In the Garden - September


Annuals/Bedding plants - If summer beds need refreshing, try ageratum, coleus, zinnia, scarlet sage, nasturtium, celosia, and wax begonia for color into fall.

See Annuals:

Bulbs - Aztec lily, butterfly lily, walking iris, and spider lily can be planted any time of the year, even late summer. Add color, texture, and pattern to the garden with the many varieties of elephant's ear (Alocasia spp.) now available.

Alocasia spp. Elephant's Ear:

Bulbs for Florida:

Plant gladiolus every two weeks to stagger blooming. Stake each plant.

Bulbs for Florida:

Herbs - Plant herbs that tolerate the warm temperatures of early fall, such as Mexican tarragon, mint, rosemary, and basil. See Herbs:

Shrubs: Consider placing native shrubs, like beautyberry, marlberry, firebush, and dahoon holly, where you can view the birds that enjoy them. See The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design: and Shrubs:

Thinking of growing your own vegetables?: September opens the door for more vegetables to plant.Vegetable seeds to sow in September for October transplanting include; beats, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower,celery, collards, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, English peas, and kohlrabi. Bees love, love, love broccoli and arugulaflowers. See Guide to Vegetable Gardening in Florida:

Hilary’s vegtable garden.

Here is advice from Brevard horticultural agent Sally Scalera:

Plan - Decide if you will be growing your vegetables in containers or the ground. Containers are great if you have no room to garden, nematodes or not enough full sun. Just make sure that the container has good drainage, a tray underneath and a fast-draining potting mix.

Choose - Select vegetables you and your family like to eat. Then, refer to the varieties listed in the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide ( ). Unfortunately, at times, these recommended varieties can be difficult to find from mail-order seed catalogs, internet suppliers, and local garden supply stores. Since some of these sources also charge shipping and handling fees, it can become costly to buy varieties from different sources.

To overcome this, consider buying from the seed company (catalog or internet) that offers the most of your desired varieties. Then, buy missing varieties locally from seed stores or substitute them. Anything marked “All-America Selections” (AAS) is usually a good substitute because these varieties were tested in nationwide trials for superior adaptability and vigor. Look for seeds that are disease and pest resistant or tolerant, which is usually noted on the packet label or indicated by a series of letters, such as V, F, N, and T. (For more information about “All-America Selections, visit


Seed Sources for Florida Homegrown Vegetables

Additional Seed Sources for Florida Vegetables

Seed Savers Exchange:

Seeds of Change:

Johnny’s Seeds:

Eden Organic Nursery Services (Hallandale, FL):

The Gourmet Gardener (Live Oak, FL): vegetable-seed-varieties-and.html The Pepper Gal (Ft. Lauderdale, FL): Tomato Growers Supply Co. (Fort Myers, Fla.):

Grow heirloom vegetables. Heirloom vegetables were brought over from other countries by our ancestors and have been grown here in the United States for decades. A neat characteristic of heirloom vegetables is that they are open-pollinated. This means that the seeds can be saved and will produce plants that are “true to type” so those plants will look and taste just like their parents.

Recommended - seeds for late summer germination and fall planting Bright Lights Swiss chard, Tendersweet green cabbage, Emperor spinach, Marathon broccoli, Snow Crown cauliflower, Rover round radishes, Jade II bush beans, Jewel Mix nasturtiums, Max Pack cucumbers, Orazio bulb fennel, Genovese basil (This year I had

success with seeds of this basil I bought in Italy at least ten years ago), Ruby Sky red leaf lettuce, Flash collards, Red Ace Round beets, Super sugar snap peas, Winterbor kale, Fern leaf dill, Bolero carrot, Princess mix calendula (the colorful leaves are edible) and Tropicana green leaf lettuce.

Prepare Soil - If you are gardening in the ground, amend the soil with a lot of organic matter to build up a nice rich soil so that the plants can grow with the fewest insect and disease problems possible. You can add compost, aged manures, grass clippings, brown leaves, coffee grounds and filters, etc.

Balance your soil so that you grow nutrient-dense food. To do this, you will need to send in a soil sample for the $10 test. This test will check your soil for the percentage of organic matter and the levels of all nutrients. You will also remineralize the soil so that, in the end, your soil will no longer have any nutritional deficiencies. After all, if the nutrients aren’t in the soil, then they can’t be in your food, so don’t skip this step. Link to new soil test form, which includes instructions on taking soil samples:

Mulch your garden. The mulch will not only suppress weeds and conserve water, it will prevent the soil from splashing up onto the leaves and introducing bacterial diseases to the plants.

Water early in the morning. As long as the leaves are not moist for more than a couple hours there should be no fungal problems.

Use liquid seaweed as a foliar spray. Liquid seaweed, sprayed as a fine mist on both sides of the foliage, will provide more 60 trace elements and growth hormones. Spray your vegetable plants weekly for the healthiest, best looking and tasting vegetables.

Starting seeds in mini-biodegradable pots is the easiest way to insure success. When transplanting seedlings to a container garden or directly into our nutrient-poor soil consider adding a pinch of mycorrhizal fungi plant inoculum to the planting hole.

What is ‘endomycorrhizal fungi plant inoculum’? A mycorrhiza, from the Greek ‘mykos ’meaning fungus and ‘riz ’meaning roots refers to a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant. They form an important component of soil life and soil chemistry. In a mycorrhizal association, the fungus colonizes

the host plant's roots, either intracellular as in endomycorrhizal fungi, or extracellular as in ectomycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi form a mutual relationship with the roots of most plant species.

This association provides the fungus with relatively constant and direct access to carbohydrates, such as glucose and sucrose. The carbohydrates are transferred from their source (usually leaves) to root tissue and on to the plant's fungal partners. In return, the plant gains the benefits of the mycelium's higher absorptive capacity for water and mineral nutrients due to the comparatively large surface area of mycelium to root ratio. This improves the plant's mineral absorption capabilities. The mechanisms of increased absorption are both physical and chemical. Mycorrhizal mycelia are much smaller in diameter than the smallest root, and thus can explore a greater volume of soil, providing a larger surface area for absorption. Mycorrhizal fungi are especially beneficial for plants in nutrient-poor soils.

Mycorrhizal plants are often more resistant to diseases, such as those caused by microbial soil-borne pathogens, and are also more resistant to the effects of drought.

Source: UC Master Gardeners of San Mateo and San Francisco.

Here is an interesting experiment University of California master gardeners carried out comparing the yield and vigor of a variety of vegetables grown with and without mycorrhizal fungi plant inoculum. They concluded that the vegetables in a bed that received mycorrhizal fungi inoculum grew larger (cardoon, epazote and chrysanthemum), were more disease resistant (chard) and, according to a very small sample size, sweeter tasting (strawberry and orach spinaches) than the vegetables grown without inoculum.

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