How To Start A Vegetable Garden | Central Florida Gardening 101 for Self Sufficiency

the slam-dunk approach to vegetable

gardening in Florida so that you can get

growing right away with just enough to

get you started and then we'll go

in-depth on different resources to

really get you gardening and all in

regards specifically to growing in

Florida because we are quite different

than most of the country all right so

let's see here just in case any of you

haven't met me before attended some of

my other classes and workshops that I do

around Pinellas County my name is eNOS

pickets and I'm the owner of the urban

harvest I have been teaching Floridians

how to vegetable garden now for a little

over seven years formerly but I have

been gardening my whole life I was lucky

enough to have a father who loved to

garden so he got me started very young

and now I've been able to transition

slowly and into doing this full-time so

I have been staying at home with my

little munchkin there in the picture as

well as teaching you all how to grow

organic and sustainable veggies here in

Florida and this is something that I

think has really hit home of late

so with this coronavirus and everything

that's going on and going around I think

we've all come to realize how short our

supply chain really is 99% of our food

comes from thousands of miles away and

with the slightest disruption the

slightest hiccup whether it's the

drivers not driving roads closed borders

closed it can cause a major impact on

the food that we typically have easy

access to I just did a video on Victory

Gardens and I think that it's just an

incredibly fitting topic for right now

in the early 1940s the United States

government asked or requested its


to do their part in growing some of

their own food and the idea really

caught on and at its prime there were

over 20 million home gardens in the

United States and they produced nine to

ten million tons of vegetables which was

about forty percent of the food that was

consumed in the United States during

that time frame so these people were not

trained farmers they were not they had

not gone to get any sort of formal

education in agriculture this was

literally just pamphlets distributed by

the government talking to local

gardeners in their area joining

community gardens these were average

citizens with no prior knowledge and

they were able to generate forty percent

of America's food growing in urban

suburban and small rural Lots which to

me is pretty amazing and powerful and

inspiring that something like that could

happen and I don't think that we're

putting this in perspective but this

kind of thing has been happening all

over the world very frequently too so

when Cuba was going through their crisis

and they got cut off from a lot of their

resources they created a system called

Argo pond eCos and basically they

converted parking lots vacant City Lots

and they all came together as a

community and they pitched in and they

grew a substantial amount of their own

fresh food using just these abandoned

city Lots and they were able to grow all

of their food right there local to each

neighborhood so it's kind of the same

concept of the Victory Gardens and that

was just in the 1980s so this is

absolutely something that can be easily

achieved in a very short timeframe if

people choose to do so so here's a

little information on the current

industrial food system and this is what

got me personally into I've always been

gardening but I did not always use an

organic approach and it wasn't ever with

very much intention in mind I just

enjoyed being in the garden but as an

adult I started learning a lot of

facts about the industrial food system

and the lack of nutrition in our food

today is just mind-blowing if we were to

look back a orange that our grandparents

ate had enough vitamin C now today we

have to eat 10 of those oranges to

equate to that one

oranges vitamin C that our grandparents

ate and that's because the nutrition and

all of the nutrients in our soil are

getting stripped away when you add on

top of that the the industrial food

model of shipping food all over the

country when we have something that's

cut in a field in California sent to the

processing plant sent to the

manufacturer distributed to the grocery

store shipped across the country sat in

a grocery store here for a few weeks and

then it sat in your grow your

refrigerator for a week what do you

think that nutritional value is on that

food probably not what we're expecting

so that's what really got me started

personally and growing my own food and a

lot of people think that it's a broken

system and that we can't do much about

it and I beg to differ

I think there is a ton of hope and a ton

of inspiration out there just for an

example with just 50 acres which is

about the size of the Boston Commons we

could produce thousands and millions of

pounds of food and if it's done in a

very intense manner we can be creating

jobs and we can be reducing our carbon

footprint so I think there's a

tremendous amount of hope and value to

growing our own food and changing the

industrial model that we currently have

so here's a little quote I did have my

degree in wildlife ecology and

conservation so Aldo Leopold is kind of

infamous in the wildlife management

perspective and he said we abused land

because we regard it as a commodity

belonging to us when we see land as a

community to which we belong we may

begin to use it with love and respect so

that is absolutely the approach to

gardening that I take

it's letting nature do its work working

with her not against her and being it's

so much more successful and easy and

rewarding when you work with her instead

of against her so the bulk of our topic

today is going to be the four s's Sun

soil seed in season as for the four s's

I feel like that is the easiest way to

get started quickly and it's the basic

fundamentals for vegetable gardening

that anybody needs to know regardless of

living in Florida or elsewhere in the

country or elsewhere in the world but I

will be tailoring our talk to Florida

specifically the first of the four s's

is sun sunlight is one of those things

once you set up your garden unless your

container gardening which we will talk a

little bit about it's something that you

can't easily correct or change and in

general veggies it's said that they need

eight hours of sunlight a day that's

like kind of the golden standard for

most of the u.s. here in Florida that is

not the case in depending on the veggies

of course eight hours the sunlight will

burn most of our plants especially if

we're coming into the spring and summer

months like we are now when we're in

fall and winter the weather there's a

little bit cooler in more mild they can

potentially get eight hours of Sun but

when we're growing heading into our hot

season eight hours is far too much the

general guideline our time frame for

Florida is actually four to six hours so

anything that needs six hours is going

to be your fruiting vegetables so think

tomatoes eggplants peppers anything that

is producing a visible fruit and the

fruit is what we're harvesting leafy

greens and root vegetables tend to mean

