Edible gardens serve a triple purpose: beauty, function, and sustainability. Luckily, learning how to grow your own produce doesn’t have to be a chore.
“Getting started is as easy as buying a bell pepper, saving the seeds, and throwing them in the ground,” says Anuella Alexandre, founder of A Green Community and Green Goddess Diary. On a mission to eradicate food deserts and nature-deficit disorder, the Palm Beach Gardens resident assists people on botanical endeavors, whether that’s starting a school garden or growing food at home.
Growing food comes with sundry benefits: stress relief, increased mindfulness, physical exercise, family bonding time, experiences in nature, and improved diet. “Gaining whole-foods knowledge leads to making better nutritional choices,” Alexandre notes.
Though getting started can seem like a daunting task, “gardening is pretty easy once you get the hang of it,” says Alexandre. “All you really need to know are the basics; everything else can be learned on the journey.”
Factors to consider include location, soil health, plant types, watering method and schedule, and pest control. Alexandre recommends finding a sunny spot and contacting a local agent of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to test your soil so you can amend what’s lacking. Start with just one crop—something the whole family will enjoy—and grow from there.
Though many crops thrive year-round in the Sunshine State, timing is everything. Below, Alexandre recommends vegetables to grow in South Florida by season.
Spring: tomatoes, squash, corn, beans, cucumbers
Summer: okra, sweet potato, black-eyed peas, jicama, pigeon peas, pole beans, lima beans, collard greens
Fall: eggplant, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bush beans, leek, kohlrabi, turnips, carrots, beets, garlic, parsnips, shallots, peppers
Winter: cabbage, broccoli, onions, potatoes, celery, lettuce, Swiss chard, endive