October and November Vegetable Gardening in Florida

raised garden bed in fall
Raised Garden Bed November 2017

Now that the weather is cooling off here in central Florida, gardening is on my mind.  I can comfortably step outside and work in the yard.  October was a little hot, but November has been nice.

My Gardening in Florida book says that October is the time to think about growing cool-season crops.  Now it’s November and I still don’t have enough dirt for planting.  But if I did, this is what I would have planted.

Also, further down the page, see what is still growing and beginning to produce vegetables!

What to Plant in Fall

Suggested planting includes carrots, beets (I seldom eat) and turnips (I never eat), which can be started as seeds.  No need to buy seedlings.  Last spring I planted carrots in a fabric pot and they did pretty well.

My book has a section about building strawberry pyramids – so I assume I should plant strawberries this time of year. I don’t really have the space for them, so maybe I need a pyramid? There is probably no time or money for that this year, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Or maybe I will use one of the ideas found at this page: Top 30 Stunning Low-Budget DIY Garden Pots and Containers. Some look cheap and easy enough to do! Makes me want to go to the dollar store.

What I really need is a fence. It will give me some place where I can add containers and keep the raccoons out at the same time. There is no money for that right now.

I must deal with reality, so here is my list of vegetables I could have planted in October.  My garden is 10 feet long by 3 feet wide.  So not a lot of space, but I do have fabric pots to use as well.  If only I had a garden full of good dirt.

Lettuce
Kale
Onions – plant around the edges, take up little space
Peas – Will need a trellis

Some Plants Are Still Growing Well After Summer

I all but gave up completely on growing anything over the summer.  I had planted tomatoes, eggplant, squash and peppers in Spring.  I did get some small tomatoes but the raccoons helped themselves.  The squash plant got bugs and died before it gave me any squash.  The Eggplant and Peppers are still going strong.  In fact they are now doing well.

My neighbor, who does no gardening in summer, said that when it’s too hot the plants won’t produce. She covers the ground with plastic to kill the nematodes. However, I wonder if she realizes that burning out the bad also affects the good. I’m not sure it is wise to do that.  And because my plants survived the summer and are now looking good, I plan to keep the garden going all summer long next year.

eggplant in raised bed garden
My Eggplant “Tree” and green pepper plant in the raised bed

I honestly thought everything would eventually die in the summer heat.  I kept watering, just in case.  My eggplant grew into a small tree!  It was pretty, and has plenty of purple flowers, but never gave me an eggplant to eat.  Finally I cut it back hoping the excess energy put into growing would be used to possibly give me some eggplants.

And then…. today (maybe 2 weeks after trimming it) I was watering in the morning, as I do every day, and I found a small Eggplant beginning to grow!  Yay… more please.

title eggplant beginning to grow
November 15th – Finally, a Little Eggplant is Growing!

The only other vegetable producing plants that have survived are the peppers.  The hot pepper plant gives me a pepper here and there.

I have 2 bell pepper plants.  One is in a fabric pot and it has produced a couple of peppers over summer.  Now that the weather is cooler, the other pepper plant is producing like mad!  I’ve never been able to grow peppers but maybe the secret is to plant in Spring and wait until Fall to eat them.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 9.50.47 AM

So, what I’ve learned so far is that planting in Spring gives me vegetables in Fall. The plants seem to go dormant over summer and then produce when the weather gets nice.

I’m continuously amending my soil and will continue to do so.  I think poor soil was inhibiting growth.

Fall Vegetable Planting in Florida, What Can I Plant?

garden vegetables
Nothing Beats Fresh Grown Veggies

I’ve been browsing my new Florida Gardening book and finally came upon a page that really tells me all I need to know for now.  It is entitled “Cool Season Vegetables” with planting times – specifically for north, south or central Florida regions.

I will live on the edge of zone 9a and 9b of the cold hardiness zone map. What that means is that my area often gets frosts and sometimes freezes during December, January and February.   Temperatures can get down into the 20’s.  When that happens I will have to protect my crops. I can remember covering my outdoor shrubs and plants that were sensitive to cold when I lived in Florida before.  I saved up old sheets and blankets and would cover them over night. Usually temperatures climb nicely during the day, but overnight it can be downright cold!

