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Publication #SP 103

Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide1

Sydney Park Brown, Danielle Treadwell, J. M. Stephens, and Susan Webb 2

Vegetable gardening offers fresh air, sunshine, exercise, enjoyment, mental therapy, nutritious fresh vegetables, and economic savings, as well as many other benefits (Figure 1). Vegetables can be grown year-round in Florida if attention is paid to the appropriate planting dates (Table 1). Planting dates and other vegetable gardening information are also available as a free mobile app called 'Florida Fresh.' Access an app provider for your mobile phone or download it from http://m.ifas.ufl.edu.

While this guide provides recommendations primarily for traditional home gardens, the information may be useful in other situations, such as community gardens, market gardens, and unconventional approaches like container and raised bed gardens (see EDIS publication ENH1211 Gardening in Raised Beds (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep472).

Figure 1. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Steps in Gardening

Site

For convenience, locate the garden near the house on a well-drained site close to a source of water and in a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. With proper care, vegetables may also be included in the landscape among ornamental plants. Coastal sites are also suitable. Where possible, rotate the garden from place to place to help control soil diseases and other pests.

Plan

Before planting, draw a garden plan that includes the name, location, and planting date(s) of the vegetables you want to grow. Use the planting guide (Table 1) to develop your plan. Make a list of supplies and order or purchase seeds early if you intend to grow your own transplants. The planting guide lists which vegetable seedlings transplant easily and which do not. Vegetables that are difficult to transplant should be seeded directly into the garden or started in containers first.

Soil Preparation

Gardeners often plant on whatever soil type is available, but it is usually worthwhile to improve the garden plot with additions of organic matter (see below). Spade or plow the plot at least three weeks before planting. At planting time, rework the soil into a smooth, firm surface.

Organic Matter

Most Florida soils are low in organic matter and therefore benefit from the addition of organic matter such as animal manure, rotted leaves, compost, commercial soil mixes, and/or cover crops. Composted organics may be applied at planting time; un-composted organics (such as fresh grass clippings) should be mixed into the soil at least a month before seeding. Due to low and inconsistent levels of nutrients in compost, accompanying applications of inorganic or organic fertilizer may be beneficial (See Fertilizing below). Thoroughly mix liberal amounts of un-composted organics in the soil well in advance of planting, preferably at least a month before seeding. Animal manure if used should be spread at a rate of 25–100 pounds per 100 square feet and should be worked into the soil 90–120 days before harvesting any vegetables. See EDIS Publication HS1215 Organic Vegetable Gardening in Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs1215).

Compost

Create your own “garden gold” by converting yard wastes to compost (Figure 2). Composting is easy to do and yields a manure-like, organic fertilizer/soil conditioner, which highly benefits Florida's infertile native soils. See EDIS Publication ENH 1065 Compost Tips for the Home Gardener (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP323).

Figure 2. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

  1. Buy a compost unit or build one from recycled wood pallets, concrete block, sturdy wire, etc. The minimum size should be 3'x3'x3'.

  2. Make successive, 12-inch-thick layers of plant waste—such as leaves, lawn clippings, shredded branches, and wood chips. Kitchen scraps may also be used.

  3. Animal (not pet) manure, finished compost, blood meal, or fertilizer can be added to each layer if desired.

  4. Moisten each layer and keep the pile moist.

  5. Turn the pile frequently to add oxygen and help the decomposition process.

  6. Depending on how intensively it is managed, compost should be ready for use in two to twelve months, when plant parts are decomposed.

  7. Cover the pile to keep rain from leaching nutrients from it.

Cover Crops (Green Manure)

Cover crops can be planted in off-seasons to suppress erosion, weeds, or nematodes. The following cover crops are recommended for Florida gardens:

  • Summer: cowpea, velvet bean, soybean, and sunflower

  • Winter: cereal rye (FL 401), crimson clover, and Austrian winter pea.

When a cover crop is turned into the soil, the decaying organic matter (green manure) supplies organic matter and nutrients.

For more information, see EDIS Publication ENY012 Managing Nematodes for the Non-Commercial Vegetable Garden (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/NG005).

Adjusting Soil pH

Soil pH is important because it determines how available nutrients are to plants. The best pH range for vegetable gardens on sandy soil is between pH 5.8 and 6.3. If your soil pH is between 5.5 and 7.0, no adjustment in pH needs to be made.

