Most traditional summer vegetables are grown during the cooler fall and winter months in Florida. Growing vegetables in the heat of a Florida summer is challenging but rewarding. In addition to heat, Florida summers bring rain, and high humidity brings disease. Add summer pests and you have a recipe for disaster in the vegetable garden. Do not despair. Choosing the proper heat, disease and pest resistant vegetables can ease the burden and make growing vegetables in Florida heat much less labor intensive.
Prepare the soil for planting. Remove all leaves, roots and debris. Mix composted manure into the soil in a 1:1 ratio, with equal parts of manure and soil. Smooth with a garden rake.
Plant heat and disease resistant vegetable varieties. Eggplant, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, okra, sweet potatoes and Southern peas all thrive in the Florida heat. Plant heat resistant varieties of standard tomatoes, such as Heat Wave, Tropic and Solar Set. Plant bell peppers in an area where they are shaded from the afternoon sun to avoid sun scald.
Fertilize weekly with a balanced vegetable fertilizer with minor elements added or by working composted manure into the soil. Foliar feeding with liquid fertilizer is not recommended due to the danger of splashing disease spores onto healthy plants.
Water early in the morning every day. Do not rely on afternoon rains, as irreversible wilt damage may already be done by the time they arrive. Ground moisture evaporates rapidly in the Florida heat, so regular watering is essential. Water as close to the ground as possible, as watering overhead can spread disease spores to healthy parts of the plants.
Check daily for signs of pests or disease and treat accordingly. Spray for pests and diseases only during the early morning hours to avoid leaf burn. If possible, do not leave plants wet at night. If insects are detected, wash down leaves on both sides with a heavy spray of water to help remove insects and eggs before spraying with insecticides.
Keep the garden area free of weeds. Weeds suck moisture and nutrients away from vegetable plants. Diseases and insect pests also breed on weeds.