What Vegetables to Grow in Central Florida
Central Floridians have the best of both worlds. Gardeners living in northern Central Florida will have cooler weather longer than the southern portions of the region. Gardeners living in the southern portions of Central Florida will be able to set their vegetables into the garden sooner due to warmer weather.
The University of Florida considers Central Florida between state roads 40 and 70, or Ormond Beach down to Ft. Pierce. Almost all vegetables will grow at some time or the other in Central Florida.
Late February and early March is the time for Central Florida gardeners to prepare their garden beds for springtime planting. Temperatures are still cool so many of the cool season crops will do well planted at this time of year. Bush bean varieties such as pinto, black bean and kidney beans will grow well at this time of year, as well as Southern peas such as black-eyed. Root crops such as radishes, white and sweet potatoes grow well in spring.
Choose potato varieties suitable for Florida such as Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac, Centennial and Beauregard. Two varieties of Swiss chard-- Bright Lights and Fordhook Giant--will do well in spring, as will the Vates and Georgia varieties of collards.
This is also the time to start summer squashes such as straightneck, early prolific, cocozelle and black beauty. Additionally, plant okra varieties like Clemson spineless or Cajun Delight in your spring garden.
Summertime is when the heat is building in Central Florida and it is time to plant heat loving vegetables into your garden. Central Florida’s summer starts in May. Hot and sweet peppers grow well in the summer heat. Choose varieties such as California Wonder, sweet banana, jalapeno, cayenne and chili. Eggplant varieties like Black Beauty, Ichiban and Cloud Nine love the heat. Summer is time to plant watermelon into the garden. Select varieties such as Sugar Baby, Crimson Sweet and Florida Giant.
All types of onions, bunching, leeks and multipliers, grow well this time of year. Select varieties including evergreen bunching, White Lisbon, American Flag and shallots. In late summer add Utah strains of celery to the garden as well as pumpkin varieties Jack Be Little, Jack O' Lantern and Big Max.
Central Florida gardeners should start planting their fall gardens in early September, as the temperatures will begin to cool down in October. Many varieties of tomatoes do well in fall gardens such as sweet 100, red grape, better boy and heat wave. Now is the time to plant broccoli and cauliflower. Choose varieties like early green, Waltham, flat Dutch and Wakefield.
Add the carrot varieties Imperator, Nantes and Danvers to your fall garden. Lettuce varieties romaine, butterhead and leaf grow well in fall. Spinach grows well in fall gardens. Use varieties like Bloomsdale, Tyee, and Melody. Plant your winter squashes in fall such as spaghetti, early butternut and table ace (acorn).