closer to four hours so if you just kind

of keep that in mind when you're

determining where you want to place your

garden or if some of your beds have less

Sun and some have a little bit more you

can kind of plant your or do your garden

plans according to that general guidance

now for sort of specific

a lot of people say they don't have

enough Sun in their yard and for some

people that may be true they may have

literally the entire yard covered in oak

trees but most people have at least four

hours of sunlight somewhere in their

yard even if it's on a few pots on the

edge of their driveway or a sunny

windowsill that faces the south even if

it's not outside you absolutely can grow

plants indoors so you should have

something somewhere to get your garden

or herbs started in general morning Sun

is ideal so if you were to picture

yourself going out in the morning

it's pleasant you can get to your car to

go to work without dripping sweat in the

afternoon though 5:00 p.m. heat of the

day it is crazy hot and will drip sweat

the whole time plants are just like us

so if you have a location that does not

have full Sun morning Sun is actually

ideal so typically that's going to be on

the west side of your lot so if you were

to picture the Sun rising it's going to

rise from the east right so that's going

to to provide light to the west side of

your garden as the Sun rises and sets in

the west it's going to be putting most

of that Sun towards the east side of the

garden so considering the different

locations in your yard and what sunlight

they get not just looking at it as 4 to

6 in general try to find a location that

actually has more Morning Sun than

afternoon now the morning and afternoon

Sun is not a hard and fast rule it's

just ideal if you can determine that

it's an ideal scenario if you only have

a location that gets afternoon Sun

that's ok too you'll just have to

consider that when you're looking at

plant varieties you want to grow all

right so that kind of is the gist of the

Sun section so I'm going to wait just a

second see if anybody has any specific

questions in regards to sunlight in your

vegetable garden because it is one of

those things that we can't

sir especially when we do built-in beds

or planters or anything like that so I

really want to make sure everybody's

comfortable and confident on that topic

okay Stacy asked is there anything I can

grow on east west facing porches I live

in a townhome

absolutely so I would probably choose

the east facing porch as long as it has

about four hours of sunlight a day that

will give them that morning Sun

balconies work - the only balcony that's

not ideal or window if you're growing

inside the house and not outside it's

the only side that's not ideal for

growing some sort of veggie or is the

north side in most cases the north side

of your yard or house or window is not

going to be enough Sun now my garden

actually is on the north side but it's

not close to the house so in the winter

I do get a little bit more shade than

I'd like but it was my sunniest spot in

the garden so I did choose to put it on

the north side it's just far enough away

from the house that I can still get a

significant amount of light beyond the

house shadow if that makes sense to

everybody so we talked a little bit

about not finding enough Sun but if you

have too much Sun there's a few things

you can do to come back that if you have

too much Sun in your garden you can look

to shade trees or fence lines fence

lines do offer that afternoon shade once

you get beyond beyond noon 1:00 o'clock

the Sun will start dipping low enough in

the sky that planting along fence lines

usually works really well for getting

some afternoon relief the other thing

too is if you really need to you can

always do a shade cloth it's a little

bit more cost upfront my last house that

I lived at it was just there was a great

spot for it and it was a full Sun

location all day that didn't have too

many mature trees and I ended up just

putting up shade cloth and that makes a

significant difference and the other

perk about shade class is you can remove

it if you need to in the winter months

and just leave it up during this summer

so definitely a nice thing to have but

it is an added expense so you kind of

just have to weigh that out all right

let me just make sure Northwest is fine

so it's actually its opposite so the Sun

rises in the east so it's going to be

offering Sun in the morning time to

plants on the west side of your yard as

the Sun peeks and sets it's going to be

in the west and offering Sun to the east

side of the yard so if you think about

whatever position the Sun is and it's

going to be going across your yard right

except for at high noon or whatnot when

it's right overhead okay so I'm gonna

leave the Sun for now and Liz will be

trying to answer those questions

specifically but if anything doesn't get

answered I am going to go back through

and get everybody's questions answered

at the end I just don't want to I want

to be respectful of everybody's time

that they've committed to this webinar

so I do want to stay on track for that

so I will as long as you guys hang out I

will be answering the questions towards

the ends all right so we've covered the

Sun out of the four SS now we're moving

on to soil and soil is absolutely

critical if you spend money or time in

any area it needs to be on the soil

because okay so I like to give the

analogy if we've been working crazy hard

hours and we haven't been eating well

we've been doing takeout food we haven't

been drinking enough water because we

think on the go you know we haven't

taken our vitamins because we've

forgotten our body wears down and we're

way more likely to get sick when we run

down like that plants are the same way

they get their nutrition and all of

their needs from the soil that's where

it all starts that's their vitamins that

that's the the heart and soul of where

their plants get all of their nutrition

and so if we spend time building good

soil then the plants are set up for

success if you have properly amended and

healthy organic soil you're going to

have less pests you're going to have

more production less disease and fungal

issues so if you take the time to set up

the soil you will have way less problems

down the line now how do we set up our

soil in the perfect world we would have

a gigantic pile of compost that we could

use to build our beds most people don't

have that kind of setup I was a little I

do this for a living

so I was a little crazy we just actually

purchased a new home well not just any

more but we purchased it last July in

the middle of the summer and so I knew

of course that I was going to have a lot

of gardens but I wasn't going to plant

right in the middle of summer so I took

the time and I did over nine yards of

compost a giant compost pile it's like

half the backyard is pretty ridiculous

but I knew that's what I wanted to do

and when the compost was finished I had

about three yards of homemade compost

that I was able to do my beds with and I

do have a video on that process I do

have them and Liz will be sending out

links and also too there is going to be

a follow up email with a huge list of

