My first experience trying to grow plants was last year and it was a mixed result by the end of season. I planted bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers in containers since all the reviewing online that I found said that veggies need soil, not sand. I didn’t want to build myself a raised garden bed when I wasn’t sure if I could actually grow things, so container planting seemed a good compromise. Everything grew. For a while. I got 2 harvests from my peppers and it was a lot of fun to eat them. And I watched my cucumbers grow and then wither and die. Twice. My tomatoes did ok and I got a good first harvest but then after that it wilted and produced poor fruit. I wasn’t particullarly thrilled with the variety I had gotten so I wasn’t heartbroken about it. But I was puzzled on what had happened.
Luckily, I do have a friend with an amazing green thumb, Kristiina. She’s great at a bunch of things…photography, gardening/farming, pioneering stuff and making all kinds of things. But she set me straight on my first big problem with my prior gardening effort. Wrong season. For most of the continental U.S., planting season is Spring. Which is what I thought. But for those of us in south Florida; planting season is Fall for most vegetables! She sent me this great site Veggie Harvest which is set for my zone 10 and it proceeds to tell you when you plant what! Brilliant! And then I found a great gardening site called The Smart Gardener that allows you to set up a visual of what your garden can look like, what plants work in your area, and the details of those varieties and where to buy them. What I didn’t realize in my first gardening attempt was that they have developed cucumber varieties that work better with Florida heat and humidity. Which is probably not the one I got since it was just an envelope of seeds from the Wal-Mart garden center!
So this season, I’m coming in better prepared. I will continue with my containers and I have ordered green beans, carrots, baby bell peppers, lettuce and tomatoes. I’m also looking at blueberries and strawberries. My hope is to also order come winter a low chill hours apple tree. Did you know you can grow apple trees in Florida? I didn’t! It’s the only fruit tree that I really wanted to grow because I love apples and so do my kids. Bay Laurel Nursery has some excellent descriptions of all their fruit and nut trees. So maybe by January you will see some posts and pictures about some fruit trees! And I will keep you posted on my veggies when they get started.