and harvesting time and much more, visit "Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide" at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021.
One prep can help reduce soil pests and even kill weed seeds, making your garden more successful. Solarizing involves harnessing the heat of the sun by covering the soil with clear plastic and is most effective in the summer months.
To solarize, first prepare your soil with any amendments such as compost or manures. Make sure your garden is clear of rocks and other debris. Till the soil to at least 6 inches to make sure the heat will penetrate deeply enough. The day after a good rain or irrigation is best for applying the plastic. Lay sheets of clear plastic over the soil and bury the edges to keep them in place. Leave them in place for at least six weeks. To learn more about solarizing a garden, visit "Introduction to Soil Solarization" at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in856.
You may want to start seeds now so that you have transplants. Transplants that are about 4 to 6 weeks old are great for planting directly in your garden, which makes now a good time to think about what you want to plant. Varieties that are good for our area are not always available in garden centers, but you can find seeds online or in catalogs. For more information, visit "Starting the Garden with Transplants" at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh027.
Source: Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. Find more at askextension.org or pinellascountyextension.org.