Table of Contents
- What Does Summer Vegetables Mean?
- When Does Summer Start in Florida?
- What Is The Fastest Growing Summer Vegetable in Florida?
The summer months are not only about holidays but also the beginning of a new cycle for growing vegetables in Florida. Some people, who are passionate about gardening, are looking forward to planting their favorite veggies in the vegetable garden or backyard garden. For beginners, the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer would be the best fit for them since they need to learn how to prepare the field properly before jumping into planting.
Furthermore, several summer vegetables are usually grown in Florida during this season, including bell peppers, broccoli, celery, eggplant, long cayenne, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, and many more. They are among the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer since they can stand the heat pretty well.
However, as the owners, you need to pay attention to their growing requirements as each veggie has different characteristics. Ready to look for it? Kindly follow our quick guidelines below.
What Does Summer Vegetables Mean?
Summer vegetables are the vegetables that grow plenty during summer. Some are also ready to harvest; thus, they are available abundantly in the market. Besides leafy green vegetables, sometimes that includes tubers whose flesh is favored by many as a source of carbohydrates.
Additionally, the main characteristics of summer vegetables are they cannot stand frost and need a long growing season to produce fruits in abundance. Hence, you need to plant the vegetable seeds around 6-8 weeks directly into the soil or transplants before the last frost to ensure they can grow and collect in the summer.
There are many easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer. However, since they do not like summer heat, we do not recommend some leafy vegetable varieties, like Brussel sprouts and lettuce.
Instead, you can try to plant vegetables that have fruit-like characteristics. For instance, peppers and tomatoes. Or perhaps you want something different like tubers, cereal grains, the nightshade family, and some beans are great choices to grow.
When Does Summer Start in Florida?
Summer starts from June 21st to September 22nd in Florida. During this time, the temperature will gradually increase, peaking at 28’C on average in July. Therefore, summer is the best time to start vegetable gardening since the warm-season vegetables can germinate their seeds, set flowers, and produce fruits. It is also a perfect season to grow vegetables if you want to harvest them in early fall.
On the other hand, summer also can make the vegetables suffer heat damage due to high temperatures. Any temperature higher than 90’F or 32’C will make the groundwater evaporate quickly, causing the leaves to wither. To tackle this issue, you can perform:
- Watering your vegetables in the morning when the temperature goes down.
- Apply protective cloth or shade netting to protect from heat.
- Provide shade by locating them in the higher areas where the temperatures are higher.
- If you plant your vegetables directly on the soil, keep your lawn at 3-inches to maintain the soil moisture.
What Is The Fastest Growing Summer Vegetable in Florida?
There are only a few types of the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer that are also fast-growing vegetables. But, we have some on our lists, including where swiss chard, cherry tomato, bell peppers, and eggplant. As common leafy green vegetables, Swiss chard grows so fast. It only takes 4-6 weeks for this vegetable to mature and be ready to harvest.
Furthermore, cherry tomatoes need a few days faster to ripen than regular ones. Not only are they fast, but they are also easy to plant. After planting, it takes approximately 50-65 days to harvest this kind of tomato. Meanwhile, bell peppers require 60-80 days to mature.
Slightly longer than its fellow easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer, eggplant needs 100-120 days from planting to collect. However, you can harvest them any time since they are more crunchy and delicious when harvested young.
1. Bell Peppers
Bell pepper is one kind of pepper full of color. You can find them in green, yellow, red, and orange. Generally, they are low in calories but are abundant in other nutrients, such as vitamin C, K1, E, A, and some essential minerals that are good for your body cells.
However, the red bell pepper is the one that is loaded with 11 times more beta-carotene and 1.5 times vitamin C compared to the rest of the varieties. To cook them, simply add fresh-cut bell peppers to your wraps, tacos, or stir-fry them with your favorite proteins if you wish to inhale all the nutrients with no excessive loss.
Planting Tips: As a warm-weather vegetable, bell pepper loves full sun with moist soil. Therefore, place the seeds under the sun to stimulate germination and keep them warm. Provide enough water to maintain soil and seed moisture.
