Prepare Your Garden for Fall in Florida

Don’t let September heatwaves fool you, the fall gardening season is just around the corner! Fall is actually a great time to garden in Florida because the cooler temperatures and shorter days mean fewer pests and more comfortable gardening conditions.

Here in Green Cove Springs (Northeast Florida), we are lucky enough to have two vegetable gardening seasons; spring and fall. Summer is too hot for most vegetables to grow, but as soon as the temperatures start to drop, the conditions are prime for all your favorites.

And that’s not all. Many flowers thrive in the fall, adding bright and beautiful colors to your yard.

If you’re new to gardening, then you may be wondering how to prepare your garden for fall. We’ve got a few tips to help you make the most out of the fall gardening season including what to plant in September.


Soil Solarization

Looking for a non-chemical way to kill off weeds, pests, and soil-borne plant diseases? Soil solarization could be the solution.

Take advantage of Florida’s hot summers and save yourself endless hours in the garden with this safe and effective method. Essentially, sun solarization harnesses the sun’s energy to help kill weeds and pests in the soil before you start planting. Plus, it’s inexpensive and easy to implement!

First, weed the area you want to solarize. Then, loosen and moisten the soil so that it conducts heat better. Next, cover the soil with clear plastic and bury the edges. The sunlight will penetrate the plastic, heating the top few inches of soil enough to kill off lingering weed seeds, fungi, and other garden pests. Leaving the area covered for six weeks is usually sufficient to kill most pests in the top 4-6 inches of soil.

The benefits of solarization usually last for 3-4 months. Eventually, any surviving pests can work their way up into the topsoil and begin to take over. Therefore, you should repeat seasonally as needed.

For more information, check out the University of Florida’s Introduction to Soil Solarization.



Soil pH

Testing the pH of your soil is an important step in preparing your fall vegetable garden. Soil pH indicates the availability of nutrients for your plants. For instance, if the pH of your soil is too high or too low, it becomes difficult for plants to take in nutrients from the soil and they become deficient.

The ideal soil pH for growing vegetables is between 5.8-6.3. If your solid has a pH below 5.8, you can add lime to raise the pH. If your soil is above 6.3, you can add sulfur, organic matter, or acidifying fertilizer to decrease the pH.

If you would like your soil tested, you can fill out this form and send a sample of your soil to The University of Florida Soil Testing Laboratory.



Soil Preparation

You can prepare your soil by adding organic matter, like compost, rotten leaves, or fertilizer into the top 10-12 inches of soil. Adding organic matter improves soil quality by adding nutrients and increasing aeration. Doing this can also improve soil drainage which diverts excess water from the soil surface. It’s best to add organic matter at least 3 weeks before planting your vegetables.

Another option is to purchase nutrient-rich Florida topsoil before planting.

Soil tip: Stop throwing away your used coffee grounds! Instead, mix them into the soil around the base of your plants to enrich the soil.


 

What to Plant in September

Planting in September presents a great opportunity to expand your flower and vegetable gardens. Here are some ideas for what to plant this fall.



Vegetables

Floridians are lucky enough to be able to grow vegetables practically year-round. Unlike the northern states, we are able to plant many of the same vegetables in that fall as we do in the spring. For example tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, etc. grow well in both seasons.

Here is a list of other vegetables that are perfect for planting this September:

  • Arugula

  • Beans

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Collard greens

  • Endive/escarole

  • Kale and spinach

  • Lettuce

  • Onions and shallots

  • Kohlrabi

Check out this planting guide for Florida vegetables for more details.



Herbs

There’s no better time to start a herb garden! Spice up your cooking during the cooler months and add lovely aromas to your garden by planting the following:

  • Sweet basil

  • Chives

  • Garlic

  • Sage

  • Marjoram

  • Thyme

  • Mint

  • Rosemary

You can also choose to sow vegetable seeds in September to transplant in October. Here is a list of seedlings that can be transplanted later in the season:

  • Arugula

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Collard greens

  • Endives

  • Kale

  • Kohlrabi

  • Lettuce

  • Spinach

  • Strawberries

  • Turnips


Flowers

Add an extra pop of color to your flower garden this fall:

  • Coleus

  • Cosmos

  • Gaillardia

  • Impatiens

  • Marigolds

  • Vinca

  • Salvia

  • Zinnia


Bulbs

Some flowers must be planted in the fall because they require a long period of cool temperature to undergo biochemical processes that cause them to bloom. Planting these bulbs in the fall will pay off next spring:

  • African lily

  • Amaryllis

  • Crinum lily

  • Aztec lily

  • Call lily

  • Narcissus

  • Shell ginger

  • Gladiolus

  • Spider lily

  • Rain lily


 

Develop a Planting Plan

It’s always a good idea to plan out your garden and planting schedule before the season begins. Developing a plan helps you keep track of when you should be planting different vegetables and when they will be ready to harvest.

You should also map out where you want to plant different things. Some vegetable crops, like squash and zucchinis, will need a lot more room than others, so it’s important to plan ahead.

No idea where to start when it comes to planning your garden? Another Bloomin’ Nursery is here to help! Our experts will work with you to bring your gardening dreams to life. We even offer delivery and installation in Green Cove Springs.

Come shop our large selection of plants, vegetables, mulch, and more on our website.


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