Selecting Vegetables for Your Garden
Gardening in Florida is very exciting because you can grow vegetables year-round, although fall, winter, and spring are the best seasons for this fun and rewarding hobby. When you're selecting vegetables for your Florida garden, there are a couple of important items to keep in mind.
Decide What to Grow
First read "Getting Started" to help you decide what you would like to grow. Remember that Florida can be split into three growing regions—north, central, and south. Vegetables must be planted at different times depending on your location in the state.
Determine Your Season
Vegetables can usually be classified as warm-season or cool-season. The warm season is about March to August and cool season is about September to February. However, these may vary slightly based on your location. Be sure to check out the detailed planting dates chart in the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide for information specific to your region.
Pick Florida Varieties
Finally, choose varieties suitable for Florida gardens. There's a list of suggested varieties in theFlorida Vegetable Gardening Guide. These varieties have proven to do well in Florida's unique gardening conditions. Below is a general list of warm-season and cool-season vegetables that grow well in Florida. Choose recommended varieties for these vegetables and get ready to garden!
- Beans (bush, pole, lima) make an excellent Florida crop and many kinds and varieties are available for Florida gardens.
- Cantaloupes are the most popular variety of muskmelons. Cantaloupes grow very well in Florida gardens when planted in early spring.
- Cucumbers are popular throughout Florida in both slicing and pickling varieties.
- Eggplant is injured by frost and does best in warm seasons, including the summer in Florida.
- Okra has about the same hardiness as cucumber and tomatoes and may be grown under the same conditions.
- Peppers are similar in culture to tomatoes. Twelve to eighteen pepper plants should provide ample supply for a family of five.
- Southern peas are highly nutritious and are also known as cowpeas and field peas.
- Squash and pumpkins come in many kinds and varieties suitable for Florida gardens. By far, the most popular is summer squash.
- Sweet corn is available in countless varieties for many types of soils and climate conditions. It requires plenty of space and is common in larger gardens.
- Sweet potatoes require a long growing season (plant them early in the season for best success).
- Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in Florida gardens. They can be grown successfully by many methods of culture (hydroponics, containers, grow boxes, etc.).
- Watermelons require considerable space per plant. They may be grown statewide.
- Beets are easily grown, yield a lot, and are high in vitamins and iron content.
- Broccoli is a hardy, easy-to-grow, highly nutritious crop that is very popular with Florida gardeners.
- Cabbage is high in nutrients, especially vitamin C.
- Carrots, an excellent source of vitamin A, are used almost daily in many households. They are easy to grow and store, and only a small space is required to grow a season's supply.
- Cauliflower is a difficult crop to grow in Florida. Like cabbage, it thrives best in cool and moist weather, but unlike cabbage, it does not stand much freezing or extreme heat.
- Celery is difficult to grow and is not recommended for the average home gardener. It grows best during the cool winter months unless severe freezes occur.
- Chinese cabbage, or celery cabbage, grows very well in Florida gardens.
- Collards are hardy and more resistant to heat than cabbage. Plants grown in the cool season produce more flavorful leaves.
- Endive/Escarole is grown and used in a similar manner to lettuce, but some people prefer it prepared like collards and other greens.
- English peas, or garden peas, must be shelled before eating. Peas grow best in cool weather and should be planted at the recommended time.
- Kohlrabi is grown for the turnip-like enlarged stem just above the ground. It is an easily grown and quickly maturing crop.
- Lettuce is a hardy crop grows well during cool weather. There are many different varieties.
- Mustard is one of the best cooking greens for fall through spring production.
- Onions may be grown from seeds, sets, or plants.
- Parsley grows well in Florida gardens. It's best planted in late fall or winter.
- Potatoes are a good choice for most Florida gardens.
- Radishes are very hardy and mature quickly. The small, round varieties develop more quickly than the slender ones.
- Spinach withstands freezing better than most vegetables, but produces seed stalks when days begin to lengthen in the spring.
- Strawberries are grown as an annual crop rather than as a perennial in Florida.
- Turnips are a quickly growing crop used both for the tops and the roots.