Saturday, October 14, 2006

Planting the winter vegetables...

I'm a flower gardener: The bigger and brighter the bloom, the better. (People who murmur demurely about growing foliage and appreciating "textures" obviously cannot grow flowers!)

Vegetable gardening in Florida has many challenges, but if you can navigate the freezes, avoid the bugs, and ditch the 'soil,' you can grow a lot of veg here, just not the same way you might up north.

I'm giving it a shot this year: I've always found room in my garden to grow lettuces in the cool season, but this year I decided to try some pot culture: miniature carrots, bush cucumbers, and Thompson & Morgan's 'Asparagus Bean'. The kids lent a hand with the seeds on a fine, dry and cool day here in Florida.

I planted the Rocket (Apollo from Thompson & Morgan) and the salad mix (MISTICANZA from Pinetree Garden) in a homemade, small-scale version of an Earthbox. The carrots (Little Finger and Adelaide, from Pinetree) went in some plastic windowbox containers (about ten inches deep, hopefully enough for these four-inch carrots). For the moment, the cucumbers (Salad Bush from Pinetree; Lemon and Cucino from Thompson & Morgan) are in peat pots: I'll put together another homemade Earthbox when they've outgrown the peat pots.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...
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JLB said...

Greetings,

I found you through Garden Voices. I have never even visited Florida, so please forgive my ignorance, but I am very curious about your winter veggie plans. What do you mean by ditch the "soil"? Will you be growing these in your own mixtures? Indoors? In green houses or cold frames? I can wait for answers if you intend to reveal your plans in later posts. ;)

Good luck with your winter crop!

Cheers,
JLB in PA

Shirley T said...

I've lived in N. Fl over 30 yrs and this Oct. I threw a few pkg's of various tomatoe seeds in a bed. This bed is facing so. and totally protected from no. winds by house and fence. So, now the plants are all up and flowering and I fear when Jan hits, they will freeze. Any tips to protect them? Our winters are usually 4 days long and don't reach below 25. Tarps or mulch or what?

Thanks, ST

Central FLA Gardener said...

By ditching the soil, I meant growing in composted yardwaste instead of the "soil" we're blessed with here in FLA: Our soil is essentially sand with very little in the way of organic material or clay. At least it's well drained...

And about growing tomatoes in N Florida during the cold season: I fear that your tomatoes will bear little this time of the year. Tomatoes (and eggplants, peppers, okra) don't do well in temperatures under 80: They don't grow much, and many won't set fruit. (You might get blossoms, but no fruit will form.) It MIGHT be possible to nurse them through to March by covering them every time it gets below 34, when they'll take off, but I doubt it's worth your while.

THE TEAM at Homevest Realty said...

What do you grow in winter in orlando? Thanks

chestnutfilly said...

Thanks for the info and inspiration. I'm a northerner and just don't seem to get it when it comes to southern gardening... I've got a whole lotta lilies!! Everything else I had, just flowers, was frozen while I was out of the country last winter. I've had a bit of luck with some herbs. I'll try some of your suggestions. Again thanks.

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sheri said...

I'm really excited for you. I see your children are involved, great experience for them.
I start my box building soon. Am getting started a bit late, but whatever I can get done will work in the spring, if it doesn't now!
for the winter tomato planter, you can build warming boxes around your plants for the freeze. Just make sure they get plenty of sunlight. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I live in Sanford, FL, about half way between Orlando and Daytona. I plant a small garden in my front flower bed (on the south side protected from the north wind) sometime in the month of October. I plant tomato transplants and they usually start flowering and setting fruit within 4 to 5 weeks, about the end of November, and they set fruit usually until the end of December when the weather really cools off. This year we have had a couple of very cold, frosty nights, with temps down to 28 in Sanford. I covered the plants with a couple of layers of lightweight sheets or towels, and the plants survived unharmed. In January the weather has been beautiful this year, and all those fruits that set in December, began ripening. Last week we had freezing temps again, so I harvested all the ripe tomatoes and the ones that were green and just starting to turn pinkish. I covered the plants again, and had very little damage, even the flowers were undamaged. More fruit is ripening, and the weather has warmed back up. Just fertilized again to encourage more growth and flowering before the weather gets too humid and the bugs and disease season begins. Hoping the plants will set alot more fruit for the next two months! If you have a protected place on the south side of your home and some space in your front flower bed, it is a great place to grow tomatoes. I even have kale growing this year too. We keep the flower bed mulched, so the soil is more fertile than the rest of the yard. Our front flower bed is nestled in the corner where our front wall and garage wall meet, creating great protection from cold north wind, and hot sun from the west. Hope this helps someone.