Growing Squash in Florida is Not So Easy

In New England squash and zucchini were always part of my summer gardening design.  Usually a couple of plants gave me more squash than I could eat.

In Florida I have had no luck growing any type of squash.  Now I read that “summer squash” is not grown in summer here.  In fact, I am discovering that not much does grow well here in summer, except the tropical plants and citrus.

The Summer Squash Gardening Solutions page at the University of Florida has some recommendations when it comes to planting and growing squash.  My garden is very small so I’ve tried to grow squash in my fabric bags.  The plants begin fine, but eventually rot away.   The types suggested are: Black Beauty and Spineless Beauty zucchini, and Summer Crookneck and Early Prolific Straightneck.  I’ve never grown pattypan squash, but the site recommends Early White Scallop.

Another mistake I may be making is buying my seedlings (and seeds) at Home Depot.  I have not had luck growing any plants that come from that store!   Both of my caladiums have disappeared totally from the garden!  I don’t know much about growing caladiums but I guess they need attention I did not give them.

Recently I visited a local nursery called Lindleys, in New Smyrna, where I found my Staghorn fern and Fiddle leaf fig tree, and a little thyme plant, but I’m thinking they might have seedlings to plant as well.  I believe the real growing season begins in February here.  I will go back and see what they have next month.


How to Grow Eggplants When the Flowers Keep Falling Off

Using a paintbrush to help with pollination of my big eggplant tree.

eggplant tall plant
My Eggplant “Tree”

You may be wondering about my post image of the eggplant with a paintbrush. I’m hoping that little brush will help with eggplant production. When your eggplant flowers keep falling off, you may need a little paintbrush too.

For many months now I have had an eggplant “tree” growing in my garden.  I’m not familiar with growing eggplants.  In my New England yard I think I tried a few times and picked maybe one eggplant from my own garden!  The plants never grew very large – maybe a couple feet high. Here in Florida, my eggplant has become a small tree. And this photo was taken AFTER I pruned big branches off the thing!

Because of the warm climate, vegetable plants just go on living for many, many months. I am not used to that. The New Hampshire growing season was very short. When frost and freezes don’t happen, I suppose the plants could go on living forever. I don’t know. Does that happen? I thought vegetable plants were only good for one season.

Eggplant flower
I get lots of these

The plant produced many little purple flowers, and I kept hoping to see the dark purple vegetable pop out, but it never happened …. until just recently.

I figured there might be something wrong, since the plant itself is healthy and big.  It gets plenty of water and sun.  The weather has been hot, so I attributed the lack of fruit to that. However, the days have become cooler and now that one eggplant had set, I hoped to see more. That is not happening. All the other flowers are still falling off.

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

I searched online and found a helpful article at Gardening Know How, which told me that lack of pollination may be the problem.

So this morning I went out with my little paint brush and swished it around inside some of the flowers. This is what that article said to do. Now I’ll wait and see if I get more eggplants forming.  (Update: this did not help.  I never got any more eggplants – that season – Read what happened the second year.)

I don’t love to eat eggplant, but I would definitely use them in a stir fry or vegetable lasagna dish.  I just need this big plant to give me something to cook with!

In the meantime, I am using green peppers daily. I never thought I could grow them, but it appears I just had to wait.

How to Grow Green Peppers in Florida, That’s My Question!

growing green peppers in florida
Fresh Green Garden Peppers

The title of this post leads you to believe that I will share my knowledge about how to grow green peppers in Florida. It’s not really the case, as I am really asking the question. I do hope to answer it one day.

My recent move from New Hampshire to Florida has left me garden-less. It’s horrible. My summer has been filled with moving furniture and boxes and searching for a new home. However, I can’t go for long without watching something green grow, so I bought 2 green (bell) pepper plants at Lowe’s to see if I could coax a pepper or two out of them.

Pepper plants like it warm, I know that much. I could never get them to give me a harvest in the north, so I figured they might do better where it’s warmer. So far I am not having luck. One plant has one deformed looking pepper beginning to grow. All the other flowers have fallen off. They are in pots and not in the ground, which I think is detrimental to their overall well-being. I can’t help it, I don’t have a permanent home.

So I am searching for advice about growing peppers.  My pathetic garden consists of a pot with parsley, basil and one pepper-less pepper plant.
At the Wizzley writing site where I have a number of articles published, I asked a kindly writer named Frank who gardens on an allotment in Great Britain, about growing peppers. Now, granted, his climate is nothing like a central Florida climate, but I did get some useful info from reading his page about Growing Bell Peppers. And he wrote it to help me out, which I appreciate. Adding a fertilizer high in potassium helps the fruit set, and I plan to try that next time I plant.

When I first brought my pepper and herb plants home, I put them out back under an old screen door (I live in a rental for the time being). I thought the screen might help block the sun, but I ended up moving everything over under an oak tree.  The summer sun is just too incredibly hot.  I don’t think people garden in summer here.

peppers in pots
This is it folks!

Soon I will be moving into my new house. Then we must build some raised beds and fill them with good dirt. I’m not in New England any longer. Good dirt comes from a store here. It will be another adventure in learning. Growing delicious fresh vegetables in Florida is my goal.

Yes, I lived in Florida before and I lived here for a long time.  But I spent my time raising my four kids and never had much time to grow vegetables.  I can grow flowers and shrubs like mad, but vegetables here?  That will be something new for me.

What I’ve Learned About Planting, Harvesting and Drying Garlic

Information on how to plant, harvest, dry and store your own garlic.

hardneck garlic bulb cloves
Planting, Harvesting and Drying Hardneck Garlic

I live in southwestern New Hampshire and each year I attempt to grow my own garlic.  After much trial and error and reading articles and books, this is what I’ve learned about planting, harvesting and drying garlic in my area of the country.

The first couple of years I had little luck, but I didn’t know what I was doing.  I wasn’t sure exactly when to plant it, and it never grew very large when I did manage to grow a few bulbs. As time went on, I read more, and realized that it needs to be weeded well. Weeds will compete for nutrients and keep the bulbs small. Also a little fertilizer when the stalks begin to grow can help. Continue reading “What I’ve Learned About Planting, Harvesting and Drying Garlic”

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