By Jacqlyn Rivas
Water Conservation Program Coordinator, Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County
Spring is here. Is your vegetable garden ready? If not, don’t worry – you still have time. Florida has a long growing season, and we are happy to help, but start now. Right now. Think about it. What has prevented you from getting started? We have some suspicions and gardening recommendations for what ails you.
Not sure if gardening is for you? Don’t let uncertainty stand in the way. Instead, join a community garden before you invest. Community gardens often have all the tools you need, including a community of beginner and experienced gardeners. For a small fee, you can rent a bed or two. I volunteer at a local community garden that provides all the tools I need, including microirrigation, compost and fertilizer. Use this link to view a map of Hillsborough County Community Gardens: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/lawngarden/community-garden-resources/.
Quite often, people wonder if gardening will yield a return on investment. For this concern, joining a community garden can avoid the startup cost. If you want the convenience of backyard vegetables, start small and consider growing fruits and vegetables that are more expensive to buy. A small garden can still be bountiful, especially when combined with vertical gardening – a growing technique that maximizes space and your return on investment.
Also consider that your return on investment benefits other dimensions of your life like physical, psychological and social well-being. Sun, fresh air and exercise are especially beneficial in these times. By starting a vegetable garden, you may be more likely to consume more produce. I regularly consume nutritious meals made with homegrown vegetables. My favorite is carrot soup with fresh coriander seed. What do you have to lose? Start a vegetable garden today and look forward to growing a healthier life.
If the learning curve is too big, seek help so you don’t miss out on the health benefits and joys of gardening. Check our calendar of events at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/ for gardening workshops. You might find our Vegetable Microirrigation workshop helpful as you prepare your spring garden. Call the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 813-744-5519, for horticultural assistance. Good luck and happy spring gardening.