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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

Summer Gardening in Florida — It’s hot, hot, hot!

By: Taylor Neilly, FOG Intern

It’s beginning to really feel like summertime in Florida and the looming question for all plant growers out there is to garden, or not to garden? While many opt not to take full advantage of Florida’s year round growing season, others embrace the opportunity and keep the veggies going.

Of course, summer gardening here in Florida presents a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand it’s hot, muggy and buggy and even a short vacation away from home can turn any garden into an unruly, weed-filled, bug buffet. On the other hand, summer is the season where many of us find the majority of our free time and a vegetable garden lends itself as the perfect project to get you outside for your daily dose of vitamin D and fresh air, while providing a bounty of produce along the way.

So if you care to brave the heat, here are few vegetables (and fruits) that are capable of withstanding, and even thriving in the summer sun:

1. Sweet Potato. These sweet and starchy tubers can be planted well into July here in Florida and they couldn’t be easier to grow. Loosen up the soil, being sure to give them ample room, plant the slips, and watch them spread. You can also make sweet potato slips.

Englewood Farmers Market_rev

2. Peppers. Bell, hot, and sweet pepper varieties all grow well during the summer. Choose your favorites and give them a try. You can also plant a few of your hot peppers in a pot and enjoy their heat for years to come.

3. Roselle. This species of Hibiscus is native to West Africa and a truly beautiful addition to any summer garden. A tasty, tangy drink, similar to red zinger tea, can be made from the calyxes.

4. Lima or Butter Beans. There are both bush and pole varieties to choose from. High in protein, low in fat and prolific growers, these legumes make an excellent addition to any summer garden,

5. Cowpeas. Another resilient and prolific crop, these legumes can withstand extreme heat, harsh drought, and grow in the sandiest of Florida’s soil. Besides being high in protein, Cowpeas also have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, which brings nutrients to the soil. You may even consider allowing them to take over your garden completely to amend your soil for fall planting.

6. Eggplant. Summer after summer I find myself harvesting more eggplant then I know what to do with. While it might be too late to plant in parts of Central and South Florida, North Florida gardeners have until August. Ichiban, Black Beauty and Dusky are all varieties worth considering.

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7. Small Cherry Tomatoes. Many gardeners try to grow larger tomatoes in the summer. But the plants simply end up producing plenty in bush but little in fruit. The truth is, larger tomato varieties need cooler nights to produce an abundance of fruit, which the Florida climate simply doesn’t facilitate. However, several types of cherry tomatoes can be grown throughout the summer and be plenty productive.

8. Okra. This pod producing plant is easy to grow and can be planted late into the summer. Cooking okra is almost as easy as it is to grow. Simply slice the pods and sauté them up in your favorite oil. Or cook them whole and it won’t get near as slimy. With such ease, no wonder okra is a staple of Southern cuisine!

9. Cassava. Plant some now and you’ll have delicious roots that will be ready to boil, mash, fry, or add into a stew by the time fall rolls around.  How cool it will be to show up to Thanksgiving dinner with an exotic dish like mashed Cassava! You’ll need to find someone with root cuttings, but even smaller slivers will root and grow.

10. Callaloo or Tree Spinach.  If you’re craving a leafy green for the summer, this  might be the experimental plant for you. Callaloo, an edible amaranth, is not often utilized or grown in the US, but its leaves are a popular ingredient in many Carribean dishes. The Callaloo leaves are nutrient-rich and similar to spinach.

These are only some of the veggies you can plant this summer. If you care to do some of your own research and find more, look for plants that are native to regions of Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean, and parts of Central Africa, and Southeast Asia. Also remember that Florida is a large state. Because of this, planting dates for certain plants can vary based on your latitudinal location. Check out the Florida gardening calendar from IFAS. Now get out there, enjoy the summer sun, and happy planting!

“It’s Not Too Hot to Garden” Workshop

When it comes to the heat, this summer is one for the record books. However, when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, it’s not too hot to garden.

Join Wendy Wilbur, University of Florida extension agent, Travis Mitchell with Florida Organic Growers (FOG) and Melissa Desa of Forage Farms on Thursday, July 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. to learn about all of the things you can grow in your garden throughout the summer.

The workshop is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Downtown Farmer’s Garden located west of the Alachua County administration building on 12 SE 1st Street. The workshop will have onsite tutorials on a variety of summer garden solutions including cover crops, solarization, alternative summer edibles, and shade cloth.

This workshop will be held in the garden and refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited. If you are uncomfortable standing please bring something to sit on or contact Travis Mitchell at

For more information please contact Travis or call 352-363-1093.

