Florida Gardening forum: Who grows vegetables and fruit in Florid

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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Aug 23, 2015 6:25 AM CST
Well, after much trial and error, I am coming to the experts here to ask ....

Can anyone tell me which edible plants (specific cultivars) that grow well here in zone 9b in Florida? AND not only which ones, but WHEN is the best time to sow seeds to get them to germinate, grow, and produce?

What kind of location would they need as well? Shade, full sun, partial shade, etc?

I would like to grow them in the ground if possible, but I can do container sowing as well. I just need some cultivar names of edible plants to get on the right track. I am able to grow all kinds of ornamental plants, but veggies and fruit have eluded me for a good 5+ years. I would prefer to mix these plants into my landscaping not rows like a farm might have. Help!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 23, 2015 3:43 PM CST
I'm hoping to see some responses in here as well, Becky. Granted this is only my first year trying to grow anything here in FL (moved from the Midwest), but had very poor results this year. Tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers all looked like lace after some kind of bugs got them. And i never saw a bug on them ... couldn't figure it out. I think you have more perseverance that I do ... I've already said if this fall planting of tomatoes don't do better, then I'm done with them .. I can't imagine fighting all the pests and diseases for 5 years.

Here's what was left of my parsley after some yellow/black worms got to it.

Thumb of 2015-08-23/p1mkw/8c77b1 Thumb of 2015-08-23/p1mkw/7bd407

Mary K.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Aug 23, 2015 3:49 PM CST
The yellow black worms are butterfly caterpillars! I grow Parsley just for the Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars because I garden for butterflies! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious! I know some gardeners cover their plants with row covers to help prevent insects.

http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/eastern_black_swal...

I, too, hope some other Florida gardeners pop on this thread to give us some advice and suggestions for what and when to plant edibles.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Aug 23, 2015 3:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 23, 2015 4:23 PM CST
Yep, that is what I saw on the parsley after it was almost gone. well, at least it was a butterfly caterpillar. Guess i can't be too upset with it Smiling
Mary K.
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 24, 2015 10:34 AM CST
@beckygardener

My son sent me a link that a coworker shared with him ... it does have some of the information you specifically asked about ... what grows here, cultivar, time to plants, etc. At least it's a starting point for us. And the suggestion about using pesticides weekly may be the key. I'm still not wanting to use the chemicals if I can avoid them, but maybe more diligence with the BT and Spinosad might help.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021

Mary K.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 24, 2015 4:27 PM CST
Becky and Mary, I've been growing edibles in Florida since we moved here in 2002.. I usually have tomatoes, peppers, salad greens and other goodies right through until April or so. Depends how quickly the weather heats up in the spring.

I have a favorite book that I fall asleep over all through the fall and winter months. "The Edible Landscape" by Tom McCubbin. It's a great general guide for veggie and fruit in Florida, and also has a page or two about most of the commonly grown vegetables and fruit.

NOW is the time to start your veggie garden, if you're willing/able to throw some row covers or frost cloth over your tomatoes and peppers in January/February. You want a spot that will get full sun even when the sun angle is at its lowest in December. South side of a building is ideal because the building will also protect your plants to a great extent from the cold winds in winter.

I have such terrible soil, and so many oak tree roots around my house that I have resorted to growing in Earth Boxes. (yes, lured to the Dark Side). If you want to plant in-ground you probably already know you need to amend, amend, amend. Lots of veggie plants are susceptible to nematodes (remember your brugs, Becky?) and the more organic material you have in the soil, the less problems you'll have with nematodes.

First question really is "what do you like?". Then start what you like, from seed or transplants - warm weather lovers like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and in a few weeks, beans can go in. Greens, peas, and cabbage-y things like broccoli and cauliflower and root crops like carrots and beets need to wait to go outdoors until after the first cold front in October, but you can start seeds in September for just about all of them.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 24, 2015 5:05 PM CST
Thanks for the info, Elaine! I use Earthboxes almost exclusively. I have a few Smart Pots. I live in a Retirement Park so I don't have access to any ground to use for a garden. Do you only garden in the Fall? I've got pepper and tomato plants ready to go into an Earthbox. I keep putting it off since it's still so hot here. I did have some success with peppers, green beans and okra from my spring planting. Also got some broccoli and cauliflower into boxes in late January or early February that did OK and I'm really looking forward to growing more of those again. I was going to wait a little longer to start the seeds for them, but I see you suggest starting them next month.

Thanks again for your input. I'm more concerned about the pests that ruined my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini this summer. I don't think it was any kind of worm, so I'm not sure BT would help .. the leaves looked like lace and I never saw what bug or insect was causing the damage. I saw a homemade pesticide that I may try ... had soap, onions, garlic and hot peppers in it. I'm ready to try about anything to get a good tomato.