Anyway, the cool season vegetable planting list contains a lot of vegetables I love to grow.

Growing vegetables in Florida is new to me.  I’m used to having everything pulled up from my gardens by the beginning of October, with the exception of some herbs, parsley and kale.  It’s not a time for beginning to plant anything in New England.  The fall season in the northeast is a time to enjoy the foliage and try not to think about what is coming.

I am delighted to find that many of my favorite veggies can be grown in the upcoming months.   On the planting list for October onward, I see that I can plant carrots, celery, kale, lettuce, onions, parsley, peas and potatoes, to name a few.   A couple of surprises on the list include strawberries and rhubarb!    The rhubarb can be planted at any time of year, but I didn’t even know I would be able to grow it in the south!  And I always thought strawberries were summer fruit.

Also most herbs can be planted this time of year.  Of course I searched for parsley first thing and was astounded when it wasn’t listed in the “herb” section.  After freaking out a bit, I found it listed under cool-season vegetables.  I always thought parsley was a herb, so I researched it and found that it is considered a herb, a spice and a vegetable.  Wow, I didn’t know that.

container garden
My current “garden”

When I first moved down to Florida in June, I went out and bought two green pepper plants.  They grew one funny-looking pepper and then began to die.  I still have one of the plants and it’s beginning to grow new peppers.  (See it in the black pot in my photo.) I am hoping it may still produce a pepper or two for me.

Now that I see the lists of all these vegetables, I am wishing I had a bigger yard.  I haven’t moved into my new home yet, but the lot is normal size.  I’ll have to figure out how to best utilize the space for my gardens.  (Update:  I plant in a raised bed.)   This gardening research will give me a good idea of what to do once the garden beds are ready.

Maybe I will continue to do some container gardening in the meantime.

Out of The Box And Into the Yard – Mail Order Perennials

New little hydrangea plant
One of The Hydrangea Plants

I was impressed with the packaging of the perennials I had ordered from American Meadows, and even though they were a little droopy, they bounced back.

Both Hydrangeas are planted in the backyard where they will get sun and the forsythia is out front. Unfortunately we got a freak 2 feet of snow the end of October, so they hadn’t been in the ground for long before they were covered. One of the long stalks of the forsythia broke off so it’s pretty small now, and the hydrangeas are droopy and partially broken. (The photo was taken before the snow – which may seem obvious, but the snow has all melted now).

I ordered from an online store because I was anxious to get my gardening started here at my new place, but I have my doubts as to how well these plants will do once Spring arrives. And more importantly, how much will they grow. I will be saving up this winter to buy some local hydrangeas and probably more forsythia so we’ll see how much of a difference it makes as far as growth.

Heading Into Fall and Not Doing Much Planting

Extinct?
Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr

The New England Fall season brings us a new set of circumstances to deal with and probably not many people are thinking about planting anything.  They are thinking about chopping, splitting and lugging firewood and maybe buying a new or used wood stove.  They are concentrating, like I am, on the cold season that is coming all too soon.

Fall is a great time to plant perennials and get them established before snow to bring beauty to the landscape the following year.  I have mail-ordered some hydrangeas and other things – I can’t even remember what – that should be showing up on my doorstep any day now.  Or maybe it’s October that they ship?  The problem with mail-order is that I tend to forget.  I have too many other things to worry about and when the arrive I will worry about planting them.  I have the bonemeal, a shovel, work gloves and spots selected in the yard, so I am ready.  I think.  As long as they arrive in decent weather.

In the mean time, I will be waiting for my wood delivery to arrive and after the new wood stove is broken in (I have to do a couple of low temperature burns) I’ll be getting my wood organized before it’s covered with snow.  Then it will be time to rake the abundance of leaves that will surely cover my yard.

I enjoy Fall tremendously, but it’s a busy time.  For me, it’s the whirlwind before the calm.  Once the snow falls, it seems that things calm down and people stay inside as much as possible unless they ski or drive a snow plow.  Winter brings it’s own chores that are not nearly as enjoyable and there will be no planting going on then.