Chances are your garden is looking pretty pitiful about now. The lovely rain, heat, humidity combined with the slower pace has made everything grow… plants as well as bugs and disease organisms. Rain has been a bit spotty this year so your garden may get a good watering then get a bit droughty and need watering, then rain, drought, water… Puts a lot of stress on your plants.
This isn’t a bad thing though. It’s the end of our season and the timing is perfect. It’s a signal that it’s time to start preparing for your fall and winter garden. Seriously.
Fall planting starts in August. There’s just enough time to get parepared for it.
Rip out everything that’s not healthy, growing well, and producing.
Add amendments to your soil to build it up – good stuff, organic matter… not chemicals.
Fluff that soil and keep it moist and let the microbes get to work making everything fertile.
Could try some solarization to kill off bad juju stuff in the soil (clear plastic on moist soil with the edges anchored down and left to ‘cook’ in the sun for 6 weeks or so)
I’m going to be trying the bacillus thuringiensis israelensis in my soil for nematodes (they’re baaaaack) (update… no nematodes evident where I’ve used Bti)
It’s time to be getting any seeds for plants you want in your fall/winter garden. You will need to be starting them soon so that they will be just the right size for transplanting when the time comes – things like tomatoes and peppers and melons.
I’ve got LOTS of work to do out there and I knooooow you do too. Remember to work early or late and stay hydrated and don’t get too much sun – try a wide brimmed hat. The right hat looks lovely on you ladies and a Panama hat is oh so handsome on you gents.
Summer ‘officially’ starts this month and so does the Hurricane Season… June is a month of waiting… waiting for it to reeeallly get hot, waiting to see if we’ll have any hurricanes, waiting for those afternoon thunderstorms and hoping they’re not too violent, waiting to harvest, waiting for your soil solarization to work, waiting for the right time to start seedlings for the fall garden (our second spring), waiting waiting waiting…
There isn’t much to plant this month so your time will be best spent doing maintenance and preparatory things like tool repair/sharpening, soil solarization, composting, building and preparing new beds, gathering the seeds that you want to plant in your fall garden…
Here is what you can plant while you wait
Cool Weather Plants
Warm Weather Plants
Southern Peas – black-eyed, yard long, crowder
New Zealand and Malabar Spinach (neither of which are really spinach)
It’s here, the summer slump… technically it’s here anyway. There may be a slump in what you can plant for the next few months, but there is absolutely no slump in what needs to be done in the garden.
Lots of other things are happening in the garden(s) too. Lots of harvesting going on, egg laying by garden friendly creatures: lizards, birds, toads – usually the toads start singing after the first rain in May… this year they started singing mid April.
The heat and humidity starting in May is going to put a real damper on the garden. It will be interfering with pollen viability which will lower production, and it creates an environment that bugs and disease totally love.
It is best if you do not work in your garden when it is wet because the chances of spreading disease goes waaaaaay up.
Be on the lookout for fungus… particularly powdery mildew!
Here’s the skimpy planting prospects for May (and June and July!)
Malabar and New Zealand spinach (not really spinach but a good substitute)
Maybe mustard and turnip (for the greens) – After you pick them they will need to spend some time in the refrigerator or freezer to give them some sweetness and good flavor
Don’t work in the heat of the day – do it early or do it late. You can even do it at night if you can rig up some lighting in your garden.
The high humidity is dangerous for you too because your body can’t use sweat evaporation to keep you cool.
If parts of your garden are in shade part of the day, work in the shaded areas and then move with the shade (for example, my whole garden is in shade in the early morning. Sun first appears at the west side then moves across the garden to the east side. So, I start my gardening on the west side and then as the sun creeps in, I retreat bit by bit to the east and stay in the shade.
Stay hydrated – big glass of ice water or sweet ice tea works well, or even lemonade.
Wear a hat (some sun is very very good – vitamin D3 production – but too much should be avoided).
