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News Story
Updated: 06/18/2014 12:23:15AM

Spring vegetable gardening tips

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ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Now is the time to plant warm season crops such as eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. Purchase started plants and set them out on a cloudy day. Water with a diluted fertilizer solution, or compost tea. Containers are a great way to grow vegetables. Use a prepared soil mix to be sure your plants remain nematode free.


ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Include some flowers in your vegetable garden. A row of sunflowers provides a colorful addition to the vegetable garden. Calendula, nasturtium and marigold make good companions for many vegetables, and they’ll help attract pollinators.

ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

Home grown cucumbers are delicious for salads or pickling. Provide a trellis to keep the fruits off the ground. Grow cucumbers quickly by providing adequate water and fertilizer and be prepared to deal with pests.


ARCADIAN PHOTO BY AL SMOKE

All those falling leaves can be a source of organic matter for your garden soil. Use a mower with a bagging attachment, or windrow leaves as you mow. Or watch for neighbors who mulch and bag their leaves and set them on the curb for pickup. A shredder will further reduce the size of the leaves. The finer materials are chopped, the quicker they decompose.

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Spring officially begins two weeks from today, but Florida vegetable growers and gardeners are busy planting warm season crops now. The mild winter with no hard freezes and some rainfall has made conditions ideal for new growth. Citrus trees are blossoming, and deciduous trees are putting out new growth, forcing the old leaves off, so that we have our leaf fall season going on at the same time.

Plan to finish up planting of most warm season crops by the first day of spring. Set out transplants of tomato, pepper, and eggplant. Starter plants of cucumbers, melons and summer squash are sometimes available, or start them from seed. Beans are usually planted from seed. Choose bush type beans for a quick harvest, pole beans for a slightly delayed but longer harvest period. Some varieties of bush beans are ready in about 55 days — plant now for a harvest about May 1. Plant corn now for a Memorial Day harvest. Okra, southern peas and sweet potatoes may be planted throughout the summer, but the sooner you plant, the better your chance of missing insect and disease problems warmer weather brings.

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