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Last Update 10/01/14

October in the Florida Garden

 Fall Is Finally Here!

October marks the start of Florida's dry season. The big storms become fewer and the rains begin to lessen. Autumn is finally here and the cooler, dryer weather is just weeks away. The first weeks of the month may tend to be as wet as September, but by the end of the month and the start of November we can expect our six-month dry season to begin.

October is the month to begin growing strawberries in Florida!

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Farmers throughout Florida have already been plowing and planting their seeds in in anticipation of the upcoming vegetable growing season.  Very soon the vegetables we buy in the market will be marked "Florida Grown" rather than "Produce of ...".

For all of you strawberry lovers, October is the month for planting the juicy, sweet, red little fruit.  A good rule of thumb is that one-hundred plants will provide between a pint and a quart of fruit a day for several months during the season. Be careful to keep the soil moist by watering every two to three days and be sure to mulch and then fertilize the strawberry plants with 1 pound of 6-6-6 fertilizer for each 100 square feet of bed, plus an additional band of fertilizer 6" deep along the center of the beds every eight weeks. Watch out for caterpillars, slugs, thrips, mites, and snails looking to munch on your plants and treat them with an insecticidal soap or even beneficial nematodes from ARBICO Organics.

October is the month to prepare your rose beds.


October is also the time of the year to prepare your beds for planting roses. Prepare your soil by digging in dry cow manure and peat moss then plant out your roses.  You will be much better off in the long run if you select potted plants locally rather than buying bagged or bare rooted roses from out of state.

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Beware that growing roses in Florida can sometimes be difficult. While we do not have to deal with Japanese beetles, roses are subject to numerous problems in this state. The plants should be sprayed at least weekly with an fungicide mixture to forestall these problems. Roses in Florida also put on their best show during the cooler and dryer months. The flowers will be much larger now than during the hotter and wetter summer months.

October is the last month to feed and water Bougainvilleas if you want summer blooms!

For those of you who have had problems with your Bougainvilleas blooming during the summer, October is the time to absolutely stop feeding and watering them until May.  If you feel that you absolutely must give them one last shot of fertilizer, wait until the end of the month and give them one that is high in potash and very low in nitrogen. If your plant becomes plagued by leaf roller caterpillars, spray them thoroughly with liquid Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt)  late in the day as these critters are night feeders.

Best bets for starting a traditional garden this month are:

Vegetables :  Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Collards, Cucumbers, Escarole, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mustard, Okra, Onion Sets, Parsnips, Peppers, Pumpkins, Rhubarb, Romaine, Rutabagas, Spinach, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet Corn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Turnips.

Herbs:   Anise, Basil, Borage, Chives, Chervil, Coriander, Fennel, Garlic, Lavender, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Sesame, Sweet Marjoram, Thyme and most other herbs.

Flowers:   Asters, Baby's Breath, Bachelor's Buttons, Balsam, Calendulas, Candytufts, Carnations, Cosmos, Cockscombs, Daisies, Dianthus, Forget-Me-Nots, Gaillardias, Globe Amaranth, Hollyhocks, Lace Flowers, Lobelias, Lupines, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Salvias, Scabiosa, Snapdragons, Statice, Stock, Strawflowers, Sweetpeas, Sweet William, Verbenas,   Zinnias and other cool season flowers.

Sources: Florida Home Grown; Florida Gardening Month by Month


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