The Weekly Catch: Fall Gardening Tips for Northeast Florida

As our neighbors to the north put away their gardening gloves, here in Northeast Florida, it is the perfect time to start a cool-weather garden. Fall is the best time to grow some bedding plants, bulbs, herbs and vegetables in Jacksonville, so take note of these great fall gardening tips.

According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, September is the best time to plant ageratum, celosia, zinnia or wax begonia in your beds for color into the fall. Better Homes and Gardens says ageratum is easy to grow and produces colorful powder-pufflike flowers. The web companion to the well-known gardening magazine also says argetum is rarely bothered by pests, so the flower is sure to provide a pretty blue bloom through the first frost. Texas A&M University tells us that celosia are easy to grow from seeds, but even easier to grow from seedlings purchased at nurseries or garden centers. Texas A&M also credits the celosia with being not only low maintenance, but also high impact. Zinnia, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, grow quickly from seeds. In red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, white or multicolor, zinnia come in a variety of colors to complement the paint or siding on any house. Wax begonias are native to India, according the University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, but are used in landscapes as a bedding plant across the United States. Growing more than 24-inches wide and 18-inches tall, wax begonias appear as a mound of green leaves with white or pink flowers, making a perfect accent to any home.

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences also recommends planting bulbs such as Elephant’s ear, calla, daffodils or zephyr lilly in the fall. With large, heart-shaped leaves, Elephant’s Ear grows in slightly acidic soil that is partly shaded. Popular in floral arrangements, calla grows in full sun or partial shade and should be planted horizontally in containers or in a garden. Daffodils,  also known as narcissis, flowers in white, yellow or pink in full sun or partial shade.  While most commonly seen across the country in the spring, they grow nicely in the warm fall of Northeast Florida. Zephyr lillies take to full sun and bloom in a crocus-shaped flower.

For gardeners who like to eat their bounty, fall is the time to plant a variety of herbs and vegetables. The University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences recommends Mexican tarragon, mint, rosemary, basil, radishes, carrots, cabbage and lettuce for autumn gardens. With an anise-like flavor, Mexican tarragon makes a great Bearnaise sauce or vinaigrette. Mint, commonly combined with chocolate like in this recipe for mint chocolate chip ice cream, is also a great addition to turkey breast or an orecchiette and pancetta pasta. While it may look like a sprig from an evergreen tree, rosemary helps to make a tasty chicken meal or roast leg of lamb. Basil is a staple spice in Italian homes, making an excellent pesto or caprese salad. Because they mature quickly, radishes can have multiple crops each season. Braised radishes are simple and tasty, while grilled radishes pair nicely with chicken. Glazed carrots are savory and nutritious. Carrots also make a great meal for babies or young children. Cabbage is a nutritious, hardy and leafy vegetable. Combined with corned beef, it makes an excellent meal. Lettuce is the ultimate base for any salad including the famed Caesar salad or the Cobb.

While you might be ready to give up on your garden as we head into cooler months, autumn is a great time enjoy the outdoors in Northeast Florida. Grab those shovels and get to planting for a fabulous pre-holiday harvest.


Gardening Image Credit: Oleg Doroshin / 123RF Stock Photo

Lettuce Image Credit bakelyt / / 123RF Stock Photo

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