How you feeeeling… hot, hot, hot!

Most of the United States planted all their vegetable crops in the spring.  We’re different in Florida.  We do most of our cool weather vegetable planting in late September or October.  I don’t even look at the “suggested planting times” on the back of seed packets anymore.  I have just learned what to grown in Florida and when.  It’s definitely not an exact science. 

In late September I usually plant carrots, onions, turnips, strawberries, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, corn, collards and lettuce.  Most of these won’t grow well in the heat of a Florida summer… except the collards.  Collard greens do grow in the summer but they taste much better when they’re grown in the winter and the frost makes them taste even better.  Carrots will grow, but the heat makes them taste horribly bitter and yucky.  Tomatoes will grow too, but the heat prevents the fruit from setting.  Cherry tomatoes are an exception and can sometimes take the heat.  Lettuce is a cool weather crop that will bolt in the heat.  “Bolting” is when the lettuce sends out a shoot that goes to seed.  When a plant “bolts” it usually makes the leaves unpalatable.

Herbs usually have a hard time surviving the heat in a Florida summer.  If they’re grown in pots they can be moved into the shade. I keep my pelargoniums alive in the summer by moving them into the shade.  Rosemary doesn’t mind the heat.  Lemon balm, lemongrass and  cuban oregano thrive.  I was glad to see my thyme made it through last summer without a problem.  My new favorite is provence lavender.  I have finally found a lavender that thrives in humidity.  I’m going to plants lots more of this.

Provence lavender in a Florida summer (June).

Provence lavender flowers that thrive in humidity and tolerate heat.

The African basil is thriving in the heat and the bees love it.

Lemongrass. I had cut it way back in March and it's full again.

Our summer herb bed.

Summer herbs in pots.

In the summer time in Florida  we need to grow crops that can survive  the heat and humidity.  The problem with summer is the army of insects that usually arrive.  We’ve learned to tolerate them and we always figure out new ways to fight back without using pesticides.  Our favorite summertime crops are callaloo, peppers, eggplants, okra, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, ginger, turmeric, chives, collards, cucumbers, watermelons, sugar cane, water chestnuts, sunflowers, malabar spinach and passion fruit.  There are so many different varieties of these.  We love the white eggplants and all the interesting kinds of peppers and watermelons.  This summer we’re also growing cassava, malanga, different kinds of peppers, tomatillos  and pigeon peas. 

A young callaloo plant.

A large vegetable amaranth.

A cassava plant.

Bitter melon growing in a pot.

Dried black-eyed peas on the bush.

The top one is a fresh black-eyed pea "snap" and the bottom ones are dried black-eyed peas. Both make a delicious meal!

Young pigeon pea plant in a pot.

Large pigeon pea plant in a pot.

Flowering pigeon peas.

A scotch bonnet plant with a flower. Scotch bonnet is a very flavorful and hot pepper. I cut off just a sliver and cook it with my food. It adds delicious flavor and just enough heat.

We’ve let the chickens loose around the yard for the summer and they are enjoying themselves immensely.  They’re helping with the bug population and are able to find cool places to wait out the afternoon heat.  They’re also taking a break from the egg laying which is necessary for them.  

This is our little bantam hen. Her name is "Sweet Pea" and she is hard at work foraging in the peas.

One of our floofy-headed chickens is chillin' under the rosemary bush.

My dad set up a hydroponic garden inside his screened-in lanai last summer.  It gets full sun but the screen provides some protection.   The bees can’t reach his plants but he still got some gorgeous vegetables in the middle of summer.  He also has a hydroponic garden set up outside the lanai.  His garden changes constantly just like ours.  It looks  completely different every time we see it.

My father's hydroponic garden inside his screeened-in porch.

More of his inside hydroponic garden.

His newly planted hydroponic garden outside of his screened-in area.

When the gardening experts tell me it can’t be done, I usually try anyway.  Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not.  Since I’m a backyard gardener and not a commercial grower, I have little risk in losing a crop or two. 

