Many people who move to Florida struggle a bit with Florida gardening because they are still thinking in terms of normal gardening. Florida has both the good and the bad going for it, but in order to get the most from your Florida garden, I think you first need to understand that Florida is not at all normal. First, a little background.
In normal states, you have one growing season a year. You have your spring plants, your summer plants, and your fall plants (which are just summer plants that need a bit more time). You plant as much as you can, have a huge harvest, and freeze, can, dry or preserve the rest until the next year when you start again. Not Florida. You can harvest 12 months a year. No canning , preserving, whatever. Just pick fresh 12 months a year. Whoopie you say? This is the best garden state you say? Think again. Lets work this through.
Spring. April? No way. You will be done by April, so back it up a few months. January is cold, but not too cold to start your garden, you should have everything in by February at the latest. Yes there may be a few freezes, but you do have old sheets don’t you? Use them to cover your plants. Why so early? Because you will have the most beautiful weather you ever saw until the middle of May. All of your tomatoes will have green tomatoes and flowers. Your squash and cuke will look amazing. You will be thinking about what you will do with all the produce once all these tender baby plants mature. And then it will rain. And it will rain all day every day until September. Your tomatoes will rot. Your squash will get mildew. And your potato will get blight. How to beat it? February is the new April. Cover your plants, build solar hoops, cover with sheets, but get those 2 months of beautiful full sun production while you can.
Summer. Too hot and wet? Everything rots? Think again. There are several standard southern plants that have stood the test of time and can take the summer heat and rain. White potato out? Replace it with sweet potato. Squash out? Lay in some okra. Have some dead beds? Peanut not only grows like a weed, it will put nitrogen back into the soil and give you hot boiled peanuts on those long summer fishing trips. Do some online research and find some old time summer plants that soak up both the sun and the rain.
Fall. Well here we are back to spring again but better. Don’t have that horrible heat coming or the rain. Start again. Tomato, green bean, peppers, herbs, whatever your little heart desires. If you are lucky, it has only been 8 weeks since you pulled them. Plant away.
Winter. Now here is the cool one. This is where we make up for the lousy summer. First, for the fall vegetables that contine to produce, like tomato, build a hoop over it with pvc and cover with lightweight plastic. Like a little greenhouse. Warm it more by filling milk jugs with water and spray painting them black. Put them in between your plants. They soak up sun in the day and warm the dirt at night. You can pick tomatoes and green beans until January when the hard freezes hit. The plants wont even die, but the bees will stop visiting. Next, Winter plants. So many to choose from. Carrot, onion, garlic, leek, white potato, broccoli, brussles, cabbage, collards. All can take a hard freeze with no cover except white potato and they just need a bedsheet cover. So there you are. 12 months and it is spring again. Let’s go round again