April Showers Bring May Flowers…so the saying goes…but April in Florida is starting to get hot AND it’s really the month you want to plant your Florida Summer Veggies.
You might not think that you can grow anything to eat during Florida’s HOT HOT Summers, but that’s simply not true. Let’s explore some veggie plants you can plant now for Summer eating.
Florida Summer Veggies #5: Okra
A Florida Summer Veggie Garden to me doesn’t feel complete without Okra. Show-stopping flowers that are very attractive to native pollinators, tasty edible seed pods, and foliage that has an interesting look and texture make Okra no slouch in the looks department.
Additionally, Okra LOVES the heat and humidity.
So get you some andouille sausage and rice and make some gumbo after your first harvest of Okra – there’s nothing like it fresh from the garden! It’ll product all Summer and into the Fall!
Florida Summer Veggies #4: Beans
Beans can be planted all through Spring and early Summer, so don’t miss out on this great source of protein in your garden-fresh diet! There are so many kinds of beans that you can plant a wide variety and have a beautiful rainbow of beans on your plate every night!
Another benefit of planting beans is that they are nitrogen-fixers, which means that they put Nitrogen into the soil as they grow. This is important to keep the soil nutritious for future crops, and highlights one of the important aspects of gardening: Crop Rotation.
Florida Summer Veggies #3: Field Peas
Like their Legume cousins listed above, Field Peas are nitrogen-fixers. So much so that they are often used as “cover crops” during the Summer time so that farmers can add nitrogen back into the soil AND have organic matter to till under before Fall planting.
Field peas are known by many names and have many varieties: Cowpeas, Zipper Peas, Cream Peas, Black-Eyed Peas, just to name a few. They are super-easy to grow and harvest, and provide a great source of food and protein during our long hot summers.
Florida Summer Veggies #2: Winter Squash
Your Summer Veggies in Florida should include some Winter Squash! Not just pumpkins, but all kinds of gourds can be planted now from seed.
Be aware, that the squashes and gourds may need to be hand-pollinated, and treated often for fungus due to the heat and humidity. If you can keep the fungus under control, however, you’ll have some lovely squash some Fall!!
Florida Summer Veggies #1: Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are probably one of the best crops for Summer Florida Gardens. Sweet potatoes not only give you delicious tubers at the end of the growing season, but you can also eat the young leaves like spinach in your salads and sautees.
Sweet potato vines can be super long. Anywhere they touch the dirt, it will try to put down roots and grow another tuber. If you want good-sized eating tubers, then you will need to have the vines climb a trellis. This keeps the vines from trying to grow too many tubers at once, leading to “finger” potatoes, really tiny ones. They’re still delicious, but they’re just not what you’re used to eating.
Sweet potato starts are best planted in April – if you didn’t pre-order them from us this year – sorry you missed our beautiful Beauregard sweet potato slips. You can start your own slips from a sweet potato that sprouts as well, but you probably won’t know what variety they are. Beauregard variety grows well in Florida weather!
Florida Summer Veggies are Great!
Growing your own Florida Summer veggies are a great way to maximize your food choices even during our hot and humid Summers.
Definitely if you are growing Summer crops here in Florida, you’ll need to do the bulk of your work in the mornings and evenings when the heat is least. Sun Stroke and Heat Exhaustion are real things and more people get those kinds of injuries than are often reported. So please be careful!
Check out some of my other articles about Summer!
Until next time, my friends, Keep Growing!