South Florida Gardening

Home gardeners in South Florida are in seventh heaven right now – the weather is glorious, despite the few cold snaps we’ve had, thankfully not freezing. A “winter wonderland” in South Florida obviously does not mean a blanket of snow. Rather, it describes lush greenery everywhere and a garden thriving with vegetables! The cooler temperatures are what most of our veggies love. And of course we do too, as we can now spend countless hours (and we do lose count) fiddling around in our garden. There’s always more to do, isn’t there?

So here are some highlights of what we’re growing, along with some of their sources. The garden is overflowing right now and we are enjoying the fruits of our labor!

FYI – We do not get a commission or any other benefit from our recommendations here. We provide links to online stores and local nurseries for your browsing convenience.


Light greens growing in garden bed

Tokyo bekana – a lovely green so suitable to South Florida

Tokyo bekana – a new addition this season, from local nursery Little River Cooperative Nursery. You would not know this is in the mustard family. We’re all treating it like lettuce and loving it. The plant is a great producer, a definite “keeper” in our garden. BTW – you can cook it as a soft green as well.

Spigariello – gotta love the name, and the look!

Spigariello is another newbie this year. What an interesting green! It tastes like sweet broccoli but only produces these cool-looking leaves – enjoyable raw or cooked. So as you can guess it belongs to the brassica/cabbage family. We got them as starter plants, also from Little River Cooperative.


Green and yellow bush beans

Green and yellow bush beans

Bush beans – we grow beans a lot as they are a “fan favorite” among the vegetables in the garden. We are having great luck with Turtle Tree Seed’s varieties, especially their yellow bean called “Golden Rocky.” It’s become a staple in our garden.

ONIONS/SCALLIONS – depending on how deeply you plant them

Plate of yellow onion sets

Beautiful yellow onion sets

Scallions and onions – We found some beautiful onion sets from “Smoke Camp Crafts” in West Virginia – through Amazon actually. It’s amazing how healthy and robust they are! They also came up faster than any we’ve ever seen. The rule of thumb for planting is two inches deep to yield scallions and one inch deep for onions. It will be interesting to see as the season progresses how this variety does.

BRASSICAS or “Cabbage family” plants

The vast majority of our brassicas which we’re harvesting now were started from seed in the early fall. We do spread out their plantings within the garden to help deter pests, especially aphids  (See Square Foot Gardening – We’re in Love!) for a great planting method. And we started a second round of seedlings in December-January so we can have some Spring harvest as well.

White kohlrabi in garden bed

White kohlrabi

Purple kohlrabi – just lovely!

Kohlrabi is well-loved in our garden! It’s one of the most interesting vegetables, with the unusual way it grows and its unique taste/texture. People describe it as cabbage-like, or earthy in flavor. (Of course it is in the cabbage family – “kohl” means cabbage in German.) It requires full sun and as much space as cabbage with its large leaves spreading wide, and takes a few months to fully mature. We just love turning new people on to it!

Collard greens of course!

Collard greens are a well-loved staple in our garden. We simply can’t believe how beautiful and large the leaves are on the crops this year. This season’s varieties are both from Seed Savers Exchange: the “Georgia Southern” and “Miss Annie Pearl Counselman.” And please check out our “collard tree” below which somehow made it through the heat of summer last year (first time ever) and continues to thrive.

Unusually tall collard green plant resembling a tree

“Collard tree” just keeps on giving!

All Manner of CHOY – in the Brassica family as well

Green and dark purple bok choy plants harvested

Tatsoi and “Purple Lady” bok choy harvested

Choy is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in South Florida; we often joke that it could grow on a rock. There are numerous varieties of choy, and it’s always fun to see what new ones the seed companies are carrying each year. We’re trying out a beautiful choy this season called “Purple Lady” (pictured above in our harvest basket) , from Baker Creek Seeds. Plenty of tatsoi (also pictured) is always planted in several successive batches each year; we use it as spinach in salads and cooking. Here are some ideas for using it from a great cooking website: Food 52: “Tatsoi is the New Spinach”

Pac Choi -Seed Saver’s Exchange

Another gorgeous variety we are trying out this year is the Shanghai Green Pak Choi from Seed Savers Exchange. You can see how well it’s doing? And of course there’s always the Chinese cabbage we grow, every year.

Large head of Chinese cabbage in garden bed

Chines Cabbage from Johnny’s Seeds

Other brassicas we’ve got going are varied cabbages, Lacinato (dinosaur) kale, Red Russian kale, broccoli rabe, and cauliflower.

Kale and our beautiful “pointy-head” cabbages aka “Caraflex” by Johnny’s Seeds

Small head of white cauliflower forming

Peekaboo! Cauliflower started from a donated plant


Pink and purple radishes and one daikon on garden bed

Radishes and daikon – all these from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

We are having loads of fun with radishes which are doing unusually well this season. It’s important for this vegetable – no matter the variety – to get lots of sun. Be sure to thin them out properly as well. We plant new crops every few weeks so we can enjoy some to harvest continually throughout the season.

A new especially sharp one this year is a deep plum purple variety from Baker Creek called Malaga. And of course those beautiful French Breakfast ones pictured above are terrific! Our daikon from this year is surprisingly mild – in fact milder than some of our unexpectedly sharp radishes! The variety is “Japanese Minowase Daikon” also from Baker Creek. Can’t wait to pickle some.

No pics yet as we were late getting seeds, but we HAVE to mention one of our favorite vegetables – watermelon radishes – aka “red meat” radishes. They are big and beautiful with a bright pink or reddish interior – hence their name. Our recent planting will be ready for harvest soon as radishes grow so fast. We finally snagged some seeds from our favorite peeps at Tree Amigos Growers Plant Nursery – who doesn’t love them and their whole operation?!


Full sized green tomatoes on the vine

“Homestead 24” a semi-determinate from Little River Cooperative Nursery

Three small ripening oblong tomatoes on the vine

Garden gem – reliably our earliest harvest (from UF seed project see post “The Year of the Tomato”. )

Up until very recently we’ve had a disappointing season with tomatoes. While we had a very good start with seedlings started in late summer, the hot weather of the fall delayed their fruiting. As yet we have very few ripe tomatoes. However, we’re looking forward to the young green ones finally on the vines to give us a good Spring crop. Fresh tomatoes? We’ll take ‘em any time!

Large orange cherry tomatoes

Large “Clementine cherry” – the name says it all.  Nice one from Johnny’s Seeds (and still on sale!)

For more information on how we grow tomatoes in our South Florida garden, please see our post “The Year of the Tomato”.


Sweet potato full grown vine and flowers in garden bed

Sweet potatoes – harvest coming soon!

We weren’t kidding when we said we grow sweet potatoes year round. While they may take longer to mature in the “winter,” we still end up getting a good yield no matter when we plant them. When each crop is done, we find a new spot to start all over again. They’re obviously one of our favorite vegetables, and so easy to grow! For more information on our approach, see Growing Sweet Potatoes – Year Round!

Thank you for touring our “Winter Wonderland” of vegetables. This is just a “taste” of what we are growing. We have many other crops growing now such as lettuces, chard, onions, fennel, leeks, herbs, sorrel, escarole, peppers, carrots, peas, passion fruit, a variety of flowers, and more. Stay tuned. And enjoy your gardening in our most glorious time of year for outdoors!