Creating an at home garden is a great way to get outdoors, reduce stress, and provide food for your family. Below are some basics of gardening to help get you started. If you have questions, please reach out to the Sustainability Coordinator.

Picture of sprouts growing

Types of gardens

There are 4 basic types of home gardens:

Traditional RowRaised BedContainerHydroponics
In ground plantingBoxes built above groundGood for small spaces (like balconies)Does not require soil
Raised on mounds or flatContains plants & reduces weedsIndoor or outdoorIndoor or outdoor
Best option for larger gardensReduces bending & ground prepNeed to ensure proper pot size for plantHigh yield for limited space

Planning your garden

When deciding what type of garden you will have and what types of plants you should plant, there are a few things you should consider.

  • Spacing
    • How big will the plant get?
    • How much room do you have?
  • Sunlight
    • How many hours of sun does your space get?
    • Is the sunlight direct or indirect?
    • Are there other plants or buildings that will shade your plants?
  • Soil
    • What type of soil do you have - sand, clay, etc?
    • Will you need to add compost or additional soil?
  • Zone
    • What agriculture zone are you in (Oldsmar is Zone 9b)?
    • When is the best time to plant?

Companion planting

Certain plants complement each other when planted together. By utilizing companion plants, you can help boost growth and flavor of both crops. Companion plants also act as a natural pest and week repellent in many cases. For a list of common companion plants, contact the Sustainability Coordinator.

Companion plants

Weeds and Pests

"Weeds" are plants growing where you do not want them to be. Though there are common plants that are generally considered weeds, one man's weed is another man's treasure. For example, most gardeners consider dandelions weeds, but foragers love dandelion as a tasty addition to their salads. 

Weed ControlPest Control
Mulch - suppresses weed growthInsect netting - blocks pests from plants
Hand digging - removes at root, but labor intensiveTrap crop - sacrificial plant that draws pests away from other crops
Newspaper - will block sunlight to weedsTimely harvest - over-ripe crops invite insects
Cornmeal - sprinkle after desired plants are establishedHand picking - remove pest or eggs by hand, time consuming
Vinegar - spray directly on weed on sunny dayCrop rotation - plant different crops throughout the year
Salt - sprinkle around base of weed, too much can make soil uninhabitable for all plantsBeneficial insects - encourage insects that prey on pests 

Common problems to avoid

  1. Wrong location - planting a healthy plant in the wrong place can cause it to die. Make sure you determine the light, soil, and drainage of the location before choosing crops to plant.
  2. Pool soil - Even if you have the right plant in the right place, poor soil can stunt or decrease growth of your plant. To ensure greater success add compost, organic matter, or other amendments to your soil to promote healthy growth. 
  3. Over watering - Most people think that under watering is the biggest problem for plants, but often times over watering is worse. Over watering causes root rot and can literally drown your plant. Having a simple moisture meter will help ensure you are watering appropriately.
  4. Too many plants/seeds - Planting too many plants in a plot will cause competition for resources and reduce productivity of your garden. Before planting determine the fully grown size of your plants and space them accordingly. If you see too many plants in a space, remove the smallest plant(s) to give the hardiest ones a better chance of survival.

Oldsmar Organic Community Garden

Oldsmar Organic Community Garden LogoIn 2012 the City of Oldsmar donated land to the Oldsmar Organic Community Garden (OOCG) in Bicentennial Park to start a community garden open to residents. The OOCG established 501c(3) nonprofit status in 2014 and has been growing ever since. The garden rents plots to residents to use and hosts educational activities throughout the year. To learn more about the garden visit


For local planting guides contact the Sustainability Coordinator or visit the sites below.

Pinellas County UF/IFAS Extension

  1. Ashlee Painter

    Environmental Management Supervisor