February 2016: Get The Dirt

Lynn Barber, Hillsborough County Extension

Cooler weather is a good thing. It gives us time to plan for spring from inside our homes when we prefer not to be working in the weather outside. If we plan now to plant in the spring, we’re just that much further ahead.

UF has several publications to help you start your spring garden planning. My favorites include The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design, The Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide and Central Florida Gardening Calendar.

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design is available at watermatters.org. Look under Florida-Friendly Landscaping free publications and order a copy. The Guide provides a list with photos of trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, grasses, perennials, annuals and turfgrass. Plant information covers growth rate, height and spread, native status, soil pH range, soil texture, drought tolerance, light range and optimum light, salt tolerance and wildlife attracted.

If you are interested in growing your own vegetables, read the University of Florida publication, Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide by Sydney Park Brown, Danielle Treadwell, J. M. Stephens and Susan Webb. You can access this guide at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021. It is an excellent resource that covers site selection, drawing a garden plan, preparing the soil and adding organic matter. The location should be near a water source, receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day and in an area that is well drained. Planting dates for each of the vegetables listed, spacing and days to harvest are included.

If you would like more information, watch the UF vegetable gardening videos: Florida Vegetable Gardening Basics, Alternatives to Traditional Vegetable Gardening, Managing the Organic Garden and Managing Pests of the Vegetable Garden at solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/veggie_gardening.html. There is a central Florida gardening calendar that is easily accessible at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep450.

For more information or for assistance with gardening-related questions, contact 744-5519, hillsborough.ifas.ufl .edu, 5339 C.R. 579 in Seffner, and www.facebook.com/HCFFL/.