Vegetable Gardening Basics: An Easy Growing Guide

How to Plan a Vegetable Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide
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This list is just a sample and you can search for more on Facebook. Orlando Permaculture. Central Florida Vegetable Gardening. Central Florida Fruit Society. Florida Urban Homesteading. Central Florida Gardening Friends. Go to the local nursery, garden centers and botanical gardens.

27 Tips For Beginner Vegetable Gardeners

Leu Gardens is likely the most helpful botanical garden in Central Florida. They are a acre botanical oasis designed specifically to inspire visitors to appreciate and understand plants. There are many classes and opportunities to get involved here and entry is free on the first Monday of each month. Orlando Permaculture is an amazing group of local permaculturists. Orlando Permaculture hosts meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of every month and cooking classes and action days every month as well. Going to these monthly gatherings and meeting these people could change your direction in life.

The U. Cooperative Extension System offices are staffed by experts who can help answer your questions about pest and disease management, growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, farm management, and more. All the help and information you can imagine is at your fingertips if you get connected to your local office. Simple Living Institute is a group of Central Floridians who want to create a stronger community that values the environment, personal health, and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

They host monthly meeting on the third Wednesday of each month at Leu Gardens. They are also now in Parramore. They also offer internships. This club focuses on growing fruit trees in Central Florida. It involves going through more than 70 hours of education encompassing all areas gardening. In return for this education, we ask that you pledge to donate at least 75 hours of volunteer service during the following year.

Sustainable Kashi in Sebastian is an interactive demonstration program dedicated to teaching sustainable environmental practices. Sustainable Kashi offers a perfect site to learn, practice, and observe a functioning model of abundance. They host many events including a weekly free permaculture class every Wednesday. They also offer three-week permaculture immersions for those looking to get really involved. Green Education Center. The Green Education Center is dedicated to teaching sustainable classes to help connect people with the planet we all share.

Check out their amazing resource list which has even more great resources not listed in this guide. Florida School of Holistic Living. The Florida School of Holistic Living is a c3 nonprofit educational organization with the mission of cultivating sustainable community by empowering individuals through philosophy-in-practice education that promotes holistic living. Their programming includes a comprehensive curriculum of natural health and sustainable living workshops, continuing education, and professional training.

In addition, they provide the Central Florida community a space to connect with our community, build vibrant health, and deepen our relationship with the earth, through our Bodhi Garden, Community Herbal Clinic, Moon Circles, the Florida Herbal Conference, and ongoing special events. Besides providing you with the seeds you need to grow food, local seed companies often offer classes and resources to help you get growing.

Florida Permaculture Convergence. Florida Earthskills Gathering. Florida Herbal Conference. Garden centers, botanical gardens, universities and community colleges often offer classes. The American Horticulture Society offers this search feature to help you find a class near you. For foraging knowledge you can take plant walks with foragers like Andy Firk and Green Dean. Andy Firk is an incredible resource for growing food, foraging and living the good life. I highly advise going on as many of his plant walks as you can for some hands on education in wild foraging.

His website is one of the main sources for Florida foraging. His experts page lists over 50 Florida experts that you can learn from. Green Deane Eat the Weeds offers plant walks around the state of Florida and is up there as one of the more knowledgeable wild foragers in the USA. His YouTube channel and website are a plethora of information.

David the Good — The Survival Gardener. David is an excellent resource for learning how to grow food here in Florida. He focuses on foods that grow easily and produce a large quantity of food. He has multiple helpful books and his YouTube channel and website are amazing resources.

Go to your public library. Often libraries will have gardening books specific to your state or region that you can check out. Some libraries even have seed libraries. Go to the local bookshop, library, or do an online search. What an incredible amount of area specific information and resources you have at your fingertips! There really is no reason to go at gardening alone. Embrace the community, offer to help and volunteer, and you will find yourself feeling supported rather than alone in your yard with no clue what you are doing!

