Some like it hot!
If you grow your own vegetables in Florida you already know that our hot summer nights combined with high humidity is not an ideal situation for growing vegetables. Also, insects seem to thrive in the heat and are likely to eat away at your vegetable long before you have a chance to. With the exception of sweet potatoes and okra, you might as well close up the farm and take a vacation. Some plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will grow during these hot days but produce poorly, if at all. But alas, even though it’s still stifling hot it’s time to get things growing to make sure that you get the earliest fruit possible.
Tomatoes should be planted now in small containers so you can watch them closely until the time comes for transplanting. They are unique because when it’s time to plant them in the garden, you can pull off the bottom leaves and plant the stem 3 to 4 inches deeper than the root ball. By doing this they will root out of the lower stem and develop a larger and stronger root system. Peppers can be seeded in small pots or directly in the garden. If you choose the latter, make sure you keep a close eye on them, since they may take as much as three weeks to germinate. You don’t want the weeds to outgrow and overrun them. Peppers transplant fairly well but be careful not to disturb the roots when transplanting and don’t plant them too deep. Eggplants can also be started, as well as squash, corn, and quite a few others can quickly follow. Each plant has its unique set of requirements and problems but once growing, they can often be treated alike. For timing on planting your garden, consult the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.
Learn from UF/ IFAS
For those of you interested in learning more, the University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, Highlands County is offering an online vegetable gardening class on January 9th, 2021. As well as learning the basics of vegetable gardening, you will receive over 100 pages of gardening information that can be picked up the week of January 4th through the 8th at the Extension office (see the address below). I also will have some seeds to give out to get your garden started. Call the Extension office at 402-6540 to learn more about upcoming classes. We have something on the 2nd Saturday of every month!
Stay in touch!
In Highlands County, our office is at 4509 W George Blvd., Sebring. The Master Gardener Help Desk is open Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 3:30 PM.
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