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UF Horticulturalist: Time to Consider Cooler Season Plants

ORLANDO, Fla. – Now that cooler weather is here, it’s time to consider cool season vegetables for your garden.

“Gardeners will have almost five months to grow everything from lettuce and cabbages to spinach, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries and kale,” said Ed Thralls, a University of Florida horticulture agent with UF/IFAS Extension Orange County. “Also, residents can grow onions, carrots, radishes, beets and turnips. These will be the best tasting vegetables they have ever grown because they will be picked at their peak of ripeness.”

Winter vegetables in stores are picked early so that they can survive being shipped across the country and can sit on the shelf waiting to be bought, Thralls said. “Picking them from your backyard at the peak of ripeness ensures better flavor.”

According to Thralls, it’s important to select varieties that are recommended for Florida’s unique gardening environment. “These varieties have all been tested and will do well in our environment. They are developed to grow and thrive in Florida,” he said.

Varieties are listed on pages eight to 10 of the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide. 

And, if gardeners forgot to fertilize their lawns in October, early November will be the latest to prepare your lawn for winter, Thralls said. Major pruning should be held off until next spring, he said.

“Too much fertilizer and pruning at this time of year may stimulate new growth that will be damaged by cold weather that can accompany November,” Thralls said. In addition, homeowners should replace tired annuals that are left over from summer with new plantings that are better adapted for the winter days ahead, he said. “Select from robust fall/winter plants such as carnation, cat’s whiskers, cleome, dianthus, dusty miller, pansy, petunia, Shasta daisy, snapdragon and viola. And don’t forget to consider ornamental vegetables in the mix such as ornamental kale and cabbage,” Thralls said.

Click here to find your local UF/IFAS Extension county office for landscape and gardening questions.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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