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Planting spring vegetables in your Florida garden seems like a fun way to enjoy your own meal. How come? You can easily get your favorite vegetables from your backyard and cook them. Even some of them can be consumed raw without further processing.
Even though it sounds very satisfying, we recommend growing your favorite vegetables so that no food loss ends with rotten vegetables being wasted. We have also written quick tips for you to prepare for the requirements of growing your spring vegetables in Florida.
There are also some types of vegetables you might be able to grow this season.
What Does Spring Vegetables Mean?
Spring vegetables or spring greens are basically vegetables available abundantly in the season.
They start growing their new leaves and are typically harvested in spring. Therefore, you can easily find your favorite spring vegetables in the market. Generally, spring vegetables feature distinctive characteristics. They tend to have vibrant colors, such as green, red, yellow, and orange. In addition, their textures are pretty delicate compared to other seasonal vegetables.
These particular features are because they have a brief period to develop their roots and ‘stems,’ thus, leaving us with primarily soft and tender vegetables. Some spring vegetables you can consume in-season are asparagus, cucumber, lettuce, eggplant, green beans, okra, and many more.
When Does Spring Start in Florida?
Spring starts in Florida from March 20th to June 21st. During this time, you will notice many flowers beautifully blooming while vegetables are happily growing or ready to collect and consume.
In the Northern parts of Florida, the temperature will start getting warmer, reaching 16 to 33’C. Meanwhile, in South Florida, the temperature is approximately 27 to 30’C, along with high humidity. Spring also offers you a full sun exposure for around 8 hours which is absolutely needed for vegetable growth and development.
These conditions are favorable for growing your favorite spring vegetables in Florida because the temperature range is not too extreme. Therefore, there is no need to worry about summer heat which can damage the crops. Hence, besides summer, spring is undoubtedly the best time to prepare the vegetable seeds you will plant.
Additionally, some people usually prepare a mini greenhouse prior to planting their favorite spring vegetables in Florida. This greenhouse may protect vegetable plants from excessive sun exposure and frost weather if they are not frost-hardy vegetables.
What Can You Plant in a Spring Garden in Florida?
There are numerous spring vegetables you can plant in Florida. We suggest broccoli, carrots, collards, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, kale, lettuce, okras, peppers, radish, and tomatoes for growing in your vegetable garden.
They are fantastic to be planted in spring because you can have total sun exposure while still having a cool weather breeze throughout the season. Therefore, the harvest is also expected to have good quality.
Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family, whose flowering green stem is edible. This green vegetable is a good source of vitamin K and calcium, which are crucial to help maintain your bone strength. To obtain the best nutrients, you can mix raw broccoli with pineapple to have a glass of delicious green juice or simply steam for 1-2 minutes.
Planting Tips: Broccoli loves full sun; thus, make sure you plant them in an area with plenty of sun exposure. In addition, a cool climate is always preferable to grow broccoli, which is why spring is the best time.
Harvest: Depending on the region, broccoli grows from January to June and is ready for harvest 80-100 days after planting.
Carrot generally has an orange color abundant in beta-carotene, an antioxidant pigment that will further be converted into vitamin A to keep your heart and liver healthy. This cool-season vegetable is a perfect ingredient for making veggie sautees, salads, or muffins.
Planting Tips: Prepare 1/8 inch deep soil and 15 feet apart from each seed. Make sure the seeds have slight contact with water to keep their moisture. You will need to water them once or twice a day, especially in hot temperatures, until established.
Harvest: Early spring or fall is recommended to plant carrots. The harvest period is from 70 to 120 days after planting.
This loose leafy green vegetable falls in the same species as broccoli and cabbage, commonly grown in a cool climate. It is loaded with vitamin K, which is essential for your bones. There are several ways to consume collards, but the most popular are shredded raw in your salad, substitution for wraps, and quick sautee to avoid nutrition loss.
Planting Tips: Prepare fertile, rich, well-drained soils under full sun to plant collard. Give space about 18 to 24 inches apart from each seed to allow the root to develop properly.
Harvest: 6-8 weeks after planting. You can either cut off the plant to the ground or leave the central bud to re-grow.
If you are looking for an alternative carbohydrate source packed with fiber, you can consider corn. Corn is recognized for its yellow seeds that are rich in starch. You can enjoy corn as an appetizer, main course, or even dessert as it tastes buttery with a hint of sweetness.
Planting Tips: Corn is a summer crop that will thrive in warm weather with adequate sun exposure. The ideal time to grow corn is around 2-3 weeks after the last frost of spring. This yellow seeds veggie loves full sun with well-drained soils to obtain the best yields.
Harvest: 90-120 days after planting. In Florida, corn season starts from October to June.
Cucumber grows cylindrical fruits that are considered vegetables. They are generally consumed raw or pickled. Pickled cucumber is good for your gut health since it is loaded with probiotics due to the fermentation process. However, the raw ones are preferable because they are low in sugar and calories.
