Now more than ever individuals are looking at their day-to-day lives and thinking about ways to improve not only their health but their surrounding environment. Sustainable gardening offers a unique opportunity for people to contribute positively to both! Help the environment as well as grow organic and healthy produce for their own consumption.
Florida truly is a paradise, offering warm weather and sunshine year-round which means lots of time to plant and grow a huge variety of plants and produce.. The tropical and subtropical climate throughout the state offers the possibility for year-round growth of fruit and vegetable gardens; unlike many other areas in the U.S. that deal with harsh winters and drastic changes in temperatures throughout the year.
Sustainability through Home Gardening
When you grow your own organic produce you are creating a sustainable garden. You are benefiting the environment by promoting the growth of plants and enriching the soil while reaping the benefits of growing produce for your own consumption.
When growing your own fruit and vegetable garden it is important to consider the methods used to build and maintain your garden to ensure you are contributing positively to the environment rather than causing further harm.
Tips for Maintaining a Sustainable Home Garden
- Use only natural and organic pesticides; avoid chemicals
- Harvest rainwater in a rain barrel to water and maintain your garden
- Compost organic waste to make your own natural fertilizer
Best Crops for Florida Climate
While the sunshine and year-round warmth is a great gardening benefit in Florida the heat and excess rain can also be a drawback for certain crops. It is important to research the plants you wish to grow in your garden to ensure they are compatible with the climate and time of year in your area.
There are some crops that will just not survive the outdoor heat and prolonged exposure to the sun in the Florida climate. Save yourself time and frustration by understanding a plant's needs before choosing to add a crop to your home garden.
Some fruits and vegetables to get you started that can thrive in Florida weather include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brussel Sprouts
The University of Florida provides an excellent resource with gardening recommendations by season in Florida worth exploring.
How Can You Promote Sustainability without a Home Garden
Gardening is a rewarding pastime but can also require much time and dedication and may not be for everyone. The reality is many people live in homes or apartments that may not have the green space available to grow your own garden.
However, this does not mean you cannot promote sustainability in your actions and contribute to a healthier environment. You can make sustainable choices to benefit the environment with your pocketbook and in your produce selections when grocery shopping.
Luckily, Florida boasts some of the best agriculture in the U.S. making local and seasonal produce readily available throughout communities across the state.
Tips to Purchase Sustainable Produce Options
- Read the labels and buy organic when possible
- Support local farms and purchase through farm shares or farmer's markets
- Purchase fruit & vegetables that are in season
Beyond the benefits to the environment of growing sustainable produce; consuming sustainable produce is healthier for you by providing more nutrients and eliminating unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals. Growing your own sustainable vegetable and fruit garden in Florida is a rewarding experience well worth the effort to make a positive and lasting impact on your health and the environment.
Ultimately our collective efforts to lead a more sustainable life will make a difference in our lives and our futures. Become more conscious of your choices whether through gardening and your purchases to align with a more sustainable lifestyle.
Your Next Step
Start your garden! You don’t have to jump straight into turning your entire yard into a jungle. Choosing to grow your own crops is as easy as starting with a pot and some dirt, all of which is found at your local hardware or garden store.