If your soil pH is below 5.5, apply lime at a rate recommended by a reliable soil testing facility, such as the IFAS Extension Soil Testing Laboratory (http://soilslab.ifas.ufl.edu/). Two to three pounds of finely ground dolomitic limestone per 100 square feet will usually raise the pH one point. Caution: Application of lime when it is not needed may cause plant nutritional problems. Lime is best applied two to three months before the garden is to be planted. However, lime may be applied as late as one or two weeks before planting. Make sure the lime is thoroughly mixed into the soil to a depth of 6 of 8 inches, then water the soil to promote the chemical reaction.

If your soil pH is naturally above 7.0 (alkaline), where limestone, marl, or shells are present, there is no practical way of permanently lowering soil pH. Additions of acidic organic matter will help, but only temporarily. Use a fertilizer that contains micronutrients. If the high pH is the result of previous over-liming, application of granular sulfur (1 lb/100 sq ft) will lower soil pH.

Fertilizing

Unless very large quantities of organic matter are applied, commercial synthetic fertilizer is usually needed for Florida gardens. Gardeners find it convenient to use commonly available fertilizer grades such as 10-10-10. However, some Florida soils contain adequate phosphorus (the middle number), and additional amounts should not be added as phosphorus is a pollutant in surface water such as lakes and rivers. A soil test will provide guidelines for the amount of phosphorus and other nutrients to apply. See EDIS Publication Cir 1248 UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Laboratory (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/SS312).

Using the amount of fertilizer recommended on the product or based on your soil test results, broadcast fertilizer over the entire garden plot just before planting. During the growing season, 2 or 3 light applications of fertilizer can be applied as needed. Apply the fertilizer just beyond the outside leaves. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and collards benefit from side dressings of nitrogen-containing fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate. Tuber and root crops, like carrots and potatoes, respond to potassium fertilizer such as muriate of potash.

More information on organic fertilizers and nutrient management can be found in EDIS Publication HS1215 Organic Vegetable Gardening in Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs1215).

Irrigation and Drainage

Vegetables cannot tolerate standing water from excessive rainfall or irrigation. At the same time, vegetables need soil moisture to grow and produce. Frequency of irrigation depends upon the age of the crop and your soil type. Young plants need frequent but light irrigation; maturing crops need more water but less often. Sandy soils demand more frequent irrigation than clay, muck, or amended soils. Conserve water by using mulch, organic matter, and techniques such as drip irrigation. Make a slight depression at the base of plants to hold water until absorbed by the soil.

Extending the Gardening Season

Gardeners can extend the growing season with protective covers and structures that reduce plant stress and damage from hot and cold temperatures. Commercial growers use shade houses, high tunnels, and row covers; gardeners can adopt modifications of these approaches (Figure 3). To learn more, see the following EDIS publications Veggies and Herbs Made in the Shade http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs1228 and Row Covers for Growth Enhancement https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/cv106). Remove covers when plants that need bees for pollination begin to flower (see vegetables listed in Table 1 as members of the Squash/Cucurbitacae family).

Figure 3. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Pest Management

Pests in the vegetable garden include weeds, insects, mites, diseases, nematodes, and even animals such as raccoons and birds that might consume the vegetable crop (See http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/VH036).

A gardener has many options for reducing pest problems (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in197). Pesticides can be harmful to people, pets, beneficial insects, and the natural environment and should be used only after all other pest-management steps have been taken.

No-Pesticide Approaches

  • Follow recommended planting date(s) listed for each vegetable in Table 1. However, be aware that vegetables planted in late summer or early fall (August or September) will be susceptible to insects and diseases that thrive in hot weather. Likewise, cold-tender vegetables planted in late winter or early spring may be damaged by frosts or freezes if not protected with covers (see “Extending the Gardening Season” above for more information on covers).

  • Rotate vegetables so that the same vegetable (or members of the same vegetable family) are not planted repeatedly in the same areas. The plant family for each vegetable is listed in Table 1.

  • Till or hand-turn the soil well in advance of planting to discourage soil insects—especially when the garden is a converted lawn area. The garden soil should be turned and free of weeds, grass, and woody material at least 30 days before planting.

  • Control weeds in and around the garden because they can be a source of insects and diseases. Weed control is best accomplished by mulching and hand-pulling or hoeing small weeds. Recommended mulches are straw, fallen leaves, and unfinished compost. Wood mulches and un-decomposed sawdust should not be used. Weeds around the outside of the garden and between rows can be reduced by putting down several layers of newspaper and then covering them with leaves.

  • Choose adapted varieties with resistance or tolerance to nematodes and common diseases.

  • Purchase healthy transplants that are free of insects and disease symptoms (such as leaf spots or blights). Avoid transplants that are already flowering. Consider growing your own transplants from seed (Figure 4).