The beauty of Florida is that we can grow food all year round. 

Come grow with us!

12 Responses to “How you feeeeling… hot, hot, hot!”

  1. Cyndy Stanley Says:

    The provence lavender is beautiful. I live in Sebring, zone 9b and have not had any success for three years but I am trying again so I would appreciate any help you can give me. There are three very important questions I would like answered; what is the soil like where you have it growing, how many hours of afternoon sun does it receive and what type of fertilizer do you apply?

    thank you,
    Cyndy Stanley

    • My provence lavender didn’t make it through our long, hot summer last year. I’ve planted it again this year… in a different spot. My lavender is now getting plenty of sun but is planted under a rose bush, so it will get some protection. I sure hope it does better this time. Another difference I made this time around is that I mulched around them. They’re getting lots of bunny poop too. Some people have no trouble at all with lavender. I’m determined to figure it out.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Could you try to grow a vanilla orchid, some people say they can only be grown with laboratory cleanliness, and they suck up all your time haha. Well i’d love to see you do something that challenging. And you can only harvest the pods at a certain time or they’re bad automatically.

  3. Hi!
    I came upon your site trying to find information about how to cook black-eyed peas…I have some with the “snaps”…how do I cook these? I saw some info in which people suggested cooking them the same way as they would the peas (bacon, garlic, onion, salt), but I wasn’t quite sure. Could you offer me further info? Cook them whole, cut them smaller like green beans? Thanks for advice you can offer!

    • I know lots of “old-timers” that absolutely love their black-eyed peas and snaps! I believe they cook snaps that are picked when they are very young and tender. If the snaps are too far along, they’ll be tough and not so good. They do cut them up into smaller pieces and cook the dickens out of them… with bacon, of course. I was always told it’s good luck to eat them on the first day of the new year.

  4. how can i get some of em african basil?

  5. Brenon Duff Says:

    I enjoyed this. I grow veggies in St. Pete in summer, but not as many herbs as you. I do have a small tree called curry leaf which likes summer. Also had 3 kinds of basil, chives, cuban and regular oregano, and thyme. Oh, and habaneros and cayennes. I too like to try things even if they’re not supposed to work. I used to live in SE Florida and was told you can’t grow
    veggies in summer. Ha! I do cranberry hibiscus,

    katuk, moringa, malabar NZ spinach, jewels of opar,

  6. OMG you are my new lifesaver. I feel like I never find anyone that understands gardening in FL. Its a science that I don’t understand and kill most things. (who are we kidding?? everything but my long standing aloe plant that is a champ) I’m in the tampa area. I’d love to learn more about hydroponics. Does your dad or you have any blogs you like on those? I’ll look too on your blog too. So if its already on there you dont’ have to answer. Thank you!

  7. I just started doing a container garden and was wondering about carrots, you say we can grow them in Florida but mine have not come up after being in the soil for 2 weeks already. I would really appreciate your help with carrots; I live in Jacksonville. Also, where did you dad get his hydroponic containers?

  8. Richard Slaminka Says:

    Just ran across your site. We have a drip hydroponic system just like your dad’s. Its a whole new learning curve. We have had this system for about a year. Snap peas, bibb lettuce, strawberries, dill, mint, collards all did well enough we froze some , it was our first time growing mint. The plant got bigger than a basketball, the mint tasted very good ,,, we needed dynamite to get the roots out of the pot. We enjoy the comments and will make it a regular “go to” site.

  9. love It.. I live in Florida and we are starting our garden this weekend!

  10. You are inspiring! Google nor any other popular search engine brings up your page. I was on the hunt for some knowledge about tomatoes in the Florida summer because I have about 50 of a variety named Black Vernissage from the Ukraine..

    Right now in Polk, my wonderberry and red noodle asparagus bean are thriving. Also the muskmelon madhu ras but I have no luck getting it to pollinate.

    Thank you so much for sharing your success, thoughts and passing on the knowledge.

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