By BJ Jarvis
Pasco Extension Director and Horticulture Agent
It was only a generation or two ago that nearly every home had a vegetable garden. Today Florida gardeners are returning to taking a small patch of bare soil and turning it into a satisfying assortment of fresh, nutritious vegetables.
For those who grew up gardening elsewhere, late summer was merely a season of weeding and harvesting. However, in Florida this is the beginning of the warm season vegetable garden. This is a window of warm, relatively long days to raise plants that appreciate the heat. Some great choices include:
—Green and hot peppers
Save the cool season vegetables, such as salad fixings, for later in the fall so they can grow in the winter. These plants should go in the ground around Halloween. Lettuce, spinach, collards, sugar snap peas, cabbage and broccoli will all grow well in our region’s cool temperatures, usually handling a mild frost without a hiccup.
Because it is time to plant warm season vegetables, don’t bother starting plants from seed or you will miss the fall opportunity.
For those who really want to start seeds, sprout plants about six weeks prior to garden set. Instead, choose transplants from garden centers or gardening buddies this fall. For the next growing season of warm season vegetables, which starts around St. Patrick’s Day, you will need to plan ahead by starting seeds about four to six weeks earlier to get seeds grown out to transplant size on time.
Homegrown vegetables may taste better than store-bought and are definitely fun to grow. Consider starting your favorite veggies for a feast this fall.
For more information on growing vegetables, visit the University of Florida’s website, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/VH/VH02100.pdf.
—BJ Jarvis is Director and Horticulturist for Pasco Extension, a partnership between the University of Florida, USDA and county government.
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