  • Figure 4. 
    [Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

  • Protect plants from cutworms by placing a collar around the plant. The collar can be made from a bottomless plastic cup or a waxed cardboard carton. The collar should extend a few inches above and at least an inch below the surface of the ground.

  • Keep plants growing vigorously and in a state of good health by supplying appropriate amounts of water and fertilizer. A healthy plant is often able to survive insect attacks. Too much nitrogen, however, can make plants more inviting to aphids and whiteflies.

  • Monitor or scout the garden twice weekly for pest problems. This includes inspecting the plants from the bud to the soil, including both upper and lower leaf surfaces. Record notes on pest problems and the performance of different varieties. Include photographs of insects, diseases, and beneficial insects that you find.

  • Identify beneficial insects (praying mantis, spiders, big-eyed bugs, assassin bugs, lady beetles (also called ladybugs or ladybird beetles), and all wasps). Some of these insects can be purchased, but keep in mind that many beneficial insects exist naturally in Florida, and purchased beneficials will leave if there are no insects for them to eat.

  • Plant flowers in the vegetable garden. They provide nectar and pollen that attract beneficial insects.

  • Remove large insects by hand and destroy. Place them in a container of soapy water, where they will sink and drown.

  • Watch for early disease symptoms. Remove any diseased leaves or plants to slow spread.

  • Do not panic and start spraying at the first sign of insect damage. Most plants that produce fruits, pods, or ears can stand a 10–20% loss of leaves without loss of potential yields.

  • Harvest ripe crops promptly. Allowing over-ripe fruits to remain on the plants often invites additional insect problems.

  • Remove unproductive plants and compost or dispose of them.

  • Use soil solarization to reduce nematodes—microscopic worms that attack vegetable roots and reduce growth and yield. This technique uses the sun’s energy to heat the soil and kill soil-borne pests. To solarize soil, first remove vegetation, then break up and wet the soil to activate the nematodes. Cover the soil with sturdy, clear-plastic film. Weight down the edges with additional soil to keep the plastic in place. Soil solarization should be done during the warmest six weeks of summer. High temperatures (above 130°F) must be maintained for best results.

  • Add organic matter to the soil to help reduce nematode populations. Organic matter improves the capacity of the soil to hold water and nutrients and, in turn, improves plant vigor and resistance to pests.

  • See also EDIS Publication HS1215 Organic Vegetable Gardening in Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs1215).

Using Pesticides Wisely

If you choose to use pesticides, refer to Table 3 and follow pesticide label directions carefully.

  • Use pesticides only when a serious pest problem exists. Your county Extension office can provide information about insect identification. Organic gardeners can use certain products (Bt, for example and others http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in197).

  • Protect bees and other pollinators. Apply insecticides late in the day when they are less active. Malathion, Carbaryl, and pyrethroids are especially harmful to bees (Figure 5).

  • Spray the plant thoroughly, covering both the upper and lower leaf surfaces.

  • Do not apply pesticides on windy days.

  • Prevent spray burn; make sure the plants are not under moisture stress. Water, if necessary, and let leaves dry before spraying. Avoid using soaps and oils when the weather is very hot.

  • Control slugs with products containing iron phosphate. Products with metaldehyde as the active ingredient are extremely toxic to animals, such as dogs and wildlife that may be attracted to the bait.

  • Prevent fungus diseases. Purchase fungicide-treated seed. Many common diseases can be controlled by spraying with fungicides if control efforts begin early—ideally before symptoms appear. Look on the label for these chemical names under “active ingredients”: chlorothalonil, maneb, or mancozeb fungicide. Powdery mildews can be controlled with triadimefon, myclobutanil, sulfur, or horticultural oils. Rusts can be controlled with sulfur, propiconazole, or tebuconazole. Sprays are generally more effective than dusts.

  • Read the label.

    • Not every off-the-shelf pesticide can be used on every vegetable or on vegetables at all. Make sure the vegetable and the pest are on the label before purchasing the product.

    • Follow label directions for measuring and mixing.

    • Pay close attention to “waiting periods”—the time that must elapse between the application of a pesticide and harvest. For example, broccoli sprayed with carbaryl (Sevin) should not be harvested for two weeks after application.

    • Follow all safety precautions on the label and keep others and pets out of the area until sprays have dried.

UF/IFAS Extension Agents are located in every county to advise you further. Contact information can be found at Find Your Local Office (http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/map/index.shtml).

Figure 5. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Acknowledgements

Retired or relocated faculty that contributed to the first and second revision of this publication include R. A. Dunn, retired professor, UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department; G. Kidder, retired professor, UF/IFAS Soil Science Department; D. Short, retired professor, UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department; G. W. Simone, retired professor, UF/IFAS Plant Pathology Department; and Amanda Gevens, former assistant professor, UF/IFAS Plant Pathology Department.

