Hey guys, it's fall and for different people that means very different things. Many people know me as Dr. Baptiste, the friendly neighborhood orthodontist. But now, a lot more people know me as Andre the Farmer or #andrethefarmer on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. So instead of teeth and how to make them straight, today I’m going to share with you what fall means to Andre the Farmer.
Fall is a great time in Central Florida for both growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. For me, this season means mangos and lychee are at the end of their time, but the last of the avocados, starfruit, and passion fruit are still hanging around. It also means it’s time to prepare for the "winter growing season", one of the perks of Florida life.
October is a great time to start your seedlings for most green vegetables and tomatoes that would wilt under the heat of our Florida summers. It also means it's time to harvest the fruits of some of that summer labor. For me, that means sweet potatoes, ginger, and turmeric.
These are three of the easiest crops to grow and they don’t require much from the grower. You may not realize it, but all three can be started from supermarket produce. Yes, that sweet potato, turmeric, or ginger root in the Publix aisle can go right in the ground. Plant these in the spring and harvest in the fall. In fact, turmeric is such a nice-looking ornamental plant you could plant that in the front yard.
All of these can also be grown in containers as well.
Turmeric can be used fresh in teas, cooking, or dehydrated into a powder, and it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Ginger can be used to make tea, as well, which helps with digestion. Last year I had so much ginger I made ginger jam.
And sweet potatoes? Well, you can do a ton with sweet potatoes.
Fall is also a great time to plan for the following spring. Figure out what types of fruit trees you want to plant and where you'd like to position them. I usually don’t plant any fruit trees after September. I don’t think trees have enough time to overcome transplant shock and deal with our "harsh" winters at the same time. So, if I do pick up a tree late in winter, I will put it in a pot close to my house, or in the greenhouse. I buy most of my fruit trees from local nurseries, many of which are at people’s homes. A Natural Farm in Howey-In-The-Hills is a great place to buy plants, or with Apopka being known for their plants and nurseries, there are great options right here in town, too.
I think as Americans we have become very disconnected from our food, and it’s time to get reconnected. Try growing what you can, even if it’s just one plant. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to eat food that you have grown yourself. It can seem intimidating at first, and there will be failures along the way, but perseverance will be rewarded. There are endless resources online and on social media, such as #andrethefarmer.
So give it a try. Good luck and remember, the more you grow the more you know.
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