Hi friends. Today I want to share the beginning of my current gardening project in Pensacola, Florida. We moved here last spring and my first vegetable garden attempt was a total disaster. The heavy, cloying humidity, along with 5 inches of rain for a week turned my tomatoes into spindly bug covered sticks!
There are many challenges to face in our Gulf Coast climate. One of the best places I have found to answer many of my questions is the Escambia County Extension Office at this website: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/category/gardening-in-the-panhandle/. Everything you can think of can be found there and is a wonderful source of information on gardening, grass growing, pest control, etc.
The first thing I did was to find out what planting zone I was in so that I could have an idea of what plants could survive in our terrain. I live northwest of Pensacola and my zone is 9a. If you go to the site below and input your zip code it will tell you what zone you are actually in.
Image from the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map at http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
Once you determine the planting zone, you can then research what plants grow the best for your area. I like a mix of vegetables and flowers so I try to find things that grow well together. You have to watch for shady and sunny areas too. There are lots of good things to think about and plan for.
I enlisted the help of my grandchildren in planting seeds so that they could see how easy it is to have a garden. Hopefully they will like gardening themselves. Presently, we have zucchini, cucumbers, kale, spaghetti squash, and some Roma tomatoes planted. I used old pots from previous Home Depot purchases and even incorporated Greek yogurt containers with holes punched into their bottoms as my planting vessels. I used ice cream containers to start the seeds in because the lids helps to hold in the heat which the seeds need to germinate.
We’re off to a great start and if the weather cooperates and warms up we will have some great plants to put into our garden. I love the smell of the wet compost as it mixes with the red, clay of the North Florida soil. The South winds are blowing and the Gulf moisture is streaming into our area. Rain and thunder storms tonight!