The Central Florida sun can be too brutal for some traditional vegetables, but don’t despair because there are several edibles that will thrive in intense heat and humidity. Just remember to keep your garden watered well and you’ll soon be harvesting lots of tasty veggies!
Garden to Plate Never Tasted So Great!
Even though it’s too late to start growing eggplant and lima beans, there are still several yummy choices to plant in your garden this month. Here are some you might want to try:
Southern Peas – Also known as Field Peas and Cow Peas, you can enjoy growing these from now until October. The best varieties for Central Florida include California Blackeye No. 5, Pinkeye Purple Hull, and Texas Cream.
Okra – This southern favorite will produce from now until September. The ideal varieties for your garden include Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley II, and Cajun Delight. Okra grows very well in large pots.
Sweet Potatoes – You can’t go wrong with these sugary roots! Just make sure you get them into the ground before August rolls around. Centennial, Beauregard, and Vardaman grow best in Central Florida.
Peppers – Peppers love the Florida heat! If your tastebuds like to sizzle, grow Jalapeño M, Cherry Bomb, Hungarian Hot Wax, Long Cayenne, and Habañero. If you like Bell Peppers, California Wonder and Red Knight will do beautifully. If you prefer something on the sweeter side, plant Sweet Banana, Mariachi, and Cubanelle.
Cassava – This low maintenance plant is delicious mashed or fried after it’s been boiled. However, you’ll have to get cuttings from a friend, but they’ll root easily and produce tubers in time for Thanksgiving. Deep fried cassava is a tempting treat!
Malanga – This is the only tropical staple that will grow in the shade but if you plant them where they get some sun exposure, it will help keep bugs from feasting on them. You can buy tubers at any grocery store or farmer’s market that sells Caribbean fare.
Peanuts – This is another low maintenance plant you may like to try. Simply purchase some that are raw and green, then stick them in the ground and forget about them. Dig them up between Thanksgiving and Christmas, then decide if you want to boil or roast them. They’re yummy either way!
Okinawan Spinach – This high-volume perennial is another carefree garden favorite. While it can be enjoyed raw or cooked, this plant is also valued for its ornamental appeal. However, if you want to grow this in your garden, you’ll need get cuttings from someone.
Cherry Tomatoes – Tasty and low maintenance, these can be grown at any time throughout the summer. The best ones for Central Florida gardens include 100s and Matt’s Wild.
Even though these veggies are recommended for Central Florida summer gardens, the sun’s rays can still do a number on them if they aren’t getting the water they need. Therefore, it’s important to check your irrigation system every so often to make sure it’s working properly. If your system isn’t running like it should, call us or complete our request service form and we’ll come take a look.
Grow Herbs to Spice Up Your Garden and Your Fresh Dishes
Not all herbs grow well in the summer heat, but the following will do just fine.
Thai basil – Low stress and easy to start, this flavor powerhouse is a delicious addition to stir fry recipes.
Scallions – Grow these to complete your homemade soups, omelets, fried rice, and baked potatoes. They love sandy soil and Central Florida is the furthest south they can grow. However, it’s too late to start them from seed, so you’ll need to purchase young plants from nurseries to get a quick crop.
Mexican tarragon – This variety of tarragon thrives in the heat and its bright orange flowers will make your garden shine. It grows readily from both seeds and cuttings.
Wild arugula – This Mediterranean native has a peppery flavor that is a welcome addition to salads.
Fennel – This is a great addition to your garden because it attracts pollinators. Some say it has an acquired taste, but this crunchy bulb pairs well with fish, or cook it to enjoy its sweet flavor all by itself!
Epazote – Also known as wormseed, Jesuit’s tea, and Mexican tea, it’s a popular flavoring for bean dishes and often added tacos. Make sure you give it lots of room in your garden because it can grow to four feet tall.
Pápalo – If you enjoy making salsa, this herb is an ideal substitute for cilantro. When harvesting, pick the smaller leaves because they have a milder flavor compared to those that are more mature.
Leaf celery – Also known as European cutting celery, plant cuttings ten inches apart and keep the soil consistently moist. It won’t be long before you’re enjoying its sweet tasting leaves in your salads! Mature leaves have a stronger flavor and are best for soups and stews.
Large leaf oregano – This herb is easy to start from cuttings. Just place them in a glass of water in a bright window. Once you see the stem sprouting roots, plant it in your garden. No matter if it’s fresh or dried, it’s a popular ingredient in Italian sauces, and a welcome flavoring for salads and sandwiches.
Now that you know what will thrive in your summer garden, be sure to keep it watered, so it will produce the finest veggies and herbs. Irrigating in the morning is best because it provides the moisture the plants need to beat the daytime heat.
Take your garden to new heights by using companion planting! See our article from August 2020 to learn more.