December In The Vegetable Garden

 

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Frosts and freezes have already hit parts of Central Florida Zone 9 this season… a little early. Normally, we all should be getting our first frost within the next couple of weeks… Sooner for the northern parts of Zone 9a and later for Zone 9b – particularly the southern parts.

Use the map to find your zone then the chart to find your average expected first frost date.

FL Hardiness Zone Map

 

floridamap

 

 

first and last frost FL

All the things you can plant in your garden this month will not be bothered by frosts or even a freeze.  BUT, if you have any warm weather plants in your garden, THEY WILL NEED PROTECTION!

At Central Florida Gardening we build a temporary greenhouse (a frame with construction plastic over it and a flap for the door — lots and lots of duct tape… LOTS!) and then heat it with strings of Christmas lights.  Works GREAT! Looks WONDERFUL!… particularly at night.

This kind

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NOT this kindimages

 

Note of warning, there will be LOTS of condensation inside, so much that it will feel like it’s raining in there.

Another Note, you will have to be able to open it and provide some ventilation for heat to escape on those warm sunny days.

 

 

Warm Weather Plants

  • NONE (but next month there will be)

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion – bulb, multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish

 

Posted in Month by Month, Weather | 1 Comment

November in the Vegetable Garden

If you didn’t get finished with your October planting, you get a reprieve this month.  What you can plant is exactly the same as last month.

Other planting things are going on this month too.  Its a good time for planting trees – they grow their root systems over the winter and are ready to leaf out come spring.

Many herbs like the cooler weather and are good to plant now. Some of those include:

  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Lots of harvesting is going on this month.  There are obvious things like your warm weather veggies and many of your tropical-ish fruits like papayas.  But, don’t forget your citrus.  Though it’s still green colored or mottled green and orange, and doesn’t look ready to eat, it is ripe.  Citrus needs a certain amount of cold for the color of the peel to turn orange or yellow (the cold breaks down the green colored chlorophyll allowing the orange or yellow color to show).  The only way to know for sure is to pick one and try it.

Days are getting noticeably cooler and many CFG Newsletter readers are worried about how much cold their veggies can take.  In general, none of your warm weather plants can tolerate freezing temperatures or even a touch of frost (frost can happen when temps are above freezing)

All of your cool weather plants can take frost and some freezing… some more than others.  It’s amazing to visit your garden in the morning after a frost/freeze and see everything stiff as a board.  The plants will appear translucent and you may expect them to collaps into a pile of mush once they warm up.  But they won’t.  Just leave them alone and after they thaw they’ll be good as new… for the most part.  Some of the leafy ones like lettuce may get the equivalent of ‘freezer burn’

Plan to protect your tropical-ish plants soon.  Get ready to move them or cover them at any hint of frost in the forecast.  We don’t expect any until December, but you never know.

Warm Weather Plants

  • NONE!

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion – bulb, multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (only if VERY protected)
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Garlic
  • Strawberry

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Frost sensitive (Harvest these plants when the temperature dips to 32°F or less)
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Hot peppers
Sweet peppers
Eggplant
Beans
Basil
Nasturtiums
Melons
Summer squash
Nasturtium
Sunflower

Somewhat frost hardy (These crops may survive temperatures as low as 28°F)
Lettuce
Arugula
Chard
Escarole
Endive
Cabbage
Nicotiana

Very frost hardy (Don’t rush to harvest these; they’ll be fine at 28° or colder)
Leeks
Scallions
Chives
Brussels sprouts
Broccoli
Kale
Parsley
Beets
Carrots
Winter squash (plant will die but the squash will be fine)
Pumpkins (plant will die but the squash will be fine)
Sage

 

Posted in Month by Month, Planting, Plants | Leave a comment

October in the Vegetable Garden

 

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Barely seems like it’s autumn out there in your garden yet, but it is.  A little crisper, a little dryer (except for all the rain we’re having right now… if it wasn’t raining, there would be a little less humidity), and a few degrees cooler. We can’t tell a lot of difference but the plants can.  They notice the days are shorter and that the temperatures are moving smidgeon by smidgeon toward the cooler side of the mercury and it gets all kinds of little plant hormones flowing in preparation for ‘winter’

What does that mean for you?  Too late to plant any of those warmth loving veggies – unless you plant them where you can provide extra heat and light, such as in containers in an enclosed space, but they should have a flush of blooming and producing… which equals some ramped up harvesting for you.

This month will see a lot of landscape vegetation starting to decline and that translates into material for your compost pile.

So lets just get to it…

Warm Weather Plants

  • NONE!

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion – bulb, multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Garlic
  • Strawberry

Though potatoes aren’t on the official list of things that can be planted (the official list says January and February) I know a lot of people plant them now– worth the experiment if you have sprouting potatoes in your kitchen.

