Cool Weather Gardening

Master Gardener Joy Derksen shares some cool weather gardening tips in the November/ December issue of the Master Gardening Bench.  Read this month’s gardening newsletter, or view previous issues here:  https://bit.ly/2DOMBq9

Cold Tolerant Selections

Lettuce for cool weather gardeningGardening chores?  Of course!  This is Florida where we garden all year round.   Cooler weather frees us from some insect pests and makes gardening less sweaty.  There is still time to get your garden up and running for cold weather.  Buy transplants or seeds from local vendors to be sure of getting varieties that do well in our area.  Choose a sunny location for beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, celery, peas, eggplant, lettuces, peppers, radish, spinach, tomatoes and turnips.  Herbs that do well in the winter include parsley, fennel, dill, and basil.

This is also the time to plant flowers that are cold tolerant and colorful.  Pansies, nasturtiums, snapdragons, alyssums and petunias are some northern summer favorites that can only be grown in winter in Manatee County.  Geraniums do especially well this time of year, as do impatiens, torenia, and phlox.  Plant chrysanthemums in containers for a burst of front porch color.  You may be able to keep mums going after blooming by cutting them back and pampering them through our summer heat and hurricanes.

Lawn and Landscape Care

Lawn care becomes easier now.  Most lawns need mowing only once every two weeks. Once cold weather sets in, lawns do not need fertilizer.  If cool season weeds have invaded your lawn, you may have time to apply a broadleaf selective weed killer before temperatures become too cool for good results.  Remember to spot treat only where there are weeds.

Stop pruning tropical and semi-tropical plants.  The tender new growth that results can be killed by cold weather.  Broken or dead branches, however, may be pruned at any time. Deciduous trees should be pruned while they are dormant.

Citrus plants are starting to produce.  The fruit is sweeter when allowed to stay on the tree until night temperatures dip below 55 degrees.  If you are not impressed with the quality of your fruit, remember to fertilize more regularly next year with a special citrus fertilizer.  Call the Extension Master Gardeners for a schedule or go online for this publication: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HS120.

Cold Weather Prep
Cover snapdragons in cold weather

Prepare for cold weather before it arrives.  When you know a frost is heading for the area, water your plants thoroughly.  Often cold weather comes with strong winds that can cause the most damage by drying out plants.  Get ready to take container plants inside or under the protection of a porch roof or garage.  Physically protect other tender plants in the landscape by covering with newspaper or cloth (not plastic).  Keep some bricks on hand to anchor the covering in strong winds.  Stakes or frames around trees and shrubs also aid in keeping the protection on during windy nights.

Do not attempt to irrigate during the freeze.  This is a very tricky way to save crops that requires constant water flow, constant supervision, and constant temperature monitoring (not suitable for homeowners).

For gardening with annuals in Florida visit:http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg319

For cold protection visit:  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg025

For vegetable seasons visit:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021.