Free Organic Solutions Seminar

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Espoma CompanyAnyone and everyone with an interest in sustainable, organic gardening is invited to Espoma’s free seminar this Wednesday February 13, 2013. Bonnie Satterthwaite, Southeastern Sales Representative for Espoma will be discussing the exciting features and benefits of these organic fertilizers, soils, and insect controls. Participants will have the chance to learn about Espoma’s entire product line of organic gardening products. The seminar will be held on Wednesday February 13, 2013 at 7:30am, in the Courtyard of the Food & Thought Organic Farm Market Café located at 2132 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, Florida. For more information please see the attached flyer.

Free Organic Solutions Seminar flyer

Give a GIFT Garden

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‘Tis the season to be jolly and as many of our readers know, one of the best ways to be jolly is in your garden! Why not share that gift of happiness this holiday season by giving a GIFT garden to someone you love or a family in need?

Each raised bed garden is made of locally sourced lumber lined with plastic to resist rot. Or if you’d rather, it can also be made out of pressure treated lumber. The beds are filled with rich organic compost, and will be provided with enough seedlings for a full year. Also included in your purchase is a year long membership to the Grow Gainesville seed library! What a gift!

To get started, choose the GIFT Garden size that best suits your site and budget:
4×4 $200
4×8 $350
2 4×8’s $500
3 4×8’s $650

The price of each GIFT garden also includes a $100 tax deductible donation towards our GIFT garden program.

For more information contact Travis Mitchell at or send in the application form below and someone will contact you promptly to arrange for a site visit.

APPLICATION FORMS (download will begin immediately):
Fundraising Garden Application
Landlord Agreement (required for renters)

GrowFest! in Redland Florida!

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South Florida, this one’s for you!

If you’ll be in the Miami area on the weekend of October 13-14, don’t miss the first ever Redland GrowFest! Come celebrate organic farming from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday at the Redland Fruit & Spice Park, located at 24801 SW 187th Avenue in Redland, Florida, on the corner of Coconut Palm Drive & Redland Road.

GrowFest! 2012 is about connecting the dots between the farm or garden and the dinner table. The goal of the event is to engage and encourage gardeners. Attendees should expect to develop the skills needed to grow their own food,  as well as gain a better appreciation for what it takes for our farmers to produce food on a commercial scale.



Start your gardens!

Farmer Margie Pikarsky, Bee Heaven Farm

Get your seedlings, fruit trees and companion plants. Bee Heaven Farm will have over 80 varieties of heirloom tomato seedlings, several varieties of eggplant, hot peppers, basil, arugula, chard, kale, Asian greens and perennial herbs like garlic chives, curryleaf, and lemongrass. Other vendors will have fruit trees, native and companion plants to promote beneficial insect habitat. Gardening supplies will also be available for sale. Due to the generosity of the Urban Oasis Project and the Wholesome Wave Foundation, double-value coupons will be available for EBT customers. This is great news for EBT customers, whose dollars will buy twice as many veggie seeds and seedlings. Let’s get those gardens growing!

Questions about growing?

Whether you’re a backyard gardener, an urban farmer, or a small or large-scale farmer, we’ll have answers for you! UF/Miami-Dade County Extension agents will be on-hand to give presentations and demos throughout the weekend. Special emphasis will be placed on organic and environmentally friendly practices in subtropical climates.

“What’s Organic About Organic?”

The documentary film “What’s Organic About Organic?” will be featured in the classroom building, along with other presentations and demos by Florida Organic Growers & Consumers, Inc.

WHAT’S ORGANIC ABOUT “ORGANIC?” delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. As the film moves from farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, we see the hidden costs of conventional agriculture.  We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected.  The film compels us to look forward, towards a new vision for our culture and encourages us to ask, “How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?” More>>



Enjoy fresh, locally-grown food and drinks!

Want to learn how to prepare healthy food and kid-friendly snacks? See local chefs use fresh local ingredients to create fun and tasty dishes, school lunches, and snacks.

Tired of that same old fair food? We’ll have a great selection of healthy foods showcasing locally-grown Fresh From Florida and Redland-Raised ingredients. Local cottage food and artisanal producers will share their stories and sell their goods.

Explore the park!

The only tropical botanical garden and public park of its kind in the U.S., the Redland Fruit & Spice Park hosts over 500 varieties of tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, nuts and edible plants. If you’ve ever been to the park, you know what a nice place it is to visit and learn about the amazing variety of edible plants you can grow in South Florida.


For more information, call 305-247-8650 or email

Please contact the organizers at least 7 days in advance to request materials in accessible format, or a sign language interpreter.  This event is ADA compliant.




GrowFest! 2012 sponsored by: