It’s difficult to resist those tempting photos and web sites of self proclaimed "farmers" who preach such jargon of being TRAINED under such and such farmer "celebrities/gurus" swearing by PERMACULTURE and what have you to trap your wallet! Local farmers should present local certifications of Horticultural education for example: Certified Florida Master Gardeners are graduates from University of Florida Horticultural Extension Programs .They are a good source to consult LOCALLY!
A better gardening strategy is to start small in the first year and plant only a few of your favorite veggies( I suggest you plant S.Florida natives and draught tolerant like everglades tomato, Florida Calalo Spinach ,papaya, collards ,Cuban oregano etc...). This will allow you more gardening success , less maintenance,and a greater feeling of accomplishment. In succeeding years, as practice builds your gardening skills, you can increase the size of your garden each planting season. Don,t forget to keep adding organic matter and garden amendments as you go like composted manures,blood meal etc..)Gardening Mistake No. 3: Gardening in the SANDY and acidic , nematode infested ,depleted soil of your property!
Without good soil, no vegetable garden can thrive. Any preparation that the soil needs must be done before planting. Once those seeds begin to establish a root system, the soil cannot be disturbed without endangering the tender, young plants. The soil is best when prepared from COMPOSTED organic matter, composted permitted manure,mineral and nutritive rich organic ammendments like bone/bloodmeal etc..
Prepare the soil as early in SUMMER for the Fall growing season,using compost and organic matter plus necessary amendments as needed.. Let the soil rest for a little while then plant NITRIFICATION ground cover to boost the soil with nutrients such as Nitrogen. An example of nitrification plants: Sweat potatoes and beans!. Then you can plant your vegetable garden and watch it spring to life in the fall growing season starting October .
Gardening Mistake No. 5: Xeriscaping and irrigation!
Plants need water to metabolize nutrients and grow, but different types of vegetable plants need different amounts of water. Too little water will cause plants to dry up and wilt. Once seriously wilted, most plants will not recover, even if watered, so do your best to keep your vegetable plants from wilting. Too much water can rot the root system, and only healthy roots can absorb nutrients from the soil and hold the plant upright. Once rot afflicts the root system, the plant is done for.
Most vegetable plants prefer a good, deep watering one to three times each week. If you water too shallowly, the roots will grow near the surface instead of downward to seek water.
Gardening Mistake No. 6:Correct planting techniques-know how .Its not a rocket scientist high tech procedure to know how to launch a plant/seed/seedling into the soil.But use your common sense to avoid common mistakes of shallow or wrongful planting.KNow before you grow.In Florida the safest planting oerocedure of planting seeds is not direct into the soil but rather into a small container first .Most new comers from UP NORTH fall into the trap of planting directly into soil as if there is REALLY a GOOD SOIL (remember sandy and nematodes infesrted soil is the name of of the game !!).Still if you insist on planting direct into soil, then I suggest you follow the below suggestion:
In general, the larger the seed, the deeper it prefers to be planted. Seed packets offer information on the back about how deeply to plant the seeds. Pay attention to this information, because planting too deeply will cause seeds to fail to sprout or tire out the young seed sprout before it’s able to reach the surface and receive needed sunlight.
On the other hand, planting seeds at a too-shallow depth can cause the seed to dry out quickly and fail to sprout—or cause the young plant to dry out or fall over because of poor root growth. Some vegetable seeds, such as lettuce, actually need to be close enough to the soil surface that sunlight can touch them and trigger sprouting.
Gardening Mistake No 7: Planting Too Closely—and Not Thinning
If you plant your seeds or transplants too closely, you’ll create too much competition for the nutrients in sunlight, soil and water. Seed packet instructions include advice on plant spacing, but it’s tempting to ignore it because seeds seem so tiny when you’re planting a patch of bare soil. It’s difficult to imagine how much space the plants that sprout from those seeds will need once they start to grow.
Not every seed planted will germinate and not every sprout will survive, so it’s OK to plant seeds closer than the spacing needed by mature vegetable plants. It’s important to thin the patch or row when plants are a few inches tall, removing enough of the seedlings to make room for the remaining plants to grow. Many vegetable plant thinnings are edible — young carrots and greens are tender and delicious—so enjoy your thinnings in an early-spring salad. Vegetable plant thinnings also can be left on the soil around remaining plants to serve as light mulch.
Gardening Mistake No. 8: Letting Weeds Grow Unchecked.
The best time to pull a weeds is when they are tiny and the root system is small. Pulling weeds at that stage of growth won’t disrupt the roots of your vegetable plants.Another smart way to avoid weeds altogether is MULCH.
The longer you let a weed grow, the stronger a root system it will develop and the more nutrients it will steal from your vegetable plants. Keep weed growth to a minimum by mulching soil around your vegetable plants or disturbing the surface of the soil by regularly hoeing between your plants.
Gardening Mistake No. 9: Over mulching or is it Under mulching!!???
Mulch is a good thing, but too much of a good thing usually isn’t good.Sounds like a puzzle of the chicken and egg which one came first?? Using MULCH with organic matter—like straw, dry leaves or grass clippings—helps keep weeds from sprouting, retains moisture in the soil, keeps the root zone cool and provides nutrients for the plants as the mulch decays. One counter indication for over mulching is that both plants and mulch will be competing for NITROGEN. So learn how to mulch with BALANCE adding more organic nitrogen rich matter the more you add mulch..
A light mulch is fine after planting, but don’t mulch too deeply or seed sprouts might not be able to push through into the sunlight. To retain soil moisture and discourage weeds, gently add more mulch as the plants grow. After mulching, draw the mulch back 1 inch or so from the stems of the young plants so it doesn’t create too much heat as it decomposes or trap dampness against the stem and cause rot.
Take special care when using green mulches like fresh grass clippings, as these materials produce heat while decomposing, which can harm the plant and even kill it. Green mulches are very rich in nitrogen, which they release as they decompose. This nitrogen boost will fuel top growth in vegetable plants, which you might not desire.