Mary K.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 24, 2015 5:54 PM CST
Mary, I grow veggies from September through May and take the summer off, just because of the brutal heat as you mentioned. I now tell my husband (when he comments that the weeds are getting waist high) that as the weather heats up the plants speed up and the gardener slows down. Then of course as the weather cools the plants slow down and the gardener speeds up again. So my garden is reasonably neat through the cool months, and a jungle in summer. I barely manage to keep the walkways passable, in my 10-minute weeding expeditions.

As far as pests, yes you surely must expect to battle every bug and fungus, but it's not that bad. I pretty much get by with three spray bottles, soapy water solution, 1/2tsp. dish soap to a quart of water, sprayed every few days for aphids, mites and white flies in one, baking soda and water (same recipe) against fungus in the second and BT in the third.

One thing I would tell you though - I've completely given up trying to grow any squash, cucumbers or melons here. There are just too many problems with them. I've even tried building a netting cage over my squash plants, and the powdery mildew then killed them before I got any harvest.

I get buckets of awesome tomatoes from November onwards until about May, using just the soapy water solution on a regular basis. Planting at the right time is key, though. You can plant tomatoes in September and if you're lucky they'll keep going and keep bearing right through spring. (you may have to cover them if the temps go below 40, but that doesn't happen very often) But if you lose them to cold weather or they stop bearing in the dead of winter, you can re-start them from cuttings or buy new transplants and plant again in late February. If you plant too late in the spring, the late blights get them. These are airborne bacterial blights that come along with the hot weather, and even the so-called "heat tolerant" tomatoes just up and die by June or so. One day your tomato plant looks good, and the next day it's standing there with all its leaves hanging straight down. Been there, done that the first summer we lived here.

You do have to keep your eye out for tomato hornworms, as they can defoliate a whole plant in a couple of days. They're so big though, you hardly can miss them. They are the size of your finger, green with diagonal white stripes across their body and a red "horn" on the back end to make them look fearsome. (they don't poke you though). I just pick these off by hand and feed them to the birds.

By the way, it's a great thing to have a bird feeder near your veggie plants as the birds will also help with bugs and caterpillar infestation on your plants. Watch those pesky cardinals, though. They like a red tomato once in a while.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 24, 2015 6:14 PM CST
You've given me hope, Elaine. I did find the soapy water got rid of the aphid infestation I got on peppers earlier this summer. I may do as you do and forget trying to grow anything in the summer. It obviously was more that I was up to this year. I did have the horn worm on the tomatoes I tried to grow and the BT took care of them, but then the plants began to look as you described and finally the leaves turned to lace as something ate the leaves. I think a blight of some kind also hit them. I bought and tried 2 plants from Home Depot that were supposedly developed for Florida weather. Just as you described, one day they look great; the next they're wilting and soon dry up even being in an earthbox the what is supposed to be 'ideal' watering.

Sorry to hear zucchini won't be in my future here, but I suppose I can't have everything.

You've gotten me excited once again about trying to grow something here. Thanks for sharing your experience and advice.

Mary K.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 24, 2015 6:36 PM CST
Yep, eggplant, peppers and basil will go through the summer ok, if you can keep them healthy and clean. There are some interesting tropical veggies like Calabaza squash (that's not really a squash, I think) and Chayote that you can try. Also a wonderful "winged bean" that had square pods and beautiful blue flowers that I had seeds for, and have now lost. I'm going to look for that one again.

But tomatoes? Those are for fall, winter and spring here.

See if you can get a copy of that book, though. The library probably has it, and it has a wealth of info. Once you read it, you'll want to buy it, I warn you. I've used mine so much for years it's terribly worn and dog-eared.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Aug 24, 2015 6:55 PM CST
Elaine - THANK YOU!!! I knew I was planting them at the wrong time! But I kept thinking they needed the heat to grow! Ha! Least I forget I live in central Florida where we typically don't have freezing winters. And I do cover my plants when the temps drop close to freezing. Thank you for the info about your 3 spray bottles, too! That really helps me!

I gave up on cukes and squash because of powdery mildew several years ago. I do currently have success with bell peppers grown in pots. I figured that nematodes would get many edible crops. I should take a photo of what the nematodes did to the roots of one of my penta plants. It's amazing, yet the penta is still alive and blooming. A tough plant!

I had heard of that book you mentioned. I think that is one that I will also find and purchase. I can probably find it on Amazon.

Mary - I had already read over and over that link that your son sent you. It IS a good link, I just didn't follow the planting times like I should have.

So probably the best way to grow edibles is in pots, not the ground? My soil is horrid.

