Gardening in Central Florida

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Gardening in central Florida, as I’ve found over the last 21 years comes with great challenges, but also great rewards. Whether you are a newcomer to the area, or a native just learning more about what’s growing around you, sandy sprouts is a great blog covering a great deal of essential, need-to-know information, tips, and tricks which will have your zone 9 garden ablaze with color, filled with bio diversity, and pollinators flocking to your yard like a magnet!

Life in central Florida comes with some great perks: A year round growing season, a seemingly endless variety of species and cultivars to choose from that do well here, and the ability to purchase them from local growers are great reasons to pick up a shovel, some seeds, and dig right into this fun and rewarding hobby.

But life here isn’t always beaches and balmy weather- we have more than our share of problems that can turn anyone’s green thumb brown in a hurry- oppressive, never ending heat that parches plants and saps your willpower to even want to try, hordes of blood sucking insects always looking for just a drop or two of your crimson life force, or munch away greedily on your precious green babies are around every corner, and other, larger creatures are just beyond there.

Here at sandy sprouts we have lived through it all. Gardening here comes with a learning curve, by that we mean even if you have done it in other states, most of what you know will need adjusting at best to adapt to our unique conditions. Most seed packet instructions begin with something like: “sow after danger of last spring frost has passed”. We don’t really have to worry about that as much as our northern neighbors, but what is important is the time to harvest.

TIP: If a vegetable packet yields a harvest within 110 days or so, of paramount importance is to get it planted and harvested before the aforementioned heat and bugs decimate all but the hardiest denizens of your landscape. It’s tips like this and more that we hope will both educate and make gardening here feel more like paradise and less like chores.

In the Gardening section of the blog we will cover a broad range of topics such as soil amendments, pollinators, pests, and plant varieties that do well here. We will also go over tools, pollinator friendly pesticides, and things of that nature, for educational purposes, but in addition to that, you may see some ads for products we think might help you in your quest for your ideal zone 9 landscape.

That being said, this spot is reserved for the legal bit: We may receive commissions if you click our affiliate links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to not only recommend items we ourselves would use, but also to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

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THE BASICS:

DESIGN: Before you ever turn the first spadeful of dirt in your beds, the first thing you should consider the design; more importantly, your end goal. A hodgepodge of different species plunked into holes grouped on what looks best on the discount rack of the superstore looks like exactly that. Certain plants perform well only under their favorite light conditions, others are prone to specific watering needs, and still others draw predators in or even conduct secret underground chemical warfare. A little education in this matter will help you avoid common mistakes and can make your yard the talk of the block, but in a good way ๐Ÿ™‚

SOIL: The name sandy sprouts is more than just a clever moniker. It’s actually in reference to the soil type in our area, which the USGS calls moderate to poorly drained, fine sands which are generally acidic and have low reserves of available nutrients. You must determine your soil type, and what amendments will be necessary to grow your chosen varieties, or perhaps choose cultivars that thrive under the native conditions.

INSECTS and OTHER INVERTEBRATES: Most of the work that happens in your plot is performed by this multitude of tiny creatures, even more so than the work we ourselves perform. But that is only one side of the coin- for every do-gooder in gardenopolis, there are often more that do more harm than good. We will cover the microcosm that is composed of the good, the bad, and the ugly characters that may grace you with a visit.

PLANT VARIETIES THAT WORK: most every town has some kind of big box retail garden center, and some plenty of plant nurseries and you will be able to purchase plants from. But the truth is that far too many of them are attended by drooling teens staring mindlessly into their phones and know literally nothing about the merchandise, or are the same 20 types of shrubs you see populating the endless planted stretches between asphalt and gas stations everywhere. Luckily there are literally hundreds of native or non-invasive plants to fill every niche. We will highlight varieties we employ here, or those that are working well for others and why.

GARDEN STRUCTURES: Also called hardscape these articles will explain how and why to build economical raised beds, sturdy trellis designs, beautiful pergolas, walkways, and much more.

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If you aren’t in the construction trades yourself, it is not hard to make friends with our hard hat wearing friends, it comes with unique benefits: The possibility of repurposing building materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. This benefits not only your wallet, because you can score free supplies, but also benefits the planet. Our in-depth articles will show you more!

WATER GARDENING: Living in the sunshine state means living surrounded on all sides by water. Water is literally at every turn, in the forms of retention ponds, canals, rivers, (wikipedia has 123 articles) 30,000 lakes, and one thousand, three hundred and fifty miles of coastline. Literally, water at every turn, and rightfully so, given the amount of rain we receive annually (I’ll give you a hint, it’s a lot)- one of Florida’s many claims to fame is being lightning strike capital of the WORLD. Sandy Sprouts takes the simple stance of “use the water as accents and grow plants that relish wet feet”. Learn how to use ponds and other water features to your full advantage by growing beautiful ornamentals, unusual vegetables, and even fish for fun or profit. $$

MULCHING and IRRIGATION: You have some options here: 1. utilize plants that don’t need or benefit from it per se- see xeriscaping, native plants, groundcovers 2. Water your green babies daily, sometimes multiple times in a day during the hotter months. 3. Watch your precious plants wither and expire, baked in the blazing sun, or 4. Learn all about the types, benefits, drawbacks, and cost of different mulching and irrigation practices through our informative and money saving blog. I know which one I would try first, but there’s always the trial and error method if you feel like winging it.

PERMACULUTURE: Permaculture is practicing self sufficiency through providing your own food from the land. Traditionally, this is known as homesteading. It is the closest thing to being a pioneer that one can do, when done correctly. Permaculture also puts control of your ingredients in your hands, freeing you from the bogeymen of pesticides, GMOs, hormones, preservatives, and antibiotics found in the food industry products lining most grocery store shelves these days. We will explore techniques that work here, fruit tree guilds, and using your land to create products you can then sell locally, give as wonderful gifts, or just feed your family every night!

FUNGI- Seeing mushrooms in your garden might be an indicator something is wrong below the soil, or that every thing is going great. Learn how fungi roots, called mycelium, play a vital role in helping plants absorb nutrients, which ones you don’t want and why, and we also explore growing fungi for fun and profit.

That’s it for now. Check back regularly for fresh content, follow us on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sandysprouts on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandy.sprouts.37 for anything else, send an email: sandysprouts@gmail.com

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2 thoughts on “Gardening in Central Florida

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