Bulletin 90 June, 19 7
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service (
University of Florida, State College for Women
And United States Department of Agriculture
Wilmon Newell, Director
BY A. P. SPENCER
Fig. 1.-Quality vegetables in attractive containers command best prices
on the market.
Bulletins will be sent free to Florida residents upon application to the
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
BOARD OF CONTROL
GEO. H. BALDWIN, Chairman, Jacksonville
OLIVER J. SEMMES, Pensacola
HARRY C. DUNCAN, Tavares
THOMAS W. BRYANT, Lakeland
R. P. TERRY, Miami
J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Tallahassee
STAFF. AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
JOHN J. TIGERT, M.A., LL.D., President of the University
WILMON NEWELL, D.Sc., Director
A. P. SPENCER, M.S., Vice-Director and County Agent Leader
J. FRANCIS COOPER, M.S.A., Editor
JEFFERSON THOMAS, Assistant Editor
CLYDE BEALE, A.B., Assistant Editor
E. F. STANTON, Supervisor, Egg-Laying Contest
RUBY NEWHALL, Administrative Manager
COOPERATIVE AGRICULTURAL DEMONSTRATION WORK
W. T. NETTLES, B.S., District Agent
H. G. CLAYTON, M.S.A., District Agent, Organization and Outlook Specialist
J. LEE SMITH, District Agent and Agronomist
R. S. DENNIS, B.S.A., Assistant District Agent
A. E. DUNSCOMBE, M.S., Assistant District Agent
R. W. BLACKLOCK, A.B., Boys' Club Agent
E. F. DEBUSK, B.S., Citriculturist
A. L. SHEALY, D.V.M., Animal Industrialist2
HAMLIN L. BROWN, B.S., Dairyman
N. R. MEHRHOF, M.AGR., Poultryman2
D. F. SOWELL, M.S., Assistant Poultryman
WALTER J. SHEELY, B.S., Agent in Animal Husbandry
C. V. NOBLE, PH.D., Agricultural Economist2
FRANK W. BRUMLEY, PH.D., Agricultural Economist, Farm Management
R. H. HOWARD, M.S.A., Asst. Agr. Economist, Farm Management
GRAY MILEY, B.S.A., Asst. Agr. Economist, Farm Management
D. E. TIMMONS, M.S.A., Agricultural Economist, Marketing
R. V. ALLISON, PH.D., Soil Conservationist2
A. E. MERCKER, Field Agent, Cooperative Interstate Marketing1
COOPERATIVE HOME DEMONSTRATION WORK
MARY E. KEOWN, M.S., State Agent
LUCY BELLE SETTLE, M.A., District Agent
RUBY MCDAVID, District Agent
ANNA MAE SIKES, B.S., Nutritionist
VIRGINIA P. MOORE, Home Improvement Agent
ISABELLE S. THURSBY, Economist in Food Conservation
CLARINE BELCHER, M.S., Clothing Specialist
NEGRO EXTENSION WORK
A. A. TURNER, Local District Agent
BEULAH SHUTE, Local District Agent
1 In cooperation with U. S. D. A.
Fertilization Practices ....
Cover Crops .............
Seedbed ........ ... ..
B eans ........... ...........
Lima Beans ..... .....
Cabbage ......... .... ... ... .......
Chinese Cabbage ... .......
Collards ....... . ... ....... .
Carrots ......................... ...........
Cauliflow er ...............................
Broccoli ................ .
C elery ................ .......... .......
Chayote ........ .............
Cucumbers .............. ....
Dasheen ....... .... .....
E ndive ..- ........... ..
Lettuce ................ ...................
Romaine ...............-..- ...........
Muskmelons and Cantaloupes
Okra ........ ... .............. .
O nions .......... ....... ......
English Peas ...........................
Pepper ......... .. ........ ..
Potatoes ....... .... .........
R dishes .............................- .....
Spinach ....... . .........
Squash ........................-.-.. ...
Strawberries ............ ....-- -------
Sweet Corn .............. .........
Turnips and Rutabagas .........
Kohl-Rabi ................. ....
Watermelons ................-- ---
......... ......... ................... ........... 6
... ... .......... . ..... ..................... .... 6
.. .........- .. ................ ..... ..-......... .........
...... ... .............. .. 1 1
... .. .......... 17
...... ................. 17
...... .................... 19
.... .. ..... .. - - 2 1
........ ...... -. .... .. .. .. .................. ............. 3 1
.....-... ...-.......... .................. -............. .. 3 4
....... ........ .................... .. ...... .......- 3 6
...... ..... ... 38
.... .. 38
................ ..... .. ... 39
... ............... 40
....... ... 43
.... ..... ...- 46
.......- .. 51
..... ... ... ..... - 52
.................... ........ 56
...... .... 59
................. ......... ...... 60
..... ....... .......... ......... .............. ....... 6 5
-.............. ......... ......... ......... 6 5
Fig. 2.-Florida cabbage in a wirebound crate.
By A. P. SPENCER
Florida produces at different seasons of the year great quan-
tities of vegetables for shipment and home consumption. Ship-
ments begin about November 1 and continue through June; the
largest shipments are made between February 1 and May 30.
Some vegetables are produced during other months; these are
mostly consumed locally, or within the state.
Most Florida vegetables are shipped by rail or boat or are
hauled by trucks to market in Central, Northern and Eastern
states, and to a lesser extent to cities in Southern states, and
consumed immediately. Some, however, are placed in cold stor-
age for a limited period when the markets are temporarily over-
supplied. Vegetables produced in Florida compete on the market
with produce grown in other Southern states, primarily Texas,
Louisiana, and California, as well as in Cuba and Mexico.
The greater part of Florida's vegetable crop is grown during
the cooler season when there are fewest diseases and insect pests.
However, the grower has to combat insect pests and diseases on
practically every crop. This is especially true of early fall and
late spring crops. The extent of damage by pests varies from
one year to another, dependent largely on weather conditions.
Vegetable growers must be prepared to control such pests
whenever they occur. For most insects and diseases control
methods have been worked out by entomologists and pathologists
of the Florida Experiment Station and the U. S. Department
of Agriculture, and the necessary information regarding such
methods is available in bulletin form on application direct to
the institution or to the County Agent's office.
Information contained in this bulletin represents the practices
generally followed by the most successful vegetable growers of
Florida, together with information secured by experiments and
observations of the Horticultural Department, Florida Experi-
ment Station, and U. S. Department of Agriculture.
This is a revision of Bulletin 58, published in 1930. The author is
indebted to Dr. F. S. Jamison, truck horticulturist of the Experiment Sta-
tion, and to county agents for valuable suggestions and assistance.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Fertilization practices recommended in this bulletin are based
on information obtained from growers and from tests made by
the Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations and other insti-
Growers generally prefer that 25 to 40 percent of the nitrogen
in the fertilizer come from organic sources.
The time and rate of application are dependent on the soil fer-
tility and the needs of the crops. Moisture conditions at time of
application and general growth of the plants also have a bearing
on fertilizer applications.
A fertilizer formula reading 4-6-5 means 4 percent nitrogen,
6 percent phosphoric acid, and 5 percent potash.
The amount and methods of cultivation for vegetable crops
must depend on the rooting system of the plants and soil con-
ditions. Cultivation is necessary to keep weeds in check, to
loosen the surface soil when it becomes compact, and to mix the
fertilizer with the soil. This applies especially to the heavier
types of moist lands.
Emphasis should always be placed on thorough preparation
of the soil before the fertilizer is applied or the crop is planted.
This is more important than is generally recognized. If this
is done the amount of cultivation when the crop is growing,
aside from that necessary to control weed growth, will be rela-
tively small. As cultivation is a relatively large item in the cost
of production, this is impotrant.
Most Florida soils except muck are relatively low in humus
and it is advisable to grow a green manure crop preceding each
crop of vegetables. With most vegetable crops there can be a
yearly rotation that will maintain the humus content if green
crops are plowed under. Summer crops are also valuable in
keeping down Bermuda grass and troublesome weeds.
A variety of summer crops can be used, including native
grasses, cowpeas, velvet beans, beggarweed, and crotalaria. Ses-
bania does well on many of the poorly drained areas in the south-
ern part of the state. Whatever cover crop is selected, it should
be turned under 20 days or more before the truck crop is set.
The seedbed is made by selecting a favorable location in the
field, close to a water supply, on well drained, comparatively
rich soil, or on such soil as can be made rich by fertilization and
as free as possible from root-knot nematodes and disease organ-
For celery, lettuce, romaine, cabbage, escarole, endive, cauli-
flower, and other fall-planted crops, lay out the beds three-and-
a-half feet wide. Small amounts of well rotted stable manure
or well decayed compost can be mixed with the soil in the seed-
beds to advantage. However, large amounts have a tendency
to produce a quick sappy growth and such plants wilt quickly
or may die after being set in the field, requiring much resetting
Hardwood ashes applied at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds
per acre, or 1,000 pounds per acre of agricultural lime thoroughly
mixed with the soil tends to produce a favorable condition for
plant growth. In addition 10 percent tankage or castor bean
meal applied at the rate of 1,000 pounds per acre usually will
produce a steady growth and a strong plant that will not wilt or
die readily after being transferred to the field. The fertilizer
should be thoroughly incorporated with the soil, the bed made
smooth and the seeds sown. It is best to allow a few days to
elapse between applying the fertilizer and sowing the seeds, in
the meantime keeping the beds moist.
Seeds of lettuce, romaine, escarole, endive and other light,
small seeds, should be barely covered with loose dirt and kept
constantly moist until the seedlings are well rooted. This may
require watering three times a day if the soil is inclined to be
dry and the weather warm. They may be kept moist by having
a shallow ditch close to the beds to supply water. It is a good
practice to lay burlap cloth over the seedbeds and keep it moist
until the seeds are well sprouted and rooted.
Seedbeds should be protected with an A-shaped cloth cover
two yards wide, made of 4-ounce sheeting, over a frame of lath
and wire to provide shade during hot weather and to protect the
plants against beating rains, wind and possibly early frosts.
Florida Cooperative Extension
For starting a winter seedbed of eggplants, peppers, tomatoes,
and other plants of like nature, the bed should be from four
and a half to five feet wide.
It should be surrounded by
a wooden wall two feet
high on the north side
(back) and 10 inches high
on the south side (front).
Wires stretched across the
top to support a cloth cap-
Fig. 3-Winter and early spring seed- able of being made per-
bed cover. fectly tight as a protection
against cold are essential. Tomatoes, eggplant and pepper
require much less shading than more tender plants and should
require practically no shading except during early fall. Too
much shading will produce tender, spindly plants.
Fig. 4.-Shading seedbeds with canvas.
The seeds should be sown fairly thick in rows from four to
six inches apart. When sown broadcast, the beds are difficult
to cultivate, fertilize and weed. Cover the seeds lightly, not more
than half an inch.
