While many parts of the country are wrapping up their gardening season, here in Fort Lauderdale, the best is yet to come. Not all edible plants can survive South Florida’s summer heat, but many thrive in our conditions during fall, winter, and spring. Not only do many plants feel more comfortable in the cooler conditions, so do we, the gardeners!
Prepping for Cool Season Fruits and Vegetables
Since many cool-season edible plants like leafy greens and radish are quick growing, you can stagger when you plant them so that you continually have a new crop ready to harvest.
If you want to maximize the space you have, container gardening is a great option for fruits and veggies. When planting directly in the ground, be sure to remove weeds and dead plant matter, including roots. Till the soil a few weeks before planting, then add organic matter, such as compost.
List of Produce to Harvest in Florida’s Cool Season
In South Florida, we can have bountiful harvests all year round; it’s just a matter of knowing when to plant what!
Beets: We love a well-rounded vegetable, and beets are exactly that—besides the roots making delicious additions to salads, soups, and sandwiches, the greens are also edible. Beets don’t handle the heat well, so seed between October and January, and they’ll be ready for harvest in 50 to 70 days. For the best results, when seedlings are about four inches tall, thin them out so that they are three or four inches apart. This makes sure your plants get the nutrition they need to produce the best harvest.
Cauliflower: A couple years ago, cauliflower had a bit of a moment, being one of the trendiest veggie-based alternative foods used in pizza crusts, pasta, and “wings.” Well, so far, it’s standing the test of time and is still popular, and you can grow it in your own garden! Start seeding between September and January for a crop ready in 75 to 90 days. Since cauliflower and broccoli have similar growing needs, you can grow the two alongside each other.
Cucumbers: One of the easier vegetables to care for, cucumbers thrive in our cool season. Plant between September and February for a harvest ready in 45 to 60 days.
Grapefruit: While newly planted grapefruit trees take a few years to produce fruit, having fresh citrus fruit within arm’s reach is well worth the wait. Plant grapefruit trees in full sun. Once the tree is mature, the fruit will be ready to harvest from about September through to June.
Leafy Greens: Plant lettuce, arugula, and/or kale between September and January to have a tasty salad mix of leafy greens within a couple months! Leafy greens are easy to care for and grow fairly quickly. Consider spacing out when you plant seeds to allow for successive harvests.
Radish: One of the fastest-growing vegetables, radishes are ready to harvest in about one month. Every part of a radish is edible: use the greens in a twist on pesto, and add slices of the root to salads and sandwiches for a bit of an added kick! Seed radishes from October to March.
Strawberries: Whether you plan to eat the berries fresh from the plant or want to freeze them for later use, strawberries are a great addition to cool-season gardens. Plant from October to December. You should have ready-to-eat berries in 90 to 110 days.
Tomatoes: No garden is complete without a few of these plants—tomatoes are just so versatile, delicious in an array of dishes! Plant seeds anytime between August and February, and depending on the cultivar, they’ll be ready between 70 and 110 days.
To get started on your cool-season garden, stop by Living Color Garden Center, or call us to place an order. May your garden be productive and your fridge full of fresh fruits and veggies!