The Q&A Archives: Central Florida Veggie Garden

Question: I realize I am late getting started for tomatoes but can I still plant them? Also, what other vegetables (especially lettuce) would do well in my area. I have a rather small planting area because of a large screened deck and pool, so I was considering some container vegetables. Any suggestions would be most helpful.

Answer: According to the fine new book, Vegetable Gardening in Florida, by James M. Stephens (ISBN 0-8130-1674-6; available from, you can still have enough sun and warmth to grow tomatoes. In fact, this is prime gardening time in your region. Other crops for the fall garden include radishes, cukes, snow and snap peas, summer squash, herbs, onions, carrots, beets, okra, cauliflower and cabbage, southern peas, turnips and strawberries. I highly recommend Mr. Stephen's book, as it recommends the tried and tested varieties for Florida gardens.

Container growing has great advantages -- you can locate pots where they get the proper sun/shade for their growth needs, and can "build" the right soil mix just for them. They require great attention to moisture levels, though. Consider using self-watering planters, a container drip irrigation system, and coconut fiber (coir) instead of peat-based soil mixes, as they hold moisture better. For more information about container growing, check out the free bulletin on the topic from Gardener's Supply Co. ( Enjoy!

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