When the seeds are sprouted the bed should be watered and
kept moist until the plants are well established.
A practice known as "blocking off" is advisable about 12 days
before the plants are taken from the plant bed. This is done
with a blade or long knife. The soil and lateral roots are cut
about two inches from the row of plants by pushing the blade
along the side of the plants deep enough to cut the lateral roots.
This causes the plants to establish new roots before being
planted in the field and makes them more easily transplanted.
It is best to cut on one side of the row of plants at a time, then
wait a few days and cut the roots on the opposite side.
Bush or snap beans are grown for home use in every section
of Florida and are among the most important truck crops. The
largest acreage in any one section is produced on muck lands in
the Everglades and on sandy soils in lower East Coast counties
in areas well protected from killing frosts. Beans are shipped
from this area from early fall until May. They can be grown
under a variety of conditions and on different kinds of soil.
Snap beans are killed by freezing temperature. Therefore,
the fall crop must be matured before danger of frost and the
spring crop should not be planted until danger of frost is past.
Beans are raised as early fall and late spring crops in the
southern part of Alachua and throughout Marion, Putnam and
Sumter counties. In these sections the growers plan to have
most of their crop out of the way by December 1. The spring
crop is planted in February and March and harvested during
April, May and June.
Beans make good crops on the better grades of hammock and
pine lands. They also grow well on muck, if it has been planted
to some other crop for two or three years previously. They will
not do well on sour or poorly drained land, and should never be
planted as a first crop, particularly on flatwoods pine land known
to be sour. They respond readily to good cultivation and require
comparatively warm weather to make them grow fast.
Beans on sandy lands should have from 600 to 1,000 pounds of
fertilizer to the acre. As the crop matures in approximately 45
days this fertilizer should be applied before the seeds are planted.
A fertilizer analyzing 5-7-5 is generally used. The ammonia
Florida Cooperative Extension
element is the most important. If the crop is not making good
growth, it is often advisable to apply a top-dressing of readily
available nitrate fertilizer at the rate of 200 pounds per acre.
However, an excessive amount applied when the bloom is first
appearing may cause shedding of both bloom and leaves. Soils
low in humus will require more fertilizer than where there is a
better supply of humus.
On the bean lands of the lower East Coast, the fertilizer appli-
cations are practically the same as for sandy lands of other
sections of Florida. However, when the marl subsoil is close to
the surface it is advisable to use 200 pounds manganese sulfate
in each ton of the mixed fertilizer.
Two types of bush or snap beans are generally grown-green
podded and wax varieties. The green podded varieties are most
extensively grown as they can be planted on a greater variety
of soils. Wax varieties should be planted on the better grades
of hammock land.
Green podded varieties recommended are Bountiful, Refugee,
Giant Stringless, Stringless Black Valentine and Kentucky Won-
der. Wax podded varieties recommended are New Davis, White
Wax, Wardwell Kidney Wax, Bountiful Wax, Sure Crop String-
less Wax and Hodson Wax.
It will require about three to four pecks of seed to the acre,
with rows 3 feet apart and hills about 4 inches apart. In a few
days the beans will show above ground, and will grow off rapidly,
if weather conditions are favorable. No thinning will be neces-
sary, and just enough cultivation to keep the weeds in check
will be sufficient. In growing beans it is important not to culti-
vate while the plants are wet or immediately after a rain, as
this will have a tendency to spread any fungus diseases that may
be present in the field.
Beans usually are picked when the pods have grown to full
size. However, they must be gathered before showing ripeness.
Otherwise, by the time they reach market they will be wilted.
Several pickings will be necessary under average conditions.
The beans are picked into bushel hampers in the field and should
Fig. 5.-Bush and snap beans in hampers.
be hand sorted in a central packing shed. On good land 100 to
200 hampers may be produced to the acre.
Lima or butter beans, while raised for shipping, are a less
important crop than bush beans. Certain varieties can be grown
throughout the summer season and are excellent summer vege-
tables. The crop is handled in about the same way as bush
beans. With the runner varieties the rows must be wider and
these varieties should have a trellis or poles on which to climb.
Some growers prefer the runner varieties and plant them in
corn fields where the stalks act as supports.
Lima beans are more sensitive to cold than are bush beans but
will make better growth during warm weather, particularly
during a rainy season, as they are less subject to fungus diseases.
The bush lima bean is an excellent summer vegetable, making
about the same size bush as the ordinary bush bean and grow-
ing under similar conditions. It requires, however, a longer
period in which to mature.
Like green beans, they should be carefully graded for ship-
ment. They must be kept cool and dry after crating to prevent
heating and spotting from mold.
Florida Cooperative Extension
For shipment to Northern markets Fordhook Lima is the best
variety. For home use either the Henderson Bush, White or
Mottled Florida butter bean will prove satisfactory.
Navy beans have not proven a satisfactory Florida crop.
Beets are grown throughout Florida both for home use and as
a shipping crop. Suitable soils for beets are a dark, sandy loam,
well drained and supplied with organic matter, and muck soils.
There are two methods used in producing the beet crop in
Florida. In the first the seeds are planted in rows in the field and
no seedbeds are used. The soil must be thoroughly worked to a
good seedbed, the seeds are sown thick with a seed drill in
rows from 12 to 14 inches apart and finally thinned by hand to
a stand of plants averaging 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. A
few radish or other quickly germinating seeds should be mixed
with the beet seeds; the radish seeds germinate quickly and mark
the rows. This permits wheel-hoe or hand-hoe cultivation, some-
times necessary to destroy weeds before the beet seeds are up.
After the beet seeds are up and the rows well defined the few
radishes may be removed.
The second and better method is to sow the seeds in seedbeds
and set the plants in the field when about 4 inches high; the
plants require careful handling.
The field should be freshly prepared, free from grass and
weeds. Cultivate the field several times before setting the young
plants and kill the weed seed that may germinate, thus making
subsequent cultivation easier.
The plants should be set 4 to 5 inches apart in rows 12 to 16
inches wide. A more uniform and satisfactory yield of market-
able beets can be produced by this method than by seeds sown
in the field. It will require approximately 100,000 plants to set
an acre. Sow about 4 pounds of seed for each acre to be planted.
FERTILIZATION AND CULTIVATION
Beets require liberal fertilization. One and a half tons to the
acre of a complete commercial fertilizer analyzing 5-5-8 will be
suitable for most sandy soils. This should be given in three
applications during the growth of the plants. The first applica-
Fig. 6.-Beets require heavy fertilization, but make a satisfactory crop
tion should be 10 days before setting the plants in the field or
sowing the seed, as the case may be.
On rich muck soils 500 to 800 pounds of fertilizer usually is
sufficient, and a fertilizer containing little or no nitrogen, analyz-
ing 0-8-12, is used.
Beets should be cultivated enough to check weeds and until
the plants cover and shade the middles.
Beets should be pulled and carried to a packinghouse in field
crates or baskets and packed in the shade to avoid wilting. One
bushel and 11/2 bushel crates are used in shipping Florida beets.
From 400 to 450 crates make a carload. Beets are usually
shipped under refrigeration.
Beets are marketed with tops attached. These are tied 6 beets
to the bunch, and then tied 6 bunches to the package. When
put up in this way they may be transported by truck without
placing them in hampers.
Eclipse, Detroit Dark Red, Crosby's Egyptian, and Early Won-
der are some of the varieties most frequently planted.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Cabbage is one of the easiest truck crops to grow in Florida.
The soil must be naturally fertile, well drained and sufficiently
retentive of moisture to carry the crop over drought periods.
Almost any good farming soil in Florida will produce satisfactory
crops of cabbage, if sufficiently fertilized.
The cabbage plant is a gross feeder, one of the hardiest of
Florida vegetables, and usually will withstand a temperature of
160 F. for a short period after the plants are half grown. How-
ever, when the plants are small, just transplanted from the seed-
beds and are exposed to a freezing temperature, they will likely
be killed. Cabbage in Florida is planted for the early winter and
late spring markets. Earlier cabbage is planted in the field in
September and October. The greater bulk of the crop is planted
in November and December.
Good yields are produced on sandy loam, clay loam and muck
soils. Thin, sandy, loose soil is not recommended for this crop,
although such lands can be made to produce satisfactory crops
by irrigation and liberal fertilization.
PLANTING AND CULTIVATING
The ground should be thoroughly plowed, pulverized, har-
rowed and made smooth. The rows should be marked off about
36 inches apart and the plants set 12 to 18 inches apart. The
cabbage plants are taken from the seedbeds when from four to
six inches high, and are usually planted by hand in moist soil.
If irrigation can be furnished at planting time it insures a more
even stand and a heavier crop.
Sow about 12 ounces of seed to each acre. As soon as the
plants are large enough they should be cultivated. With the ex-
ception of hoeing around the plants, all cultivation may be done
with horse cultivators. Shallow cultivation with light sweep is
Cabbage requires from a half ton to a ton per acre of a bal-
anced fertilizer, analyzing 5-6-7. On the lighter soils half of
this amount should be drilled into the rows before the crop is
planted and the remainder worked into the soil when the crop
is about half grown.
When the crop is about half grown, or even earlier, if it tends
to grow slowly, an additional application of 150 to 200 pounds
sulfate of ammonia or nitrate of soda or nitrate of potash to the
acre is advisable for steady growth and to produce firm heads.
This, however, must not be overdone, as it is liable to delay ma-
turity and produce loose-headed cabbages.
With cabbage, irrigation can be easily overdone. It requires a
reasonable amount of moisture to keep up steady growth; but,
if cabbages are forced too much and given continual irrigation
and heavy fertilization, the heads are liable to burst, making the
crop unmarketable. This bursting is caused by the heart of the
cabbage growing faster than the outer leaves. When there is
a tendency toward bursting it is a good practice to run a furrow
between each two rows and cut off some of the roots.
Principal varieties grown for market are Copenhagen Market,
Golden Acre, Charleston Wakefield, Jersey Wakefield, Premium
Flat Dutch, and Hollander. The fall crop is usually planted in
October and is ready to ship in January. Charleston Wakefield
and Jersey Wakefield are planted in December and January and
shipped in the spring.
The chief limitations to cabbage growing in Florida are the
markets, as a large part of the crop is shipped to Northern
markets in competition with crops grown in other Southern
The crop is packed in one-and-a-half bushel hampers and in
the standard cabbage crate (12x18x33 inches) ; also in more
open crates as shown in Figure 2. There is also a ready market
for Florida cabbage in many areas that can be supplied by truck
delivery. These are hauled in bulk without packaging.
CHINESE CABBAGE (Pe-tsai)
Chinese cabbage, although not of major importance, is rapidly
becoming more generally grown in Florida. It grows well on
land suited to cabbage or lettuce. The growth should be rapid
so that the vegetable will be crisp. It requires about the same
fertilization as lettuce.
