While Florida got its name from being a "festival of flowers," many residents are more appreciative of its fruits and veggies. Due to its tropical climate and the growing "foodie" trend, Florida is a great place to grow food, and several people are opting to forgo the traditional lawns and landscaping for gardens and edible plants. With a wide variety of annual and perennial plants, edible landscaping can help residents create a beautiful, abundant, and tasty Florida yard.
Whether you want to help save the planet or save money on your grocery bill, growing your own food may be the way to go. Commercial gardens use up to two to three times the amount of water as a home or community garden, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, every $100 spend on the vegetable garden can yield from $1,000 to $1,700 worth of produce. Whether you live in the suburbs, on the islands, or in Downtown Sarasota, there are plenty of possibilities for growing your own food.
There are a number of options available for those who want to start growing edible plants. Some opt for simple herb gardens or merely potted herbs that grow well in the Florida climate, like basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, dill, lemongrass, mint, and chives, a good option for condominium residents. Others cultivate more traditional backyard gardens directly into the soil, or install raised gardens and grow boxes, as Florida's sandy soil is not always optimal for the minerals and nutrients plants need.
Some property owners are also starting to integrate permaculture design, an agricultural system first developed in the seventies for working with nature in order to create a more sustainable environment. The concept is not merely about growing various plants, but growing species together in order to maximize their synergy so that they work together to help one another grow.
And let's not forget the trees.
Florida has long been known for its citrus trees, with oranges, lemons, kumquats, and grapefruits having become longtime favorites of those who love fresh-squeezed juice right from their backyard. However, a number of other fruit trees are gaining in popularity, most notably avocados, bananas, and mangoes. Yet organizations like the Manatee Rare Fruit Council and the Tropical Fruit Society of Sarasota have also been introducing residents to the joys of other fruits like lychees, jackfruit, starfruit, longans, and papayas as well.
While many northern states consider Autumn to be the harvest season, Florida's hot summers make October the best time to start planting. Some of the most popular plants to grow through the Winter months in Florida include broccoli, cabbage, celery, carrots, collards, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, peppers, spinach, squash, strawberries, swiss chard, and tomatoes. Adding flowers into the mix also aids with organic pest control.
One of the great things about integrating edible plants into your landscaping, besides the joy of eating food you've grown yourself, is that no two gardens are alike. Each resident gets to decide how much of their property they want to devote to it while keeping time, beauty, and their palettes in mind. The question is, which edible plant do you want to grow first?
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist