Why should I lease a community garden plot from the city as opposed to gardening in my own yard?
Those people who live in urban areas often do not have the land to integrate a garden into their property, or homeowner association restrictions prevent them. Another reason is families with children and/or pets in the yard often have a hard time keeping the garden cordoned off from foot traffic. Also, urban homeowner yards tend to be treated with yard chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.), which may leave residues in the soil, runoff from neighbors yards, or cause issues with pollination as pesticides are non-discriminating and will kill off beneficial pollinators. The Leesburg Community Garden is an area that has not been treated chemically and participants in the garden are prohibited from using any chemicals that are not rated for organic gardening.
Why should I grow my own fruits/vegetables instead of buying them at the store?
Most gardeners who participate in community gardens prefer to eat their own fruits and vegetables as they can be assured that everything is all natural, free of chemicals, preservatives, waxes, etc. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables harvested fresh from the garden are more flavorful and imminently more satisfying.
I don’t know what to plant, or when to plant it, how can I find out more about gardening in Florida?
This website will be updated with Gardening Tips for Central Florida, please see the Gardening Tips section. Also the University of Florida, IFAS has two excellent websites for gardening; the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide can be found at www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH021, and for more information on organic gardening check out www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH019. There are also numerous websites that feature forums where gardeners ask questions and share their knowledge, two of which are //forums.gardenweb.com/forums/flgard/ and www.centralfloridagarden.blogspot.com/ .
Why is the community garden organic?
First and foremost the garden is organic for safety and courtesy in regards to all the participants in the community garden. It would not be appropriate to spray one’s garden with a chemical which could drift onto the vegetables of someone else’s garden. Secondly, the proximity of the community garden to the boat ramp and body of water leading into Lake Griffin could cause numerous issues in the event of chemical runoff.
Non-organic fertilizers are usually very high in nitrogen which will cause algae growth issues in bodies of water. Furthermore, they fail to add to the organic composition of the soil where applied. In contrast, organic fertilizers are lower in quantities of nutrients and are slow to leach from the soil so they pose little risk in the event of runoff. Organic fertilizers also add to the organic content of the soil which actually improves the structure of the soil. The organics in soil reaps all kinds of rewards such as: allowing more air access to roots, increasing beneficial bacterial and fungal activity within the soil, and improving the ionic activity with allows plant roots to uptake nutrients.
The problem with non-organic pesticides is that they are non-selective in eradicating insects, which includes those which are beneficial. The most important of the beneficial insects are the pollinators who are crucial for flower pollination which results in setting fruit for many fruit and vegetable crops. Furthermore, most non-organic pesticides are neurotoxic to aquatic invertebrates which are essential in the food chain of any healthy body of water.