The plants are started in the seedbed and transplanted into
the field when three or four inches high. The rows should be
about 30 inches apart and the plants set about 15 inches in the
Florida Cooperative Extension
Shallow cultivation combined with liberal amounts of nitrate
fertilizer will produce large heads. When preparing for the
table the outer leaves are stripped off, leaving a whitish crisp
center that is used in salad or eaten as lettuce. Unless the plant
makes a quick, succulent growth it is practically worthless.
When shipped it is packed in celery crates.
From 6 to 10 ounces of seed should supply sufficient plants
to set one acre.
Fig. 7.-Entire plants of young collards have been harvested and placed in
a wirebound crate.
Collards are grown in Florida during practically every month.
On account of their hardiness they can be carried through the
winter months without protection in northern Florida.
The cultivation of collards is similar to that of cabbage.
In order to market collards successfully, the leaves must be
tender and crisp and hence must make quick growth.
If the plants are old, the leaves must be stripped off the stems,
but if the plants are young and tender and the growth from 12
to 15 inches high, the plants may be cut off just above the crown,
these tied in bunches, then packed in a large crate and trans-
ported by truck or railroad mainly to Southern markets.
Carrots grow well during the cool months under a variety of
conditions. On average garden soil fairly moist and well fertil-
ized the crop can be made especially profitable as a market garden
crop or can be shipped to distant markets.
Carrots are also an excellent garden crop for home use as
their food value is relatively high. On rich land they produce
a heavy yield.
The seed should be sown during the fall, as the crop requires
three or four months to mature. One can have marketable
carrots from January to June with a reasonable amount of care.
SOIL AND PLANTING
Muck or sandy loam garden soil thoroughly pulverized is de-
sirable for carrots. The seeds should be sown in drills about 18
inches apart and covered about an inch deep. Carrot seeds are
slow to germinate and uncertain in germination. Liberal seeding
is advisable, at the rate of 4 to 5 pounds per acre. In case of too
thick a stand they should be thinned to about 2 inches in the rows.
From 600 to 900 pounds of fertilizer per acre should be applied
to average soils, although smaller quantities may be used on
well decayed and moist muck soil. The fertilizer should analyze
4-6-7. It is usually best to apply one-half the fertilizer before
sowing the seed and work the remainder in between the rows
when the plants are half grown. An additional application of
Florida Cooperative Extension
some readily available nitrate fertilizer such as sulfate of
ammonia or nitrate of soda is advisable if the plants are grow-
Carrots grown in Florida are marketed locally or can be
shipped in trucks or by car-lots. They should be washed clean,
then tied in medium sized bunches of 6 to 10. Any dead leaves
are removed and the green tops left attached. With a good crop
and a strong local demand at fair prices, the gross return per
acre is usually high and the crop very profitable.
Fig. 8.-Two kinds of carrots tied in attractive bunches for marketing.
Carrots can be packed in hampers with tops removed. Carrots
are also shipped to distant markets packed in crates or boxes.
Imperator, Red Cored Chantenay, Morse Bunching, Bagley,
Nantes, and Danvers Half-long are satisfactory varieties.
Cauliflower is planted and handled under conditions similar
to cabbage, but is more difficult to raise and place on the market
in the best condition. It grows best during the cooler months
and should be ready for market during January, February and
March. To mature, it requires about four months from the
time the plants are set, so that the seeds must be sown in the
seedbed early in the fall.
Early Snowball is the leading variety in Florida; Erfurt is
The soil best suited to cauliflower is a compact, sandy loam
well supplied with organic matter. Wet land should be avoided,
although the crop needs a constant supply of moisture. Irriga-
tion is more necessary than with cabbage, although good crops
are grown without irrigation on certain soil types. Surface or
sub-irrigation is preferable to an overhead system, to avoid
discoloration of the heads when about mature. The soil should
be thoroughly plowed and harrowed, and all vegetation covered
Cauliflower should be ready for market between January 1 and
April 15, depending on the location in the state. It is, therefore,
necessary to set the plants in the field between October 1 and
When ready to plant the rows should be laid off 36 inches
apart and the plants set 20 inches apart in the rows. The plants
are set in about the same manner as cabbage, but with a little
more care, as they are less hardy. It will require about 9,000
plants to set an acre, which may be secured from about 16
ounces of seed.
Cultivation should be continued until the crop is harvested.
Cauliflower requires liberal fertilization, from 1,500 to 2,000
pounds of commercial fertilizer to the acre being needed on aver-
age soils. Half of this fertilizer should be worked into the rows
10 days before the plants are set, and the remainder applied
when the crop is about half grown. Almost any well balanced
fertilizer, containing 5 percent ammonia, 6 percent phosphoric
acid and 4 to 6 percent potash, will answer. An application of
Florida Cooperative Extension
150 pounds to the acre of readily available nitrogenous fertilizer
will give good results if made just before curd formation.
When mature the leaves should be tied or pinned over the
curd to blanch it and prevent discoloration.
HARVESTING AND PACKING
The 11/ bushel hamper is used for packing cauliflower. The
standard crate (24x18x9) is the best container.
In harvesting, the leaves surrounding the head should be
cut so that they
extend 5 to 6
inches above the
head. The head is
then packed up-
right in the crate
and the project-
ing leaves serve
as a protection to
the curd against
care is necessary
in crating to pre-
vent bruising or
Fig. 9.-Cauliflower in the standard crate. the head.
Broccoli is a hardy, cold resistant vegetable resembling cauli-
flower. It is grown only to a very limited extent and, up to the
present time, has not become of much commercial importance.
It is more hardy than cauliflower and can be grown when cauli-
flower would be destroyed by frosts.
The favorite type produces a loose head consisting of unopened
bloom. This head is green and is harvested with 6 to 8 inches
of the stem.
One should select a sandy loam or muck soil and have it well
prepared, using about the same fertilizer and cultivation as for
The seed should be sown in a seedbed during September and
October. The plants may be transferred to the field when they
are about 4 inches high. Care should be taken to see that the
seedlings are not too thick in the seedbed. The plants will be
stronger if they are first transferred into rows, setting them
3 or 4 inches apart and later transferring to the field. This,
however, involves extra labor and is not necessary if the plants
in the seedbed are not too thick and spindling.
The heads should be cut with a few leaves to protect them,
and marketed in flat packages. The heads are subject to dis-
coloration unless kept cool by icing or refrigeration during
Italian Green Sprouting is the favorite variety.
One-fourth pound of seed should produce sufficient plants to
set an acre. In field planting, the rows should be about 3 feet
apart and the plants set 15 to 20 inches in the row.
Plants set in the field during November should have mature
heads in February and March.
Celery in Florida is generally planted on level, well irrigated
land. The soil should be sandy loam, fairly compact, with a
good supply of humus thoroughly drained. A low, sandy ham-
mock, or a high quality flatwoods soil produces good crops.
Celery may also be planted on muck soils which are well adapted
to the spring crop.
The soil should be thoroughly prepared and treated with lime
or ashes if the reaction is excessively acid. Unless it is rich
Fig. 10.-Papering celery.
Florida Cooperative Extension
in organic matter, it should have a heavy crop of vegeta-
tion plowed under two or three weeks before planting. Ten to
20 tons of stable manure per acre is recommended if available
and of good quality. However, leached or poor quality manure
is usually not worth the price paid for it.
Fig. 11.-Celery papered for blanching.
In planting celery the rows are laid off 30 inches apart and
the plants are set 31/2 inches in the row. In some cases the
plants are set 6 inches apart in double rows, but the single-
row system is most frequently used. On flat land, where lack of
drainage may endanger the crops, celery is planted on raised
beds and in double rows.
Plants for transplanting should be about 4 inches high. It
will require approximately 60,000 plants to set an acre. About
8 ounces of seed should be sown to produce this number of
When the plants are set the ground must be made thoroughly
moist, almost wet, until growth starts, after which the soil
needs just enough moisture to induce growth.
The varieties of celery grown in Florida are Golden Self-
Blanching for early crops, and Green Top and Easy Blanching
for late crops.
From two to four tons of commercial fertilizer (according to
the natural richness of the soil) analyzing 5-5-5 is required to
grow an acre of celery in the principal celery districts of Florida.
In different soil types, other formulas are used. Many prefer
a high potash analysis, sometimes increasing the potash analysis
to 10 or 15 percent.
The fertilizer should be applied in three or four applications,
the first of around 1,000 pounds mixed well into the rows 10
days before the plants are set. This usually should be supple-
mented with several light applications of nitrate of soda, from
100 to 200 pounds to the acre each, while the crop is growing.
BLANCHING AND SHIPPING
When the celery is mature, heavy
10 or 12 inch strips and held close
to the plants by wire wickets, is used
to blanch the celery. This operation
should be done 10 days to three weeks
before cutting begins.
The standard container for ship-
ping Florida celery is the 10-inch
celery crate, measuring 10x20x22
inches. From 336 to 350 of these
make a carload. All car-lots of celery
from Florida are shipped in refrig-
erator cars, well iced.
Celery is also marketed with a
part of the tops cut off as shown in
reinforced paper, cut in
Fig. 12.-Cutter used in
Florida Cooperative Extension
The chayote (Chayota edulis) is a perennial-rooted cucurbit,
belonging to the
same family as
squash, and mel-
on. It is a native
vine is a climber
and the fruit is
more or less pear-
varieties a n d
tened. The crop
has not yet at-
though it has ap-
peared on various
markets in the
South and in
s o m e Northern
Fig. 13.-Celery in a wirebound crate. cities for many
years. Numerous varieties of chayotes exist: dark and light
green and ivory white; shapes varying from distinctly pear-
shaped to nearly round; weights from two to three ounces to
as many pounds each; and from perfectly smooth and even to
very spiny or corrugated or both. The non-spiny and non-
corrugated types are much preferred because of their better
appearance and the greater ease of handling.
COOKING AND SERVING
The cooked chayote has a delicate squash-like flavor and, when
not too old, an excellent texture which makes it distinctive and
very pleasing when served without mashing. The single large seed
is edible and is commonly cooked and served with the rest of
*Information on the chayote supplied by Office of Plant Introduction,
Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S.D.A.
Fig. 14.-White-fruited variety of chayote grown on a bamboo trellis in
central Florida. This variety is practically free from spines and but slightly
corrugated. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
the vegetable. The chayote may be prepared in different ways.
A convenient method is to cut slices about /4 inch thick, cross-
wise through the seed, pare the slices, and boil until tender
Florida Cooperative Extension
(15 to 20 minutes) in just enough salted water to cook. These
slices may then be served hot, either whole or in pieces, with
butter melted over them, or they may be diced and served with
a cream sauce. The boiled chayote is especially adapted for use
in salads. Sliced chayote, either raw or cooked, is excellent
fried. The vegetable is also used in stews and may be baked
and stuffed. Immature chayotes are used for pickles.