Posted in Month by Month | 2 Comments

September in the Vegetable Garden

The start of ‘second spring’ BIG GARDEN PLANTING time is here now! Are you ready?

In Central Florida Zone 9, the fall garden is often bigger than the spring garden… because we don’t head into insufferable hot and humid weather as the season goes along. Instead we head into cooler weather where our cool loving plants will thrive, conditions aren’t as good for bugs and disease to flourish because of the cooler dryer air and impending winter, and it’s more pleasant for us to get out there in our gardens to tend to things.

Since we virtually had no winter again this year, bugs and diseases have had the opportunity to flourish… but so have your plants.  There has been a TREMENDOUS amount of healthy growth going on in people’s gardens – our place looks like a jungle and some plants have grown HUGE!

With the weather being a bit dryer, fungal diseases don’t seem to have been as much of a problem as they’ve been the last few years… YAY!!!

Warm Weather Plants

(This is the last month for planting these — best to get them in the ground as early in the month as possible… like NOW… so they will have time to grow, mature, and produce before a frost or freeze hits)

If you’d like to try, you can experiment with planting some of the August warm weather plants.  Be sure to plant them in such a way that you can protect them if we get a frost or freeze before they’re ready for harvest.

  • Beans – pole, bush, lima
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Southern peas
  • Peppers
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes

Cool Weather Plants

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Endive/Escrole
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion – bulb, multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Turnips
Posted in Month by Month | 1 Comment

August In The Vegetable Garden

The busy busy starts this month.

Need to get finished preparing your planning beds, containers, seeds planted in flats or pots for transplanting FAST!

Most herbs can be planted now

Might try planting some Malabar spinach if you have a very warm protected area, or plant it in a container so that it can be moved to a warm/hot area later in the season

You can transplant fruit trees and bushes growing in containers into the ground  now

Consider joining the Week-by-Week program for weekly guidance on what you should be doing in your zone 9 garden.  More features are being added and the price is going to be going up SOON – But you can lock in for $5 a month right now.

Click here for more on Week-by-Week

Out in the garden you can start planting the following veggies

Warm Weather Plants 

  • Beans – Pole
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Southern Peas
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomato (last of the month)
  • Winter Squash
  • Watermelon

Cool Weather Plants

  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Onion – Multiplier and Bunching
Posted in Month by Month | 1 Comment

July In The Vegetable Garden

Chances are your garden is looking pretty pitiful about now.  The lovely rain, heat, humidity combined with the slower pace has made everything grow… plants as well as bugs and disease organisms.

This isn’t a bad thing though.  It’s the end of our season and the timing is perfect.  It’s a signal that it’s time to start preparing for your fall and winter garden.  Seriously.

Fall planting starts in August.  There’s just enough time to get prepared for it.

Rip out everything that’s not healthy, growing well, and producing.

Add amendments to your soil to build it up – good stuff, organic matter… not chemicals.

Fluff that soil and keep it moist and let the microbes get to work making everything fertile.

Could try some solarization to kill off bad juju stuff in the soil (clear plastic on moist soil with the edges anchored down and left to ‘cook’ in the sun for 6 weeks or so)

I’m going to be trying the bacillus thuringiensis israelensis in my soil for nematodes (they’re baaaaack) (update… no nematodes evident where I’ve used Bti)

It’s time to be getting any seeds for plants you want in your fall/winter garden.  You will need to be starting them soon so that they will be just the right size for transplanting when the time comes – things like tomatoes and peppers and melons.

I’ve got LOTS of work to do out there and I knooooow you do too.  Remember to work early or late and stay hydrated and don’t get too much sun – try a wide brimmed hat.  The right hat looks lovely on you ladies and a Panama hat is oh so handsome on you gents.

 Cool Weather Plants

  • Absolutely NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Okra
  • Southern peas – black-eyed, crowder, purple hulled, yardlong (also called asparagus bean)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peanuts
  • Malabar and New Zealand spinach – which aren’t spinaches but are good substitutes in hot weather
  • Other miscellaneous TROPICAL fruits and vegetables that you may come across

Posted in Month by Month | 1 Comment

June in the Vegetable Garden

Summer ‘officially’ starts this month and so does the Hurricane Season… June is a month of waiting… waiting for it to reeeallly get hot, waiting to see if we’ll have any hurricanes, waiting for those afternoon thunderstorms and hoping they’re not too violent, waiting to harvest, waiting for your soil solarization to work, waiting for the right time to start seedlings for the fall garden (our second spring), waiting waiting waiting…

There isn’t much to plant this month so your time will be best spent doing maintenance and preparatory things like tool repair/sharpening, soil solarization, composting, building and preparing new beds, gathering the seeds that you want to plant in your fall garden…

Here is what you can plant while you wait

Cool Weather Plants

  • NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Okra
  • Southern Peas – black-eyed, yard long, crowder
  • Peanuts
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • New Zealand and Malabar Spinach (neither of which are really spinach)

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Memorial Day is more important to you as a gardener than you probably know

The men and women who have served in our military, fought to protect our freedom were fighting for your right to garden… a right that is not known world wide and a right that is rapidly being eroded even in our country.

