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Perfect Spring Plants And Other Expert Tips

Perfect Spring Plants And Other Expert Tips

Now is the time to plant July 4th vegetables and fresh florals.

Sunlight, soil and climate. That is all it takes to see spring-planted garden transform into a lush landscape of colored plants, fruit and vegetable crops by summer.

Timing really is everything when considering what flower species and edible plants to grow for the upcoming sunny season. To show off those plump red tomatoes sliced for the perfect Fourth of July burger, then planting begins sooner rather than later, said Jon George, owner of Gainesville-based Cottage Gardens that employs strategies for planting 365 days of the year.

“Spring comes early for those of us who live in North Central Florida,” said George. “Gone are the days of ordering from a seed catalog and waiting for the snow to melt.”

Right now is the time to plant blooming trees, shrubs, bulbs and perennials. The last frost date in the Greater Gainesville area is around mid-March. In addition, raised beds and frosty soils give a good layer of compost for warm-season veggies and herbs such as tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers.

Of course, native species are always a good idea, said George. Before picking out the fresh produce list and seedlings to plant, look at the number of hours of sunlight the lawn gets per day. Many growing species need shade, while others need a lot of sunlight to bloom or fruit. Consider soil type since the dirt and ground varies widely in Greater Gainesville, from sandy to heavy clay.

“We always recommend amending the soil with compost and possibly looking at drainage solutions, as many plants do not like wet feet,” George said.

Lastly, Greater Gainesville’s unique climate places locals between tropical and temperate zones. Springtime plants that will tolerate both the heat and the frost are the best choice for the region. Pansies, primroses, snapdragons and sweet alyssum are some great picks.

spring garden, fountain at cottage gardens
Credit: Cottage Gardens

One way to add more color to the homegrown spring bouquet is to create a garden room with favorite colors, textures and fragrances. Add a shady canopy, trellis, vines or a garden bench to create a green space to relax.

“I always love the splash of a fountain, and water components attract native birds who cannot resist the opportunity to bathe or take a drink,” George said.

Aside from plump summer fruits and vegetables, getting hands dirty outdoors benefits the body, soul and spirit. Studies have proven the wellness aspect of growing food and flowers, even to the microscopic level of interacting with beneficial soil organisms and how they affect mood.

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“If we begin turning off our devices and tuning into the natural world, we may notice the hummingbird or butterfly that lingers in the garden because of the abundant supply we have planted for them,” he said.

spring gardening at Cottage Gardens, boy holding chicken
Credit: Cottage Gardens

Syncing into nature at Cottage Gardens keeps chemicals from the planting process.

By releasing batches of beneficial insects to control pest bugs instead of spraying, there is no need for manufactured chemicals. As long as potted crops are safe from scratching and digging, chickens can roam through the rows of potted plants, patrolling for insects and snails, keeping pesticides out of the soil.

Meanwhile, bluebird boxes provide homes for generations of hatchlings that eat copious amounts of insects daily. The bluebirds control the caterpillars from eating the dahlia patch.

From the sounds and eventual taste of it all, there is no better time to take George’s advice. So, get that set of gardening tools and handfuls of seeds, and let springtime begin.

By Angela Underwood

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