Harvest: 60-80 days after planting the seeds or when the peppers reach about 3 inches in diameter and four inches in height.
Belonging to the cabbage family, it is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer; that has a large green flower head even after harvesting. It has a crunchy texture no matter what cooking process you are doing.
But, we recommend quick steam blanching or stir-frying to maintain consistency and nutrition, including water-soluble vitamin C.
Vitamin C is crucial to repairing damaged tissues and maintaining your immune system. In addition, it is also rich in vitamin K and calcium, which are beneficial for your bones and teeth.
Planting Tips: Despite being a cool-season crop, broccoli withstands heat well. It thrives in temperatures around 70-95’F. Above 95’F, it may stop growing. This green vegetable grows best under the full sun exposure for 6 hours. However, you may need to provide shade during the extreme summer heat to prevent damage. Regarding soil conditions, it favors well-drained, moist soil.
Harvest: Growing broccoli from seeds will take a longer time to mature, around 100-150 days, compared to transplants which only need 55-80 days until they are ready to harvest.
Apium graveolens or celery has the same Apiaceae family as carrot, parsley, and parsnip. This green vegetable is characterized by long bright green stalks and tapering leaves. The stalks have a crisp texture and are often consumed as snacks dipped in peanut butter. As for the leaves, you can add them to your clean chicken soup with carrots and potatoes to improve the flavor. Besides being tasty, celery is also nutritious.
Its single stalk brings you 12 kinds of antioxidants, including flavonoids, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. In addition, there are more than 25 important anti-inflammatory compounds and phytonutrients in this green veggie that may work for your digestive and organs’ health.
Planting Tips: This sun-loving vegetable performs best under the full sun but tolerates some shade. Nonetheless, it does not cope well with frost. Moreover, celery prefers moist soil with good water retention. Therefore, mulching or adding compost will be required to maintain the soil moist. Liquid fertilizer may also be necessary if you wish your celery grows bigger.
Harvest: 85-120 days or around 3-5 months after transplant, depending on the varieties. You can notice the lower stalk reaching 6-inches from the ground surface to the first node if they are ready to collect.
4. Cherry Tomatoes
Some people often mistakenly identify cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes have a smaller size, around half of the cherry ones. The skin of cherry tomatoes is way thinner than grapes. They are also sweeter, meatier, and less juicy.
Apart from their physical and sensory attributes, cherry tomatoes are preferable because they are easy to process into various cuisines. You can eat them fresh, add them to your salad, or as garnish to your main course, and stir-fry them with chicken or red meats. Cherry tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, promoting health benefits, especially for your skin and heart.
Planting Tips: To grow these sweet tomatoes, you need to save an area with at least 4-6 hours of sun exposure per day. However, you must provide shade in the intensely hot weather and avoid direct sunlight to prevent tomato sunscald. Additionally, you can water them every 2-3 days in the average summer temperature. But, during high temperatures, you may need to do it every day. Moreover, it requires well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.5 to thrive.
Harvest: 50-65 days after planting. Due to this fact, cherry tomatoes are among the fastest-growing summer vegetables in Florida.
Corn or sweet corn is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer since it copes well with the heat and does not require much maintenance. This cereal grain plant is an alternative source of carbohydrates besides potatoes and rice. The fiber content is higher than the two staple foods mentioned, helping you with your digestive system.
Apart from being a staple food, shelled corn grains are also often used as ready-to-eat canned products soaked in a sugar solution that adds a sweet taste.
In addition, salad lovers also add it to the menu to provide variations in texture, taste, and color. Meanwhile, in South-East Asia countries, corn is popularly cooked into fritters.
Planting Tips: This warm-season crop loves full sun; thus, it needs a minimum of 6 hours of sun exposure. Below that particular duration, you will not have a good yield. You are also demanded to prepare a proper space with fertile, slightly acidic (pH 6.0-6.8), well-drained soil to have its best growth. Since it bears long-deep roots, watering once a week is enough to maintain soil moisture.
