Prepare for the initial planting one or two months in advance by collecting grass clippings, tree trimmings, dried leaves, coffee and tea grinds, egg shells, manure, shredded paper and vegetable scraps and adding them to the compost bin.
Turn the composting materials at least once per week, adding water if needed, until the materials have decomposed to a rich, dark, sweet-smelling soil additive.
Prepare the garden area by removing any grass or weeds and exposing the dirt with either a shovel, rake or tiller, depending on personal preference and ability.
Turn the dirt with a shovel (if a tiller has not been used) and rake through the dirt, removing any roots, rocks or other debris.
Cover the garden area with at least 3 inches of topsoil, if the soil is the sandy soil that occupies most of Florida, plus a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
Mix the soil and the compost into the top 2 inches of the existing sandy soil using a stiff garden rake or shovel. Be sure to mix thoroughly. The compost will provide necessary nutrients that are required for plant growth, the top soil will help to keep moisture in the plants and the sandy soil will allow water to drain during irrigation or rain.
Follow the planting dates for the specific vegetables in your area as recommended by the University of Florida's "Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide." Planting dates in this guide are specific to the regions of Florida and to the specific plants. Plants that are planted during the wrong time of the year stand a greater chance of being plagued by drought, destructive insects, diseases or frost.
Plant flowers such as sunflowers, cosmos or zinnia or others that attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, parasitic mini wasps and lacewings. Beneficial insects are the natural predators of many of the insects that destroy crops and can help to prevent damage from invaders.
Keep the garden weed-free by removing weeds as they appear and by mulching around each plant. Mulch will also help to keep the roots cooler during those hot Florida days, and to help the soil to retain moisture.
Check the plants daily during the daylight hours for tomato hornworms, squash bugs, aphids and other destructive bugs. Pick off the large ones such as hornworms and squash bugs as necessary and drop them into a cup of warm, soapy water to kill them.