Folks living in many parts of the United States think Spring, prepare the soil and plant the vegetable garden. Harvesting vegetables last through the summer and into the fall, often with the canning or freezing of fresh vegetable to be enjoyed in the cold winter months. One garden a year is the norm in many states. Florida is fortunate to be one of the states where a person can garden year-round and enjoy a variety of fresh vegetables in any season. Two growing seasons benefit Florida garden enthusiasts.
As with any plot of land to be used for growing vegetables, the soil must be prepared. Understanding the weather patterns common to the area as well as common weeds and insect pests is essential, as well. Sometimes a gardener must guard against animal intruders who enjoy fresh vegetables such as rabbits, deer, and raccoons. Decisions need to be made as to what vegetables grow best in the area under cultivation and what particular vegetables those growing the vegetables enjoy eating. Some types of vegetables take more work such as green beans and tomatoes, so this should be a consideration too.
While growing vegetables in Florida is done year-round, Florida is a long state with four distinct gardening districts, tropic, sub-tropic, central, and northern. And, no matter what area you live in or what time of year it is you will want to regulate watering depending on rainfall, regularly check for disease and pests, and harvest vegetables on time as well as removing dead leaves, over-ripe extras and any diseased plant parts. However, different areas are better for different varieties of vegetables, so this blog will focus on the best vegetables to grow in Central Florida and when and how it is best to grow them.
December, January, and February are the cool to cold months in Central Florida. Vegetables that can be planted and do well in cooler weather include Irish potatoes, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and celery. While temperatures usually stay above freezing, a few days of cold temperatures in the ’30s can occur, so you may need to protect your vegetable garden with a light cover during those days. Pest and disease are not usually much of a problem during those months, but it is wise to keep a check just in case. Weeds grow in all seasons in Central Florida, so you need to remove them as needed.
March and April begin the warm months and vegetables, including sweet corn, squash, peppers, tomatoes, and beans can be planted now. Weeds like this time of year, so be sure to mulch well and pull the weeds’ roots and all as soon as they poke their way up. Depending on rainfall, watering may be necessary, but be careful not to overwater.
May, June, and July welcomes in vegetables noted as southern specialties and include sweet potatoes, okra, southern peas, calabaza, and spinach. During July, as vegetables begin to finish their growing season, begin to prepare the soil for fall planting. Use the hot summer sun to kill weeds, disease, and nematodes.
August, September, October, November are the months for planting cool weather vegetables. Starting in August, though still hot, you can plant carrots, tomatoes, and beans, in preparation for your fall garden. Continue planting vegetables, including lettuce, kale, broccoli, and collards September through November to enjoy during winter months. Continue to monitor moisture, depending on rainfall, and be quick to remove weeds, diseased plants, and treat for insect pests. Check with local plant nurseries and state agricultural agencies to determine which cool weather vegetables grow the best in your area.
Growing vegetables year-round is demanding but rewarding at the same time. With the emphasis on Organic gardening and how much better organically grown food is, your vegetable garden can bring better health as well as better-tasting vegetables.