If you live in the Tampa Bay area you’ll reap the benefits of year-round warmer weather. So let’s talk about what vegetables to plant and how to garden this fall!
How To Garden and What To Plant
Let’s start with the basics.
What Planting Zone is Tampa Bay?
The Tampa Bay area is located on the western coast of Florida and is located inside hardiness zone 9b and 10a. These zones include both Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, though since each county includes many cities, please check which zone you fall under for more accurate planting.
Winter temperature changes are relatively minimal, meaning you can grow throughout the year. Summers are very humid and wet, but conditions don’t change too drastically come fall.
Finding Garden Locations
Planting a successful garden isn’t just about the plants that you’re going to grow, it’s also about picking the right garden locations. It’s important that you give your plants room to thrive with plenty of sunshine and proper irrigation.
Make sure that the spot you choose for your garden can be irrigated when needed. You don’t always have to water as much in the fall because the temperatures outside have dropped quite a bit, but you should be able to get a hose to that area. Otherwise, you would end up dragging cans of water to that area for hours a day.
Plants require sunlight to carry out the process of photosynthesis. It’s fine to choose an area of your yard that gets partial shade during the day, but there should also be a period of about six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
If you’re able to, avoid garden locations that get a lot of direct wind. Being able to block your garden with something like a fence or the side of your house is a great way to offer protection to your plants and is perfect when choosing garden locations for your fall vegetables. You can also use a hedge say of mums to protect your low-growing plants.
Choosing Your Fit: Container or Ground
Not everybody has a large yard to work with, so if you’re limited on space, and especially if you want multiple garden locations, you should feel free to plan a container garden. This could be pots lined up on your patio, or you could purchase a raised garden bed system that you can tuck away in a nice corner of your yard. Just make sure that you’re choosing containers that are large enough for the plants you’re planning on growing. Large, root vegetables need a decent amount of depth to grow. Lettuce will spread out quite a bit when it’s getting more mature.
Cool-season Vegetables to Plant in October and November
When it becomes a little bit cooler outside in Tampa, some of the best vegetables to plant include things like broccoli, lettuce, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and radishes. A lot of these vegetables remain in the ground until you pick them, so they’re protected by the soil. Other options are arugula, beets, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, and spinach.
Just make sure that you’ve completely removed the plants and roots from previous items that were in your garden over the summer. Leaving roots behind can hamper the growth of the new items that you’ll be planting shortly. You should plan on tilling your soil a few weeks prior to planting your garden and check the pH of the soil to see if you need to add any nutrients before getting started.
If you’re going to be transplanting certain items into your garden during the fall months in Florida, there are certain crops that will take to their new location much better than others will. In the Tampa region, all the crops we mentioned above can be transplanted. Varieties that you should be more careful with include celery, mustard, turnips, and pineapple. Carrots, onions, and radishes can be started from seed.
What to Plant with Kids
Let your children get involved in the process of gardening. This is a great lesson on responsibility and the life cycle of plants. Have them help prepare the area where the plants will go, allow them to pick out the different plants you’re going to grow, and give them the responsibility of watering, pruning, and picking produce every so often.
Most adults like gardening that’s relatively simple–it’s no different for the little ones. When you’re choosing what to plant with kids keep in mind what is most likely to succeed. They like to see results, so consider letting them grow something of their own from seeds. They’ll get so excited when they see their little plants start to pop through the soil. You can also put them in charge of the plants that require regular picking.
When considering what to plant with kids, mealtime herbs and green staples are fantastic. Send them out for a few pieces of basil for dinner or have them grab some lettuce for a salad. This allows the kiddos to be involved in the family process from garden planning, planting, meal planning, and prep. It’s rewarding on many levels including health.
Florida is truly an amazing place to live not only for the beautiful Tampa Bay area landscape and weather, but because it’s a dream for gardening. There is the potential to garden year-round if you are careful with your planning. Fall gardening is fun for those people who don’t like to spend a ton of time in their garden. You don’t have to water as much, and the plants tend to be a bit heartier. Get planning now for your fall garden as it’s almost time to get started!
As always, reach out to Professor Green Thumb for your landscaping and hardscaping needs! (We’ll leave the gardening to you 😉