Tables

Table 1. 

Planting Guide for Florida Vegetables.

Crop

Planting Dates in Florida (outdoors) 1

Yield per 10 ft (pounds)

Plants per 10 ft 2

Days to Harvest 3

Spacing (inches)

Seed depth (inches)

Transplant Ability 5

Plant Family 6

North

Central

South

Plants

Rows 4

Arugula

Sept–Mar

Sept–Mar

Oct–Mar

2.5

30–40

35–60

3–4

10

¼

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Beans, bush

Mar–Apr Aug–Sept

Feb–Apr Aug–Sept

Sept–Apr

4.5

30–60

45–60

2–4

18

1–1½

III

(Bean) Fabaceae

Beans, pole

Mar–Apr Aug–Sept

Feb–Apr Aug–Sept

Sept–Apr

8

24–40

50–70

3–5

36

1–1½

III

(Bean) Fabaceae

Beans, lima

Mar–Apr Aug

Feb–Mar Aug–Sept

Sept–Apr

5

20–40

60–80

3–6

18

1–1½

III

(Bean) Fabaceae

Beets

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Oct–Jan

7.5

30–60

50–70

2–4

12

½ –1

I

(Beet) Chenopodiaceae

Broccoli

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Oct–Jan

5

8–12

75–90 (50–70)

10–15

24

¼– ½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Brussels Sprouts

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Oct–Jan

10

5–7

90–120 (70–90)

18–24

24

¼–½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Cabbage

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Sept–Jan

12

8–13

85–110 (70–90)

9–16

24

¼– ½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Cantaloupes

Feb–Apr

Jan–Mar

Dec–Mar

15

4–6

85–110 (70–90)

20–36

60

½–1

III

(Squash) Cucurbitaccae

Carrots

Aug–Mar

Aug–Mar

Sept–Mar

10

40–120

70–120

1–3

10

¼

II

(Carrot) Apiaceae

Cauliflower

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Sept–Jan

8

7–10

75–90 (50–70)

12–18

24

¼– ½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Celery

Aug–Feb

Sept–Mar

Oct–Mar

15

10–20

75–90

6–12

18

On surface

II

(Carrot) Apiaceae

Chinese cabbage

Aug–Feb

Sept–Apr

Sept–Apr

10

7–9

70–90 (60–70)

14–18

14

¼ – ½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Collards

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Sept–Jan

15

5–10

70–90 50–70

12–24

24

¼– ½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Corn, sweet

Feb–Apr

Jan–Apr

Oct–Mar

12

15–20

64–90

6–8

28

1–1½

III

(Grass) Poaceae

Cucumbers

Feb–Apr July–Aug

Jan–Mar Sept

Sep–Feb

10

10–20

40–65

6–12

48

½–¾

III

(Squash) Cucurbitaceae

Eggplant

Feb–Mar Aug

Jan–Feb Aug–Sept

Aug–Feb

20

3–7

90–115 (70–90)

18–40

36

½–¾

I

(Tomato) Solanaceae

Endive/ Escarole

Jan–Feb Aug–Oct

Aug–Feb

Sept–Mar

7.5

8–9

60–80

14–16

18

¼

I

(Aster) Asteraceae

Kale

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Sept–Jan

7.5

9–10

50–70

8–12

18–

¼– ½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Kohlrabi

Sept–Mar

Oct–Mar

Oct–Feb

10

24–40

70–80 (50–55)

3–5

24

½

I

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Lettuce

Jan–Feb Sept–Oct

Sept–Feb

Sept–Feb

7.5

10–15

60–80

8–12

18

¼

I

(Aster) Asteraceae

Mustard

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Sept–Jan

10

12–24

40–50

5–10

12

¼– ½

II

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Okra

Mar–June

Feb–Aug

Jan–Mar Aug–Oct

7

12–30

60–70

4–10

36

½–1

III

(Hibiscus) Malvaceae

Onions, Bulbing

Mid–Sept – Mid–Nov

Oct

Oct

10

30

100–130

4–6

14

¼–½

III

(Lily) Liliaceae

Onions, Bunching (Green and Shallots)

Aug–Mar

Aug–Mar

Sept–Mar

10

30

50–75 (green) 75–100 (shallots)

2 (green) 6–8 (shallots)

