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Students pulling weeds at Dunbar Middle School
Students pulling weeds at Dunbar Middle School

August 2023 - prep and plan

Welcome back! We are beyond excited to hit the ground running in your gardens this year. Hopefully you all are excited as well, but don’t start planting just yet. August is still too hot for most crops (and most people) in zone 10. September and October will be prime months to direct seed or transplant most of our favorite vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and more.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to be done! This is the perfect time to prep and plan. The more you do now, the better your garden will grow in the months to come. Here are ideas of what to work on in August:

  • Install, check, and test irrigation systems!
  • Uncover or rebuild hydroponic towers and replace growing medium
  • Add soil amendments to raised beds such as compost, fertilizer, or additional soil (recover with cardboard or tarps until planting time)
  • Build, install, or repair any shade structures, arches, trellises, benches, raised bed walls or other non-plant elements of your garden
  • Clean and organize your tools and supplies
  • Mulch like crazy around fruit trees and perennial plants
  • Save seeds from anything that died and went to seed over the summer
  • Set some garden goals for the year
  • Work with students, cafeteria managers, culinary teachers, etc. to determine what you want to grow. Write down your wish list for plants and seeds and sketch out a plan for what to grow, where, and when
  • Germinate seeds indoors that you can move to towers or raised beds next month

If you planted sweet potatoes at the end of the school year, feel free to weed and water them, but wait another month or so before you start digging around. They usually take 85-120 days to reach maturity.

This year is going to be awesome! We can’t wait to work together to make your gardens overflow with beauty and bounty that your students and staff will be proud of.

Students pulling weeds at Dunbar Middle School
Insta-worthy pepper at East Lee County High School

June/July 2023 - plantfluencers

Summer is upon us! Hopefully you have either put your gardens to bed or have a plan in place to do so. Let us know if you still need help figuring it out.

While you can technically garden year round in south Florida, many of us use these hot and humid months to take a break. Much like gardeners in the rest of the country do in winter, it is nice to have a season to rest, relax, and dream up the next year’s garden. Check out some of my favorite gardening influencers below to get inspired while you chill out by the pool (beach, lake, AC unit) this summer. Share them with your students to help them get excited!

Stay cool, friends. See you in August!

Students pulling weeds at Dunbar Middle School
Dunbar High School students harvesting radishes

May 2023 - putting gardens to bed

How is it May?! We hope you are enjoying the final harvests of a very fruitful year. You should all be so proud! Summer is fast approaching, however, so it is time to start thinking about putting your school gardens “to bed” for the summer. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

Raised Beds:

  • Option 1: Cover crop. Plant heat-loving flowers, sweet potato slips, or black-eyed peas and just let them go! This will help prevent erosion and keep weeds at bay. Plus, you might come back to a harvest in the fall! Keep in mind, if you do this you will need to amend your soil in the fall and replace nutrients pulled out by these plants.

  • Option 2: Solarize. Cover your beds tightly with thick plastic. This prevents weeds and nutrient sapping, while suppressing root-knot nematodes. In the fall just pull it off and get back to gardening!


Bring in all electronic components such as pumps and timers, then...

  • Option 1: Bag. Remove plant material from your pots, but leave any remaining medium in them. Leave pots in place on their poles and cover each tower with a large garbage bag to protect and solarize. In the fall, just top off pots with fresh medium and plant!

  • Option 2: Dismantle. Remove plant material and either save or compost remaining medium. Clean your pots, and store them back on their poles, or in stacks indoors. Leave poles and irrigation in place. This is a good option if you have plenty time to rebuild with your students in the fall.

If you garden at home, growing season in South Florida is 365 days a year! See planting guides for ideas on what to plant now.