The Easiest Plants to Grow in a Neighborhood Garden
Dust off your gardening tools when you move to Babcock Ranch.
That’s because our town’s developer, Kitson & Partners, has made neighborhood gardens an essential part of each community. If you’re new to the idea of neighborhood gardening, the concept is a collaborative greenspace in which the participants share in both the maintenance of the garden and its rewards.
For example, our first neighborhood, Lake Timber, established a community garden even before the first homes were built. The garden, which is the size of a football field, is dedicated to the Lake Timber residents and it’s where they can grow their own fruits and vegetables.
Benefits of Neighborhood Gardens
According to the nonprofit American Community Gardening Association, there are an estimated 18,000 community gardens throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Community gardening improves peoples’ quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources, and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.
The gardening association offers helpful resources for beginner and advanced gardeners on its website, https://communitygarden.org/. The site also includes a forum where members can ask and answer questions.
Gardening in Florida
If you are considering relocating to Babcock Ranch from another part of the country, you’ll notice the difference in Southwest Florida’s soil and climate. The sandy soil, hot sun and insects of Southwest Florida make some plants easier to grow than others.
A good place to start learning about plant health in the Sunshine State in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. The institute’s website has useful information for community gardeners in Florida, where the soil and weather conditions are different from other parts of the country. For example, you can read about vegetable gardening in Florida here.
The Florida Cooperative Extension Service provides education to help community garden development throughout the state. Cooperative extension agents and master-gardener volunteers can provide educational assistance for community garden projects. If there is sufficient interest, extension agents can organize workshops on a wide variety of topics. For more information about the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, visit http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu. To find your county extension office, visit www.extension.org.
Plants to consider
The easiest plants to grow in a neighborhood garden depend on the purpose of the garden. Is the garden used to grow vegetables? Maybe you’d like to focus on a single crop, such as citrus. Do you prefer a butterfly garden? Or perhaps you’d like to grow a hummingbird garden.
Consider these plants recommended by the Extension Service:
- Butterfly gardening: Aster, baham cassia, bay-cedar, butterfly weed, buttonbush, calendula, chrysanthemums, coneflower, coontie, coreopsis, Mexican bluebell and Mexican petunia.
- Vegetable gardening (warm season): Beans, cantaloupes, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, southern peas, squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelons.
- Citrus gardening: Calamondin, grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, lime, limequat, orange.
- Tropical fruit: Banana, carambola, guava, jackfruit, papaya, and mango.
Visit Babcock Ranch to see how community gardens will play an important role in the town’s life. Call (941) 235 – 6900 to learn more and plan your visit.