Time to Get Your Fall Garden Growing

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With 90-degree days still the norm here in Central Florida, it’s hard to imagine that fall is on the horizon. But regardless of what the thermometer says, summer’s days are numbered, which means it’s time to start planting your fall garden.

Ed Thralls, Urban Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Program Coordinator with the UF-IFAS Orange County Extension Office, suggests heading to your local garden center to purchase your transplants and other supplies.

“This time of year you can be planting beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peas, southern pees, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin, summer squash, winter squash, Swiss chard, and watermelon. These will all grow well this time of year,” Thralls says.

When buying plants, he suggests that you check for a few things. “Make sure it has a healthy root systems. Roots should be cream to white in color and well spaced,” he says. “Be sure to turn the plant over and look for bugs and check the leaves for spots. And don’t bring them home if they are already flowering.”

While you’re at the garden store, ask about fertilizer, something Thralls says shouldn’t be overlooked. “Fertilizer is really important; I don’t care if it’s organic or synthetic. You need it to have productive plants. It should be added to the soil ever 3-4 weeks.”

Pest control is important too, but the key is to catch those pests as early as possible when they are much easier to control. “Stink bug eggs can be found in the soil. If you can catch the eggs they’ll be gone,” Thralls says. The same goes for corn earworm and tomato hornworm, both of which start as tiny eggs on the leaf that can be removed long before those little vermin start drilling holes in your harvest. “Turn your leaves over and check them regularly for pests and you’ll stay ahead of any pest problems.”

To get started, Thralls suggests heading to a few of his favorite garden centers, including Apenberry’s and Lukas Nursery. “Ask some questions, tell them what you’re growing, and you’ll get all the help you need.”

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