Gardeners I’ve ‘pen-palled’ with in other countries tell stories of government control of their gardens.  Unbelievable stories… crazy stories… stories that could not possibly have happened here.

But… not so fast.

There are many places here in free USA where gardening is regulated or outright prohibited and illegal with hefty fines and punishments

- Can’t plant edible plants in your front yard

- Can’t plant more than a certain percent of your property in a garden

- Can’t plant within a specified number of feet of property lines

- Can’t grow plants over a certain height

- Can’t have a greenhouse

- Can’t water as needed

- Can’t collect rainwater

- Can’t make compost

Other garden/feed yourself regulations/laws/mandates that federal, state and municipal governments are trying to put in place include: — This is the short list…

- Mandated registering of your garden

- Mandated registering of seeds

- Illegal to save seeds

- Illegal to give away your produce (only those living in your household can eat your produce)

- Required to give a certain percentage of your produce to the government for distribution to those who are not growing a garden

- Requiring you to grow certain crops and certain amounts to give to the government for distribution

- Requiring you to only grow items on an approved list (which will have no heirloom or open pollinated veggies on it)

- Dictating the size of your garden

- Dictating where your garden will be

- Dictating the soil make up

- Dictating how and with what you will fertilize it

- Requiring gardens to be communal

- Taxing your garden

- ETC………….

A thing call Agenda 21 by the UN (United Nations) is the main force behind all this.  Many – if not most – communities have adopted Agenda 21 already

Those of you dear readers
who have served our country
and to your wives, husbands, children, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters…
who also served by association

We remember and honor you this day for your duty and your sacrifice.

Thank you

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May In The Vegetable Garden

It’s here, the summer slump… technically it’s here anyway.  There may be a slump in what you can plant for the next few months, but there is absolutely no slump in what needs to be done in the garden.

Lots of other things are happening in the garden(s) too.  Lots of harvesting going on, egg laying by garden friendly creatures: lizards, birds, toads – usually the toads start singing after the first rain in May… this year they started singing with the last rain in April.

The heat and humidity starting in May is going to put a real damper on the garden.  It will be interfering with pollen viability which will lower production, and it creates an environment that bugs and disease totally love.  It is best if you do not work in your garden when it is wet because the chances of spreading disease goes waaaaaay up.

Be on the lookout for fungus… particularly powdery mildew!

Here’s the skimpy planting prospects for May (and June and July!)

Cool Weather Plants

NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Okra
  • Southern peas (includes black-eyed, yard long, crowder…)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Malabar and New Zealand spinach (not really spinach but a good substitute)
  • Peanuts
  • Maybe squash
  • Maybe watermelon
  • Maybe mustard and turnip (for the greens) – After you pick them they will need to spend some time in the refrigerator or freezer to give them some sweetness and good flavor

Some advice:

  • Don’t work in the heat of the day
  • The high humidity is dangerous for you too because your body can’t use sweat evaporation to keep you cool
  • If parts of your garden are in shade part of the day, work in the shaded areas and then move with the shade (for example, my whole garden is in shade in the early morning.  Sun first appears at the west side then moves across the garden to the east side.  So, I start my gardening on the west side and then as the sun creeps in, I follow and stay in the shade as it moves over to the east side.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear a hat (some sun is very very good – vitamin D3 production – but too much should be avoided)
  • Use some bug repellant (something natural like citronella – get a little bottle of citronella essential oil from a health food store, put a couple of drops on the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, then rub your hands all over the exposed parts of your body – ankles, arms, neck, face, hair… works for me)
  • Take breaks
  • Get a hammock

 

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April In The Vegetable Garden

Another winterless year for most of us.  Plants are loving it… so are the bugs and diseases.  With no cold weather kill-off, seems like they are getting a major head start.  Spider mites, thrips, aphids, powdery mildew, early blight – just to mention a few – have made themselves at home for many weeks already.

Though we didn’t have much in the way of winter this year, temperatures are remaining cooler for a little longer than usual (translation – we’re not heating up so fast).  Because of that, you could probably pull from the “March In The Vegetable Garden” list a little bit into April.  April’s list is stingy

Cool Weather Plants

  • NONE

Warm Weather Plants

  • Beans – bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloupes
  • Okra
  • Southern peas – crowder, black-eyed, yard long…
  • Sweet potatoes
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