Harvest: Depending on its cultivar, the harvest time of corns varies between 70-100 days after planting. If you plant corns in early spring, you may expect their maturity in mid to late summer.
Though it does not have a similar appearance to berries, eggplant has the same family as berries from botanical classification. This nightshade vegetable features light green, purple, and deep purple skin with a spongy flesh texture. Its shape ranges from a long ellipse, a rounded ellipse, to a short rounded ellipse, all with an arch in the center of the fruit.
Since it has a texture similar to zucchini, eggplant is suitable to include in both Asian and western recipes. You can add cheese to sliced eggplant, add bell pepper, and bake them together to create an appetizer with a western touch. And for the main course, you may want to cook it into eggplant with garlic sauce, which tastes both sweet and savory at the same time.
Planting Tips: As a sun lover’s veggie, eggplants thrive best under the sun. It requires at least 6 hours of direct sun every day. In addition, loamy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5 is preferable. The veggie also needs regular watering, around one inch per week.
Harvest: 65-80 days after transplanting or 100-120 days after planting the seeds.
7. Green Beans
Basically, green beans are unripe fruits in the pods that include many cultivars of the same species. These beans bear different names even though they are actually one, such as snap beans and string beans. They are characterized by long, green pods with edible legumes inside. The pods, in fact, are safe to eat when they are tender.
Like most beans, vitamins A, C, K, folic acid, and fiber are present abundantly in green beans with a fair amount of calcium. These nutrients are essential to maintain healthy bones and prevent fractures. To preserve their desirable nutrients, you can sautee them with less oil and add them to soups or stews.
Planting Tips: It needs 6-8 hours of full sun exposure with somewhat acidic soil (approx. pH 6). The beans also favor clay or slit loamy soils over sandy soils even though it still tolerates such soil types. To increase organic matter in the soil, well-rotted manure may be used. Don’t forget to water them regularly to keep the soil moist but well-drained.
Harvest: This warm-season crop needs around 50-60 days to mature before harvesting time, characterized by 4-6 inches long bean pods.
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8. Lima Beans
Look a bit similar to green beans; lima beans have bigger edible legumes inside short-fat green pods. It is also known by many names, like butter bean, chad bean, Madagascar bean, and more. Unlike most beans, lima beans have a starchy and grainy texture. They will become softer and tender when cooked, which you can easily consume.
Speaking of its health benefits, lima beans are a source of protein, having almost 12 grams per 100 grams. Hence, you can take these beans as an animal protein substitution. Not only protein, but they also are loaded with dietary fiber and carbohydrates yet less fat.
Meanwhile, iron is the iconic mineral found abundant in lima beans. You can fulfill your recommended daily iron intake per day if you consume at least one cup of these nutritious beans.
Planting Tips: Like many vegetables, lima beans require 8 hours of sun exposure a day with a temperature of 70’F. Therefore, planting this bean under the full sun is necessary. It also thrives best on moist, loose, well-drained soil. Nonetheless, if you do not have good drainage, prepare rich soil on top of the raised bed.
Harvest: Lima beans take 65-75 days to ripe. There are two categories in which lima beans can be harvested. First, when the pods have changed their colors, the beans are plump, but they are not dry yet. Second, they are dry with a hard texture on the seeds.
9. Long Cayenne
Unlike typical cayenne, long cayenne has a long shape. It can reach around 8 inches long when mature. Despite having the same intimidating bright red color, this chili is not as spicy as ordinary cayenne. Its spicy level can only reach around 30,000-50,000 SHU. Therefore, it is an excellent ingredient in producing jams and sauces.
Behind its spicy taste, the chili surprisingly hides numerous health benefits. It contains high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C. These two vitamins are good for the eyes and maintain immunity.
They are also antioxidants that can prevent free radicals in the body. For non-spicy lovers, long cayenne can be added to soups, noodles, pasta, and stir-fried vegetables that you like without leaving a sharp, spicy taste.
Planting Tips: Considering its delicate characteristics, long cayenne will thrive best in sunny locations but avoid continuous heat because it will damage the veggie. Plant the seeds in medium, moist, well-drained soil at a temperature of at least 60’F. Do not expose them to wet soil because it can make the leaves turn yellow. Only perform deep watering 1-inch per week to maintain soil moisture.
