GREEN COVE SPRINGS – To continue with our soil discussion from the past few weeks, what about vegetables in our soil? I know being from the Northeast originally, I was used to being able to …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – To continue with our soil discussion from the past few weeks, what about vegetables in our soil? I know being from the Northeast originally, I was used to being able to plant a great, in-ground vegetable garden without much extra fertilizer or inputs but in our quick-to-drain, low organic matter soil this is likely not an option in Florida. So, what can you do to have a lush garden?
Know Your Soil
As with turfgrass, know your soil before attempting an in-ground garden. Some people may be lucky enough to have a fairly organic soil but digging around in the area you want to plant will likely find a very sandy, low fertility soil.
Never add lime to our soils without a pH test. With the amount of limestone that is found naturally in our groundwater, it is likely already fairly basic. Check with your local UF/IFAS Extension office about soil testing options.
If you want an in-ground vegetable garden, you will likely need to add some organic matter to the soil. This can be done by mixing in composted materials into the topsoil. Till and mix it into the soil as deep as possible. This added organic matter will help to retain water and provide nutrition as it breaks down.
However, these soil amendments may not give your vegetables all of the nutrition they need. Check out the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021 for some tips on fertilization as well as planting tips, vegetable varieties and more.
Going to Containers
If an in-ground garden is not a personal imperative, container gardening can be an excellent option. Within containers you can buy or create your own soil to support plant life. This mix should be well drained and have a good amount of organic matter. You should have at least 6 inches of soil in any raised beds, but the design of your garden is up to you.
Some great options for containers can be buckets or barrels (that have not been used for any hazardous materials), planters, or those built from wood. If constructing from wood, use modern treated lumber or varieties resistant to rot. Stay away from railroad ties or older treated lumber as they may contain creosote or arsenic.
For more information on gardening in raised beds, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep472.
If you have any horticultural, agricultural, 4-H or family and consumer science questions, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Clay County Extension Office online at http://www.clay.ifas.ufl.edu or call by phone at (904) 284-6355.