One winter I did have great success with cherry tomatoes! It was a very cold winter and I would move the container in and out of my garage every night/day. They would get the warm sunny south side area where the garage is facing. They were the BEST tasting cherry tomatoes I ever ate. I ate them as fast as I could pick them. They never made it to the dinner table. I wonder if I ever knew what a real tomato tasted like before then.

Thank you so much for all your wonderful advice. I do believe planting/growing timing is the key to success. That and growing them in containers. I happen to have had good success with those self-watering bucket containers. I made a bunch of those containers and that is how I grew my tomatoes that winter. Very similar to earth boxes.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 24, 2015 7:21 PM CST
And thank you, Becky, for starting this thread. Elaine's help and suggestions have given me new enthusiasm again. I am so glad I decided to start some tomato seeds to try 'one last time' this fall. Maybe I'll finally get some tomatoes after all.

I don't know about containers being better than growing in the ground, but I have no choice here. I used earthboxes in Indiana in addition to my in-ground garden and really liked them. I'm glad I kept them when I made the move to FL. It's just so different trying to garden in this climate. Maybe with help from people like Elaine I'll finally feel some success.

The first winter here was very mild, but last winter was much colder even though I think we only got below 40° a couple of times, we had several days where it never got out of the 50's. Hopefully this winter will be a good one and we both can enjoy a good garden.
Mary K.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Aug 24, 2015 7:24 PM CST
Mary - I agree! Hope to again have some really good tasting tomatoes! THAT would make me very happy! Big Grin
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Aug 24, 2015 7:26 PM CST
Elaine - Can you recommend some tomato cultivars for us to try? What other cultivar of veggies do you grow?
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Aug 24, 2015 7:36 PM CST
Mary - I have very good luck with herbs. But I don't grow them in the ground because they are either invasive in my garden or the nematodes do kill some herbs. I do have a large Rosemary bush in the ground in my front garden bed near my front door. I love running my hands over a branch to release the scent.

I grow my herbs in a vertical garden I made using re-purposed wood:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/beckygardener/1893/Vertical-Her...

I don't use a LOT of each herb, so these smaller herb vertical boxes have worked perfect for me. I need to replant some of mine and replace a couple, but almost all of the original plants are still in this vertical garden! I thought they would die off after 6 months or so ... didn't happen! Whistling Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 24, 2015 8:26 PM CST
Oh Mary, now you're in trouble! I buy the most delicious varieties of tomatoes from a seed supply in Ft. Myers - Tomato Grower's Supply.

http://www.tomatogrowers.com/

Not only are they a local seller, which appeals to me but they have some wonderful types. My latest favorites are a medium size one called Momotaro which is sort of pink-ish but perfect and delicious, and a large cherry called Mountain Magic. In the local school garden where I also volunteer we grew some 'grape' tomatoes which are little oval ones and I don't know the variety but they were really delicious too.

I'm about to order some seeds for the school garden from them and I have my eye on one called "Sugary" hybrid. If you want enough delicious tomatoes to give to all your friends, this one would be a good one to choose. We harvested bags and bags of them at the school from 6 plants.

I also grow peppers at home and at the school, eggplant at home, and kale, broccoli, cauliflower (here's a picture of a gorgeous purple cauliflower I grew last fall)
Thumb of 2015-08-25/dyzzypyxxy/f2c1df

The peppers we like best are a type that Home Depot carries as transplants pretty dependably. It's called Yummy Snacking and are small, orange triangular sweet peppers. My husband grazes on them as he goes back and forth to his shop.
Lettuce is sort of hit or miss - if the weather suddenly gets warm in the winter, it can turn bitter pretty quickly. I grow a winter salad green called Corn Salad or Mache which is delicious and more dependable. Also a Mesclun mix of greens that has a lot of different ones like mustard greens, Mizuna and Radiccio.



Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Aug 24, 2015 8:58 PM CST
Elaine - Thank you for posting those cultivars. It gives me some to try that I might have success with. Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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p1mkw
Aug 24, 2015 9:06 PM CST
Thanks, Elaine. Great information! that cauliflower looks wonderful.

Becky, I use a vertical garden for herbs (some of them) too. Like you, I don't need a lot of any, but like a nice variety. Here's what I used .. obviously this was before it was planted.
Thumb of 2015-08-25/p1mkw/a8c10e

Basil, oregano, sage, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme and parsley all did good for me. Cilantro was the only thing that didn't seem to like the hot weather ... maybe I'll try that again this fall too.


Mary K.
Name: Mary K
Safety Harbor, FL (Zone 10a)
Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Region: Florida Tomato Heads Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
p1mkw
Aug 24, 2015 9:08 PM CST
Becky, meant to say your vertical garden is very impressive ... nice job!!
Mary K.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Aug 24, 2015 9:11 PM CST
Those are neat! Did you make them or buy them?
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden

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