Winter Fruit or Vegetable Gardens in Florida
Florida's climate allows gardeners to grow fruits and vegetables year-round. The trick to gardening in Florida is to determine when to grow what. Some fruits and vegetables need cooler temperatures to thrive and will shrivel up in Florida's summer heat. The University of Florida's Extension service is a good resource for gardeners who need information about Florida's growing seasons.
Carrots are one of the crops that do not grow well in Florida's searing summer heat. According to the University of Florida's vegetable gardening guide, the best time to plant carrots in northern Florida is between September and March. In central Florida, October to March are the optimal months to plant carrots. In southern Florida, plant carrots between October and February. Seeds should be planted 1 to 3 inches apart and rows should be set 16 to 24 inches apart. Carrots will take 65 to 80 days to harvest.
Broccoli can be planted from August to February in northern Florida, from August to January in central Florida, and from September to January in southern Florida. Rows should be set 30 to 36 inches apart, with seeds 12 to 18 inches apart. Broccoli needs 75 to 90 days until harvesting.
Mid-winter tomatoes right from the vine are a treat for Florida gardeners. Because of the danger of frost periods in the northern and central regions, tomatoes well grow outdoors in the winter only in the southern areas of the state. Set plants in the ground from August to March, with rows 36 to 48 inches apart and plants set 18 to 24 inches apart. Harvest time from transplant to harvest is 75 to 90 days.
Winter strawberries are an important part of gardening in all parts of Florida. In fact, Plant City in central Florida has its own strawberry festival held in March. Planting is done from late September to early November. Fruiting begins in November and continues into April or May. Freezing weather may interrupt fruit production, according to the University of Florida. Plants should be covered with sheets or blankets to protect them during these periods. Strawberry plants prefer eight hours of sunlight and like slightly acidic, well-drained soil.
Two types of blueberries grow well in Florida conditions, the rabbiteye blueberry and the southern highbush. Rabbiteye grows well in the northern half of the state, while the southern highbush variety does well in the lower half. Blueberries require well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Adding a bit of sulphur to the soil gives it the acidity that blueberries need to thrive. Mid-December to mid-February is the best time to plant blueberries. Pruning should be done at time of planting. Harvest begins in April.