Creating a Vegetable Planting Schedule
When determining what vegetables to plant for an upcoming planting season, multiple factors need to be taken into consideration.
First, is it the correct season/time to plant said vegetable? Planting outside of a vegetables preferred season is possible but will often result in a high maintenance plant due to temperature, humidity, and rainfall variability. Additionally, one must consider how long the maturity period is and plan to harvest before the season is over. Tomatoes for example can be a tricky vegetable to plant because it has a long maturity period. When plating in fall, you should start seeds in the greenhouse 6-8 weeks ahead of planting time, and plant seedlings around mid-September. It takes 90-110 days for the fruit to mature, so harvest will be around mid-december/January. One has to be careful not to plant to early as disease forms from all the rainfall and can damage the plant. Also, take care to not plant to late in order to prevent frost damage (and potential lose of harvest) at the end of the season. Table 1 on the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021) is an excellent guide to determine the correct time to plant vegetables in Florida.
Next, is it better to start seeds in a greenhouse or direct seed into the ground? This component all depends on the type of vegetable you are growing. Again, Table 1 of the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide states the transplant ability success rate for Florida vegetables.
A third factor to consider is the location of the plant. Will your vegetable plant be able to obtain the correct amount of light that it requires? Are there any wind breaks, if located within a windy location, to prevent wind shock? A rule of thumb for light requirements in vegetables is that fruiting vegetables need at least 8 hours of direct sunlight each day, while rooting vegetables and leafy greens only require 6 hours.
The last element to consider when planting vegetables in your garden, is whether or not you are replanting something that was in the same family as the last vegetable plant you grew. This is important as vegetables in the same family are prone to the same diseases. If you had a problem with a certain disease with the last vegetables you grew, that disease is likely still in the soil and may affect your new crop.
Remember that a happy plant planted in the right place and time is less prone to disease than a stressed out plant.
For more information on vegetable gardening, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/vegetable-gardening-in-florida.html.