The whole chayote fruit is planted, with the broad (sprouting)
end slanting downward. A part of the smaller end is left
exposed above the soil surface. The distance between plants
should be at least 12 feet, as the vine is a rampant grower.
Planting is usually done in the early spring, or even in the fall
in southern Florida.
A rich sandy loam is desirable for chayotes.
The vines should be provided with a trellis or allowed to grow
over a fence, porch or tree that does not give too dense shade.
The first year, the vines usually will not flower until early
fall. The fruit matures in about 25 days from setting. The
second year, a late spring crop may be obtained. The size of
the crop from one vine varies from a few fruits to several hun-
dred. Fruit seldom sets during the summer.
Stable manure should be used for chayotes when available.
This may be supplemented by a complete fertilizer carrying 6
to 8 percent of potash. Moderate applications three or four
times during the season are better than fewer in larger quan-
tities. Nitrate of soda may be applied lightly when vine growth
lags, and especially when flowering begins.
INSECT PESTS AND DISEASES
Chayotes are attacked by the same enemies as other cucurbits,
and methods of control are the same. For leaf-eating insects,
such as the cucumber beetle and the squash lady-bug, arsenate
of lead is used. Soft-bodied insects, like the melon and pickle
worms and the aphids, may be destroyed by a nicotine spray.
Root-knot is one of the more serious diseases to which the chayote
Chayotes f or
full size, as the
s k i n otherwise
will be too tender
and the fruit
more likely to be
bruised and be-
c o me shriveled.
The y must be
to avoid bruising.
Sprouting of ma-
ture fruits on the
vine may occur.
While this does
not affect edibil-
ity, except to
toughen the seed
coat, it is not ad-
visable to send
to market. F o r Fig. 15.-Chayotes are marketed largely in 50
distant markets, pound potato crates, particularly around Miami.
chayotes should be wrapped and shipped in vegetable crates.
In storing for seed purposes, chayotes may be kept in clean
dry sand in a cool place. When kept for table use, they can be
wrapped in porous paper and packed in crates.
Cucumbers are grown as a market crop in many sections of
the vegetable growing area of northern, central and southern
Florida. Most of the early crop is planted in August, September
and October on a limited acreage in South Florida. These cu-
cumbers are usually marketed between Thanksgiving and Christ-
mas. In past years a limited acreage was grown as a fall crop
in northern Florida counties. This, however, has been almost
Florida Cooperative Extension
discontinued. The largest acreage is grown in central Florida,
and the cucumbers are marketed during March and April. A
late spring crop is grown in Lake, Marion, Levy, and Alachua
counties; these are marketed between April 15 and June 10 in
For cucumbers select a fine, well drained, sandy loam with
preferably a southern slope. Flat land with an adequate supply
of moisture is favorable, providing it has sufficient drainage.
Flat pinewoods land with a hardpan soil and subject to overflows
is usually not suitable for cucumbers. Such soils may be im-
proved by draining, liming and plowing under considerable quan-
tities of vegetation. The better grades of pine land are con-
sidered satisfactory for cucumbers.
To prepare soil for cucumbers, plow it 5 to 6 inches deep and
pulverize the surface. All vegetation should be turned under
one month before planting time.
When ready to plant, plow the land, preferably in 5 foot beds,
and plant the seeds 2 feet apart on the beds, or plants may be
left 2 feet apart and 2 plants to the hill. It is best to check off
the field and work a part of the fertilizer into the hills 10 days
before planting. To fertilize one day and plant the next will
probably injure the small plants, unless the fertilizer is thor-
oughly incorporated in the soil.
The time for planting will depend on the locality and market
intended. Spring planting should be done just as early as danger
of frost is over. It requires from 45 to 60 days from the time
the seeds are planted until the first cucumbers are picked.
Successive plantings should be made; if one crop is killed by
frost, other plants will be coming on. Spraying with bordeaux
mixture should begin when three or four leaves are showing
and continue at weekly or 10 day intervals until the crop is
Cucumber plants may be started in pots in the seedbed and
later transplanted to the field. This requires much labor and is
not recommended where the acreage is large. When planted di-
rectly in the field 8 or 10 seeds should be dropped in each hill. This
will insure sufficient plants for a good stand. After the plants are
well established thin to 3 or 4 to the hill.
It will require about two pounds of seed to plant one acre.
Some growers prefer to sow more seed, drilling them almost
solid and then thinning the plants to a stand. This will require
about 5 or 6 pounds per acre.
Either of these methods will supply sufficient plants for the
entire field, and should there be missing hills these can be filled
in by transplanting from thick places, using a spade so that
plenty of earth can be carried with the roots.
PROTECTION AGAINST COLD
Cold protection is often provided by making V-shaped troughs
of 12-inch boards. The rows are set east and west in the field
and the troughs are laid immediately to the north of the plants
with one side up. This gives protection from cold and winds and
hastens germination of the seeds through reflection of sun rays
from the back boards. In case of high wind or frost, these
troughs can be turned over the plants.
FERTILIZATION AND CULTIVATION
Cucumbers require liberal fertilization. About 1,600 to 2,000
pounds to the acre of a 5-7-5 commercial fertilizer should be
sufficient. Half of this should be applied 10 days before the
seeds are sown and the remainder 10 days before the first
blooms are likely to appear. Fertilizer applied as a side-dressing
should not come in contact with the plants. It may be worked
well into the soil with a sweep. Unless the fertilizer is incor-
porated in the soil, it will usually be slow in providing plant food
to the vines if the soil is loose and dry.
Should the crop indicate lack of growth, 50 pounds of readily
available nitrogenous fertilizer to the acre may be applied as
top-dressings two or three times at intervals of 10 to 12 days.
A heavier application at one time is likely to cause shedding of
the bloom and young fruit. Care should be used not to let the
fertilizer fall on the plants, as it will burn the leaves. The pur-
pose of this application of nitrogen is to stimulate growth and
produce more bearing surface.
As soon as the plants are large enough they should be given
shallow cultivation, principally to control weeds. Cultivation
should be continued as long as possible without injuring the
tender growing vine tops. It should be as shallow as possible,
as cucumbers are very shallow rooted and the roots are as long
as the vines.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Fig. 16.-Cucumbers with overhead irrigation.
It is often profitable to provide irrigation for cucumbers.
While cucumbers will withstand considerable drought, the yield
will be light unless they have sufficient moisture. Overhead irri-
gation is generally used, although it may stimulate vine diseases.
Cucumber growers usually prefer surface sub-irrigation sys-
tems. Irrigation should be used only when needed to keep the
plants growing and producing.
Cucumbers are ready to pick when the fruit has grown to
about full length for the variety and the blossom end is rounded
out well, but before the sides lose their corrugations and become
full and smooth. If a allowed to become ripe, they are
not salable. They should be picked before the seeds harden.
They are gathered in field baskets, taken to a packing
shed, and placed in standard cucumber crates or tubs for
shipment (Fig. 1). In the early part of the season it will
be necessary generally to pick over the field at least twice a
week; but after the season advances and the fruit matures more
rapidly, three pickings a week may be necessary to prevent
some fruit becoming too mature. All ill-shaped, wormy and
unmarketable fruits should be pulled from the vines, as these
draw on soil fertility and moisture and are usually worthless for
Some important commercial varieties raised under field con-
ditions are Improved Clark's Special, Straight-8, Improved Long
Green, Klondike, Early Fortune and Kirby Staygreen. These
varieties are good shippers and produce well under average
The dasheen (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott), while not a
major crop, is of importance in a few localities in the South.
It is a Chinese variety of the taro-an important root crop of
warm countries-first introduced from the island of Trinidad
a b o u t 1905,
though not grown
ly until 1913.
The dasheen is
similar to the po-
tato in composi-
tion but is much
less watery. It
contains about 50
percent more pro-
tein and starch
than the potato
and is higher in
food value. The
flavor is sugges-
tive of chestnuts.
Dasheens a r e Fig. 17.-First grade dasheen tubers, cleaned for
baked and other- market. (Reduced.)
wise cooked (but not boiled and mashed) much like potatoes.
They cook in somewhat less time than potatoes.
The dasheen plant resembles the elephant-ear, to which it is
related. Each hill produces one or more large central corms
(solid bulbs) and a number of lateral "tubers". Both corms
and tubers are edible, though if grown in poorly drained soil
the corms are not of suitable quality for the table. There is a
prejudice against the corms because of their large size (up to
several pounds each) and for this reason as well as because
*Secure Farmers' Bulletin 1396, U.S.D.A., for fuller treatment on the
subject, including detailed cooking directions.
Florida Cooperative Extension
corms of poor quality have at times been shipped, the market
much prefers the tubers.
The present market demand, mainly among the oriental popu-
lations of large cities, is supplied by the acreage of dasheens
The Trinidad dasheen is the variety generally grown. When
well grown, it yields heavily-up to 350 bushels an acre-and
is of excellent quality. The Sacramento variety produces fewer
lateral tubers, but they tend to become larger and usually are
of more uniform shape than those of the Trinidad; and they
are less dry. The corms of the Sacramento usually are not
of good table quality.
PLANTING AND CULTIVATION
For best development, the dasheen requires a rich sandy loam
soil, moist but well drained. An abundance of humus is essential.
Good hammock lands are especially suited to the crop. The
plants will endure occasional flooding for short periods. Dash-
eens do well in drained muck soils.
Planting may be done as early as weather conditions permit,
during February or March; the farther south, the earlier. Large
pieces of corms or whole tubers weighing 2 to 5 ounces each are
best for planting, though smaller tubers may be used. Plant
singly two to three inches deep, in flat ground or slightly raised
beds. The rows should be 4 to 5 feet apart and the hills 2 to
21/2 feet apart in the row. Ridge the rows gradually in cultiva-
tion during the summer.
Cultivation should be shallow after the plants are well started.
Use rotted stable manure when available and supplement with
a potato fertilizer, high in potash, in late spring at the rate of
800 pounds per acre. A second application may be given in July
or August. The dasheen is one of the heaviest feeders among
all crops. The crop matures in October or November, depending
upon time of planting and season.
Dasheens are harvested the same as potatoes. The use of
potato forks in harvesting may injure the best tubers. The
tubers will be better matured if not harvested for some time after
the tops are dead.
Fig. 18.-View in Florida dasheen field near the end of October. The
rows were ridged by drawing soil toward them during the late summer.
Dasheens for market should be well cleaned, have the fibre
removed, and be graded. Only tubers of good shape and from
the size of a large egg upward should go to market. Corms will
sometimes be taken but are less marketable. Corms and cull
tubers may be used for stock feed or seed. Dasheens for market
are usually shipped in sacks of 100 to 125 pounds each or in
Dasheen corms do not keep so well as the tubers and it is
advisable to dispose of them as early as practicable after harvest.