resources and links to videos and

different topics that we've covered

today so that it goes more in-depth for

you so that will be in the follow-up

email as well but anyhow so I was able

to use that for my beds but I know most

people are not in that situation at all

and especially right now when we're

wanting to get growing quickly so in

almost every case we're gonna want to do

bulk soil a lot of people may want to

run to Home Depot and get a bag or two

of soil or 10 or 20 bags of soil if

you're trying to do a raised bed if

you're literally only doing a couple of

pots and you know it only means two

three four bags four bags is pretty much

the cutoff on whether it's economical to

purchase buy back

versus bulk soil where they deliver it

to you so if you're getting four bags or

less then yes okay go buy the bag soil

from Home Depot or Lowe's or whatever

and it's fine if you've got more than

that I would highly recommend looking

into a bulk soil delivery it seems like

it would not be cost-effective but the

price point is there the delivery fee

and the bulk soil is just so cheap

compared to bag soil that it makes sense

so go ahead and call your local

landscaper in your area and ask them for

a book just tell them you know my garden

bed is this by this and this high you

know length width Heights and they'll

tell you exactly how much soil you need

and yeah it's almost always cheaper so

definitely do the research and at least

give them a call to get a quote so we're

gonna ask them for the best soil they

have tell them you're doing the

gardening stuff they're gonna give you a

nice topsoil maybe a gar if they're

depending on the location sometimes

they'll have like an actual gardening

mix go ahead get that spots caveat even

their best soil is not going to be

perfect if you get a good quality soil

it'll have a nice humus e organic matter

to it it'll smell like soil it will be a

little bit crumbly not too much sand

it'll kind of if you squeeze it it'll

kind of hold together a little bit it

won't just like sift right through your

hands that's a sign that you have some

good loam or good structure to your soil

but in almost every case it's not going

to be very high in nutrients so that's

where amending the soil comes in and and

like they said you know yes it's it's a

cost yes you can grow without doing this

but you're gonna be battling things down

the line so the cost comes somewhere so

just getting it fixed in the beginning

to me is highly recommended so when

you're amending your soil my number one

absolute go-to is worm castings worm

castings one at night

which is the nutrients that plants need

to get growing it's really well-balanced

it will not burn your plants at all you

can add as much or as little of it as

you want and a little bit does go a long

way with worm castings

it also jump-starts the microbial life

in your garden so a lot of times nice

oil you get from bulk retailers has been

disturbed a lot if maybe not the highest

quality compost when you add worm

castings it's getting all of that

microbial and bacterial action that's

supposed to be in our soils kick-started

worm castings are basically worm poop

and just like we have good buddies in

our stomachs so they have good gut

buddies and nurse so by them processing

all of the soil and turning it into

castings for us we get all of those

bacteria and microbial life put into the

garden bed for us so that they can then

start reproducing and making a whole big

happy soil ecosystem so worm castings

are a wonderful soil amendment one that

I would highly recommend and if I only

got to add one thing it would be that

there are a lot of other things you can

add to your soil you can do kelp meals a

nice one it has a growth hormone that

plants because kelp is seaweed it's got

a growth hormone in that that helps the

vegetables grow bigger and stronger and

faster so that's a lovely amendment you

can add things like bone meal or potash

or it just depends on what the soil

needs and a little I like to take the

the kitchen sink or the you know where

you toss in everything it's like

grandma's soup I like what's in the

fridge I don't know what's mean don't

care it iced over yeah I'll just put it

all in the soup right so a little bit of

everything is great but if you don't

have the resources available to you to

do all of these little things just stick

with bulk soil and worm castings and it

will take you a very very long way and

you can slowly add amendments in as the

seasons progressed so maybe next season

you throw in a little kelp meal and then

this season after that you might throw

in a little bit of bone meal and then

the season after that you might so and

on and on it goes and you can just kind

of tweak and grow you're so

I mean hopefully maybe he might even

have compost to add to the soil after a

couple of seasons and composting is a

critical part of closing the loop and

making our food system a little bit more


so composting is not hard a lot of

people fear it it's something that can

easily be done and the very basic gist

of it is a 50/50 mix of veggies to brown

matter I do have a video that's going to

be going out in the resources links that

goes in depth on composting it's just a

little much to explain here but I will

just encourage everybody to at least

consider composting whether I it's on a

small scale or a large scale even if it

you're in an apartment you can always do

worm castings in your closet I mean

there's there's a way for everybody to

get a little bit of compost mean so just

something to consider and make sure to

check the resources page that we send

out for more details on that we've

covered so far Sun and soil now we're

going to be moving into scenes of the

four s's and I think that's a lot of

people kind of like give me a little

push back hurt emphasizing seen so much

and there are a tremendous amount of

benefits to using seed instead of plant

starts when you're gardening and we're

going to talk about that but I think

that now more than ever when we've had

these disruptions in our lives and our

resources that are available to us if

we're you know if what if they lock us

down or if we can't get to the store or

if the supply chain gets disrupted and

they can't ship the plant starts from

Georgia to Florida whatever the case

seeds one they can be mailed so they can

be delivered to your door and two they

can be saved so someone had a question

about do seeds expire the answer is kind

of but not really

so seeds in general and it does depend

on how they're stored and everything

like that but they lose about five

percent germination a year so not ever

see it's gonna germinate every time even

if it's super fresh high quality seed

you're usually looking at 90 to 95%

germination rate on most seeds so if you

use them for the next year for the

following season it'll probably be 90

instead of 95 if it's two years old it

might be 85 and then after that it might

be 80 so seen save when a lot of other

things are if things are up in the ear

you know that you can always rely on the

seed packets from last season you may

have to plant a little bit extra maybe

two or three per hole just make sure you

get all your germination that you were