Harvest: It needs 70-100 days after planting to harvest. The ripen ones are bright red, 4-6 inches long, hard to touch, and have waxy skins.
10. Southern Peas
Actually, southern peas and black peas are common names for cow peas. They are commonly grown around the world for their edible beans. Their pods are slim and long, filled with beans, making them look curly due to the bulging effect on the outside. The beans’ color is pale brown to creamy with a black mark on their radicle.
Just like previous legumes mentioned, they are dense in nutrients, such as fiber and protein, that may help you in your weight loss program. Other micronutrients, like folate, copper, thiamine, and iron, are also abundant.
To involve them in your diet, you can cook them with your favorite proteins with some herbs and green vegetables to pack the food with more nutrients.
Planting Tips: Around 3 to 4 weeks after the last frost is the best time to plant the peas because they love warmer soils – perfect conditions in the summer. It is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer; that performs best under the full sun for 6-10 hours per day and tolerates dry soil. Nonetheless, it still prefers moist soil.
Harvest: For fresh use, it takes 60-70 days. But for dry use, it is 90 days or more.
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11. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another optional source of carbohydrates. But this time, you are offered sweet tastes instead of plain ones. They have bright orange to purple colors, depending on their cultivars. Besides the roots, their leaves are also widely cooked as vegetables, with a slightly bitter taste.
The tubers themselves have a creamy, starchy texture after steaming or boiling. You can also roast or bake them and add other ingredients or herbs. However, the best way to cook them while retaining their beta-carotene is to boil them for about 20 minutes. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant pigment known for its health benefits to support your eyes and skin health.
Planting Tips: As one of the easiest vegetables to grow in Florida summer, sweet potatoes thrive in full sun under a wide range of soil types, including light, sandy soil. However, it prefers heavier soil to perform best. In addition, it can grow in dry soils once established. But before that, it needs 1-inch of water per week to grow well.
Harvest: Must be harvested before the first frost, around 90-120 days after planting.
12. Swiss Chard
Despite being one of the popular cool-season greens, Swiss Chard withstands the Florida summer heat so well. The characteristics of this veggie somehow fall between kale and spinach as they belong to the same family. It is identified by red to magenta stalks and veins with deep green curly leaves.
Swiss chard is popular to saute with other vegetables, leaving you with a softer texture after cooking. Or, add the fresh ones to your eggs and scramble them. These cooking methods also help you preserve their valuable nutrients, such as vitamins A, K, C, magnesium, and copper. They are a pack of beneficial antioxidants that may protect your body from free radicals.
Planting Tips: It loves full sun but tolerates light shade. Regarding the soil, this green veggie prefers organic, rich, well-drained soil to thrive. You can add compost to obtain soil with plenty of organic matter. Also, evenly watering is necessary at least once a week.
Harvest: This vegetable is among the fastest-growing summer vegetable in Florida, only taking around 4-6 weeks until it is ready to harvest.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Should I water my garden every day in the Florida summer?
Not necessarily every day. But, watering your Florida garden is essential to keep your plants hydrated and avoid drought. For some plants and cool weather crops, drought may crack fruits, rot blossoms, and wilted leaves. We recommend at least watering your plants and vegetables 2-3 times a week during hot summer.
Should I water my plants more when it is hot?
You may increase watering frequency, but you must know the proper schedule. Avoid watering your plants at noon when the temperature reaches the highest since the water may evaporate and will not get the root optimally.
It is better to water them in the evening or early in the morning.
What temperature is too hot for plants?
Generally speaking, temperatures above 90’F or 32’C is too hot for plants. At this point, they most likely start to wilt due to a lack of water as it evaporates quickly.
You can do several tips below in case your plants experience extreme hot.
- Add mulch
- Water your plants in the morning
- Use protective cloth or shade
- Move your plants to a higher area with cooler temperatures
- Keep your lawn at 3-inches high to keep the soil moisture