I have not found a substantial number of local seed companies in Central Florida. It really seems to be lacking both here and across the nation. Upon arriving one of the first things I did was ask around for local seed companies and to my surprise most of my garden experienced friend told me that there are none. I was certain that there must be some out there, so I searched, and so far I have found three! Crispy Farms in Apopka. Whitwham Organics in Tampa. I highly recommend purchasing seeds as locally as possible.

Local seeds are adapted to our climate and will improve your success rates. Typically local seed companies will sell you only what grows here. Because local seed options are limited, you are most likely going to want to purchase seeds from other seed producers as well. Here are companies that I like and have come highly recommend to me.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Seed Savers Exchange. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. High Mowing Seeds. Village Nursery. A Natural Farm and Education Center fruit trees. Sow Exotic — I visited them in April and was amazed at the variety they have, something around different species throughout the year. They ship, so this is an amazing resource for people both in Florida and around the USA. I do feel some of the plants are pretty expensive, however for starting a food forest it is truly amazing resource.

Also, purchasing a plant just once, and then saving the seeds to plant hundreds in the future, would be extremely worth the cost per plant. I do not recommend buying your starts at big box stores if at all possible. They are not grown for our specific region and I think the varieties are more likely to fail. Where to Get Mushroom Compost. Dora, Florida. They dump it into the back of the truck or trailer. The phone number is and I would call ahead to confirm because this information could easily change.

This is an incredible deal compared to purchasing compost or soil in bags at the store. If you do not have a truck to pick up mushroom compost you could find a friend with one and share the compost with them, or rent a truck or trailer. I have also found a few options for it to be delivered. Alex picks up from Monterrey Mushroom in a 20 cubic yard truck. This is a huge dump truck, about pickup trucks worth. For other areas the cost may be higher.

If you call him, he will let you know the price. This is an amazing deal. If you were to do pickup truck loads it would cost you more and it would take a few days of labor. You can get mushroom compost delivered in much smaller quantity by Leroy of Genesis Backyard Gardens. His phone number is For a small garden, a single pickup truck load goes a very long way. You can also pick up compost for free from the city. They have a separate section from making compost from yard waste and food waste.

Get free compost at the Orange County Landfill between a. You should call the Solid Waste Hotline to confirm compost availability. What is mushroom compost? Here are a few links explaining it:. Orange County Community Gardens. Tree companies create mulch when they cut down or trim trees and then grind it up.

So their problem is our solution and we are helping them at the same time. This is a great resource for us gardeners.

New Gardens

You simply put your information in the site and you will get mulch dropped at your location for free. Some people have had success getting it immediately, while others have waited months. If there are a lot of people on the list, this will put you ahead of them for many of the companies. They will often do it for free if they have it. This is a far more expensive than getchipdrop. Cardboard is a waste product that is not hard to come by. Just check the dumpsters of any stores near you. You might be amazed how much cardboard is thrown in the trash dumpster instead of the recycling dumpster.

By taking it out of the dumpster you are diverting it from the landfill. Second best to that is taking it out of a recycling dumpster. Liquor store boxes seem to have far fewer, or no, tape and staples, which saves a lot of work not having to remove them all. Appliance shops are great because the boxes are huge. Costco is great for not only boxes but also pallet slips. These are very large and have no tape or staples on them, making them the ideal cardboard to work with. Where to Get Drip Irrigation.

You can get this at any hardware store. Check in with your local hardware store and see if they carry it. You can also purchase online.

How to Grow Basil - Complete Growing Guide

Perhaps you have the funds but not the time to start your garden. Not only do some places offer the services to build your garden for you, but many will also maintain and teach you. Fleet Farming does both installations and maintenance. He can be hired to do the manual labor of spreading the mushroom compost all the way to building an entire garden for you.

