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 mid 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 near 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.

We will be running a series on controlling pests and diseases in the newsletter this month... something you will definitely want so if you've not signed up for it yet, do so now! Put your name and e-mail in the form at the top of the right sidebar!

Though we didn't have much in the way of winter this year, temperatures are dropping below the normal average frequently.  Because of that, you could experiment with pulling 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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March in the Vegetable Garden

WOW! No winter at all this year, for the most of us...

(if you don't count that little surprise freeze a week or two ago)

plants are aaaaall confused.

March plantings are not much different from February's, but the important thing is this:

March is the last big planting month for the spring season.

With April's warmth, the number of things you can plant drops drastically and then in May, June, and July there are really very few things you can plant at all... you need to have the plants growing already.  Heat and humidity will affect plant growth and productivity - and so will the bugs and diseases!!

So here's the list for March

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Collards
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Turnip

Warm Weather Plants

  • Beans - bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloups
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Southern peas
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Winter Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Remember though, this is just a generic list.  At your house in your gardening, things aren't going to be generic.  Yours may be warmer, cooler, sunnier, shadier, dryer, moister, more fertile, different pH, more organic matter, yadda yadda yadda... than the average generic garden.

Look around your garden world.  Observe what and where things are growing, sprouting, the color, the health, moisture, disease... and use this information combined with a little common sense to guide your garden planting decisions.

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February in the Vegetable Garden

WOW!  Looks like we might have another winterless year (from about Orlando south anyway)... 3 in a row.

That's good, but it's bad.

Good because we get extra growth, don't have cold damage dieback, soil flora and fauna grow faster building that good rich soil, planting season is extended, more time to enjoy the outdoors in our garden paradises...

Bad because no freeze means no killing off some of the bugs or at least slowing them down, and bad because it gives us a false sense of "Spring is here" so we plant and then get a frost or freeze that destroys our seedlings and transplants.  The fruit trees and bushes get confused and bloom when they shouldn't, and there won't be enough 'chill hours' that some fruits and berries need to produce or ripen fruit.  The greens don't get that touch of frost/cold to make them sweet...

Regardless of whether we have any winter weather or not, there is a lot of planting to be done ind February.

This list is not carved in stone.  It is only the recommended list of the FL Extension Service -- which means it's general.  Your yard is not identical to their test plots.  Yours may be cooler, warmer, wetter, dryer, higher, lower, more sun, less sun, protected, exposed... and then there are the micro-climates all over the place. 

Experiment.  Chinese cabbage and spinach are not on the list for February, but I want to plant them.  So, I'll find a spot in my yard that's a little bit cooler and has a little less sun than the rest and plant some Chinese cabbage and spinach there.  If it works, GREAT!  If it doesn't, nothing lost.  It's worth the chance.

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Warm Weather Plants

  • Beans - bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloupes
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Winter Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Endive/Escrole
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Turnip
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January in the Vegetable Garden

New year, new things, new plans... Soooooo excited!  I can feel down in my gardener's bones that it's going to be a good one.

This month we can get a few warm weather things into the garden - BUT BE PREPARED TO PROTECT THEM!  We're far from being out of the woods for some plant killing weather - frost or even a freeze.

Warm Weather Plants (Get seeds started in pots so that they will be ready to transplant into your garden in 4-6 weeks)

  • Eggplants
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelons

Cool Weather Plants

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Endive/Escrole
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion - multiplier and bunching, but not bulb
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Turnips
  • Garlic
  • Spinach isn't on the "official" list but you could try it anyway

Next month the planting really breaks loose!

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Merry Christmas

ChristmasTree

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December In The Vegetable Garden

 

DSC_0459

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

imgres

 

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 | 2 Comments

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 | 4 Comments

October in the Vegetable Garden

 

harvest-14417_640

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.

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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