Dr. Martin Price, founding CEO of ECHO, shares a personal story that many of us who were transplanted to SW Florida and tried to garden during the summer can related to.
"Within a couple days after Bonnie and I arrived in Florida in June 1981 I began digging a garden. For an avid gardener used to the long winters “up north” this was an exciting adventure. I was going to grow flowers and vegetables year-round in the Garden of Eden itself - at least something very close to it. Or so I thought.
Then an experienced older gentleman told me, “Son, you don’t garden here in the summer. It’s like winter up north. You just let the area grow to weeds during the summer, then plant your garden in the fall.” I tried anyway.
I could not believe it when none of the seeds I had brought with me from Ohio grew to the point that I had something to eat! (There was one cantaloupe that a raccoon ate the night before I was going to harvest it.) I had no idea what the heat and humidity would do to green beans, broccoli, lettuce and radishes!
I had not envisioned what disease and insect problems would be like where there is no winter freeze to kill them off. I was taken by surprise by the difficulty of watering plants growing in the fine sand, and then by the suddenly very high water table that killed the roots. I was taken by surprise at the deadly effect of root-knot nematodes. Even the marigolds and zinnias I had planted as a border died before they got big enough to bloom. It is a good thing I had not been sent to Florida to teach the poor Floridians how to garden!
Today if you visit ECHO during the summer you will find food plants growing everywhere. But you will not find many of the “temperate” vegetables that are staples of most northern gardens. Many of them you will not even recognize."
Dr. Price learned the hard way 35 years ago, but thankfully for us, he came away from that initial failure with a much more appropriate way to garden during our wet and muggy SW Florida summers. Now we want to make that information available to you so your summer garden will be a success! Click below to learn about perennial and other vegetables uniquely suited to our summer gardening season in Florida. Happy gardening!