what you were hoping for but you can't

do that with the plant starts so I

always talk to people about using seed

and it's really not as intimidating to

start from seed as most people would

think so let's delve into this a little

bit more

they are always accessible which I kind

of just covered and it's also what your

cost-effective so especially with

organic gardening people say okay well

what's what's the cost of me going to

the grocery store and I think most of us

here at least in today's situation have

moved past what's the grocery store

comparison but let's say everything

settles down turns back to normal which

it will eventually and we have easy

access to vegetables at the grocery

store we have to consider cost when

we're growing this food yes there are

tremendous benefits to spending time in

the garden for stress and mental health

and physical health there's a ton of

studies out there that show that you

live longer and all sorts of amazing

things that the garden can provide for

you but setting that aside if we're

looking at it just from a cost

perspective when you're buying a floor

at all or start per plant to plant into

your vegetable garden and you may only

get so like broccoli for example it's a

and it's mostly just a one head of

broccoli and then the plant is done it's

not like leafy greens where you can keep

harvesting it right so if we bought a

four dollar broccoli start and we can

get it from the grocery store for a

two-box is that worth it probably not

but if we started from seed and we have

a pack of seeds that cost three dollars

and we can plant 50 or 100 broccoli for

that cost then it makes sense to grow

your own food so saving seed can save

you a ton of money there's differences

and there's times and occasions when the

starts might be fitting if it's a

perennial and you know that once you buy

it you won't have to plant it again

great buy a start if it's a little late

in the season and you really want to

grow tomatoes so like right now we have

we're kind of flip-flopped and we're

gonna get into seasonality in a second

foot and we're gonna flip-flop so

tomatoes grow best in winter and spring


um fall winter spring so we're into the

tail end of our tomato season you can

still put starts into the ground right

now - now now is an ideal time to put

into the plant starts but as far as

starting seed it is far too late it is

too late to start tomatoes seed so in

that case maybe buying a start or two

could be beneficial but in almost all

cases we want to consider seed one of

the other huge perks to starting from

seeds is the variety so when you go to a

big box store you might have ten peppers

to choose from ten different varieties

of peppers when you look at an online

seed catalog or mail-order seed catalog

you'll probably have 50 to 100 different

options of seeds for a vegetable whereas

in the store you'll probably have you

know ten so why does that matter

seed you good tremendous we've lost

about 80 percent of our seen diversity

because of the industrial food system

they picked crops for ship ability

ripening all at one time

pest resistance they didn't select for

flavor or microclimates and that's

really where the emphasis comes in is if

you spend the time to do a little bit of

research on heirloom varieties you can

find things that grow really really well

here in Florida that may not do well on

the rest of the country so we're going

to talk about zones in a second but on

the zones are very broad so let's take

for example I grow in I'm in st. Pete

Tampa Bay area we're growing zone 9b

kind of the border of ten and but so is

California and California has super dry

summers they're wet in this the winter

and dry in the summer we're dry in the

winter and wet in the summer so planting

the same varieties of veggies in

California that you do in Florida is not

going to usually set the plant up for

success so when we're able to really

fine-tune our seed selection to the

growing area they're gonna thrive and do

better than if you were to be trying to

force them to grow in conditions that

aren't ideal for them so if you take the

teal pepper for example that has it's an

heirloom variety of pepper kind of

similar to a habanero or something like

that like a nice spicy pepper orange

pepper I mean that was developed on the

East Coast or selected for in the East

Coast of Florida so it knows our growing

seasons and it does exceptionally well

here whereas you consider some of the

peppers we might be more familiar with

that are grown in like dry arid desert

desert regions like in Mexico for

example they're probably not going to

thrive here because we're hot and we're

humid we're not dry okay so that kind of

allows you by taking the time to learn

your seat selections and see varieties

it can really help you hone in on what

does best in your area and when you have

something that grows well that's just

like going back to the nutrients in the

soil if we have really good nutrients

and then we put it in a climate that it

exceed excels in it's going to have less

pest pest pressure and better production

for you so it's just putting all of your

ducks in a row right okay so seasonality

we've set up our plants well we figured

out the best Sun for them we've fed them

I guess you could say quality soil and

we've selected plant varieties and seeds

that do exceptionally well in our

growing environments now we're on two

seasons we're just trying to set

everything up that we can

Milland weighing the scales in our favor

so seasonality is really important and a

lot of my clients that I work with I do

like classes and consultations and stuff

and they're from up north

they've Gardens their entire lives

successfully and they move down here and

they are just dismayed they try growing

for a season or two and they give up and

that's because oftentimes it's the

seasons we do have a lot of differences

especially with the soil like you can't

just you know plant most crops will not

thrive in our ground we have to build

and give them quality soil but it's the

seasons that really get people and we're

going to be covering that a little bit

here but if you do go and this will be

on my resources email that I send out to

everybody but if you go to my website

the urban harvest calm and you sign up

for my newsletter it's a monthly

newsletter but when you sign up you do

get a free what to plant win cheat sheet

that is fine-tuned for Central Florida

so everybody from Southern Florida and

even northern Florida you would just

give and take a month probably depending

on the crop maybe a month and a half as

to when you would start on the scene so

if you're in southern Florida you would

start seed earlier if you're in North

Florida you would start seeing later

than that chart it is fine-tuned for

Central Florida but it literally will go

through and say it's March what can I

plant in March which by the way is

almost everything this is a great time

to start your garden because you can

plant the tail end of most of your

winter crops and start planting for

spring summer crops so great time to

start so anyhow South Florida you would

just plant a little bit later so if that

makes sense North Florida

