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Lots of red tomatoes

Growing Florida Vegetables

Florida vegetables

Maybe you are new to Florida and love to vegetable garden? Where you used to live, vegetable grew all summer and thrived, but you now live in Florida. Don’t fret, Florida is a giant producer of commercial vegetable and there’s no reason you can’t grow them in your own garden. There is nearly 10 million acres of vegetables grown in Florida each year. Tomatoes are our second leading crop, right behind citrus. So there is still hope for you if you are struggling. Don’t struggle alone. UF/IFAS is here to help.

Display of fruits and vegetables in Florida

The University of Florida Research center in Live Oak Florida commodities traveling display featuring tomatoes, lettuce, onions, potatoes, and squash. Giving a brief glimpse of some Florida crops. Photo compliments of IFAS communications.

What’s the deal?

Florida’s summers are the wrong time to grow vegetables. It’s as simple and as complicated  as that. While northern climates may seem just as hot in the summer, night temperatures are often the difference. Crops like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers don’t generally set fruit when night time temperatures are above 70 degrees. Humidity and rain play a role as well, with vegetables like squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins succumbing to diseases like powdery and downy mildew. Still, other crops like broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce continuously try to flower at the first sign of higher temperatures.

What’s the answer?

The answer is one word, fall. Fall is the best time to start your Florida garden. With our mild fall winters you can grow lots of  vegetables from fall through  late spring. By the first day of summer, sit back and enjoy some of that sweet tea that the south is famous for. Timing is crucial to avoid the pitfalls mentioned above. Summer vegetable gardening is reserved for growing okra and sweet potatoes. Also, remember that Florida is approximately 600 miles from south to north. Luckily, the University of Florida has published a vegetable gardening guide complete with planting dates divided between North, South, and Central Florida.

Want to learn more?

UF/IFAS Extension, Highlands County is offering a vegetable gardening class on August 14th running from 9 am until 12:30 pm. Click Here to register or learn more.  Along with the class, you’ll get one hundred pages of University of Florida information on Florida vegetable gardening.  You’ll also get  packs of vegetable seeds of your choice that you can barter with other participants in a seed swap.  Call the Extension office at 863 402-6540 to learn more about upcoming classes. Below you will find a link to sign up for our newsletter. We usually have a different class on the 2nd Saturday of every month!

A woman looks overwhelmed as a man brings her a bushel of squash.

Learn with UF/IFAS and grow more produce than you’ll know what to do with.             Photo compliments UF/IFAS

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 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.

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