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Fall Gardening on the Coast

Forget for just a few minutes that it’s hot as Hades out there and let me remind you that it’s actually time to be working on your fall garden! Now, if you are a pro, you probably won’t need any of my help, but for all y’all who want to just try a garden, let’s chat.

Fall Gardening in Florida

Maybe you’ve never stuck a seed in the ground. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you have a black thumb. Hey, we all have bad seasons. But there are some simple things you can do to make growing food easier. And let me tell you, the fall garden is a fantastic place to start. You don’t have to battle the hottest days of the year and your poor veggies won’t dry up while you’re on vacation or drown in the daily downpours of summer.

First thing is to pick a spot. The most successful planting will be where you can’t neglect it. Put that baby right outside the door, near a water source. The more you see that plot, the more likely you’ll be to tend it. Before you break ground, spend some time just watching it. How much sun does it get? Morning or afternoon? What kind of wildlife are likely to steal your dinner? What other elements are your precious plants going to be exposed to- wind, pool water, a potty training toddler? If you are unsure, go for container gardening. Fill some pots that you can relocate when conditions are not ideal.

Now you get to pick what to plant.

Fall in Florida is the perfect time to plant a vegetable garden. Cool(er) weather crops that are good for beginners include greens (like lettuces, mustard, spinach), bush and pole beans, and brassicas (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts). Peppers are also fun because there are so many different varieties. I also love planting strawberries in September. There’s a thorough list of varieties that do well in the Panhandle available here. Shop at local nurseries for the best selection of proven growers and check your farmers market vendors for starters.

Our fall standards include Romaine lettuce and Festival strawberries. We usually give rainbow carrots and Detroit beets a go, but we haven’t had a ton of luck with them here. 

One of the key things to remember is that every garden is different. You get to decide how much time you want to spend on it, and plant accordingly. 

Once you’ve got your seeds or seedlings in the ground, pace yourself. Take just a few minutes each day to check soil moisture, inspect for signs of insect damage and weak or ill plants, and pull those tiny weed sprouts.

Is it worth it? 

Gardening burnout is a real thing and the best way to combat it is a slow and steady pace. But I’ve found the more involved my kids are , the more likely they are to eat (or at least try) the vegetable or food in question. So by all means recruit your kids to inspect and tend your garden. Not only is it a good way for them to learn a life skill, it’s also a great way to get them involved in the conversation about where our food comes from. So for our family, it’s totally worth it. A great stress reducing activity for you, a fun way to bond with the kids, and a way to add some homegrown nutrition to your diet. Gardening really is good for your health! 

If you have a Fall garden and a green thumb, send us some pics and let us know how it’s going. We’d love to share more #destin30aGardens with our readers.  If  you’ve got flowers blooming, veggies planted, or even a pizza herb garden in the works, we want to see what’s growing! 

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