Spring is here.
Time to dig out those gardening gloves.
“The first thing folks need to understand when they’re gardening here in Florida is that to some extent, our seasons are reversed compared to up North,” said gardener David Southall, 69, a Buffalo, N.Y., native who has lived in Bonita Springs since the early 1980s. “We grow vegetables and annuals and flowering plants mostly in the cool fall winter and early spring months. When people start returning back North, we plant our summer, warm-season crops.”
Southall and his wife, Suzy — who belong to the 70-member Gulf Coast Garden Club that meets monthly at Unity Church of Bonita Springs — plant heat-tolerant periwinkle during the warm-weather months, along with sweet potatoes, okra and collard greens, says the Fort Myers News-Press.
Other edible plants and fruits that don’t mind the tropical climate are: eggplant, moringa, beans, peppers, peanuts, pigeon peas, artichoke and, of course, tropical fruits such as mangoes, lychee, bananas and papaya.
But gardening isn’t a do this, do that and get the right results kind of thing.
“A lot of things just aren’t going to make it,” she said of spring and summer. “You have to make sure everything gets the water it needs and so forth. It’s kind of a trial-and-error thing.”
Try Some Native Landscaping On for Size
One of the best things about Southwest Florida is that Southwest Floridians have access to flora Northerners might only see when they flip through the pages of House and Garden.
Plants that can grow under water, such as bacopa monnieri and lemmonii, work well near wet canals and riverbanks and help prevent erosion, master gardener, Mary Jane Cary said.
Gardeners can add texture and brightness to their landscapes with low-maintenance plants like sunshine mimosa, bush allamanda and simpson’s stopper, the article says. They require less pruning, pesticides and irrigation.
And for a bonus, they provide colorful leaves year-round.
“Typically, it’s best if we work with Mother Nature,” Cary said of Florida gardening. “We can solve a lot of problems with landscape and actually reduce the amount of maintenance overall.”
And isn’t everything better in life when it remains a natural?