Planting Tips: Usually grown from February to April or August to September in Florida. Prepare 1/2 inch below the soil and 4-8 inches apart to have your cucumber grow healthily. It performs best in warm climates and does not tolerate frost.
Harvest: Generally, it takes 50-70 days to harvest cucumber after planting. However, you will only need 40-55 days to grow cucumbers until they are ready to consume in Florida.
Aubergine or eggplant is a warm-season vegetable that grows well in the hot climate since cold temperatures may inhibit pollination. This purple veggie is high in fiber and potassium, favorable for those on a diet. In addition, the vitamins A, C, and B-vitamins contained in eggplant are good nutrition for your cells. Hence, it is not recommended to include too much oil in the cooking process as it may damage the nutrients.
Planting Tips: Typically planted between August and February. But, they usually grow from January to March in Central and North Florida. This sun-loving veggie loves fertile, well-drained sandy and loam, acidic soils to thrive.
Harvest: 100-120 days until mature. We recommend harvesting as young as possible because they taste best in such a stage.
7. Green Beans
Basically, green beans are unripe fruits in the pods that include many cultivars of the same species. 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 important 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 fairly acidic soil (approximately pH 6). 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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Belonging to the cabbage family, it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. It contains an excellent amount of vitamin C, K, and powerful antioxidants that are extremely beneficial to tackling oxidative stress and preventing blood clotting. While you can cook the leafy veggie in various ways, such as stir-frying or sautee, steaming is the best way to retain its amazing nutrients.
Planting Tips: Kale prefers fertile, rich, moist, well-drained, acidic soils under full sun to grow properly. You can add compost to improve soil fertility. The best time to grow them starts from September to March, when the temperature is cool.
Harvest: Kale needs about 50-60 days until its maturity and ready to harvest.
Instead of cooking, lettuce is best eaten raw. You can add this leafy veggie to your salad or a green wrap with your sautee meats. Besides being popular because of its non-bitter taste and crunchy texture, its nutritional content is also one factor that makes this vegetable a favorite. It is rich in vitamin A, which is good to keep your cornea clear.
Planting Tips: Since the head seeds are too tiny to separate, the best way to plant lettuce is to spread the seeds in rows 3 feet apart on 12-inch wide beds. It performs well under the full sun. Provide partial shade only when the heat is too extreme.
Harvest: When the leaves reach around 6 inches tall or about 70-75 days after planting. Meanwhile, the lettuce head is ready to harvest after 55 days.
It is a flowering plant-bearing bean in pods with vitamin C, which functions as a natural antioxidant to improve the body’s immune system. You can cook okra at low temperatures to maintain its nutritional value, for example, by grilling, roasting, or stir-frying.
Planting Tips: This is a warm-season vegetable to plant in cool night temperatures around 10’C. It also requires full sun with well-drained soils to thrive best.
Harvest: 60 days after planting or when the pod’s length is about 3 inches.
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Besides giving you a spicy sensation that makes food even more delicious, pepper contains lots of good nutrients for the body. Some are vitamins A and C, which are natural antioxidants to ward off free radicals. Depending on its cultivar, you can add pepper to various cuisines, such as pasta, noodles, and sautee.
Planting Tips: It favors full sun exposure to grow; thus, spring is the best time to plant them. It also prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soils with a pH of around 6.5.
Harvest: 8-10 weeks after transplanting, depending on the variety.
Like carrots, radish is an edible root vegetable rich in nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, and antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Knowing it contains valuable nutrients, it is better to eat radish by shredding it into your salads or sliced to add to your sandwiches.
Planting Tips: Recommended to plant radish from September to March in North Florida, while in Central and South Florida, you can start planting in October until March. It tolerates frost and thrives in loose soils with neutral pH. Make sure you water them evenly to keep the soil moist.
Harvest: This hardy vegetable is commonly available throughout the year but is more abundant in April.
Since they botanically belong to berries, tomatoes are vegetables categorized as fruits that can be consumed raw, added to salads, or as a garnish on the main course. Furthermore, they generally have red colors, meaning that they are rich in anthocyanins – antioxidant pigments that possess numerous health benefits, such as anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, and many more.
Planting Tips: Generally planted from early February and the beginning of September. This veggie loves moist soil and water but avoids watering the leaves and fruits to prevent them from rotting. Preferably do it in the morning when the sun helps with drying.
Harvest: Available throughout the year but especially from October to May before the summer hits.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the easiest vegetable to grow in Spring in Florida?
Spring vegetables in Florida are generally low-maintenance, but there are some that fall into the category of the easiest vegetables to grow, such as lettuce, tomatoes, okra, carrots, beets, sweet corn, cucumber, zucchini, squash, and green beans.
Few of them are also considered summer crops.
Are Spring Vegetables Good to Eat Raw?
Yes! Some are safe and good to eat raw as long as you wash them thoroughly and carefully. Here are some spring vegetables in Florida you can consume raw: cucumber, lettuce, kale, and tomatoes.
They are even recommended to eat raw since they will lose texture and nutrients if cooked.