14

¼–½

III

(Lily) Liliaceae

Peas, Snow or English

Jan–Mar

Nov–Feb

Nov–Feb

4

20–60

60–80

2–6

12

1–1½

III

(Bean) Fabaceae

Peas, southern

Mar–July

Feb–Aug

Sept–Apr

8

20–60

75–90

2–6

12

1–1½

III

(Bean) Fabaceae

Peppers

Feb–Mar July– Aug

Jan–Mar Aug–Sept

Aug–Feb

5

8–13

90–100 (65–75)

9–15

15

¼–½

I

(Tomato) Solanaceae

Potatoes, Irish

Jan–Feb

Nov–Feb

Oct–Jan

15

12–24

85–110

5–10

36–42

3–4 (seed pieces)

II

(Tomato) Solanaceae

Potatoes, sweet

Mar–Jun

Feb–Jun

Dec–Sept

30

10–12

85–130

10–12

36

I

(Morning Glory) Convolvulaceae

Pumpkin

Early July

Mid July

Early Aug

30

2–4

80–100 (70–90)

36–60

60

1½ –2

III

(Squash) Cucurbitaceae

Radish

Sept– Mar

Sept–Mar

Oct–Mar

4

120

20–30

1

6

¼

III

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Spinach

Sept–Mar

Sept–Mar

Oct–Feb

4

20–60

45–60

2–6

12

½

II

(Beet) Chenopodiaceae

Squash, Summer

Feb–Apr Aug–Sept

Jan–Apr Aug–Sept

Aug–Mar

15

5–10

40–50

12–24

36

1–1½

III

(Squash) Cucurbitaceae

Squash, Winter

Feb–Apr Aug–Sept

Jan–Apr Aug–Sept

Aug–Mar

30

2–4

85–120

36–60

60

1½ –2

III

(Squash) Cucurbitaceae

Strawberry

Sept 15– Oct 15

Sept 25– Oct 25

Oct 1– Dec 1

9–12

8–10

(30–60)

12–16

12

– – –

I

(Rose) Rosaceae

Swiss Chard

Sept–May

Sept–May

Sept–Mar

8–12

10–20

45–60

6–12

18

¼–½

I

(Beet) Chenopodiaceae

Tomatoes (supported)

Feb–Apr July–Aug

Jan–Feb Aug–Sept

Aug–Feb

2

4–7

90–110 (70–90)

18–32

48

¼– ½

I

(Tomato) Solanaceae

Turnips

Aug–Feb

Sept–Feb

Sept–Jan

15

20–60

40–60

2–6

12

¼– ½

III

(Cabbage) Brassicaceae

Watermelon

Feb–Apr

Jan–Mar

Dec–Mar

40

3–5

80–100 (60–90)

24–48

60

1½ –2

III

(Squash) Cucurbitaceae

1 North = all of Florida north of State Road 40; central = the section of Florida between State Roads 40 and 70; south = all of Florida below State Road 70.

2 Use transplants (if appropriate) or buy the amount of seed needed to grow this many plants per 10 feet of row. Most seed packets state the number of seeds the packet contains.

3 Days from seeding to harvest: values in parentheses are days from transplants to first harvest.

4 Minimum distance between rows (when planting in rows). Row spacing can be reduced or ignored as long as plants are spaced correctly.

5 Transplant ability (the ability of a seedling to be successfully transplanted): I = easily survives transplanting; II = survives transplanting with care; III = only plant seeds or containerized transplants with developed root systems.

6 Rotate plant families = avoid successively planting vegetables from the same family in the same area of the garden.

Table 2. 

Suggested varieties for Florida gardens.

CROP

RECOMMENDED VARIETIES1

NOTES/REMARKS

Arugula

Speedy, Astro

Plant at 2–3 week intervals from fall through spring for a continual harvest. The dark green, spicy leaves can be steamed, pureed, or used raw in salads and sandwiches. Harvest individual leaves as needed or the entire plant when it is 8–10 inches tall. High temperatures cause arugula to flower and become bitter.

Beans, Bush

Snap: Bush Blue Lake, Contender, Roma II, Provider, Cherokee Wax

Shell: horticultural, pinto, red kidney, black bean, navy, garbanzo

Bush beans mature early and do not need staking. Fertilize at 1/2 the rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Flowers self-pollinate. Plant rust-resistant varieties.

Beans, pole

McCaslan, Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake

Fertilize at 1/2 the rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Support vines. May be grown with corn for vine support. Plant rust-resistant varieties.

Beans, lima

Fordhook 242, Henderson, Jackson Wonder, Dixie (Speckled) Butterpea, Early Thorogreen

Pole and bush-types exist; provide trellis support for pole-type varieties. Control stinkbugs that injure pods. Fertilize at 1/2 the rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Slightly more heat tolerant than bush or pole beans. Plant rust-resistant varieties.

