Monthly Garden Calendar for Florida

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Andres Mejides



This month is God's gift to sub-tropical gardeners. Our choices for temperate veggies expand almost on a daily basis. The sun is no longer directly overhead, so it's becoming easier to garden all day. Nights are cooling off, making for pleasant evenings spent in screen porches (yes, the bugs are still out!). We have lots of fruit ripening now, including the late-season mangos and avocados. Of course, with judicious choices it's possible to have fruit ripening every month of the year.

Bird Watching. The fall migrations are starting. Every day brings new surprises (or old friends). Some birds are winter residents, while others are just passing through. Luckily for them, your organic garden is much more bird friendly than conventional gardens.

Lawn Care. I like to fertilize lawns at the end of the rainy season (mid-Oct.), not in spring as some people suggest. This way, the grass doesn't grow 1 inch an hour! Start checking to see if you can obtain organic lawn fertilizer locally.

Test Your Soil. Determine if your soil lacks vital nutrients. If so, now is a good time to buy soil amendments (at garden centers or via the Web) and incorporate them into the soil before planting. You'll find a state-by-state listing of soil testing laboratories here.

Pruned Your Poinsettia? If not, this is the last month! Make sure the plants get no artificial light at night for best bloom during the holidays.

Hurricane Prep Time. Delay heavy tree pruning until late fall, after limb-hurling storms have subsided.

Go Go Garden Gadget. You'll soon be gardening "full-steam" in your yard. Check your tools: sharpen hoes, shovels and pruners. Tune-up the lawn mower and sharpen its blade.

Anxious To Start Seeds? Go for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other heat lovers. You may have to provide afternoon shade though. This is also a good time to start papaya seeds.

Plant Your Perennials. Plant bushes and small perennials now and while we're still in the rainy season. Hold off on planting trees, though, until after hurricane season.

Beautiful Bulbs and Flowers. Plant fall bulbs such as gladiolus, tuberoses and amaryllis. Start cool-season annual flowers, too, including marigolds, impatiens and lots more. Provide afternoon shade for some of the heat-intolerant types.

Bird Feeder Maintenance. Clean bird feeders, baths and houses with a 10% bleach solution, scrub them with a brush, and rinse with clean water.