Easy FL Fall Veggies

From mid September (Zone 10) to late May, all of these vegetables will grow profusely in the Florida balmy climate.

Stir Fry Ready
Top of my list: Broccoli (Packman), is available now as transplants at any garden center. Grows well in a 1 gallon pot or in the ground. If you're going the pot route, don't move the pot once the plant is thriving, its tap root will have gone down through the pot into the ground. Water frequently. Continue to plant a few new transplants every month for a continued, staggered, fresh supply of broccoli throughout the winter and into spring/early summer.

When you harvest the main 'head,' leave the stalk and continue to water, within a week you will have more little 'broccolettes' than you know what to do with. Start from seeds now the temperatures at night are around 75F. Plant nasturtiums and marigolds (tagetes var.) with broccoli.

Tip: let the bright yellow flowers develop on a few mature plants - the bees will love you - and then, when the seed pods develop and are completely dry, you can harvest the seeds and voila! You will have your own seeds for next year.

Broccoli Seed Pods
Cut and Come Again
Other varieties suitable for Florida's heat: De Cicco, Waltham 29, and Calabrese. Packman's 'head' is about 5" in diameter, whereas Waltham's is 4-8".

Eggplants: Black Beauty or Ichiban Long. Prolific producers in large pot or in the ground. Watch for whitefly infestations. If you are bothered by these pesky flies, dust the affected leaves with diatomaceous earth until whiteflies leave/die. Grow now (Sept-Oct), either buy transplants for earlier crop or start from seeds. I think the Ichiban has a superior taste (just my personal opinion). The Black Beauty is 'meatier,' for a hearty dish. Both varieties need a lot of growing space and a tomato cage for support. Plant marigolds (tagetes var.) with eggplant.

Another variety to try is Dusky.

Black Beauty Eggplant
Ichiban Long on Right of Photo

Tabasco Peppers
Peppers: any kind. Sweet, Hot, Banana, you name it you can grow them. Buy as transplants in late August for a reasonably early crop. Seeds will germinate in late September (Zone 10) when it cools down a bit at night. Again, watch for whitefly. Use tip for eggplants to get rid of. Water with very diluted epsom salts to set buds and increase fruit production.

Calabaza: I harvested my first seeds from a fresh, grocery store bought Calabaza. These heavy squashes need a lot of room and the vines like to scramble up trees and bushes. As the leaves can get to over 7" in diameter they can get to be a bit of a nuisance. The flesh is a bright yellow/orange and is nice as a mashed side dish with cumin added for flavoring, or turned into a smooth soup.

Radish: Grow from seeds, I have Cherry Belle growing in the same pot as my Burpless Cucumber. I also have a few planted in cut down milk jugs (they don't need a lot of room). Radishes can also be grown with broccoli.

Radish sharing space with Cuke
Cherry Belle radishes should be ready in about 20 days.
Maturing Cucumber

Cucumber: Mine is Burpless, bought as a transplant. Grew to 3 feet high in 5 weeks and loaded with cukes. Use onion skins on top of soil to prevent cuke borers.

Tomatoes: Lemon Boy, Brandywine, Heatwave II, Cherokee, Sweet 'n' Neat and Early Girl. Last season I also grew Big Beef, Roma paste, and Sweet Cherry 100s. The Sweet Cherry 100s, and Lemon Boy are highly recommended by me. Grow any from seeds now or get transplants for an earlier start. You can even get them going in an eggbox carton. Water with eggshell water - empty, crushed eggshells soaked in water. When you transfer your seedlings to their permanent pots or the ground, put a banana in with the potting soil, they really like that. Plant petunias with them.

2011-2012 Tomato Bed
Blue Lake Runner Beans: You don't know what you're missing if you haven't tried these. Buttery/nutty flavor with a slight crunch when steamed lightly.
Two plant bushes are enough for two people. Pick them when they are the size as shown below.

Other vegetables that can be started now in October are: Beans Pole, Beans Lima, Collards, Corn, and Cantaloupes.

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