Cool Season Vegetable Gardening

Written by Ed Thralls, Extension Agent, Residential Horticulture, with Orange County IFAS Extension.  Thank you, Ed, for sharing this article with Healthy Kids Today.

Cheney School GardenWhat a great time of year in the vegetable garden! With almost five months of cool season vegetable gardening ahead, I can expect many varieties of lettuce, some cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, Swiss chard, carrots, onions, beets and strawberries. They should all be planted and growing by November. Get a copy of the  Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide to know what varieties are best to grow in Florida and when to plant them.

Growing vegetables from seed is fun, but transplants give an instant garden and reduce the time to harvest by a couple of weeks. Once you are an accomplished gardener with the varieties that grow well in Florida, add something new to the garden. Lettuces are interesting “cut and come again” crops. Leaf lettuce can be harvested by removing only the larger outer leaves and will “come again” in about 35 days for another harvest. Interesting varieties such as Speckles, Freckles, Red Sails, and Deer Tongue provide a great deal of interest at the dinner table as well as a pleasant taste treat.

When growing cauliflower or broccoli, consider growing Romanesco for the visual senses. It is very unusual and may be eaten raw or cooked.   It appears that it is either a cauliflower or a broccoli — you may call it what you like when it is growing in your vegetable garden.

Potatoes are best when planted in early January. Get good quality “seed” potatoes from your local garden summer-gardeningcenter. Potatoes from the produce market are often treated with a sprouting inhibitor and may not perform well in the home garden. Growing Potatoes in the Florida Home Garden identifies varieties and cultural methods to grow a great potato plant.

The cool season garden is one of the best reasons to live in Florida where you can tell relatives “up north” in March that you just harvested the best tasting cabbage ever for your St. Patrick’s day feast!

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