The tubers will keep for many months at a temperature of 50
Florida Cooperative Extension
degrees F. Usually they can be kept under a house until April
or May. They have also been kept in "banks" until April with
little sprouting when covered with hay or similar material but
Eggplants are usually grown as late fall and early spring
crops in the northern counties. South Florida, however, raises
them as a winter crop. While eggplants are produced under con-
ditions similar to those of tomatoes, they are not as easily grown
and require more intensive cultivation. The plants are delicate
when raised in the seedbed and have to be transplanted with care.
They are more subject to disease than tomatoes, so that seedbed
management is important in getting the crop started right.
Eggplants require careful attention and should be planted on
soil fertilized well. The plant is a deep feeder with an extensive
root system, so that it is capable of using liberal amounts of
The most suitable soil for eggplants is a sandy loam, having
a fair supply of organic matter. A constant supply of moisture
is required, especially until the plants become firmly rooted.
They will not thrive on loose, coarse sand where the soil is dry
and thirsty; nor will they do well on poorly drained, flat land,
but they make good crops on well drained hammock lands and
Eggplants will mature in about 90 to 120 days after the plants
are set in the field. The seedbeds should be sown early in July,
about four weeks in advance of transplanting so as to have good,
strong plants for the fall crop.
Approximately 10 ounces of seed will produce sufficient plants
for one acre. However, it is preferable to sow one pound of seed
for each acre in order to select strong plants; about 3,000 plants
will set an acre.
Eggplants are usually set in 4 to 5 foot rows, one plant to
every 36 inches. In setting them more care must be exercised
than with tomatoes. They are easily wilted and, if set during
hot weather, should be shaded for a few days. This is particu-
larly true with fall plantings. Large palmetto leaves are often
used to shade young plants.
The most suitable varieties for Florida are Florida Highbush,
New Orleans Market, New York Improved Purple Spineless and
Black Beauty. The latter variety, while it makes the most attrac-
tive fruit, is more subject to disease.
FERTILIZATION AND CULTIVATION
From one to two tons per acre of commercial fertilizer, analyz-
ing 5-7-5, should be applied. Fertilize at least twice, applying
half the given amount two weeks before setting the plants and
the remainder three or four weeks later. Some growers make
a third application when the blooms start opening. The nitrogen
in the third application should be from an inorganic source.
Shallow cultivation to keep weeds in check is sufficient.
Eggplants are usually ready to pick when the fruits become
deep purple in color and firm in texture.
The fruit of the eggplant is easily bruised and must be handled
with exceptional care. It should not be pulled off, but the stem
should be cut very close to the fruit. It should be cut also when
dry and be handled just as little as possible.
Florida eggplants are packed in the standard pepper and egg-
plant crate, 111/4x14x22 inches. In packing wrap each fruit in
paper. From 400 to 450 crates make a carload. They are also
shipped in bushel hampers.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Endive (Cichorium endivia) is grown as a market-garden or
truck crop and is used as a salad and to a lesser extent as a
Field culture, fertilization and packing of endive are the
same as for lettuce, but the plants are somewhat slower grow-
ing. In the Sanford area endive is not always grown in rows
like lettuce, but the land is leveled and the plants are set 12
inches apart each way. The green leaves are more bitter than
are the blanched; therefore, the inner leaves are blanched by
tying up the outer leaves or by covering when they are to be
used as salad.
There are two types of endive, the curled and the broad-
leaved varieties. The broad-leaf type is commonly called Es-
carole by the producers. White Curled and Moss Curled are
examples of the curly-leaf type, while Broad-leaved Batavian
is an example of the Escarole type.
Three pounds of seed will sow one acre.
The soil best suited to lettuce growing is a moist, rich, com-
pact, sandy loam that can be irrigated and thoroughly drained.
As lettuce must be grown in Florida during the cool months
to prevent seeding and to produce solid heads the soil must be
well supplied with decayed vegetable matter and be sufficiently
drained that the water will run off quickly after heavy rains.
If the drainage is at all uncertain, the crop should be set on
beds with water furrows leading into an open ditch.
The soil must be thoroughly pulverized, made sweet and put
in good physical condition.
After the soil has been well prepared, the rows should be
checked off in squares of from 12 to 15 inches, according to
When four leaves have formed plants are taken from the
seedbed and set in the checks. The soil should be moist. Nor-
mally it takes three to four weeks after sowing seed in bed to
get good plants; the main thing is a good root system. The
soil must be settled firmly around the roots by hand and a
small amount of water applied if the soil is dry.
Fig. 20.-A field of lettuce.
Shallow cultivation should begin as soon as the plants start
growing. As the plants are set close together all cultivation
must be done by hand weeders and cultivators. Cultivation
should be practiced mainly to keep down weed growth, but in
case the soil becomes water-soaked by heavy rains, more fre-
quent cultivation may be advisable.
Lettuce does not require as much soil moisture as celery but
the soil must be kept constantly moist. Care should be exer-
cised in irrigating lettuce, for the crop is easily ruined by over-
The chief shipping variety of lettuce for Florida is White
Boston but Paris White Cos, Romaine, New York Number 12,
and New York Number 515 are grown for shipment. The last
two varieties are the Iceberg type.
Florida Cooperative Extension
FERTILIZATION OF LETTUCE
A liberal supply of plant food must be provided. One and a
half tons commercial fertilizer to the acre, analyzing 5-5-5, is
used in two applications. Half the fertilizer should be thoroughly
worked into the soil two weeks before the plants are set and
the remainder two to three weeks after the plants are set.
On lands that are flat with a tendency to sourness, an applica-
tion of 700 to 1,200 pounds per acre of hardwood ashes two
weeks before the first application of fertilizer or 1,500 pounds
of agricultural lime applied four weeks before planting will
CUTTING AND PACKING
Lettuce should be cut for shipping as soon as it becomes
well headed, and packed in the standard lettuce crate 71/2x18x22
inches, or in the standard bushel hamper.
From 400 to 450 packages of lettuce make a carload and all
car-lots for Eastern markets should be shipped under refrigera-
tion. If shipped by trucks, they must be carefully handled and
placed in hampers and the load top-iced.
Romaine is a variety of lettuce and requires similar cultiva-
tion and fertilization as other varieties. It grows successfully
where other varieties of lettuce are grown. There is a limited
demand for it and acreage is much less than with other varieties.
MUSKMELONS AND CANTALOUPES
Muskmelons, often called cantaloupes, should be planted on
the better grades of sandy loam soils. They also grow well on
clay land. They are planted and cultivated very much as cucum-
bers and handled on about the same soil conditions.
PLANTING AND FERTILIZATION
Muskmelons are produced as a spring crop, and usually ripen
in May and June. The seeds are planted as soon as danger from
cold injury is past, usually about March 1 in northern Florida
and earlier in central and southern Florida.
In planting, the rows are laid off about 6 feet apart and hills
are planted about every 3 feet. Some prefer to check the land
4x6 feet and plant in the checks.
About six seeds are planted in each check, requiring about
two pounds of seed per acre. When the plants begin to run they
should be thinned to one or two plants to the hill. Cultivation
should be shallow.
Fertilization should be at the rate of about 1,500 pounds of
a 4-8-6 mixture per acre.
Imperfecto and Honey Rock varieties are usually planted
when growing for shipment. For local markets the Georgia
Muskmelon and Gem are good varieties.
Fig. 21.-Well netted Rocky Ford cantaloupes.
Cantaloupes are ready to pick when the stem will separate
from the melon under moderate pressure of the thumb and the
stalks begin to crack. If pulled when green, the fruit does not
ripen and is of poor quality. When the Rocky Ford variety is
ripe the netting is fully developed while on immature melons
the netting is flat.
Muskmelons shipped to Northern markets should be packed
in standard crates 12x12x22 inches.
Okra is planted quite generally throughout Florida. In some
sections it is an important commercial crop. Okra is a warm
weather plant and is generally grown as a summer crop. How-
ever, it is grown in a limited way as a fall crop, and if no killing
frosts occur may be carried through the winter. Plant between
February and September, and during October and November
for the fall and winter crops. It will not do well unless the
ground is fairly warm. It can be planted on a variety of soils
Florida Cooperative Extension
but does best on a sandy loam containing fair amounts of
fertility and moisture.
The rows should be about three feet apart. The seeds are
small and, therefore, must be covered lightly. It requires 6 to
8 pounds of seed per acre. When the plants are well established
thin to one every 12 inches. However, on exceptionally moist
and rich soils the plants may be thicker. Okra requires about
the same cultivation as corn. It is one of the easiest crops to
grow, and bears for several months.
HARVESTING AND MARKETING
Okra should be cut every two or three days. If this is not
done, the pods become hard, unsuitable for table use. Then, too,
if not cut regularly, the plants stop bearing.
When okra is shipped to market it is packed in six-basket
tomato carriers or in the standard bushel hamper. There is
usually a fair demand for it and generally at prices which war-
rant shipping by express.
Fertilize for okra about the same as for sweet corn, applying
from 600 to 800 pounds to the acre on thin land. If stable
manure is abundantly available okra may be grown without
The best varieties for Florida are Perkins Mammoth Podded,
Long Green and White Velvet. Perkins Mammoth Podded is
especially recommended for shipping. This variety has deep
green, long pods. Long Green and White Velvet are particularly
good for home use, as well as being good shippers.
Onions are generally grown as a garden crop, but not exten-
sively as a market crop. Under favorable conditions they are
one of the easiest vegetable crops to produce. However, the
soil must be rich, moist, and in good cultural condition to pro-
duce a satisfactory crop.
Onions grow best on a dark, sandy loam soil well filled with
organic matter and having a clay or compact subsoil to insure
a constant supply of moisture; also on muck soil. Onions are
shallow rooted, and are affected quickly by excessive drought
or rain. This requires good cultural conditions and ample drain-
age, especially on flat land. Pine flatwoods with a comparatively
heavy sandy loam, a good grade of muck soil with some sand in
it, and hammock lands of good quality are quite suitable for
this crop. They must have a plentiful supply of nitrogen, readily
available to the plants.
After the soil has been thoroughly plowed and pulverized and
put in shape for planting, the rows are laid off from 12 to 14
inches apart and the plants set by hand 2 inches deep and from
4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. While the onion will withstand
considerable drought on account of its large bulb, it will not
grow off readily without plenty of moisture.
It will require about 90,000 onion plants to set an acre.
Plants are produced in Texas and may be purchased from
dealers. It requires 8 to 12 bushels of sets to plant one acre.
These sets are planted from 4 to 6 inches apart in 12 to 15-inch
rows, but better crops are usually produced from plants.
