Get The Most Out Of Your Florida Garden By Planting A Florida Tough Veggie

Get The Most Out Of Your Florida Garden By Planting A Florida Tough Veggie





Speedy, Astro

Plant at 2–3 week intervals from fall through spring for a continual harvest. The dark green, spicy leaves can be steamed, pureed, or used raw in salads and sandwiches. Harvest individual leaves as needed or the entire plant when it is 8–10 inches tall. High temperatures cause arugula to flower and become bitter.

Beans, Bush

Snap: Bush Blue Lake, Contender, Roma II, Provider, Cherokee Wax

Shell: horticultural, pinto, red kidney, black bean, navy, garbanzo

Bush beans mature early and do not need staking. Fertilize at 1/2 the rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Flowers self-pollinate. Plant rust-resistant varieties.

Beans, pole

McCaslan, Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake

Fertilize at 1/2 the rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Support vines. May be grown with corn for vine support. Plant rust-resistant varieties.

Beans, lima

Fordhook 242, Henderson, Jackson Wonder, Dixie (Speckled) Butterpea, Early Thorogreen

Pole and bush-types exist; provide trellis support for pole-type varieties. Control stinkbugs that injure pods. Fertilize at 1/2 the rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Slightly more heat tolerant than bush or pole beans. Plant rust-resistant varieties.


Tall Top, Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Cylindra, Red Ace, Yellow Detroit

Beets require ample moisture at seeding or poor germination will result. Leaves are edible. Thin early to so beet roots have room to enlarge. Very cold tolerant. High in vitamins and iron.


Early Green, Early Dividend, Green Sprouting/Calabrese, Waltham, Packman, De Cicco, Broccoli Raab (Rapini)

Harvest heads before flowers open. Many small side shoots develop after main head is cut. Very cold hardy and nutritious. Broccoli Raab is not related to broccoli.

Brussels Sprouts

Jade Cross, Long Island Improved

Cool weather (58–60°F) is required or sprouts will open and not be solid. Sprouts are picked when they are walnut-sized and firm. The first sprouts near the bottom of the plant will be ready first. Pull off the leaves below the mature sprouts, then remove the sprouts by twisting them from the stem. Pick the sprouts at about 2-week intervals and keep refrigerated.


Rio Verde, Flat Dutch, Round Dutch, Wakefield types, Copenhagen Market, Savoy, Red Acre

High in vitamins, especially vitamin C. Long fall/winter planting season. Buy clean plants to avoid cabbage black-rot disease. Needs ample moisture and fertilizer. Frost tolerant. Watch for caterpillars.

Cantaloupes and Honeydews

Athena, Ambrosia, Galia (green flesh)

Bees needed for pollination. Disease prone. Mulch to reduce fruit-rot and salmonella. Overwatering or heavy rainfall reduces sugar content of maturing fruit. Harvest when the fruit cleanly separates from the vine with light pressure.


Imperator, Nantes, Danvers, Chantenay

Grow carrots on a raised bed for best results. Sow seeds shallowly. They are slow to germinate. Keep soil consistently moist throughout the germination and growing periods. Thin seedlings to recommended spacing when they are an inch tall. Excellent source of vitamin A


Snowball Strains, Snow Crown, Brocoverde

Can be difficult to grow. Plants are cold hardy; heads are not. Tie leaves around the head (called blanching) when it is 2–3 inches to prevent discoloration or plant self-blanching varieties.


Utah strains

Can be a difficult crop in the home garden. Requires very high soil moisture during seeding/seedling stage. Needs 3 months or longer to mature. Look for early-maturing varieties.

Chinese Cabbage

Michihili, bok choy, Napa, baby bok choy, pak-choi, joi choi

Easy to grow. Two types exist: Heading (Pekinensis) or Open-leaf (Chinensis). Bok Choy is open-leaf type, while Michihili and Napa form tighter heads.


Georgia, Georgia Southern, Top Bunch, Vates

Cold and heat tolerant. Cool-season greens are more flavorful. Greens are ready for use 2 months after planting. Harvest lower leaves; never remove more than 1/3 of the plant at one time. Respond, well to nitrogen fertilizer.

