One of the great things about Florida is that you can grow a vegetable garden all year long if you want to. As long as you know the right things to plant and when to plant them, you’ll be gardening year round.

March or April is a great time to get started if you haven’t seeded your garden. It’s the springtime and the perfect weather to grow some favorite vegetables. So why even consider a vegetable garden?

Here are six benefits to growing your own vegetable garden:

  1. Encourages everyone to eat more fresh vegetables
  2. Bonding time with the family
  3. Good exercise
  4. Save money at the grocery store
  5. Sense of accomplishment
  6. Learning and developing new skills

Okay, so you’re convinced a vegetable garden is worth the effort. What next?

Make a Plan

It doesn’t have to be a 27 step business plan. You just need a rough outline of what you want to accomplish. Here are some essential questions to ask yourself when making your plan.

  • What vegetables do you like to eat?
  • What do you already buy at the grocery store that’s expensive that you can grow yourself?
  • What’s your time commitment?
  • What space do you have available for your garden?

It makes sense to grow things you like to eat. Don’t waste your time with things you won’t. Also, you can save money on the produce you already buy from the store. Expensive fruits and vegetables can be grown in your garden, saving you big bucks.

If you don’t have much time, don’t make plans that require a large time commitment. Even if you think you have an hour each day, it’s better to underestimate how much time you can dedicate to your new gardening venture. Also, as a key planning component, determine the exact space available to grow your garden. This alone can change the entire dynamic of your edible garden.

To Go Big, Start Small

You don’t know what you don’t know. Plan for it. If you think you can handle six different types of plants, only aim for three. When you’re just getting started, there will be setbacks and a lot to learn. It’s good to build your confidence by successfully growing a few plants rather than unsuccessfully ‘growing’ a bunch. Four beautiful, red ripe tomatoes are better than none. With this in mind, pick your plot.

Location, Location, Location

The location of your garden is everything. Most vegetables need a lot of sun, so find a plot that has at least six hours of direct sunlight. Your taste buds will thank you. The more sun your plants get, the better the harvest.

Also, your garden plot needs good soil. Soft, rich soil is ideal for vegetables. The roots penetrate more easily in soft soil and enriched soil (think compost) gives the essential nutrients vital to growing big, healthy plants. Another soil feature is how it drains water. You want the soil to hold water, but you don’t want the water to collect or pool on the top.

Speaking of water, is there a water source conveniently located by your planned location? Better to run a hose than to carry buckets of water. Keep this in mind when planning your location.

Top Five Vegetables to Get Started

  1. Cucumbers: Plant between February and April and July and August.
  2. Bush Beans: Plant between March and April and August and September.
  3. Tomatoes: Plant between February and April and July and August.
  4. Zucchini Squash: Plant between February and April and August and September.
  5. Summer Squash: Plant between February and April and August and September.

If you’d like to learn more about getting started, discover more with UF’s Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide. In this guide, you’ll learn all the basics, like soil prep, site selection, fertilizers, irrigation and much more. If you’ve been thinking about starting a vegetable garden, stop thinking and get moving.

Remember, start small. You should have a grand vision, but begin small to go big. Everything you need to know is at your fingertips. Happy gardening and healthy living.

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