By Kayla Ziadie
We’re already nine months into one of the most chaotic years ever. And truth be told, things have been hectic, so we’re overdue in starting that “find a new hobby” resolution. But, hey, there’s no time like the present to discover a new passion that could change your life for the better—especially in a year like 2020.
Not sure where to start? We have an idea: creating and caring for a home garden. It’s neither an easy nor a simple feat, but it’s rewarding, and five steps away from your backyard. Plus, since Florida’s growing season officially began Sept. 1, perfecting your green thumb has never been easier.
We reached out to Palm Beach County’s gardening pro, Jason McCobb from Farmer Jay Pure Organics, for the best home garden tips he has to offer.
Look for the sun
“I know this is a ridiculous statement coming from the Sunshine State, but our main growing season is from September to May,” McCobb said. “During most of that period—starting in fall—the sun drifts to the south, leaving a long shadow off of a north-facing garden ‘til spring. So avoid north-facing gardens because you will have a black thumb.
Water, water, water
Consistent watering is mandatory, so McCobb’s first watering choice is connecting your garden to a hose bib with a digital timer. His second choice is connecting to an existing sprinkler, but it’s important to be aware of systems that could draw water from canals and retention ponds, as well as reclaimed water. Different plants and produce require different amounts of water.
“Your lawn may be watering way more than needed for [your] veggies, or if you have a xeriscape-type lawn that only requires [watering] a couple times per week, then we may struggle to get enough water,” McCobb said. “To keep lettuce from turning bitter, you may need daily water, and a full-grown and producing tomato plant drinks up to one gallon of water per day.”
Keep it close
Not-so breaking news: Everybody is busy and likely already struggling to keep up with their day-to-day. Adding a garden is going to add onto your daily responsibilities, so McCobb suggests keeping it close to where you are already hanging out.
“You don’t want to be cooking a recipe that calls for basil [where it’s] easier just to shake the flakes in the pantry, versus going to the garden and harvesting fresh [basil]. You should have the garden by your pool where you can do your backstroke and check your broccoli, or let the dog out and check your tomatoes. Keep proximity close.”
Grow what makes sense
McCobb’s advice is to “grow something special, hard to find, hard to get, organic, or something that goes a long way.”
“The garden we put in is going to cost some money, so the ROI would come faster if you grow specialty items. For instance, don’t just grow any broccoli because it is readily available and cheap, instead grow a more expensive romanesco or raab,” he said. “Grow something with a family history or a story…something you can’t buy is even more special.”