During dry weather the sets will be slow to sprout, unless
the plot can be irrigated. Therefore, irrigation is usually neces-
sary to insure a good stand and a uniform crop.
Onions require constant care and cultivation during the grow-
ing period. This cultivation must be shallow. The roots do not
penetrate deeply into the soil and must not be disturbed in culti-
Onions require liberal fertilization. From 1,800 to 2,000
pounds of fertilizer per acre is not excessive. In addition to
this, unless a heavy cover crop has been plowed under, it will be
advisable to apply from 4 to 10 two-horse loads of well rotted
stable manure to the acre. This should be thoroughly worked
into the soil before the seeds or plants are set.
Commercial fertilizer should be given in two or three appli-
cations, the first a few days before setting and later applications
before the crop is half mature. This fertilizer should analyze
high in nitrogen, a 6-5-5 formula being good. The source of
nitrogen should be principally cottonseed meal, tankage or fish
scrap. Later, when the crop is half grown, an additional appli-
cation of 200 pounds to the acre of nitrate of soda or sulfate
Florida Cooperative Extension
of ammonia, scattered broadcast between the rows and worked
in with hand tools, will increase the size of the onions.
Poultry manure in limited amounts is especially valuable and
can be worked in between the rows after the plants are well
WHEN TO HARVEST ONIONS
When onions are to be shipped they must be harvested during
dry weather and handled carefully. Slight bruises, especially
during moist weather, will cause rotting. After being pulled,
onions should not be subjected to even heavy dews. If to remain
in the open over night, they should be covered with sacks to
keep off the moisture. In twisting off the tops care must be
taken that the tops are not broken too close to the bulbs. This,
too, will cause the onion to rot. On account of the moist climate
of Florida and the difficulty of getting the product to market
in as good condition as those grown in drier climates, onions have
not become an important commercial crop here.
Onions may be cured in a drying shed or if there is sufficient
quantity to justify, it may be advisable to install a dry kiln. The
local market is best for Florida onions as they can be supplied
VARIETIES AND YIELDS
The principal varieties recommended for Florida are Crystal
Wax, Red Bermuda, Australian Brown, and Riverside Sweet
Spanish. Care should be exercised in procuring pure seed.
The yield of onions in this state ranges from 400 to 500 bushels
to the acre. On some of the richer soils, even a larger yield may
CURING, PACKING, AND SHIPPING
The Australian Brown and Riverside Sweet Spanish are the
varieties suitable for curing. After the crop is pulled and allowed
to dry in the field, the bulbs should be spread in a curing shed.
After the onions have dried, the tops are removed and the outer
leaves stripped off. As soon as sufficiently cured they are placed
in crates for marketing.
The bermuda type will not keep in storage except for a short
Florida onions are usually packed in bushel hampers.
The crop is usually harvested during April and May.
English peas require a richer soil than beans. If the soil is
poor and lacks humus, the plants will be weak and the crop light.
It is necessary to have vigorous vines and leaves to get a good
yield of peas.
English peas need a fairly moist soil. But they will not make
satisfactory growth on wet, sandy, or sour muck land. The
pea is a legume and requires nitrogen-fixing bacteria in order
to produce a good yield. The best pea soils are the better grades
of hammock where drainage is good; also on muck glade soils
that are not acid.
They should be sown fairly thick in rows 3 to 4 feet apart.
There should be one seed to the inch in the drill.
English peas are planted in both single and double rows. If
sown in double rows, the rows should be four feet apart. This
is a good practice as the vines will support each other. It re-
quires six pecks of seed for double-row planting.
If planted in single rows, they should be three feet apart and
will require four pecks of seed per acre.
If the soil is dry, the seed should be planted deep. Cultivation
should be done with horse cultivators, just as long as it is
possible to pass between the rows. It requires 60 to 70 days to
produce a crop.
English peas should receive from 800 to 1,200 pounds to the
acre of a commercial fertilizer analyzing 4-8-3. Where the
growth shows a lack of ammonia, 100 pounds per acre of some
readily available nitrogenous fertilizer may be added as a top-
dressing when the crop is beginning to show the first fruit. This
will prolong the bearing period.
Irrigation will not be necessary if the land is naturally moist.
But on high, thirsty land it will be profitable to apply moisture
when the crop shows need of it.
PICKING AND MARKETING PEAS
Under favorable conditions, there should be some peas
sufficiently mature to pick in 60 days after planting. The bear-
ing period is likely to be distributed over 30 or 40 days. There-
fore, several pickings are necessary. Peas should be picked
Florida Cooperative Extension
when the pods are filled; if they remain on the vines longer the
sugar content will decrease, causing a low quality product. They
should be cooled immediately after picking.
Under favorable conditions, English peas are one of the
easiest crops to grow but they are light yielders unless careful
attention is given to details of production.
The crop is shipped in bushel hampers.
The best varieties for Florida for shipment are Little Marvel,
Laxtonian, Gradus, Hundredfold, and Thomas Laxton.
Pepper is widely grown in Florida. It is one of the longest-
lived vegetables of this state, sometimes bearing more than six
or eight months. In some sections, it is one of the most profitable
crops. This is particularly true in southern Florida, where it
is less subjected to freezing temperatures. Varieties principally
grown are California Wonder, Ruby King, Ruby Giant and World
Fig. 22.-Pepper, protected by troughs.
Peppers require a moist, fairly compact, sandy loam soil. A
good type of flatwoods is superior to rolling pine, hammock or
muck land; although the plant can be grown on any of these
soils if properly fertilized and managed.
After the soil has been plowed from five to seven inches deep
and pulverized thoroughly, single plants are set 12 to 20 inches
apart in 36-inch rows. As pepper plants are less hardy than
tomatoes, more care must be exercised in setting them. Weak,
spindling plants are difficult to transplant.
It will require about 9,000 plants to set an acre. Cultivation
should be shallow not to destroy roots. For the early crop the
seedbed should be sown in July and August and shaded by slats
From one to two and a half tons of commercial fertilizer,
analyzing 4-7-5, should be used to the acre, according to the
length of the crop season. In addition, light applications of a
nitrate fertilizer (100 pounds to the acre) may be profitably
made each month during the bearing period.
Fig. 23.-An attractive crate of peppers.
Peppers are graded and packed in the standard pepper crate,
11/4x14x22 inches. From 400 to 450 crates make a carload.
They are also packed in standard bushel hampers and should
be shipped under refrigeration.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Potatoes are generally grown throughout Florida counties,
but commercial production is limited; counties producing the
D a d e, Flagler,
Palm Beach, Put-
nam, St. Johns,
Escambia, L e e,
Clay. Many other
W, .1 white potatoes,
c d. but principally
for home use or
for local con-
sections are har-
January 1 and
June 1, and com-
pete for markets
with those grown
in other early
Fig. 24.-Peppers are marketed in hampers and iana, Mississippi,
crates. and South Caro-
lina. There is also foreign competition from Mexico and Cuba;
this fluctuates from year to year, but is considered an important
factor in marketing the Florida crop.
White potatoes do best on fairly heavy moist soils with suffi-
cient drainage. The moisture content of the soil when the crop
is growing will, to a large extent, determine yields, provided
the crop is well fertilized and otherwise properly handled. They
do well on a variety of soils, but on types of high, thin sandy
soils they are seldom successfully grown as a marketing crop.
The types predominating in and around the Hastings section
are Bladen fine sand and Bladen fine sandy loam. These types
are found in many flatwoods areas in Florida, and when properly
drained and provided with sufficient moisture are well adapted
to the production of white potatoes.
Fig. 25.-A potato harvest scene in the Hastings area.
In Dade County potatoes are produced on a calcareous marl
soil. During the summer months much of this land has a high
water table. In that area there are a variety of conditions not
suitable for growing Irish potatoes because of poor drainage;
or, because the underground rock lies too close to the surface,
which dries out readily unless rains are frequent.
Under any circumstances potatoes do best where there is a
liberal supply of organic matter in the soil. This may be added
by plowing under summer legumes or weed vegetation just
before the planting season. They must be liberally fertilized
and produced during the cooler months of the year in Florida.
Although several varieties may be used, two varieties are most
generally recommended. Spaulding Rose No. 4 is the leading
variety in Alachua, St. Johns, Flagler and adjoining counties,
and is used very generally for garden crops in many sections
of eastern and northern Florida. Bliss Triumph is the main
commercial variety in southern Florida counties, particularly
Florida Cooperative Extension
Fig. 26.-Typical tubers of the Bliss Triumph (above) and Spaulding Rose
No. 4 potatoes grown in Florida.
in Lee, Palm Beach, and Dade counties. Both varieties are
suitable for the production of an early crop and make sufficient
growth for marketing in from 60 to 100 days after planting.
Other varieties, such as Green Mountain and Irish Cobbler, are
produced, but to a limited extent and they are not generally
recommended for commercial plantings. Two new varieties-
Katahdin and Warba, show promise of commercial importance.
In western Florida counties, Escambia and adjoining areas,
the Bliss Triumph is the commercial variety grown. These crops
are planted during February and marketed in May and June.
Seed potatoes used for commercial crops of this state are
produced in states other than Florida; seed for the Spaulding
Rose No. 4 crop is produced principally in Maine. It is recom-
mended that only certified seed be used for commercial crops.
Bliss Triumph seed is also produced in Maine to a limited
extent but most of this seed comes from North Dakota, Michigan,
Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. These states furnish
.a large quantity of Bliss Triumph potato seed for Florida plant-
For fall gardens small potatoes carried over from the spring
Florida crops are generally used for home use or local needs.
Seed potatoes should be cut to give two or three eyes in each
seed. As a preventive against diseases carried in the tubers,
the seed should be soaked for two hours in a solution of for-
maldehyde, 1 part to 1,000 parts of water, then dried and the
seed cut for planting. (See Press Bulletin 494, Florida Experi-
ment Station.) For the fall crop, potatoes may be treated with
ethylene chlorhydrin to break the rest period of the seed to
hasten germination. The material should be diluted 1 part to
60 parts of water.
When the rows are 36 inches apart and the seed spaced 9
to 12 inches in the row and relatively large seed used, it requires
about 20 bushles of seed per acre. Where the rows are laid off
42 inches apart and the seed spaced 15 inches in the row, it
requires about 15 bushels of seed per acre of U. S. No. 1 planting
Commercial plantings require from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of
fertilizer per acre, a 4-5-7 being generally used. Fifty percent
of the nitrogen should be from organic sources. Many growers
apply fertilizer at the rate of one ton per acre before planting,
and as the crop nears maturity if conditions indicate slow growth,
it is common practice to apply 150 to 200 pounds of nitrate of
soda to the acre.
On marl lands growers use 1,600 to 1,800 pounds of fertilizer
analyzing 4-8-5 with an additional application of 100 to 200
pounds per acre of manganese sulfate.