I'm sorry North Florida a little later

southern Florida a little bit earlier

and you can get growing so the chart

will tell you it's March what you can

plant or I want to grow tomatoes when

should I plant the seed so that's a

great quick guide that you can reference

and it's hard to keep it all straight I

do this for a living and I might know

the general timeframes but I still check

it once in a while just be like yeah

that's a little early to start you know

eggplants or whatever no I think I can

do it so good resource and that's free

of course so

I definitely sign up for that if you

haven't already now let's delve into

seasons a lot of people think that

Florida if you've been gardening or a

little while or have talked to some

folks a lot of times people will tell

you that we only grow in winter here and

that's not the case if you choose to

yes it's hotter yes there's a little bit

more bugs but there are a ton of crops

that grow straight through our summer

months and we're going to be covering

some of those just because we are

heading into that hot hot season but you

can grow year round even leafy greens

and I'm hopefully gonna be doing another

webinar on that I did have classes for

that coming up and of course they were

canceled so I will be trying to get

something up on that so just check out

my event page on Facebook if you want to

make sure your state and loop on more

webinars I'll do the growing leafy green

tea around soon inhale okay so we are

going to be talking about growing year

round you can do it you just have to

plan accordingly and know that you're

gonna be changing out your crops no you

cannot grow spinach in summer will not

grow will not grow well but you can grow

things like tatsoi or New Zealand

spinach through our warm hot winter

months so just know that you can grow

year-round you do not have to shut your

garden down unless you choose doing you

don't want to be out in the heat and

that's fine too I would suggest if you

don't want to garden over the summer

that you at least plant what's called a

cover crop and I have a video on that

that will be sent out with the resource

page some good cover crops for a Florida

and basically what that does is that it

covers the soil so that it's not baking

in the heat because we're trying to

build basically a soil ecosystem and

when it sits there and gets feed on by

the Sun it strips away all the nutrients

it kills off all the good bacteria and a

good microbial action that's going on it

also with our heavy rains will deplete

your soil of the nutrients very quickly

it can pack the soil there's a ton of

negative effects to just leaving bare

soil basically you always want something

planted in the soil so cover crops are

nice because they do exceptionally well

and you can do cover crops for winter or

summer if you're from you know

Canada and you're

be gone and you won't be here for the

summer growing season plant a cover crop

on things like sweet potatoes cow peas

that they'll all cover the soil they

don't need any maintenance from you once

they're established and our summer rains

start that's plenty of rain for them and

so you basically plant it and leave it

and forget about it until you go back in

the fall to plant your fall garden and

then you can harvest it and then move on

from there

so definitely consider cover crops in an

winter or summer it works for both

there's crop different crops for both

but just make sure to keep your soil

covered ok so growing zones like I

referenced earlier just because we're in

zone 9 B does not mean that we have

these same growing conditions as the

rest of the country so just keep that in

mind I really truly highly recommend

finding somebody that's very local to

you joining a community gardening

organization I know I'm in st. Pete we

have the sustainable urban agriculture

coalition which is a wonderful it's

basically a meet-up of of gardeners and

they have a speaker come in once a month

but there's a ton of gardening clubs and

gardening organizations all over the

state in the country and those are going

to be people that are growing in your

exact conditions you can swap ideas

trade seeds and really get a fine-tuned

look at the seasonality in your area so

if you're just starting out these people

are gonna be super excited to help you

get started so look in your area for a

local gardening truck club to join

because there's really a lot more

refined than just looking at a growing

zone online although there are online

resources as well so your local

universities so if we're all growing in

Florida University of Florida IFAs

Extension Center has a center in each

county that is county specific

information and they'll tell you they

can help you answer questions like

what's eating my plants or they can look

at different varieties and they have all

sorts of really wonderful resources so

definitely check into that but they're

gonna be just so much more refined than

those broad charts so definitely don't

just think in terms of growing zone and

the last part of this seasonality

perspective is thinking outside of the

box so like I referenced earlier you can

grow so a lot of people let's just take

leafy greens for example I'm really big

proponent of growing your leafy greens

they don't take up as much space as a

lot of the other crops you can

succession plant them and grow town in

the small space and they lose their

nutrients really really quickly so

spinach for example loses 90% of its

vitamin C within the first 24 hours of

harvest so if something's going across


it's got no nutrients by the time it

gets to you so things that are harder

body they lose their nutrients it's much

slower so like a potato is not going to

lose its nutrients as quickly so in my

opinion I grow a ton of leafy greens

because that's gonna give me the most

benefits of being able to harvest it

fresh right because I can go out and

pick my salad or my smoothie and then

use it right away when I get peak

nutrients so thinking outside of the box

lettuces you can't grow lettuces true

lettuces like your remains and your bibs

and all of those relief and all of those

they don't grow in summer heat some of

them can kind of grow in our spring and

fall months on the boarder the cusp but

in general they don't grow through our

summer months for at least a third of

the year not more so what do you do in

that offseason while you look at

alternatives so things that aren't

necessarily from our area but they have

similar conditions that grow well so one

of my favorite leafy greens to grow as a

like herb season crop is tatsoi tatsoi

t-80s oh I is an Asian leafy green it's

very similar to spinach but it's

technically in the bok choy family it's

got a little bit of a thicker stem but

you can literally substitute it for any

dish that calls for spinach and no one

will ever know and it's it's super pest

resistant and really just really easy to

grow a lot of the industrial AG people

have actually started growing tatsoi so

more than like

he's probably had tatsoi and like you

know the boxed mixes from the grocery

store you probably had it not even known

it and just thought it was spinach it's

that similar so that's a wonderful crop

