At t=the local grocery store produce department, so many different vegetables that may be purchased at any time, whether in season or not! Vegetables that are always available include tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, lettuce, potatoes, and more. However, when visiting a late fall-winter vegetable garden, the vegetables being grown are obviously those in season. So, while tomatoes or yellow squash will not be found in the winter garden, there will be some great edibles to prepare and serve on a “winter” dinner table.
Many vegetable eaters did not grow up eating Brussels sprouts. Some folks may love to eat them roasted, steamed, boiled with butter or without; but, the neat thing about Brussels sprouts is how they grow! The vegetable that is eaten and prepared in so many ways is grown along the stem with each “sprout” attached like a small green “mini” cabbage or “cabbage buds”. The plant continues to get taller and produce more brussels sprouts. In the central Florida area, Brussels sprouts are planted from October to November. Often gardeners are planting purchased plants, but you can begin earlier to start them from seed. While not all gardeners will have a a traditional vegetable garden, Brussels sprouts could be intermingled in landscape, in raised beds or containers. Brussels sprouts would be a great, edible conversation piece.
While Brussels sprouts is planted in the UF/IFAS Extension Demonstration Garden almost every year, another plant, red mustard, is edible “eye candy.” These large-foliaged plants in the demo garden can be grown in Sumter County gardens from September to May. They are really dramatic in large mixed containers. A couple of varieties include “Southern Giant Curled,” “Florida Broad Leaf,” and “Tender Green.” Find these listings and those for other brassicas (which includes cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and turnips) listed in the book, “Vegetable Gardening in Florida” by James P. Stevens, from the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore, which is in the process of being revised.
A productive vegetable in the Fabaceae family are peas. Peas can be grown in a Sumter County garden from September to March. They are typically planted in the garden as seed, and are planted one to two inches deep and germinate readily. They should have a strong trellis or support and have modified stems which tendrils which twine and cling to the support.
In the demonstration garden, snow peas are growing on a lower but very sturdy support. Once they have started growing, they fill the support and are covered with small white flowers which lead to peas. Like beans, they need to be harvested regularly. If left on the vine, the plant will become less productive. Other pea varieties which you could try in your garden include “Wando,” “Green Arrow,” “Laxton’s Progress,” Sugar Snap” and “Oregon Sugar.” While there are several types of peas to be grown, the snow peas taste sweet right off the vine, but harvest often and wash them!
Remember that if irrigating with reclaimed water, or plan to water with a rain barrel, you’ll need to only grow those vegetables you can cook. If vegetables are grown in an area that does not receive irrigation, water those vegetable plants with a garden hose attached to a spigot. Water from the spigot is based on the potable water from inside.
For more information on these cool season edibles including cabbage, kale, bok choy, broccoli, lettuce and more, read this publication which is the Number One downloaded and shared publication at UF/IFAS and for very good reason: “Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021.