50 Florida Cooperative Extension
In the western Florida areas applications range from 1,500
to 1,800 pounds to the acre, with approximately the same for-
mulas as used in the Hastings area.
In Everglades soils where organic matter is abundant
growers apply fertilizer at the rate of 500 to 800 pounds to the
acre, analyzing 8 to 10 percent phosphoric acid and 12 to 16
percent potash. In that area some potatoes are produced even
Fiv. 27 -Prtatoc,- in a bru-rl i ate.
Because Florida potatoes are planted on low lands, drainage
must be provided and the potatoes should be planted in beds
36 to 42 inches apart. Time for planting depends on the loca-
tion. For the very early crop, potatoes are planted from October
1 to December 1; for the early spring crop they are planted from
December 20 to January 15; and for the late spring crop between
February 1 and February 20.
Potatoes are shipped in 11-peck barrels, potato crates, or in
They must be graded and shipped clean. U. S. No. 3 grade
small potatoes are seldom marketable and if prices are relatively
low, No. 2 potatoes sell at a price considerably lower than No. 1.
Crop yields vary from 70 to over 200 bushels, depending very
largely on seasonal growing conditions.
See Experiment Station Bulletin 295 for a detailed discussion
of potato production in Florida.
Radishes grow readily and the early varieties mature in 20
to 30 days after seeding.
They should be planted principally for home or local use.
Market gardeners usually find them profitable as they are easily
produced and sell readily if they are crisp and tender. Unless
they are pulled at the proper stage of growth they become strong
and pithy and are worthless for the table.
SOWING AND FERTILIZATION
A sandy loam or muck soil produces quick growth. The fer-
tilizer should be applied at the rate of 1,200 to 2,000 pounds per
acre and should analyze 4-6-7 on sandy land. On muck soil
good crops are grown without fertilizer, although some tests have
been made that indicate the advisability of applying it. The fer-
tilizer must be mixed with the soil 10 days before the seed is
sown, then the soil kept moist.
Often it is not necessary to thin radishes unless sown too
thick. The larger varieties should be thinned to about 6 plants
Florida Cooperative Extension
Radishes should be tied in bunches of 6 to 12. They should be
washed clean and displayed with a fresh, clean appearance. Rad-
ishes may be shipped in standard bushel hampers or bushel bas-
kets. They should always be iced.
There are several varieties about equally satisfactory. Of these
the Scarlet Globe, Crimson Giant, and French Breakfast are
among the best.
About 3 to 5 pounds of seed are needed for one acre, or 1
ounce for 50 feet of drill.
Spinach has not been an important commercial crop in Florida.
It is grown for home use and local marketing, a limited quantity
is shipped in mixed car and truck loads in many sections, and
it is an excellent vegetable to be used as greens.
A sandy loam soil or decomposed muck soil produces good
yields, as the growth should be quick. The soil should be well
cultivated and made fertile. Open sandy soil or poorly drained
soggy land should be avoided.
PLANTING AND FERTILIZATION
The seeds should be planted between September 15 and Decem-
ber 1. Place the rows 24 to 36 inches apart, just wide enough
to permit cultivation. It will require about 12 to 15 pounds of
seed per acre.
Cover the seed one inch deep. Later the plants should be
thinned to about six inches. Spinach seed becomes hard and dry
if held in stock for several weeks, often causing an irregular
stand. They should be soaked about three days before planting.
However, care should be taken when soaked seed has been
planted to keep the beds moist but not wet. This will insure an
The fertilizer for sandy lands should analyze 5-7-5. It should
be applied at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds per acre and
should be put in the rows a few days before the seeds are planted.
When the crop is grown for local use light applications of nitrate
of soda or sulfate of ammonia applied as top-dressings will
New Zealand and Bloomsdale are the principal varieties grown.
New Zealand is not a true spinach but is a vining plant. The
tips are used as spinach. New Zealand spinach grows well dur-
ing summer months.
Spinach should be dry when packed for shipment. It is packed
in baskets, barrels, or standard bushel hampers and if carefully
handled and iced it can be shipped to Southern markets or even
farther with good
see that the dead
leaves are taken
off. The plant
should be cut
with very little of
the root attached
and should be
free from dirt.
ice may be placed .
in the baskets,
then the basket
may be covered
with cracked ice.
Squash is one
of the easiest
of truck crops to
produce, as it can
be grown on
almost any good
farming soil. It
can be grown
alone or with
corn. The chief Fig. 28.-Spinach in a hamper top-iced for
planting it with corn is the difficulty of properly cultivating
the corn when cultivation is most needed.
Squash also makes heavy yields on muck or flat lands, but the
fruit from such lands usually does not ship as well as from
higher soils, nor is it of as good quality.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Early varieties are the only ones suitable for shipping. These
varieties are the Cocozelle, White Bush or Patty Pan, Early Yel-
low Crook Neck, and Mammoth White Bush. These produce fruit
45 to 60 days after planting. The later varieties, recommended
for home use, are principally Hubbard, Giant Summer, African,
and Table Queen.
Where no manure or compost is available, from 800 to 1,200
pounds per acre of commercial fertilizer, analyzing 4-8-4, should
be used for squash. All of this can be applied before planting.
On thin, sandy land, however, it is better to apply half before
planting and the remainder when the plants are about a month
old. As squash requires liberal quantities of organic fertilizer,
it is wise to work stable manure or decomposed vegetable matter
into the soil before planting. With this organic material one
should apply from 800 to 1,200 pounds of commercial fertilizer
to the acre.
Early varieties of squash can be planted in checks 4x4 feet,
but the later, running varieties should be planted in checks 6x8
Fig. 29.-Squash, protected from frost and wind by board troughs.
Fig. 30.-White Bush or Patty Pan type of squash in a hamper ready for
shipping. Sometimes squash are wrapped individually before being shipped.
feet. The seeds are planted four or five to each hill. This will
require about two pounds of seed to the acre for the bush varie-
ties and one pound for running varieties. The seeds will sprout
in a few days, and when two or three inches high should be
thinned to about three plants to the hill. If the weather is warm,
the crop will grow rapidly and cultivation should be continued
as long as it is possible to work between the rows.
Squash plants can be easily transplanted; but, unless one is
near an excellent market, it would hardly pay to go to the extra
expense involved in transplanting. It requires 50 to 60 days to
produce marketable shipments.
The squash is a surface feeder, and as the vines grow close
to the ground, care must be taken in cultivating not to bruise
them; just enough cultivation to check weed growth is sufficient.
Florida Cooperative Extension
PACKING AND MARKETING
Squashes are packed in bushel hampers and in standard cab-
There is a market for Southern grown squashes, and, if shipped
early in the season they usually bring a fair price compared with
the cost of production. There is also a market in Southern cities,
usually, for a limited quantity. They should be handled with
some care to avoid rotting in transit, but there should be no
difficulty in shipping to Eastern markets, if ordinary care is
exercised in picking and packing.
As ripe fruit can be gathered in late fall when some vegetables
are not growing, and since it is easily grown, both as a fall and
spring crop, the squash is one of the most satisfactory truck
crops for home use in Florida.
Strawberries are quite generally grown throughout Florida.
The principal market crops are produced in Hillsborough, De-
Soto, Manatee, Dade, Polk, Hardee and Bradford counties; Hills-
borough leading in acreage.
SOIL AND ITS PREPARATION
The best soils for strawberries are the better grades of flat-
woods. These soils are dark in color, sandy and level. The more
decomposed organic matter they contain the better.
Strawberries require a warm soil, as the crop is harvested
between January 1 and April 20. If the soil is cold and wet, few
berries will ripen during winter when prices are usually highest.
Soil intended for strawberries will be benefited by having a
heavy crop of cowpeas, beggarweeds or crotalaria plowed under
30 days before the plants are to be set. The soil should be in
good cultural condition.
Two systems of planting are generally followed in Florida.
If the land is well drained and there is no danger from flooding
after heavy rains, the plants should be set 14 inches apart in
30 to 36-inch single rows, or rows wide enough that a horse
cultivator can be used.
Where the land is low and not well drained, the two or three-
row system is advisable; that is, make narrow beds, about 40
inches wide with a water furrow between, and set the plants
12 inches apart in 12-inch rows. The system will require hand
cultivation except in the water furrow, which may be kept open
by horse cultivators.
Strawberry plants are usually set during September and Octo-
ber. They require three to four months to come into full bearing.
Under favorable conditions fruit may be produced in 10 weeks
from the time the plants are set. It will require approximately
12,000 to 15,000 plants to the acre. The best crops are made
where the plants are set every year. It is seldom advisable to
carry plants over two years.
Fig. 31.-Showing depths of setting plants. (1), too shallow; (2), right
depth; (3), too deep.
Plants should be set so that the bud and crown are above
ground; too deep setting causes the bud to rot. (Fig. 31.) The
roots must be covered with soil and the dirt pressed firmly
For intensive culture, especially on expensive land and near
good markets, or in small garden plots, the plants can be set
much closer than under ordinary conditions. This will involve
much more hand labor, but will produce larger crops, if pro-
portionately heavier fertilization and irrigation are used. Irri-
gation is especially valuable in commercial berry growing, as
the bearing season can be prolonged and larger berries produced.
Florida Cooperative Extension
A good supply of vegetable matter supplied by a cover crop
is highly desirable. In addition, strawberries should be given
from 1,500 to 1,800 pounds per acre of commercial fertilizer
analyzing 5-8-5. This should be applied in two or three applica-
tions, a third before the plants are set, a third six weeks after
plants are set and the remainder when the first fruit is setting.
In addition 100 pounds nitrate of soda or sulfate of ammonia
should be applied with the third application. This nitrogenous
material will increase the size of the berries and prolong the
bearing period. Some growers use for the first application a
fertilizer analyzing 5-7-3, for the second 3-7-7, and the third
In any case the soil type and moisture condition must be con-
sidered. If after the second application the soil remains dry and
loose the fertilizer will become available very slowly, so that a
third application would be of little value, or may even injure the
plants. In that case, the top-dressing of nitrate fertilizer is
CULTIVATING AND MULCHING
Good cultivation should be kept up throughout the growing
and bearing season.
When the crop is about ready to pick, it is advisable to mulch
with grass or pine straw. This prevents the soil from drying
out and keeps the berries off the ground, making them cleaner
and easier to pick and also prevents the fruit being beaten into
the ground during a heavy rain.
PICKING AND PACKING STRAWBERRIES
Strawberries are picked in field baskets, taken to a packing
shed, and there sorted and packed in pint or quart baskets. These
baskets are packed into ventilated crates, and shipped under
refrigeration; or if to nearby markets, they can be hauled by
truck without refrigeration if carefully handled.