to grow here in our spring and fall

months it doesn't mind

the warmth so much it will eventually

bolt in and it'll get too hot for it mid

summer but it's a great curbed season

crop so what about the depths of summer

when even the tatsoi doesn't want to

grow what leafy greens can we grow them

we can grow a lot of people don't know

sweet potato leaves which you can use as

a cover crop the tender tips are

actually edible you can saute those up

like the leafy green another one of my

absolute favorites to grow is amaranth

and that is just a multi-use crop one it

grows through our summer months with

zero hesitation there's it does not mind

the heat one bit so you can use the

small leaves the new growth as Ross

salad or smoothie mix you can eat it raw

it's nice and tender if the leaves get

larger and you didn't pick them they can

be used for cooking greens so they can

be sauteed or you can use them as like a

pressure cooker or boil like a

alternative to collard greens or

something like that so those are a

little bit more tough but still

flavorful and good you can use those the

other benefit is that it produces

gorgeous flower heads so you have these

beautiful blooms that you can leave out

and enjoy in the garden you can cut and

bring inside or if you do leave it on

the stock in the garden once the blooms

are dry out and die off you can have a

harvestable green and I like to call it

the warm weather quinoa and so this seed

has produce seeds the flower heads

produce seeds and when they're dry you

can actually harvest that and eat it as

a green it's kind of the size of a

couscous it doesn't look like quinoa so

it's a little smaller but it's a whole

green that you can grow through our

summer months so it's just a wonderful

multi-use crop amaranth is also called

pig bead it's it's considered a weed by

most but in my opinion I kind of take a

little bit of a permaculture approach

but weeds aren't such a bad thing

because they thrive they grow without

much care and isn't that kind of what

we're aiming for anyhow

anyhow so that's a little bit of a

perspective on thinking outside the box

like I said reaching out to some of

those local gardening joining a

community garden getting a plot of the

community garden even if you can't grow

at home has its benefits you're gonna

have people that are growing things you

can see what's growing in other people's

garden beds it don't give you a great

idea on that

so just reaching out to some of those

local resources in the I face Extension

Center I mean the IFAs is so good you

can literally send them an email of a

picture of a plant you can't identify or

bug on your garden and they will respond

to you you don't even have to bring it

into the actual office so wonderful

resource and if you're feeling

overwhelmed I would just say that it's

never going to be perfect the first time

in our society everything is so focused

on getting those 8 pluses and in

everything you do and you want to be

perfect the first time and yes we do

have a lot of information available to

us right now but it can also almost

cause like an analysis paralysis

so my approach is a ready fire aim so

get ready you know you don't want to

just try although eventually you will

figure it out get a little resource get

a little resources available to you and

just start give it a shot give it your


planting effort and then learn from it

and refine it for the next season it's

not going to be perfect from the get-go

and there's nothing wrong with that just

just jump in get started and learn as

you go because that's kind of part of

gardening I've been doing this literally

my whole life and I've doing

professionally now for almost 10 years

and I still have failures you know one

year there might be a pest pressure or

if I'm gardening in a new location I

have a demonstration garden and I

started gardening there's always going

to be curveballs you're never going to

get it right every single time and it's

it's all good you're still doing your

part you're still growing nutrient-dense

food you're still giving all the mental

and physical benefits of being in a

vegetable garden and they're growing

some of your own food so you know don't

expect perfection and especially if

we're growing with our

and sustainable concepts in mind it's

never going to be perfect and that's

alright alright so we're going to be

moving on I have a little quote by

Audrey Hepburn and it says to clean the

garden is to believe in tomorrow this is

an incredibly overwhelming and uncertain

and maybe even scary time that we're

dealing with right now there's just so

much confusion but I think that's taking

this moment or or timeframe that we're

experiencing right now and that we're

likely heading into this peaceful time

it can be peaceful if we choose to make

it that way so take this quiet period to

learn something new and to delve in and

center yourself and find what you've

been missing because even though it is

different and even though it may not be

easy or seemingly beneficial we can we

can we can get something out of this

useful and productive and calming so I

just wanted to throw that out there I do

have a I had to cancel so many courses

and I know that everybody has the time

right now and I think this wake-up call

that we've all had with our industrial

food system has been eye-opening for

many so I'm gonna do a vegetable garden

intensive so normally I've been doing in

my local area I wanna like an in-person

four-month workshop where we go over

different gardening concepts and depth

to get everybody growing but we kind of

go have a time right now

so I'm going to do this intensive these

are the topics we're going to be

covering and basically I'm going to be

setting it up as a 45 minute we're gonna

meet at 7:30 each evening for two weeks

so from 7:30 to 8:15 we're gonna go over

each of these topics in depth and really

refine it we're gonna start on Wednesday

since everybody seems to kind of be

slowing down and finally getting to the

point where we're all mostly staying

from home working from home or whatnot

so we'll start Wednesday

30 to 8:15 p.m. each night for two weeks

to cover all of these topics and that's

basically to hopefully get you 100%

ready to grow and get all of that

information if you're hesitant or

overwhelmed or really want to strive for

that perfection this will give you the

information you need to get started I

also do have as long as the post offices

don't change significantly I do have a

mail order seed club for Florida

gardeners so I mail out three different

varieties of NC's and seed each month

it's mailed directly to your door and it

comes with seed success cards which tell

you all of the planting information you

need when to plant it based on actual

Florida growing seasons not you know the

general country regs or you know 90

stuff I have it refined to our area and

it will give you planting tips

harvesting techniques even cooking ideas

and how to use it so if you're

interested in that we'll have links for

that as well you can join the club and

we also do have an online community a

private Facebook group where we can

interact ask questions look at people's

progress what their different varieties

