SEBRING — It will soon be fall, and in Florida, that’s the time to plant your vegetables.

The Highlands Soil & Water Conservation District has 15 to 20 open plots at the Highlands County Community Garden off West George Boulevard, when you’re ready to plant.

“It became a hot item when COVID came out,” said Susie Bishop, executive director of the Soil & Water Conservation District.

Over the summer, the 45-plot garden gained a number of vacancies for various reasons, including people moving away or taking new jobs. Bishop thinks she can fill them quickly at $10 for a six-month rental and $20 for a year.

“We’ve got them all in shape,” Bishop said of the vacant, overgrown plots. “They got out of control in the summer.”

Now that it’s cooling down, people can start their winter vegetable gardens, she said. Tomatoes and peppers are most popular, but people have been growing green beans, English peas, okra and squash. Some, over the years, have grown sunflowers and other specialty crops.

“People can grow anything, as long as it’s legal,” Bishop said.

Corn has been a bit of a challenge, Bishop said, mostly because it’s hard to control the pests. However, the garden has irrigation lines, fresh compost to fertilize the beds and tools on hand to till the soil further. It even has a shaded picnic area.

The garden first started in September 2014, and it has stayed successful with green-thumbed growers every year, Bishop said.

“Gardeners share ideas,” she said. “We have a lot of avid gardeners.”

Anyone who doesn’t have the space or property to plant a personal garden can find space at the Community Garden. They can rent the 25-by-12-foot plots by contacting Bishop at the Highlands Soil & Water Conservation District by calling 863-402-7020 or emailing sbishop@highlandsswcd.org.

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