Corn, sweet

Silver Queen (white), How Sweet It Is (white), Sweet Ice (white), Sweet Riser (yellow), Early Sunglow (yellow)

Requires space; plant in blocks of at least 3 rows for good pollination. Isolate different varieties by cross-pollination. Plant where it will not shade other vegetables. Sucker removal not beneficial. Harvesting in early morning maintains sugar content. Scout for corn earworm.


Slicers: Sweet Success, Poinsett, Ashley, MarketMore 76, Straight Eight, Space Master

Picklers: Eureka, Boston Pickling

Two types: slicers and picklers. Pickling types can also be used fresh. Burpless varieties exist. Many hybrids are gynoecious (female flowering; only female flowers set fruit). Bees are required for pollination.


Black Beauty, Dusky, Long, Ichiban, Cloud Nine (white)

Requires warm soil and weather. Harvest into summer. May need staking. Bitter fruit caused by high temperatures or drought conditions.


Endive: Green Curled Ruffec

Escarole: Batavian Broadleaf

Excellent ingredient in tossed salads or can be cooked as greens. Bitterness can be reduced by blanching 2–3 weeks before harvest. Escarole (Batavian endive) is a broad-leaved selection.


Vates Dwarf Blue Curled, Tuscan (lacinato), Winterbor, Redbor

Good source of greens late fall through early spring in north and central Florida. Harvest outer leaves, but no more than 1/3 of the plant at one time. Ornamental types are edible, but not very tasty.


Early White Vienna, Purple Vienna

Easy to grow. Red and green varieties exist. Use fresh or cooked. Leaves are edible. Harvest stems when 1 ½ to 3 inches in diameter.


Crisphead: Great Lakes

Butterhead: Ermosa, Bibb, Tom Thumb, Buttercrunch

Loose Leaf: Simpson types, Salad Bowl, Red Sails, New Red Fire, Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl, Royal Oak

Romaine: Parris Island Cos, Outredgeous

Leaf types grows well in Florida; grow crisphead type only in coolest months. Damaged by freezing temperatures. Warm temperatures cause bitterness. Sow seeds very shallow as they need light to germinate. Intercrop lettuce with long-season and/or taller vegetables.


Southern Giant Curled, Florida Broad Leaf, Tendergreen, Giant Red, Green Wave, Mizuna

Good cooking green fall through spring; harvest outer leaves. Broadleaf types require more space. Damaged by freezing temperatures. Warm temperatures create bitter flavor.


Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley II, Cajun Delight

Soak seeds in water for 6 hours for better germination. Requires warm soils and temperatures. Very heat tolerant. Highly susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Harvest pods a few days after flower petals have fallen or pods become tough and stringy.


Bulbing: Granex (yellow)

Green: Evergreen Bunching, White Lisbon Bunching

Multipliers: Shallots

Leeks: American Flag

Depending on type, onions may be grown from seed, sets, transplants, or division. Bulbing onions must be planted in fall and be short-day varieties. Green/bunching onions may be grown fall through spring. Plant close and harvest (thin) as needed. Insert sets upright for straight stems. Divide and reset multiplier types every year.

Peas, English or Snow

Wando, Green Arrow, Sugar Snap, Oregon Sugarpod II

Fertilize at 1/2 rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production (as does warm temperatures). May need support depending on type. Consume soon after harvest for best quality.

Peas, Southern (aka Field Peas, Cow Peas, Crowder Peas, Cream Peas)

California Blackeye No.5, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Texas Cream

Highly nutritious. Fertilize at 1/2 rate used for other vegetables; too much nitrogen limits production. Good summer cover crop. Cowpea curculio is a common pest. Maintain consistent soil moisture.


Sweet: California Wonder, Red Knight, Big Bertha, Sweet Banana, Giant Marconi, Cubanelle

Hot: Early Jalapeno, Jalapeno M; Cherry Bomb, Hungarian Hot Wax, Big Chile II, Mariachi, Numex, Ancho, Thai, Anaheim Chile, Long Cayenne, Habanero, Caribbean Red Habanero

Transplants often more successful than seeds. Mulching especially beneficial. Will often produce into summer. Pepper “heat” depends on variety and is measured in Scoville units.

Potato, Irish

Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, Gold Rush

Plant 2-ounce certified seed pieces with at least one eye. Each will produce 6–8 potatoes. Do not start with “store bought.” Require cool temperatures, moisture, and large amounts of fertilizer.

