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Discover Native Gardening

Gardening in any climate has its challenges. However, here in Florida, every issue that could become a problem is amplified by the year-round growing conditions. We have too much water; then not enough, sandy soil that allows nutrients to sift right on through, and the garden pests that love living here maybe even more than we do. Let’s discuss a few natural and sustainable ways to create harmony in our gardens before resorting to potentially harming the environment.

Rain here in Florida is like an old boyfriend; you love him, hate him, then miss him. A way to help you transition through this turbulent relationship is to get a rain barrel. No major commitment, a few supplies and you are off to a healthy long-term partnership. You can research constructing one from a large barrel or head to your local home improvement store for a ready-to-install version. When rain is scarce you can turn to your trusted friend for support. A couple of other sustainable options would be to plant natives or keep thirsty plants together and hand water those as needed.

Our soil in Florida is well-draining for not only water but nutrients. Finding ways to supply all of the essential elements to your sandy yard and keep plants happy can be daunting. Fertilizing is just a way of life here, but you can do it in a manner that doesn’t impact the environment negatively. Find a nice 50% sun/shade spot in your garden for a compost pile. You can recycle your dead leaves and green cuttings into a rich source of food for your plants. If left to their own devices plants sustain themselves by dropping dead leaves or branches that deteriorate and feed their own roots. You can just speed up this process and keep your garden looking clean. Please note our local counties have a ban on applying any commercial fertilizer between June 1st and September 30th. This helps keep excess nutrients from reaching our waterways during the rainy season. Check local guidelines.

You have a Florida garden, you are going to have pests, pest-free is not practical. Start by implementing the right plant, right place strategy. Shade-loving plants can’t take full sun and vice-versa. Keep your plants healthy through nutrition, water, and proper maintenance. Unhealthy plants are like a beacon for pests; like it’s saying “Hey, I’m over here if you’re hungry!” Scout your garden on a regular basis to catch problems before they get worse. Correctly identify the pest and research ways to combat them. You should use the least invasive methods first which could involve hand picking the pest, cutting away damage (dispose in your house trash and clean your clippers), biological control (ex. Ladybugs eat aphids), lures or traps (sticky boards), then finally chemical control.  The use of insecticidal soaps or oils would be an environmentally friendly option to start with. Always follow the instructions on the labels and treat accordingly.

Florida gardening will keep you on your toes, year-round!  Roll up your sleeves, throw on your gloves, and be ready for weeds, bugs, and heat! Protect our environment and garden responsibly.


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