Having your own garden is not as hard as you may think and having successful harvests just takes some basic knowledge. All you really need is the right gardening advice. Here are some basic tips to help you get started.
Choose a location with abundant sunlight throughout the entire day. The more sun the better your garden will be. Have the soil tested by the Volusia County Ag Center to see what you have to start with as far as pH and nutrient content. The pH should be 6.2 for best results. Tests are only a dollar or two.
Till and amend your garden soil at least one month before planting. Amending the soil with composted material is the best. Load it up with composted grass clippings, leaves, manures, and old produce; the more the better. If you can supply enough compost and manure, you will not need commercial fertilizers. If you do need fertilizer, look for organic products. They are available, so call us if you can't find them.
After the soil has been prepared, it needs to sit for a month to let the microbial activity perform their process of breaking down material and converting it to usable food. Once freezing temperatures are no longer in the weather forecast, it is time to plant. You can start seeds in trays or pots either indoors (freeze protection) or outdoors or plant directly into the soil.
Choose the right crops for the right time of year and seek out Heirloom seeds for the "old fashioned" taste that we all miss. In some cases, new hybrid seeds may be better for some varieties. After planting, keep the weeds out and provide the correct amount of water. Overwatering is common. Only when the top inch or two of soil dries out is it time to water.
Insects don't wake up and become a big problem until April. When they do, fight them with 1 tablespoon of Wesson Oil and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap (non-antibacterial) mixed into 1 gallon of water. Shake well and put into a spray bottle or pump-up sprayer. Like insecticides, this potion works only by contact. You must get it on the insect to kill.
For bigger insects like caterpillars, use Dipel (Thuricide) which is a biological control and completely safe for human consumption. Halfway through the veggies' growing cycle, amend the soil with another addition of fertilizer. Stake and prune plants as needed.