While the rest of the country is putting their gardens to bed, ours are just revving up! Fall in Florida is a fantastic time to plant just about anything from vegetables to flowers. Not sure where to begin? Read ahead for what I think are your best bets this season.

If the idea of growing your own food and perhaps having the delight of knowing that a few of this Thanksgiving’s dishes came from your own garden, then now is the perfect time to start your vegetables. Watermelon, tomatoes, pumpkins, onions, mustard greens and eggplant can all be planted as early as September, while cold hardy crops like cauliflower and broccoli can be started from seed. In October, just about any edible from squash to strawberry is ready to plant. Those who love greens of all kinds will be pleased to know you can plant those well into late November/early December.

Herbs are often underutilized in the garden, and not only do they apply lovely textural attributes to flower beds but are also versatile in numerous culinary masterpieces. As a bonus, many can be grown throughout the year, the exception being the hot summer months. Top choices for Florida include the perennials, rosemary, sage and thyme as well as classic annuals such as cilantro, basil, dill, fennel and parsley (which also serves as a host plant for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly). Herbs tend to be great beginner plants for those intimidated by the prospect of a large vegetable garden.

If flowers are more your botanical interest, or you would like to attract helpful pollinators to your new vegetable garden, there is a wide array of floral beauties that last late into the season. Pentas, salvia and gerbera daisies supply beautiful blooms with minimal upkeep. It wouldn’t be fall without geraniums and mums (especially for us formerly from up North) which will happily take up residence as the summer heat dissipates. If you are looking for something unique, native coreopsis, twinflowers and wild petunia are natural choices for both beauty and ecosystem enhancement.

Short on space? You will be amazed what you can do with just one container! A raised-bed garden can often be a better way to control the quality of soil and nutrients your bounty receives. Group together a few different flowers in an attractive planter for a memorable pop of beauty right outside your door. You can also mix a few herbs and veggies together to create your own salsa, tea or cocktail garden, sure to come in handy for fall entertaining. Not only are these containers beautiful and functional, they double as great gifts as the season ends.

When in doubt, remember that most vegetables and flowers require at least six hours of sun and properly draining soil. Pay attention to the water requirements of each and monitor regularly for pests and fungal issues. If you are in search of ideas, garden centers, botanical gardens and even neighbors’ yards can hold all kinds of inspiration. Fall is the ideal time of year to get into the garden, whether you are a seasoned pro or just beginning to get your hands dirty.

References:
Bowden, R. E. (2015). Florida fruit & vegetable gardening: plant, grow, and harvest the best edibles. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, Home and Garden Experts.

Bowden, R. E. (2015). Florida fruit & vegetable gardening: plant, grow, and harvest the best edibles. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, Home and Garden Experts.

Stibolt, G., & Markowski, J. (2009). Sustainable gardening for Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

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