Florida offers gardeners bright sunshine and mild to moderate winters. It is a place suitable for growing everything from citrus and pansies to everything in between. Even with the wide range of plants that thrive there, this balmy state can bring to mind some common questions on gardening.
How Can I Improve Sandy Florida Soil?
One of the most common problems with Florida is the sand. Sand is a quick draining, nutrient poor soil that refuses to retain much water during long, dry weather. Unfortunately, for gardeners Florida is quick to pull the plug on soil moisture.
Improving soil quality can be expensive if there is a vast expanse to amend. Fix this problem by using organic matter, such as mushroom compost. Tilling the materials deeply into the sand will add not only moisture holding matter, but also the nutrients plants require for proper growth. Companies may offer discounts to bulk purchasers so it may be a good idea to split the cost with neighbors or family members that need compost. Try adding water crystals to the soil when dragging hoses or containers of water will be difficult. These crystals hold many times their weight in water and slowly release it to plants as the soil dries out. Suitable amendments for sandy soil include mushroom compost, bark mulch, worm castings, pine needles, dried leaves and homemade organic composts.
How Do I Water Wisely in Florida?
Water is a precious resource indeed. In very hot climates, the soil dries out quickly, at times before a plant has the chance to utilize it fully. Thankfully, green thumb crusaders have devised a few tricks and tips for conserving water that will come in handy while gardening in Florida (and anywhere else for that matter).
One of the quickest and least labor intensive ways of conserving water is by planting things native to the area. Plants such as wild blue berries, bunch grasses, mosses and trees will require less water than species originating from wetter climates. Not only does this conserve water, it helps the local wildlife as well. Another effective way of conserving water is to mulch thickly with compost or at the very least landscape fabric. Use a fabric that you can water easily and rainwater can penetrate. Compost has the added benefit of feeding the plants as well. Using a soaker hose to water the soil prevents the mass evaporation you get with sprinklers and misters. Watering deeply will create an atmosphere where plants will send down their roots. Roots that grow deeply will be less likely to burn in scorching heat.
How Do I Attract Florida Wildlife?
Florida has a vast array of wildlife for enthusiast to enjoy. Birding and wildlife watching in the Everglades is a popular vacation for nature lovers. Thankfully, you do not have to live in the Everglades to enjoy that kind of wildlife. Florida wildlife can be enjoyed right in your own back yard. The hardest part of gardening for wildlife may just be deciding on what species you want to see more often.
Animals need three main things to survive, food, shelter and breeding grounds. If quality food and shelter are offered, the animals will usually manage to find breeding grounds on their own. Planting native trees such as Persea borbonia, Ulmus americana varfloridana, Magnolia virginiana and Quercus myrtifolia will not only provide shelter and breeding sites but offer food as well. Keeping your cat or dog contained will prevent unneeded fatalities and make the wild animals feel safer on your property. Avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides is a good idea as they may have dangerous side effects on the creatures you are trying to attract. Adding watering sites will also bring in more wildlife. Shallow dishes can be set out along side ponds to offer a much-needed drink for smaller creatures as well.