that they're doing things that they may

have tried so it's been a really fun

thing that we've had going now for about

a year and everybody's really been

loving it so the other thing that I

wanted to mention is I do weekly YouTube

videos this is of course 100% free and

it is knowledge based on Florida

gardening Florida vegetable gardening I

do a different topic every single week

anything from what's eating my squash to

composting 101 to top 10 heirloom tomato

varieties to grow in Florida I have over

50 different videos and I've only been

doing this now for a few months so more

coming at least weekly maybe more

frequently now that we have a little bit

more slow time in the you know the

urgency is there foremost so I

definitely go ahead and subscribe on

YouTube and check out some of those

videos and they can help get you

jump-started and I also have a

recommended reading list different

products that I found

helpful in the garden if your local to

st. Pete I do have a local resources

like where you can source quality lumber

or both soil that kind of thing I'm

growing supplies I have all of that on

the website the urban harvest calm and

normally I teach classes workshops and

consultations I do private one-on-one

consultations but I also do virtual

consultations so I use whatsapp and we

use a video call so that I can see your

garden and what you're working with and

we can do one-on-one for that so if you

have any specific questions you answered

whether you need a full in depth I don't

know what the heck I'm doing help me get

a garden plan we can spend an hour on

the phone if you need and getting you

set up or we can do a quick two-minute

call to answer that one specific

question it's a dollar a minute so if

it's two minute call it's two bucks and

if it's 60 minutes call it 60 bucks so

that's something that you can book

online or you can email me directly so

that's it for today's talk I really

appreciate you all taking your time

today to learn a little bit more about

sort of vegetable gardening I hope this

was helpful when you do leave you're

gonna be given a survey I just this is

my first webinar I usually teach

in-person classes so I'd really value

your feedback on that just so I can

improve for future webinars so if you

have the time definitely appreciate that

and then we will be sending out that

follow-up email within 24 hours that

gives you a link to all of the resources

we've discussed today so be on the

lookout for that

and I'm now going to head over to the

question and answer box and I'm just

going to start verbally answering some

of these questions and we will get

through all of them I promise

so thank you all for coming out if you

needed to now go for it if you want to

hang out and get these answer questions


just just hang out with me and have a

beautiful day thanks for coming all


so we have someone who said I understand

this will focus on growing in the normal

way in the ground but for those of us in

apartments were forced to garden and

containers I did not talk about that

much and I apologize for that my

intention was to and I just kind of

glossed over it so a few tips for

growing in containers grain containers

is great you can follow the Sun and you

don't have a lot of the soil borne

pathogens like nematode nematodes that

grow in our soil so growing in

containers is a great way to grow I will

say that when you grow in containers you

are going to have to be more mindful on

nutrients and water so nutrients and

water they because they cannot expand

the root system as much as the plants

and the grounds they will need more

constant tension in water as well as

nutrients cuz they're gonna move through

it quicker so you may have to do a

midseason fertilizer pick-me-up even if

you do soil amendments in the beginning

just because typically you're gonna have

a lot more stuff growing in a smaller

space so I hope that was helpful

if not you can add a specific question

below okay so the someone asked let's

see the length of Sun for flowering

vegetables yeah so we're going to want

to do more Sun closer to six hours for

flowering fruiting vegetables so let me

look around the garden so tomatillos

peppers tomatoes what see blueberries


broccoli all of those are going to meet

eggplants all of those are going to need

more Sun things that were harvesting for

the leaves so the tatsoi the amaranth

the lettuces and leafy greens all of

your root vegetables your radish and

carrots also cucumbers would be more of

the fruiting I didn't mention that

watermelon they like way more Sun closer

to the six-hour mark but all of the

leafy vegetables or the root crop

vegetables can tolerate closer to four

and that's a give and take it's not

gonna be you don't have to find a

location that only has four hours for

leaves and has to have six hours for

fruiting that's just like a you know

working with this garden space so if you

know something's going to get a little

more shade

he might keep that in mind alright so

let's see let's see so someone asked

about fungal disease because they have a

lot of moisture in the garden there's a

few things you can do if you're getting

powdery mildew I have a video on my

youtube channel that talks about how you

can treat powdery mildew using a milk

mixture works really effectively and

helps get rid of all of those fungal

issues but to prevent them from ever

happening mulching goes a really long

way on watering the soil and not the

plants helps tremendously making sure to

water in the morning and not the

afternoon so that they have time to dry

out before they sit all night in the

dark all of this can help control fungal

issues without any cost

alright so somebody mentioned that they

have the ability to access horse manure

I don't recommend using horse manure at

all it sucks because it's a readily

available resource and

there's a caveat if you know your farmer

or the owner and you know the feed that

they're using is quality then go for it

it's wonderful

soil amendment nitrogen wise but a lot

of times what they feed those poor

horses is laced with pesticides and

those pesticides 100% will transfer all

the way through the horse's system and

into your garden soil and into your

plants they've shown study after study

of growing plants in pesticide laced

feed will stunt plants and can even

cause them not to grow at all so

definitely know your source on that

before you do use that alright so let's

see let's see chicken manure since we're

on the manure kick chicken manure is a

wonderful soil amendment or nitrogen

source do not add it directly to the

garden make sure you put it through a

composting process first if you do the

composting process first then it's

gorgeous stuff for the garden

but it is too hot to add to the garden

right away and composting you could just

be tucking it in the corner of your yard

for a few months and letting it break

down or it can be throwing it into an

actual compost pile all right so let's

see here we got that earth boxes yeah I

used to grow in earth boxes they're

great convenient easy to water I have no

complaints with them at all I grow in a

larger scale now so it's just not

economical for me to use you know a ton

