Garden Forum

This begins the gardening discussions between local gardeners; for now, I’ll post this way until we find another method. The link to this discussion is private. Please feel free to post your comments and notes from our discussion. The following is a recap of my notes from the Feb 7, 2015 meeting of the Gardeners of SWFL Meetup group:

A helpful guide from IFAS, Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide available at:

Times for planting vary; The IFAS Gardening guide may or may not be reliable because of location, growing mediums, humidity, and weather. Deana recommends planting every month from July through April and experiment, journal (Bonnie takes pictures), to document the process and have more future success.

Most people plant for season 1 in September, Season 2 end of January, and then some tropical loving plants for summer. Suggestions for summer were okra, eggplant, Okinawa spinach, Ethiopian spinach, cranberry hibiscus, moringa, and katuk. Deana grows cover crops in seasons 1 and 2 planting areas during the summer. Cover crops: sudan grass, cow pea, sun hemp, red clover, nematode resistance marigold, and comfrey. Nitrogen fixing plants to grow in beds around fruit trees are the same plus the perennial peanut, lupin (cool weather mostly), and sweet potato.

Seedlings for garden vegetables: Bonnie uses almost 100% from seed, Deana uses a combination, some only use seedlings they get from other sources. Varieties that do best in this climate are listed in the IFAS vegetable gardening guide.

Fran talked about how to grow garlic, both hard and soft neck. She uses small wooden boxes with ½ sand and ½ amended topsoil with compost. Fran adds a layer of horse manure on top. She plants the bulbs when a little growth is showing and just covers the bulb and leaves the top showing. She waters daily and grows in full sun.

Interesting note that Mary has had success growing Kale all year around.

Bonnie uses mostly horse manure in her raised beds; the manure is mixed with bedding and she packs it down very well in the beds. It then composts in the bed, she plants directly in it and waters when the mixture does not stick to her fingers.

Deana talked about soil nutrition and Martha asked for the reference regarding nutrients compared to pest and disease problems. The reference is a book written by Heide Hermary of Gaia College called “Working with Nature, Shifting paradigms” and the chart is on page 196

Bonnie discussed how she built her raised beds with a modified version of hugalkulture, layering logs, sticks, and materials under each bed. More information is available online: There are many articles; suggest a web search for hugalkulture.

One member suggested IFAS has recently published information regarding millipedes; it is our understanding they do not damage plants and are good for the soil. I was not able to find this reference online.

Mary was inquiring about what to use to increase the phosphorus and calcium in the soil; banana peels were recommended. The following article pertains:

Some members use urine for a nitrogen source; this was discussed at another meeting and some members find success. The urine is diluted and the only plant that will thrive from undiluted urine is banana. The following articles may be of interest:

Another reference:

Eulene shared with us her method for continuous scallions; she purchases them in bunches at the grocery and then cuts off the tops and places the rooted bulb in a tall container and stores in the refrigerator. The scallions continue to grow and she just cuts the tops off as she needs them. She also plants them in the soil and harvests the same way. Others do the similar with some lettuce varieties and celery.

Mary asked about romaine lettuce and it’s bitter taste. Bonnie is growing some that has not yet bolted but is slightly bitter. Deana suggested that the temperature in this area tends to be too warm for romaine lettuces and that the plant bolts (goes to seed) quickly, producing a milky substance inside that is bitter and intended to protect the plant from being eaten while it is flowering. Varieties that grow well in this climate are listed in the IFAS vegetable gardening guide.

Eulene shared with us her pruning methods for fruit trees; she keeps them short and they tend to flower more when they are pruned.

Bonnie passed around a sheet to sign up for individual help with specific issues and offered up her time to help.

Missi has not been able to have success with growing herbs. Bonnie and Deana both grow them successfully during various seasons. Deana uses the following reference:

Ginger and turmeric grow well in the warmer months and now is the time to harvest. February 10th is the moon cycle day this month for bulbs. Deana uses the moon cycle to schedule gardening activities. The following reference is useful:

Bonnie is looking to grow fennel with larger bulbs; the following link may be helpful:

One member recommended the square foot gardening method. While there are several references, I’m not sure which was recommended. I use the following: