Earlier this month, I started thinking about how I could grow a legit veggie garden on a super small patio in steamy Central Florida (in case you missed it, we're moving there next month). I thought about growing in pots, in wagons, up walls, in shoe bags, and even upside down (I'm looking at you, Topsy Turvy).
But as I got feedback from friends who live in the area, my gardening fantasy was crushed. Word is: it's hard as H to grow anything in a home garden in Florida. THANKS A LOT, SUN! :(
This is what Goose thinks about the Florida sun.
Should I stop while I'm ahead and not bother? My answer was a weak "yes" until I read "A Growing Revolution" in the June 2012 issue of Eating Well magazine. Author Paul Greenberg explains how he turned his New York City apartment rooftop into a thriving veggie garden that supplies his family of four with almost half their produce needs through the Summer.
THIS IS WHAT I WANT!!: an efficient garden that can supply a substantial part of our produce needs. Greenberg says anyone can do it, even in the smallest spaces.
In the EW article, he offers sage advice on WHAT to plant that is most space efficient for small gardens:
"When people think of starting a home vegetable garden, they fixate on the 'money' crops - the heirloom tomatoes, the honking mega-squash. But when your sun is limited and you have pots instead of fields, you need to focus on crops that make the most of the resources at hand - ones that are edible from stem to leaf. And so, in early March when the sun first emerges, I plant not peas but arugula... And by May when these tender spring greens are harvestable, I replace each picked pot with a seeding of heat-tolerant greens like collards and kale which can withstand the 100-degree hothouse of a New York City summer."
I'm getting my second wind on this garden planning.
I found the website, Florida Backyard Vegetable Gardener which, if you can read the distracting bubble font, offers a ton of great advice for growing in Florida. The growing chart indicates that crops need to be planted either in early Spring (February/March) or in early Fall (August/September). This is good for me. This means that I have a few months once we move to buy my pots before I need to get anything in dirt.
According to the Florida Backyard Vegetable Gardener, crops I can actually grow in the Fall are: spinach, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes and herbs. And according to an eHow article on planting veggies in Central Florida, "cabbage, lettuce, spinach, collards, broccoli and onions do well in cooler weather." These are efficient crops since the whole plant is eaten. They also are hearty and heat-tolerant. WIN!
So... here's my new plan:
1. Move to Florida
2. Strategize the layout of my patio garden
3. Buy the pots and dirt
4. Look at the empty pots and dirt through the Summer
5. Plant my veggies in August
6. Eat the fruits of my labor in October
I will be documenting this gardening odyssey right here. So, stay tuned. And as always, if you have any advice for making this experience not suck, please share!