of earth boxes but if you're looking at

just one or two containers for a patio

or something it could be absolutely

great fit and there's off-brands now

when I first started using the earth

boxes there was only like that one brand

and they were kind of pricey there's

alternatives now and they're all they're

all they all do the same thing so you

don't have to get brand name if you you

choose not to let's see here best way

from keeping dogs digging everything up

raised beds some sort of fencing the

deterrence there sorry I'm gonna move to

the shade over here oh yeah okay sorry

so yeah planting things denser they're

usually going for the soil not the the

plants themselves so planting things a

little bit closer together can deter

them as well all right let's see where

can you buy kelp meal and bone meal I

sent out a product resource list when I

when I send out that page it'll have the

recommended products you can also get it

on my website you can mail order them

which might be ideal right now but I

really encourage everybody especially

now more than ever to shop local when

you can if you're local to st. Pete avid

AV ID brewing it sounds like it's a

beard it is part brewery but they

started as a gardening store and they're

still open until 5:00 p.m. every day and

they have a ton of gardening resources

and they're actually cheaper than Amazon

but that being said if you aren't in the

area or you don't want to venture out at

this time

thing online you can find almost all of

that stuff online and as a favor or

request if you do click through the

links on my website I do get credit for

that at no additional cost to you so it

just kind of helps support what I'm

doing all right so let's see we answered

the composite question we answered that


let's see here

okay questions are coming in click so as

far as killing weeds under your garden

beds I suggest a sheet mulching approach

so that can be Cardon you don't have to

kill the weeds at all you don't even

have to till the soil I'm gonna be doing

a sheet mulching in depth video soon but

there are a lot of resources online as

well but basically you lay down

cardboard and then a very thick sheet of

mulch on top of it six to eight inches

minimum and by doing that it just

basically blocks out the leaves long

enough for them not to keep growing and

then your garden beds on top and it does

great I did my yard and I can turn it

around but I sheet mulch to my full yard

nine months ago and I I don't have any

any weeds popping up I don't know if you

can really tell them the video quality

but zero weeds and it's been nine months

without any sort of pesticide or

anything to kill them underneath just

that sheet mulch you can purge okay

wait flies you can use neem oil I'm

gonna be going in depth on that on the

intensive I don't use neem oil all the

time only in emergency situations but

white flies sounds crazy but if you have

a shop vac you can actually literally

just shop back them off your plants so

you just turn the vacuum on and go and

suck the leaves and the white slice get

caught in there and they're removed

you'll probably have to do it a few

times because eggs are gonna be on there

and everything like that that's where a

lot of people feel like it's not working

so they give up but and this this goes

with almost any organic pesticide not

all of them but you're not going to get

all life stages with one go so you have

to go back maybe

two three times until you get all of

those eggs and larvae and that kind of

thing so that's a tip for white flies

all right so let's see here is it

beneficial to have a green house in

Florida no not really maybe in North

Florida for sure in North Florida it can

be beneficial but in central and

southern Florida there's no benefits to

it you if anything would want to do a

shade house it's not a not a green house

green houses keep heat in and shade

houses keep the heat away so just keep

even in our Florida winters it's just

there's plenty of crops to grow that can

do just fine in our cold okay let's see

I think we're getting closer


how many word depends I would put it in

the same category as horse and goat the

same way if you know the farmers speed

it's it's totally fine to use it's

wonderful stuff if you do not know the

farmer but they're hot where they're

sourcing their feed from I'd be

suspicious and that goes for all of the

livestock chickens don't fall into that

category because they're not eating the

hay and the straw like the the cows and

all of that are okay


okay got the gardening questions

answered for containers nematodes

nematodes in the sole in the raised beds

potentially solarizing with nematodes

there are beneficial nematodes there are

non beneficial nematodes there are a lot

of companion plants that you can put

into the soil the more robust your soil

health is the more likely things are to

stay in balance so if we have a huge

amount of nematodes in the soil it's

usually because of Sandy they don't like

rich soil that's why they're in the

ground and not as much into the garden

bed so amending your soil so that it's

more lomi and rich can make a big

difference and then the natural balance

of soil organisms and the soil will also

help and that improves by adding things

like the worm castings that we talked

about and things like that and allowing

the soil to be undisturbed as much as

possible that kind of allows that that's

writing ecosystem to develop okay Oh

also to with nematodes to crop rotation

can make a big difference crop rotation

and companion planting okay thoughts on

Oh dig that is what I do that is what I

highly encourage so if you're looking

into no dig it's basically the concept

of cutting off your plants when they're

spent at the soil line and not actually

pulling them out

never tilling the soil if you add

amendments you just add it on top and

let them work themselves down naturally

a hundred percent go with that method

because it allows that soil ecosystem

that I've been talking about this whole

time to develop when we constantly go in

there and dig until and everything like

that it just every single time we're

ripping that ecosystem apart and then

they have to put themselves back

together again

and disturb fungal growth and it just

disturbs the entire thing so no-till or

is it it's a wonderful way to go and

people say well what how do you plant

the plants if you dig your small hole

for your plant if it's a start or the

seeds take up only you'd barely just

store soil at all most of those are

going to be within a quarter inch of the

the topsoil so it's not so much of an

impact but yeah you just try to

minimally disturb it yes if

upstarts you'll have to disturb a little

bit but just minimally will do the trick

and allowing that ecosystem to function

and thrive okay so I think that was

finally all of the questions we got

answered thank you all for coming out

and like I said just take a look out for

that email and I will have future

webinars and events coming up so make

sure to check out my website which will

have events listed but the best place to

look is on Facebook or Instagram for

regular updates on different events

coming up thank you all for joining me

and have a beautiful day