Vegetable Gardening Tips For Beginners

Its best to contact him and discuss your project with him. Another suggestion I have is to post in the Orlando Permaculture Facebook group as there are numerous permaculturists in that group that do hired garden installs and maintenance. When I first got to Orlando I spent countless hours researching how to grow food here. I went online and looked up each individual food that I wanted to grow and made notes on them. I had spreadsheets with all sorts of information. A majority of my success has come from reading that book and using it as a reference.

You could pretty much stop reading this guide now and just go get that book. One of my favorite things is the planting charts that tell you when to plant different foods, how far apart, direct vs. I cannot stress enough how much I would recommend this book. It is focused on growing annuals most of the stuff you would get at a grocery store like greens, carrots, tomatoes, herbs, etc. However, I would still recommend it as it goes through all the basic information about gardening in Florida and can help with that foundational knowledge.

I am still going to go over the basics of gardening in Central Florida, even though I again urge you to get that book, as I think a quick overview could be very beneficial to new gardeners. This will not be extensive. Where should you place your garden? Where you have easy access. You want to locate your garden where you will naturally go every day.

If you tuck it into an unnoticeable spot you are much more likely to neglect it. For example, if you walk through your front yard every day to leave your house, then your front yard is a perfect place. Near the water source with easy access. In an area with good drainage. This will drown your plants. If you are spread out all over and have to water and maintain many different places, you are more likely to forget or neglect plants.

Start in just one place, and once you establish that garden, you can start spreading food everywhere that it will grow. In full sun. The typical recommendation is to have your garden in full sun, however, in the heat of the summer in Central Florida, the sun is very hot and is one of the biggest challenges. So people play with shade in the summer. For new gardeners I would go with full sun if you can. More on this below. This is not a must in my opinion, but if you can then I would recommend it. How much sun does your garden need?

You should plant your garden in a location that receives full sun. Full sun is at least six hours of direct sunlight. Any amount over eight hours is a sure bet for full sun. You may not be accustomed to knowing how much sun an area receives. To learn this, simply take note of when the sun first hits the location in the morning and check periodically throughout the day to see when the area becomes shaded.

Keep in mind that the sun changes positions in the sky. This change can be extremely drastic depending on the location. An area that gets full sun at one time of the year may only get a few hours at another time of the year. The amount of sun the location gets will typically be much greater in the summer than during the winter. Pay attention to whether the location will be shaded by trees when the sun changes position in the sky. Plants that are grown with too little sun are less likely to produce fruit and will grow spindly and stressed, opening them up to pests.

One of the simplest pest controls is making sure to plant in the right areas. Now with that being said, Central Florida is a different ball game than much of the rest of the country. We deal with extreme heat and humidity in the summer, so too much sun is a thing here. For any beginner gardeners I would recommend starting your gardening experience off with full sun and not playing with shade as that is more challenging.

Organic vegetable gardens bring special rewards

We have a cucumber plant that has been doing rather well but all of a sudden something ate it. Save money by making your own A-frame trellis for growing vegetables. My recommendation is to start small. Then bury the rows in several inches of fallen leaves from the trees. This is my first fall so I have no experience here.

With time you could experiment with that more. There are some plants that do better in partial shade too. What size should your garden be? My recommendation is to start small. With each season you can increase the garden as needed. I would say just a few good-size kale plants can be enough to provide the kale needs for a small family. You can always plant more later in the season once you are feeling more confident.

You are more likely to be successful if you keep the gardening manageable for you. The size of your garden can always grow as you grow in confidence and skill. There is no shame in growing one tomato plant or one cucumber plant. My recommendation for new gardeners is not to start by choosing the favorite foods you buy at the grocery store, but instead to focus on what grows exceptionally well in your area. This will drastically increase your chances of success and your skills at the same time.

