Growing vegetables from seed to harvest can be a challenge in central Florida, especially if you are growing as organically as possible. Your first challenge could be how to plant seeds for a successful Spring garden.
If you have already researched how to plant your seeds, I bet you have come across helpful charts. I like charts! Here is a site that can be trusted for information and correct planting times for your Florida location: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021
For an easy list of what to plant in March for a Spring garden, read my post: https://seasonsofdevotion.com/seeds-for-a-spring-garden/
Based on more than 20 years of growing organically in Florida, my information below can help you be successful in your gardening venture.
How Deep Do I Plant My Seeds?
Easy to remember! Plant the seed the length of the longest side of the seed. This holds true for all seeds. Large seeds are a bit more forgiving if you plant them 2-3 times their width but tiny seeds will only tolerate a “dusting” of soil to cover them. It’s really that easy to remember!
How Far Apart Do I Plant My Seeds?
First, you will want to plant more than the final amount of plants that you want to grow. It’s not an exact science but keep the general rules in mind because some seeds will not germinate and the seeds that do come up will show you which ones are healthy. You will be keeping the healthiest ones and pulling or cutting off the weaker ones.
As a general rule, the distance between the growing plants depends on how big the plant is going to be when fully mature. The larger the plant, the further apart the seedlings need to be.
Spacing for Various Vegetable Plants
- Beans can be as close as 6 inches apart with the exception of large lima beans which need to be 9-12 inches apart.
- Corn plants need to be 12-18 inches apart. Plant two seeds one inch apart, skip 12 inches and plant 2 more seeds one inch apart. You will be choosing the healthiest plant between the two and leave the healthy ones 12 inches apart.
- Cucumbers have the same rule as Squash vines or bushes.
- Melons, all types, including cantaloupe, muskmelon, watermelon. Follow the rules as given for squash bush or vines.
- Okra is a small seed, but a large plant. Plant only ¼ inch deep but choose the healthiest plants to be 12 inches apart.
- Southern peas (all types) have the same rule as beans. This includes Black-eye peas, zipper peas, conch peas, and other varieties. Do not plant green peas at this time. They will grow best during our winter season.
- Peppers. I do not recommend planting peppers from seed at this time. You can try and see what might work. Plant young pepper plants instead. Most pepper plants will be affected by our hot summer just like the tomato plants are. See note below.
- Potatoes. Purchase certified potatoes. I can’t emphasize this enough. Healthy looking potatoes from the store-you know, to save money, might be a temptation but give it a 50-50 chance of producing healthy, disease-free potatoes. I recommend drenching the soil first with Southern Ag’s Garden Friendly Fungicide (bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747) and also soak the cut pieces in a solution of the fungicide for an hour before placing into the soil. Bury your potatoes about 6-9 inches deep. The best time to plant potatoes is by Mid-February, but they should be ok if you plant in Mid-March.
- Squash bushes need 12-24 inches between them-on average. For “groups” (or beds), you can have 2 or 3 close in a “bed” but skip another 24 inches before planting 2-3 more. Or, space evenly at 12-18 inches apart.
- Squash vines need 6-12 inches between plants, depending on the size of your squash. The larger the squash, spaced farther apart. You may also plant them in groups of beds as described in squash bushes.
- Tomato or pepper seed, plant shallow. Remember the rule of the depth I described above. Warning! I do not recommend trying to grow tomatoes from seed at this time because the plant is prone to summer disease, sunburn, and the plant will not set fruit due to high temperatures. Tomato plants need 5-6 months of a growing season which, at this point, will be too far into the summer months, resulting in poor yields, if any. I’ve tried varieties that say they tolerate hot summers, but I haven’t found any to tolerate summers in central Florida. I recommend that you plant young plants at this time.
To learn how to plant a tomato plant, read:https://seasonsofdevotion.com/how-to-plant-a-tomato/
Other seeds to plant for a Summer crop are peanuts and Seminole pumpkin. These amazing plants will produce throughout the entire summer.
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