Use some bug repellant (something natural like citronella – get a little bottle of citronella essential oil from a health food store, put a couple of drops on the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, then rub your hands all over the exposed parts of your body – ankles, arms, neck, face, hair… works for me).
Another near winterless year for most of us. Plants are loving it… so are the bugs and diseases. With no cold weather kill-off, seems like they are getting a major head start. Spider mites, thrips, aphids, powdery mildew, early blight – just to mention a few – have made themselves at home for many weeks already.
We will be running a series on controlling pests and diseases in the newsletter this month… something you will definitely want so if you’ve not signed up for it yet, do so now! Put your name and e-mail in the form at the top of the right sidebar!
Though we didn’t have much in the way of winter this year, temperatures are dropping below the normal average frequently. Because of that, you could experiment with pulling from the “March In The Vegetable Garden” list a little bit into April. April’s list is stingy.
WOW! NO WINTER AT ALL THIS YEAR, FOR THE MOST OF US…
March plantings are not much different from February’s, but the important thing is this:
MARCH IS THE LAST BIG PLANTING MONTH FOR THE SPRING SEASON.
With April’s warmth, the number of things you can plant drops drastically and then in May, June, and July there are really very few things you can plant at all… you need to have the plants growing already. Heat and humidity will affect plant growth and productivity – and so will the bugs and diseases!!
So here’s the list for March
COOL WEATHER PLANTS
Onion – multiplier, bunching
WARM WEATHER PLANTS
Beans – bush, pole, lima
Remember though, this is just a generic list. At your house in your gardening, things aren’t going to be generic. Yours may be warmer, cooler, sunnier, shadier, dryer, moister, more fertile, different pH, more organic matter, yadda yadda yadda… than the average generic garden.
Look around your garden world. Observe what and where things are growing, sprouting, the color, the health, moisture, disease… and use this information combined with a little common sense to guide your garden planting decisions.
WOW! Looks like we might have another mild to winterless year (from about Orlando south anyway)… 5 in a row.
That’s good, but it’s bad.
Good because we get extra growth, don’t have cold damage dieback, soil flora and fauna grow faster building that good rich soil, planting season is extended, more time to enjoy the outdoors in our garden paradises…
Bad because no freeze means no killing off some of the bugs or at least slowing them down, and bad because it gives us a false sense of “Spring is here” so we plant and then get a frost or freeze that destroys our seedlings and transplants. The fruit trees and bushes get confused and bloom when they shouldn’t, and there won’t be enough ‘chill hours’ that some fruits and berries need to produce, ripen and sweeten fruit – including citrus. The greens don’t get that touch of frost/cold to make them sweet…
Regardless of whether we have any winter weather or not, there is a lot of planting to be done in February.
This list is not carved in stone. It is only the recommended list of the FL Extension Service — which means it’s general. Your yard is not identical to their test plots. Yours may be cooler, warmer, wetter, dryer, higher, lower, more sun, less sun, protected, exposed… and then there are the micro-climates all over the place.
Experiment. Chinese cabbage and spinach are not on the list for February, but I want to plant them. So, I’ll find a spot in my yard that’s a little bit cooler and has a little less sun than the rest and plant some Chinese cabbage and spinach there. If it works, GREAT! If it doesn’t, nothing lost. It’s worth the chance.
New year, new things, new plans… Soooooo excited! I can feel down in my gardener’s bones that it’s going to be a good one.
This month we can get a few warm weather things into the garden – BUT BE PREPARED TO PROTECT THEM! We might not have had any ‘winter’ yet, but we’re far from being out of the woods for some plant killing weather – frost or even a freeze… ya just never know.
WARM WEATHER PLANTS(GET SEEDS STARTED IN POTS SO THAT THEY WILL BE READY TO TRANSPLANT INTO YOUR GARDEN IN 4-6 WEEKS)
COOL WEATHER PLANTS
Onion – multiplier and bunching, but not bulb
Spinach isn’t on the “official” list but you could try it anyway