Beets

Tall Top, Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Cylindra, Red Ace, Yellow Detroit

Beets require ample moisture at seeding or poor germination will result. Leaves are edible. Thin early to so beet roots have room to enlarge. Very cold tolerant. High in vitamins and iron.

Broccoli

Early Green, Early Dividend, Green Sprouting/Calabrese, Waltham, Packman, De Cicco, Broccoli Raab (Rapini)

Harvest heads before flowers open. Many small side shoots develop after main head is cut. Very cold hardy and nutritious. Broccoli Raab is not related to broccoli.

Brussels Sprouts

Jade Cross, Long Island Improved

Cool weather (58–60°F) is required or sprouts will open and not be solid. Sprouts are picked when they are walnut-sized and firm. The first sprouts near the bottom of the plant will be ready first. Pull off the leaves below the mature sprouts, then remove the sprouts by twisting them from the stem. Pick the sprouts at about 2-week intervals and keep refrigerated.

Cabbage

Rio Verde, Flat Dutch, Round Dutch, Wakefield types, Copenhagen Market, Savoy, Red Acre

High in vitamins, especially vitamin C. Long fall/winter planting season. Buy clean plants to avoid cabbage black-rot disease. Needs ample moisture and fertilizer. Frost tolerant. Watch for caterpillars.

Cantaloupes and Honeydews

Athena, Ambrosia, Galia (green flesh)

Bees needed for pollination. Disease prone. Mulch to reduce fruit-rot and salmonella. Overwatering or heavy rainfall reduces sugar content of maturing fruit. Harvest when the fruit cleanly separates from the vine with light pressure.

Carrots

Imperator, Nantes, Danvers, Chantenay

Grow carrots on a raised bed for best results. Sow seeds shallowly. They are slow to germinate. Keep soil consistently moist throughout the germination and growing periods. Thin seedlings to recommended spacing when they are an inch tall. Excellent source of vitamin A

Cauliflower

Snowball Strains, Snow Crown, Brocoverde

Can be difficult to grow. Plants are cold hardy; heads are not. Tie leaves around the head (called blanching) when it is 2–3 inches to prevent discoloration or plant self-blanching varieties.

Celery

Utah strains

Can be a difficult crop in the home garden. Requires very high soil moisture during seeding/seedling stage. Needs 3 months or longer to mature. Look for early-maturing varieties.

Chinese Cabbage

Michihili, bok choy, Napa, baby bok choy, pak-choi, joi choi

Easy to grow. Two types exist: Heading (Pekinensis) or Open-leaf (Chinensis). Bok Choy is open-leaf type, while Michihili and Napa form tighter heads.

Collards

Georgia, Georgia Southern, Top Bunch, Vates

Cold and heat tolerant. Cool-season greens are more flavorful. Greens are ready for use 2 months after planting. Harvest lower leaves; never remove more than 1/3 of the plant at one time. Respond, well to nitrogen fertilizer.

Corn, sweet

Silver Queen (white), How Sweet It Is (white), Sweet Ice (white), Sweet Riser (yellow), Early Sunglow (yellow)

Requires space; plant in blocks of at least 3 rows for good pollination. Isolate different varieties by cross-pollination. Plant where it will not shade other vegetables. Sucker removal not beneficial. Harvesting in early morning maintains sugar content. Scout for corn earworm.

Cucumbers

Slicers: Sweet Success, Poinsett, Ashley, MarketMore 76, Straight Eight, Space Master

Picklers: Eureka, Boston Pickling

Two types: slicers and picklers. Pickling types can also be used fresh. Burpless varieties exist. Many hybrids are gynoecious (female flowering; only female flowers set fruit). Bees are required for pollination.

Eggplant

Black Beauty, Dusky, Long, Ichiban, Cloud Nine (white)

Requires warm soil and weather. Harvest into summer. May need staking. Bitter fruit caused by high temperatures or drought conditions.

Endive/Escarole

Endive: Green Curled Ruffec

Escarole: Batavian Broadleaf

Excellent ingredient in tossed salads or can be cooked as greens. Bitterness can be reduced by blanching 2–3 weeks before harvest. Escarole (Batavian endive) is a broad-leaved selection.

Kale

Vates Dwarf Blue Curled, Tuscan (lacinato), Winterbor, Redbor

Good source of greens late fall through early spring in north and central Florida. Harvest outer leaves, but no more than 1/3 of the plant at one time. Ornamental types are edible, but not very tasty.

Kohlrabi

Early White Vienna, Purple Vienna

Easy to grow. Red and green varieties exist. Use fresh or cooked. Leaves are edible. Harvest stems when 1 ½ to 3 inches in diameter.

