I live beach side in eastern central Florida and I want to make a vegetable garden. I prefer organic. Does anyone have tips? Sandy soil and salt air.

plant_mom_inFL

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I live in eastern central Florida, beach side. The soil is very sandy and the air is salty, as I live only 2 blocks from the beach/ocean. I would like to start a vegetable/herb garden, and prefer to use methods that are organic, no pesticides, no manufactured chemical fertilizers. Does anyone here have tips, or suggestions on the best ways to go about this? I was thinking raised beds would be preferable.
 

Dahlia

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I live in eastern central Florida, beach side. The soil is very sandy and the air is salty, as I live only 2 blocks from the beach/ocean. I would like to start a vegetable/herb garden, and prefer to use methods that are organic, no pesticides, no manufactured chemical fertilizers. Does anyone here have tips, or suggestions on the best ways to go about this? I was thinking raised beds would be preferable.
Hello and welcome to the forum from the Pacific Northwest. I have some dear friends that live in South Carolina, 3 blocks from the beach. They have a lovely garden there with fruit trees and raised garden beds with veggies. They had to put up netting to keep the birds from eating the fruit. I don't know what they had to bring in for soil help.
 

Zeedman

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IMO the salt will be your biggest challenge; plants can be very intolerant of that. Raised beds certainly, preferably on the side of the house which will provide some shelter from the salt spray. I concur with @flowerbug ; look for any nearby neighbors with vegetable gardens, they might save you a lot of time & heartbreak.
 

baymule

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I lived in northeast Texas on what was called sugar sand. Pure white sand with no nutrients. I have sheep and at that time, chickens and horses too . My garden was 100’x70’. I cleaned out chicken coop, sheep barn, horse barn and put it all in the garden. I was there 6 years. When I sold it, the garden had 18” of black rich soil.

So back to you, do you have chickens, or access to animal barns owned by friends that you could go clean out for them?
 

flowerbug

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(all kinds of) container gardening might be a good start.

i first misread this as raised beds... but now i see that @Phaedra mention containers. :)

yes you may want to try larger containers because as a beginning gardener raised beds are often hardscape (fixed structures and hard to move) so i don't recommend doing them right off the bat until you know more about gardening and your site. that is why i recommended finding a local gardener to help them avoid common mistakes with siting and micro-climates.

in FL, especially for some herbs and mid-summer heat, plus insects and maintenance it can be very tough sledding. they may need shading and a close watch on watering and water quality (hard water may eventually destroy some plantings), dessicating breezes, ..., there's a ton of things to learn about with gardening, i don't suggest to anyone to start off with expensive hardscapes right at the beginning, perhaps some larger pots may work out ok, but they too have their own issues (not enough thermal mass, may dry out too quick in the heat, but at least if you need to move them you have a chance of that being possible).

i used to have a friend in mid-central FL who was primarily organic gardening but he passed away so i can't give him as a reference.

i recall one of his issues being root knot nematodes and he would once in a while use the predatory nematodes to help reduce that problem (but he said it wasn't usually completely eliminated even in his raised beds).
 
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flowerbug

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Hello. Organic is the best IMHO 👌

Welcome the Teg

i don't use the term organic (because the USoA has certain regulations for using that word), but i prefer to call it natural or traditional methods instead - aka what people would have been doing had you gone back 100 years...

i've been primarily using such methods here for 20 years or more and find them suitable for long term gardening. in many of the gardens here when i started out the soil was primarily mostly clay subsoil with no organic matter and very little signs of worms or other soil community organisms. by planting certain garden vegetables i could tell by how well they were doing if the garden soil was reasonable or not. now in almost all gardens i get better results and the only fertilizers i'm using are green manures, humus derived from partially decayed wood chips and worms and worm compost (from food and paper scraps). all other applied fertilizers have come from natural ingredients (we grew some weed for a few years for someone and they wanted to use a lot of potions but i told them that i needed to read all the labels before i'd let them be used on the gardens - they seemed to have helped but i don't use those potions now).

i think i need to add some elemental sulfur because our water is somewhat hard and it's been many years of watering (as needed when we don't get enough rains), but i've never tested the pH. i tried one year by adding the sulfur to the worm buckets but that was a bad mistake (worms do not like it when you change their conditions too quckly). so now my plan is to sprinkle a little bit on one garden per year and to lightly rake it in so it doesn't wash or blow away. the other alternative is to get some gypsum (which won't change the pH but will act as a buffer and source of sulfur for the longer term - it sure won't hurt the clay at all).
 
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