Potatoes, Sweet

Centennial, Beauregard, Vardaman, Boniato

Start with certified-free transplants (slips). Use vine tip cuttings for a second crop and prolonged harvest season. Types: moist-flesh (yams) and dry-flesh (e.g., boniata). Bush types conserve garden space. Sweet potato weevils are a serious problem; rotate the planting site.


Big Max, Connecticut Field, Prizewinner, Jack Be Little, Jack O Lantern, calabaza

Requires a lot of space but can be grown under taller vegetables. Bees required for pollination. Foliage diseases and fruit-rot are common.


Cherry Belle, White Icicle, Sparkler, Champion, Daikon

Easy and fast-growing; thin early and inter-crop with slow-growing vegetables to save space. Plant every two weeks during the growing season for a continuous supply. Spicy, bitter flavor caused by hot weather and over-maturity. Winter/Oriental radishes (such as Daikon) also grow well in Florida.


Melody 3, Bloomsdale Longstanding, Tyee, Space

Grows best only during the coolest months. Quick maturing. Harvest entire plant or by removing outer leaves. New Zealand spinach and Malabar spinach, although not true spinach, grow well during warm months in Florida. Plant New Zealand spinach or Swiss Chard for summer greens.


Summer: Early Prolific Straightneck, Summer Crookneck, Early White Scallop, chayote

Zucchini: Cocozelle, Spineless Beauty, Black Beauty, Chayote, Calabaza

Winter: spaghetti, Table King, Table Queen & Table Ace (Acorn), Waltham, Early Butternut (butternut)

Summer squash and zucchini are usually bush types; winter squash have a spreading, vining habit. Calabaza is similar, but is a heat-and disease-resistant hard-shelled squash, similar to a butternut or acorn in taste. Chayote is a vine that needs support. All cucurbits have male and and female flowers separated on the plant and pollination by insects is required for fruit set. Crossing between types occurs, but is only evident when seeds are saved. Leaf and fruit diseases are fairly common. Winter types store well.


Chandler, Oso Grande, Sweet Charlie, Selva, Camarosa, Festival

Grown as an annual crop in Florida starting with disease-free plants in the fall. Plant only varieties adapted to Florida.

Swiss Chard

Bright Lights, Bright Yellow, Fordhook Giant, Lucullus, Red Ruby

Seeds can be sown in the fall as well as in late winter/early spring. An excellent alternative green for warm weather. Harvest outer leaves when 8-10 inches long. Very susceptible to root-knot nematodes.


Large Fruit: Celebrity, Heat Wave II, Better Boy, Beefmaster, BHN444-Southern Star*, Amelia*, BHN 640*, Tasti-Lee™

Small Fruit: Sweet 100, Juliet, Red Grape, Sun Gold, Sugar Snack, Sweet Baby Girl

Heirloom: Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Eva Purple Ball, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Delicious

Staking/supporting and mulching are beneficial. Flowers self-pollinate. Blossom drop is usually due to too high or too low temperatures and/or excessive nitrogen fertilization. Serious problems include blossom-end rot, wilts, whitefly, and leafminers. Cherry types are heat resistant

*Resistant to TSWV (Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus)


Roots: Purple Top White Globe

Greens: Seven Top, Shogoin

Quick-growing, cool weather crop. Grow for roots and tops (greens). Broadcast seed in a wide-row or single file. Thin early to allow for root expansion. Smaller roots (2”) are milder in flavor.


Large: Jubilee (aka FL Giant), Crimson Sweet, Charleston Grey 133

Small: Sugar Baby, Mickeylee

Vines require lots of space. Smaller “ice-box” types exist. Plant disease resistant varieties. Bees required for pollination. “Seedless” types must be interplanted with regular types to dependably bear fruit. Harvest when melon underside begins to turn yellow or when fruit tendril shrivels.

1 Other varieties may produce well also. Suggestions are based on availability, performance, and pest resistance.

2 Information on New Zealand and Malabar spinach, Calabaza, Chayote, and many other minor vegetables can be found at:

Victor DeFrisco Headshot
Phone: 561-951-3759
Dated: March 27th 2016
Views: 189
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