Lettuce

Crisphead: Great Lakes

Butterhead: Ermosa, Bibb, Tom Thumb, Buttercrunch

Loose Leaf: Simpson types, Salad Bowl, Red Sails, New Red Fire, Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl, Royal Oak

Romaine: Parris Island Cos, Outredgeous

Leaf types grows well in Florida; grow crisphead type only in coolest months. Damaged by freezing temperatures. Warm temperatures cause bitterness. Sow seeds very shallow as they need light to germinate. Intercrop lettuce with long-season and/or taller vegetables.

Mustard

Southern Giant Curled, Florida Broad Leaf, Tendergreen, Giant Red, Green Wave, Mizuna

Good cooking green fall through spring; harvest outer leaves. Broadleaf types require more space. Damaged by freezing temperatures. Warm temperatures create bitter flavor.

Okra

Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley II, Cajun Delight

Soak seeds in water for 6 hours for better germination. Requires warm soils and temperatures. Very heat tolerant. Highly susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Harvest pods a few days after flower petals have fallen or pods become tough and stringy.

Onions

Bulbing: Granex (yellow)

Green: Evergreen Bunching, White Lisbon Bunching

Multipliers: Shallots

Leeks: American Flag

Depending on type, onions may be grown from seed, sets, transplants, or division. Bulbing onions must be planted in fall and be short-day varieties. Green/bunching onions may be grown fall through spring. Plant close and harvest (thin) as needed. Insert sets upright for straight stems. Divide and reset multiplier types every year.

Peas, English or Snow

Wando, Green Arrow, Sugar Snap, Oregon Sugarpod II

Fertilize at 1/2 rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production (as does warm temperatures). May need support depending on type. Consume soon after harvest for best quality.

Peas, Southern (aka Field Peas, Cow Peas, Crowder Peas, Cream Peas)

California Blackeye No.5, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Texas Cream

Highly nutritious. Fertilize at 1/2 rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Good summer cover crop. Cowpea curculio is a common pest. Maintain consistent soil moisture.

Peppers

Sweet: California Wonder, Red Knight, Big Bertha, Sweet Banana, Giant Marconi, Cubanelle

Hot: Early Jalapeno, Jalapeno M; Cherry Bomb, Hungarian Hot Wax, Big Chile II, Mariachi, Numex, Ancho, Thai, Anaheim Chile, Long Cayenne, Habanero, Caribbean Red Habanero

Transplants often more successful than seeds. Mulching especially beneficial. Will often produce into summer. Pepper “heat” depends on variety and is measured in Scoville units.

Potato, Irish

Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, Gold Rush

Plant 2-ounce certified seed pieces with at least one eye. Each will produce 6–8 potatoes. Do not start with “store bought.” Require cool temperatures, moisture, and large amounts of fertilizer.

Potatoes, Sweet

Centennial, Beauregard, Vardaman, Boniato

Start with certified-free transplants (slips). Use vine tip cuttings for a second crop and prolonged harvest season. Types: moist-flesh (yams) and dry-flesh (e.g., boniata). Bush types conserve garden space. Sweet potato weevils are a serious problem; rotate the planting site.

Pumpkin

Big Max, Connecticut Field, Prizewinner, Jack Be Little, Jack O Lantern, calabaza

Requires a lot of space but can be grown under taller vegetables. Bees required for pollination. Foliage diseases and fruit-rot are common.

Radish

Cherry Belle, White Icicle, Sparkler, Champion, Daikon

Easy and fast-growing; thin early and inter-crop with slow-growing vegetables to save space. Plant every two weeks during the growing season for a continuous supply. Spicy, bitter flavor caused by hot weather and over-maturity. Winter/Oriental radishes (such as Daikon) also grow well in Florida.

Spinach

Melody 3, Bloomsdale Longstanding, Tyee, Space

Grows best only during the coolest months. Quick maturing. Harvest entire plant or by removing outer leaves. New Zealand spinach and Malabar spinach, although not true spinach, grow well during warm months in Florida. Plant New Zealand spinach or Swiss Chard for summer greens.

Squash

Summer: Early Prolific Straightneck, Summer Crookneck, Early White Scallop, chayote

Zucchini: Cocozelle, Spineless Beauty, Black Beauty, Chayote, Calabaza

Winter: spaghetti, Table King, Table Queen & Table Ace (Acorn), Waltham, Early Butternut (butternut)

Summer squash and zucchini are usually bush types; winter squash have a spreading, vining habit. Calabaza is similar, but is a heat-and disease-resistant hard-shelled squash, similar to a butternut or acorn in taste. Chayote is a vine that needs support. All cucurbits have male and and female flowers separated on the plant and pollination by insects is required for fruit set. Crossing between types occurs, but is only evident when seeds are saved. Leaf and fruit diseases are fairly common. Winter types store well.

