The climate in Florida is great for a wide variety of planting. Sometimes the trouble can be what you should grow, instead of what can be grown. There are a few different ways you can determine what to grow based on the time of year. And the bonus: growing food at home can lead to healthier eating habits for everyone. Kids get excited about helping to pick fruits and vegetables, which makes them more likely to enjoy eating what they pick as well. It’s a win-win for moms anywhere.
When deciding what to plant in our backyard, there were three main things we considered:
- What the family will eat.
- Decide if we wanted to rotate crops in season, or grow the same crops all year.
- Selecting the right crops.
What the family will eat
This was fairly easy. I sat down with the family and everyone volunteered what they were interested in eating. Everyone got to select at least five items to add to the list. If you have a large family, you could choose to give everyone a smaller selection. If you have a small family, everyone can choose more. As I wrote it down, I made a note of who chose what so that when we made final decisions I could make sure there was something for everyone.
Determining crop rotation or regularity
Before I could find out what crops we could grow in Florida that would flourish, I had to decide if we were going to rotate or keep it regular. To do this, consider the season.
- Spring: There are cool-weather crops that grow best in the spring, but don’t grow well in other seasons.
- Summer: The temperature can get pretty hot in the summer, so finding crops that can thrive in hot weather is essential to a successful crop.
- Fall and Winter: Because the temperature can be unpredictable in the fall and winter months, it’s important to consider hardy plants that won’t die if it freezes outside.
There are some crops that do well in all season in Florida, such as beans, okra, eggplant, spinach, and ginger. These plants are hardy enough to survive both the heat and the cold.
Selecting the right crops
We decided on doing a rotation of crops because the entire family could participate in planting and harvesting all year. The kids love it. Once we decided on that, we had to find out what crops were best for each season. We pulled the list back out and tried to find at least one crop for each of us to plant each season. It was a great way to get the kids to take responsibility for their own section of the garden, while also teaching them how to garden so that they can grow up to do so themselves.
One thing that I decided right off was to plant olive trees from Willis Orchard. There are so many uses for olives and the oils that come from them that it was hard to say no to a tree. They do well in the Florida temperatures as long as they are planted in a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Olive trees love the Florida sun. Ours was planted in our backyard beside the cinder block herb garden.
Keep in mind that, even if you live in Florida, the location can change what crops will flourish because the temperature and humidity vary.
Not only will this project help your family eat healthier, but it is eco-friendly as well. Plants are good for the environment. It’s another win-win for the house!