Once you have successfully grown the easier vegetables in your region, then you can try growing specialty foods that you may be eager to have in your garden. Purchasing from the local seed companies and local nurseries that are listed in the resources section is a great place to start. They are likely to carry what grows well in the area. It takes a lot of energy and time to grow deep roots. There are a few exceptions to the rule though. Some root crops such as carrots and daikon radishes produce the biggest roots with infrequent watering. Hand watering is great for those extra thirsty crops like lettuce and leafy greens.

Above ground watering from sprinklers is very inefficient. But in a vegetable garden it also spreads pests and diseases very quickly. Diseases such as mildew can spread across your entire garden in just one day with overhead watering. But too much fertilizer can be a bad thing. Especially if you are using shop bought fertilizers that are made from nutrient based salts. Little and often is the key to fertilizing your plants to make them grow.

Beginner Vegetable Gardening Made Easy

Read the instructions carefully on store bought fertilizers before applying. Some have to be watered in, whilst others should be dug into the soil. There are many commercial sprays available, but these can be expensive and are often made from toxic chemicals. Instead of using poisonous chemicals which kill soil life and slow down plant growth you can make your own sprays using kitchen ingredients. But stick to tried and tested planting guidelines.

Crops need room to grow. Cauliflower plants often reach 2 feet in diameter when mature, even if the seedling only started out as small it quickly grows into something much bigger. Vegetable gardening for beginners should always start small. You can grow all your salad greens and herbs for a small family from this size garden. Raised garden beds are great for beginner vegetable gardeners as they make tending your crops easier and save you from back-breaking digging. This happens all the time. The easiest veggies for beginner gardeners are: salad greens, herbs, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers and beetroots.

Whenever possible select heirloom garden seeds. Many vegetable garden beginners are so focused on growing food that they forget that gardens are also visual places. The bright colors and scents from flowers and herbs this is a great herb selection to get started work very well to protect your plants from pests and diseases.

Row gardens are very popular among market gardeners because they are easy to maintain and plan. But when it comes to vegetable gardening for beginners your much better off having wider rows and planting in blocks. Wider rows grow more food per square foot and the less soil you have to tend to, the easier your job as a gardener becomes. Growing the same plant in the same area year after year is a surefire way of diminishing harvests. Some plants such as beans and peas will add nitrogen to the soil for heavy feeders like salad greens and cabbages.

Whilst heavy feeding plants such as tomatoes and peppers help deplete the soil of nutrients which promotes bigger roots for vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Planting and harvesting your crops requires a lot of work. If this is your first garden look for plants that continuously crop over a long period of time.

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Crops such as beans, peas, tomatoes super beefsteak are my fav , peppers, cucumbers and pumpkins. By growing these plants beginner vegetable gardeners will spend more of time harvesting and less time planting and replanting beds.

Companion Planting

Probably the most common mistake of any beginner garden is that they plant the entire garden at the beginning of the season. This means that all the crops will reach their peak harvest at the same time. Instead, plant your crops successively. This will give you a steady supply over the whole season. You want to make sure your growing soil is always light and fluffy so your crops can grow roots easily.

Keep your body weight and tools on access paths. If you do compact a garden beds soil, then use a garden fork this one is ideal for aerating beds to aerate it again. This will add air back into the soil, but it will take time for the microbes to recreate the thousands of tiny air pockets that your plants need to thrive. When you first prepare your vegetable garden it is ok to till your soil. Beginner vegetable gardeners may even use a rotary tiller for this purpose. Tilling your soil dries it out and can even create hardpans impenetrable layers of soil which make it hard for your plants to thrive.

Mitch Baylis is a backyard gardener. His passion for nutrient dense, sustainably grown food has taken him across the globe in search for the best vegetable gardens on earth. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Leave this field empty. Test Your Soil Easily the most under rated task that new gardeners forget.

Know When To Plant Not every crop can be planted at the same time. Water Your Crops In The Morning Watering your plants at different times of the day can make a huge difference to how fast they grow. Plant In Odd Numbers If you want your new vegetable garden to look the best then try to always plant in odd numbers.