Strawberry

Chandler, Oso Grande, Sweet Charlie, Selva, Camarosa, Festival

Grown as an annual crop in Florida starting with disease-free plants in the fall. Plant only varieties adapted to Florida.

Swiss Chard

Bright Lights, Bright Yellow, Fordhook Giant, Lucullus, Red Ruby

Seeds can be sown in the fall as well as in late winter/early spring. An excellent alternative green for warm weather. Harvest outer leaves when 8-10 inches long. Very susceptible to root-knot nematodes.

Tomatoes

Large Fruit: Celebrity, Heat Wave II, Better Boy, Beefmaster, BHN444-Southern Star*, Amelia*, BHN 640*, Tasti-Lee™

Small Fruit: Sweet 100, Juliet, Red Grape, Sun Gold, Sugar Snack, Sweet Baby Girl

Heirloom: Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Eva Purple Ball, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Delicious

Staking/supporting and mulching are beneficial. Flowers self-pollinate. Blossom drop is usually due to too high or too low temperatures and/or excessive nitrogen fertilization. Serious problems include blossom-end rot, wilts, whitefly, and leafminers. Cherry types are heat resistant

*Resistant to TSWV (Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus)

Turnips

Roots: Purple Top White Globe

Greens: Seven Top, Shogoin

Quick-growing, cool weather crop. Grow for roots and tops (greens). Broadcast seed in a wide-row or single file. Thin early to allow for root expansion. Smaller roots (2”) are milder in flavor.

Watermelon

Large: Jubilee (aka FL Giant), Crimson Sweet, Charleston Grey 133

Small: Sugar Baby, Mickeylee

Vines require lots of space. Smaller “ice-box” types exist. Plant disease resistant varieties. Bees required for pollination. “Seedless” types must be interplanted with regular types to dependably bear fruit. Harvest when melon underside begins to turn yellow or when fruit tendril shrivels.

1 Other varieties may produce well also. Suggestions are based on availability, performance, and pest resistance.

2 Information on New Zealand and Malabar spinach, Calabaza, Chayote, and many other minor vegetables can be found at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_minor_vegetables

Table 3. 

Products currently labeled for insect and mite management in home vegetable gardens.

Pest

Neemd,e

Spinosadd,e

Bta,e

Carbaryld

Malathiond

Pyrethroidsb,d

Soapc,e

Hort. Oilc,e

Imidaclopridd

Acetamipridd

Aphids

X

     

X

 

X

X

X

X

Armyworm

 

X

X

   

X

       

Bean leafroller

 

X

X

   

X

       

Cabbage looper

 

X

X

 

X

X

       

Colorado potato beetle

 

X

           

X

X

Corn earworm/ fruitworm

 

X

X

   

X

       

Cowpea curculio

     

X

 

X

     

X

Cucumber beetle

X

   

X

X

X

     

X

Diamondback moth caterpillar

 

X

X

             

Flea beetle

     

X

X

X

   

X

X

Leafminers

 

X

               

Leafhoppers

     

X

       

X

X

Melonworm, pickleworm

 

X

X

 

X

X

       

Mexican bean beetle

     

X

X

X

     

X

Spider mites

X

           

X

   

Squash vine borer

   

X

   

X

       

Stink bugs

         

X

     

X

Thrips

 

X

           

X

X

Tomato hornworm, pinworm

 

X

X

   

X

       

Whiteflies

X

       

X

X

X

X

X

An X means the product is at least somewhat effective for controlling the listed pest. (Refer to the "active ingredient" on product labels to determine which pesticide(s) the product contains. Also note the specific vegetables for which the product can be used. Pay close attention to the waiting period indicated on the label. This is the amount of time that must elapse between pesticide application and harvest.)

a Bacillus thuringiensis

b Includes bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, and permethrin. Labeled pests and crops vary by product. Read labels carefully.

c Test on a few plants first because of the potential for leaf burn; do not use in hot weather.

d To protect bees and other pollinators, do not apply this insecticide when the plant is blooming

e Least toxic products

Footnotes

1.

This document is SP 103, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date December 1999. Revised January 2016. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Sydney Park Brown, associate professor emerita, Environmental Horticulture Department, and adjunct professor, Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology; Danielle Treadwell, assistant professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, and organic farming specialist; J. M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department; and Susan Webb, associate professor, Entomology and Nematology Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.