Laying out a garden bed is a lot like cooking a turkey dinner. If you start cooking everything at once, the mashed potatoes will be cold before the turkey even gets started.
To be a successful cook you plan things out first. You read your recipes over. You take note of both your prep times and your cooking times. Then you think backwards and lay things out. You start with your most time intensive dish and work forward. That way everything comes together at once and you make it look easy.
It is exactly the same with plants. Every plant has a time it has to be finished by (the end of its growing season), but different plants have both different “prep” times (seed germination) and different “cooking” times (the time it takes to mature to harvest). Being uninformed of either will result in plants hitting the wrong stages of growth at the wrong time of year. Your plants will not have enough time to mature before the weather becomes too hot, too cold, or too rainy for them. Your plants will be weak and spindly, your harvest will be puny, and your plants will be much more susceptible to pests, and this will make it harder to stay organic.
The solution? Read your plant’s recipe and plan your garden backwards. Each plant has two things you need to know. One, when can you grow it in Florida? Two, how long will it take to hit maturity? Once you know these two things, you can think backwards and plan your plants out so that their maturity date always falls within the recommended season for them. If you are starting from seed, you will know when to plant your seeds. If you are starting from transplant, you will know how long you have to get them in the ground. Easy Peasy.
Don’t want to be bothered researching all the plants you have on your list this fall? No worries. I did it for you. Attached in a linked PDF file is my own personal planting spreadsheet. It has a list of most common Florida gardening plants, when to plant them, how long they take to grow, what can be used for cover crops, and my own personal gardening tips for each one. Note this is for Central Florida only, North and South Florida will have to adjust their seasons, but growing times should remain the same. I hope this makes fall planning a little easier for all. Enjoy!