January and early February mark the middle of our growing season here in South Florida. It is a time for assessment and planning as to what we want to grow into the Spring. Many of the crops we grow can be planted throughout the entire season. Others (such as cabbages and heirloom tomatoes) have a shorter window, i.e. the time for planting them is running out, especially if starting them from seed.
At the same time, we are well into harvesting our fall crops. Our cucumber crops have produced and, true to form, have already been pulled as they gave out on us in cooler weather (we will plant more in March).
Green beans (both purple and green), various types of radishes, lots of collards and mustard greens, choy and tatsoi, curly and lacinato kale, some leaf lettuces and mizuna, kohlrabi, and even a cabbage or two have made their way into our harvest baskets and, gratefully, our kitchens.
We are eyeing our tomatoes carefully as they are just beginning to show some colors other than green. Some cherries have begun ripening, before the bigger heirlooms. It’s great to taste a real tomato again, such a pleasure each year.
Other crops that are planted and coming along include fennel, scallions, onions, lettuces, cauliflower, daikon, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, sorrel, leeks, cress… And we pretty much have a continuous crop of green beans growing, a little sluggish in the winter sometimes, but worth trying. We certainly look forward to the bountiful harvest of this variety of crops.
We are also experimenting with growing sweet potatoes in the fall-winter season – we’ve only grown them in the summer before. Digging a few up recently, we found them to be too small yet, so we’ll see how they are in a few weeks. We are hoping for a better tasting yield by growing them in the drier season. They do take up an entire bed – these all spread from one sweet potato rooted in water.
Our most intriguing plant this year is Brussels sprouts. We would not normally plant this as they are typically a cold weather crop. However, having several plants donated this fall, we decided to give it a shot. Well little sprouts are growing on the stems – we have no idea how big they will get, time will tell – pray for cold weather!
And of course we have our usual herbs – parsley, oregano, thyme, mint, garlic chives, sage, and tarragon. We’ve also got a nice little crop of chervil going now (so yummy!) as well as regular chives.
We’ve upped our game a bit this year with flowers. Snapdragons, pansies, Black-eyed Susans, salvia and celosia have been added to our mix; they’re not all blooming yet but it is really exciting when they do. Returning stars include calendula, cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, nasturtiums, gomphrena and gaillardia. We should have some very happy bees and beneficial insects enjoying our variety this spring and early summer. For more about growing flowers, see Flowers in our Veggie Garden.
We hope this gives you an idea of what the mid-growing season is like in our South Florida vegetable garden. Such a glorious time to be gardening!