The varieties generally grown, especially for shipment, are
Missionary and Klondyke. Brandywine and Excelsior are grown
for early local markets. Tests conducted at the Strawberry Lab-
oratory at Plant City indicate that the Missionary variety is
superior to any other variety. (See Bulletin 63, Agricultural
Sweet corn can be grown on average vegetable land, and does
well in all sections of Florida. The land should be prepared about
the same as for vegetable crops. It will make poor growth on
dry, thin, sandy land and will not do well on wet, undrained,
new land. VARIETIES
The choice of sweet and roasting ear corn varieties depends
on how the crop is to be used or marketed. If it is sold by the
crate to Northern markets the main considerations are acreage
yield in pounds and crates, earliness and large ears. If the corn
is marketed by the dozen ears in local markets the number of
marketable ears per acre is more important than the number of
crates per acre.
For the general crop for Northern markets Snowflake, White
Dent, and Oklahoma Silvermine are satisfactory varieties. In
the Everglades area the Tuxpan is more desirable.
For home use, or where there is a demand for high quality
corn, sweet types are best. Two varieties recommended are the
Suwannee Sugar and Honey June. These are both truly sweet
corns of highest table quality. Suwannee Sugar was developed
by the Florida Experiment Station, Honey June by the Texas
Experiment Station. Both of these sweet varieties are equal
to the common roasting ear varieties in resistance to worm
damage and are much superior to the old sweet corn varieties
in this quality.
These two last varieties have not been tested extensively, but
results so far indicate that they will yield 75% to 80% as many
crates and as many ears per acre as Snowflake and other similar
Of the older varieties, Country Gentlemen and Long Island
Beauty are among the best.
Sweet corns do not harden as rapidly, in the field or enroute
from field to consumer.
These varieties will be ready to pick about 70 days after
On account of the probability of being attacked by bud and
ear worms, sweet corn should be planted just as early as weather
conditions will permit. To lessen damage from worms, use a
mixture of 1 pound powdered arsenate and 5 to 8 pounds
hydrated or perfectly air-slaked lime. Drop a small amount in
the bud when the worms make their appearance. The same
Florida Cooperative Extension
mixture may be dusted on the silks to control the same worms
(ear worms) but the treatment must be repeated twice a week
or more often to be effective. Another method that is partially
effective is to clip off the silk after it has dried. To have a
succession of sweet corn, it is necessary to make several plant-
ings about a week apart. This lengthens the picking season.
Sweet corn should be planted much closer than field varieties.
On good soil it may be planted in 3-foot rows, one stalk every 12
inches. However, if the soil is dry, wider planting is better.
Sweet corn will produce the best filled out ears when planted
fairly close, because of better distribution of pollen. It should
not be planted too thickly, however, particularly on thin land,
or it will suffer for lack of moisture when most needed. This
will mean small ears of poor quality.
About one peck of seed per acre is required.
CULTIVATION AND FERTILIZATION
Cultivation of sweet corn is the same as for field corn.
Commercial fertilizer analyzing 4-8-4 should be applied at
the rate of 600 to 800 pounds to the acre. It should be worked
into the soil before planting. When the crop is about two feet
high, broadcast about 100 pounds of a readily available form of
nitrate fertilizer on each acre and work it into the soil with a
MARKETING SWEET CORN
For marketing, the ears should be gathered when the kernels
are in the milk stage. Ears of similar sizes should be packed
together-do not place a variety of sizes in the same crate.
There is always a demand for early sweet corn, and at good
prices. Where conditions are at all favorable, a celery and lettuce
crop can be followed with sweet corn. Sweet corn should be
planted in every home garden.
Sweet corn is packed in 10-inch celery crates, 400 to 450 of
which make a carload.
The tomato is one of the most widely grown vegetables of
Florida. It is produced as a home garden crop in practically
every community, being one of the easiest and most satisfactory
garden vegetables. In many sections it is also one of the most
profitable truck crops for shipping.
Tomatoes are grown in Florida during the warmest periods
of the trucking season. If set out in July or August and shaded
until strong, a fall crop can be produced in northern Florida.
They can also be set in southern Florida during late fall for an
early winter crop.
Most Florida tomatoes are grown during late winter and
spring. The earliest shipments of importance are usually grown
in Lee and adjoining counties. The seedbeds are set in July and
August and the crop is harvested in October, November and
December. Tomatoes are also produced on the lower East Coast
for an early spring crop. These tomatoes are planted from
November to February and marketed between February and
April. The next crop is produced on the lower West Coast and
in the Lake Okeechobee region. These plants are set in the field
in February and the crop is shipped during April and May.
North of these sections, planting continues until April 15 and
even up to June 1 for home use.
SOILS AND SOIL PREPARATION
It requires one-fourth pound seed sown in the seedbed for
each acre to be planted. If the seed is sown in field rows with-
out replanting, it will require one-half pound of seed per acre.
Tomatoes are planted in Florida on a variety of soils. The
largest acreage is planted on well drained, sandy pine land; also
a large acreage is planted on the marl and muck lands. The
warmer types of soils of any section usually produce the earliest
The soil is prepared in the usual way by plowing and thorough
cultivation. The rows are laid off four to five feet apart and
the plants set 15 to 20 inches apart in the rows. The plants
should be set deeper than they were in the plant beds.
On sandy lands of the East Coast, growers start their first
seedbeds during August. Plants are set in rows four feet
apart and the plants are spaced 22 inches apart. Some growers
place a handful of wet manure or peat moss around each plant
so that the roots will not dry out before the plant can make a
start to grow. On marl lands of the East Coast plants are set
in the field beginning about December 1. The rows are laid off
6 to 7 feet apart and the plants set 24 to 30 inches in the row.
Here an application of 50 pounds manganese sulfate to the acre
is mixed with the regular fertilizer or may be applied separately.
Tomatoes are among the easiest plants to transplant and,
if the plants are stocky, the soil moist, and conditions of growth
favorable there is little difficulty in getting a good stand.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Tomatoes are cultivated principally with a one-horse or light
tractor cultivator. Cultivation is kept up as long as it is possible
to pass between the rows. Care must be exercised not to cut
the roots after the plants begin to bloom or the bloom and early
fruit may be shed.
Fig. 32.-Most tomatoes are staked and pruned in the Manatee County area.
Pruning to a single stem, tying to a five-foot stake, and
thinning the fruit to four or five hands or clusters is practiced
in a few sections. Labor so expended in home gardens and on
small acres will be well spent. However, on muck or marl lands
or where the vine growth is very abundant, it is not practical
to stake the plants or thin the fruit.
For tomatoes planted on pine, sandy, or marl lands, a fertilizer
analyzing 4-8-8 should be applied at the rate of 1,200 to 1,800
pounds per acre. If the soil is rich in humus and organic matter,
1,000 to 1,500 pounds may be sufficient. Too much ammonia is
likely to cause soft tomatoes easily bruised and delayed in ship-
ping. However, sufficient nitrogen is needed to insure good
On sandy lands of the lower East Coast fertilizer applications
are practically the same as for sandy pine lands in other sections.
However, when the marl subsoil is close to the surface it is
advisable to use 200 pounds of manganese sulfate in each ton of
the mixed fertilizer. If the manganese sulfate is left out of the
mixed fertilizer it may be applied later as a top-dressing at the
rate of 50 to 75 pounds per acre.
On sawgrass peat lands of the Everglades good results have
been obtained from a formula 0-6-12 applied at the rate of 500
pounds per acre. On the custard apple and elder lands, which are
more generally in use in the glades area, the formula generally
used is 0-8-12 applied at the rate of 250 pounds per acre. All
fertilizer is applied ahead of planting; usually no definite advan-
tage has been seen in side-dressings after the crop is growing.
For average Everglades soil the general practice is to apply
400 to 800 pounds per acre, analyzing 0-8-12, with 200 pounds
manganese sulfate in each ton of the mixed fertilizer.
On loose, thin soils two applications of fertilizer are pre-
ferable to one. The first application should be made immediately
before, or soon after, the plants are set, and the second when
the first bloom is noticeable. In working this second application
into the soil care should be exercised not to break the roots
during cultivation or the fruit will shed. At this stage, additional
cultivation will give additional vegetative growth and may cause
shedding of bloom. The first crop may be lost thereby.
As the earliest tomatoes usually bring the highest prices it is
necessary to pick over the crop several times. When a fruit
is nearly mature in size and begins shading from dark green
to a light green, it is ready to pick and ship. In this condition
the fruit is too green for local markets. If allowed to ripen a
little more the flavor is improved. Picking is done in ordinary
market baskets. The fruit is taken to the packinghouse, sorted,
wrapped and packed in tomato lug boxes according to size.
The principal varieties of tomatoes for Florida are Mar-
globe, Glovel, Livingston's Globe, and Grothen Red Globe. All
of these mature early, stand shipment well, are of good size, are
smooth, and when ripe have a fine color. For home gardens
several other varieties may be grown satisfactorily. Ponderosa,
which grows much larger but less uniformly, produces a satis-
factory yield and is quite suitable for home consumption.
Florida Cooperative Extension
TURNIPS AND RUTABAGAS
Turnips and rutabagas are grown principally for home use
but are also shipped in car-lots by rail and are hauled by trucks.
They should be carefully packed and iced. They can be tied in
bunches without icing and will carry in good condition to nearby
markets if carefully handled. The tops must be tender and green
and shipped early. Turnips grown for distant markets requiring-
several days in transit should be shipped in hampers and crates
and iced. For shorter hauls by truck they can be shipped without
Fig. 33.-Turnips with tops attached, neatly washed and tied in
Turnips can be planted with satisfactory results any time
between October 1 and June 1, although they do best during the
cooler months. Turnips grown during hot weather often have
a strong taste.
A well cultivated sandy loam soil will produce good quality
turnips if it is well fertilized.
The seed should be sown in rows two feet apart, using about
two pounds of seed per acre. If large turnips are wanted they
should be thinned to 6 to 10 inches apart. Often for local use
they are left thick in the row, producing small turnips that can
be sold in bunches with the tops attached.
Early Flat Dutch, Purple Top Globe, Early White Egg tur-
nips, and Purple Top rutabagas are good varieties. About 21/2
pounds of seed per acre should be sown.
Kohl-rabi is grown very similar to turnips and can be planted
in narrow rows 18 inches to 2 feet apart and thinned to six
inches in the row.
By planting at intervals of two weeks beginning in September,
*one can have a succession of green, tender vegetables until spring.
It is grown in a limited way, principally for local markets.
White Vienna is a satisfactory variety.
Watermelons are grown on a variety of soils in this state,
preferably the better grades of rolling pine land. Frequently
watermelons are the first crop grown on new land that is to be
used for citrus groves afterward. It is usually not advisable to
plant watermelons on the same land three successive years
unless the variety is resistant to wilt. Four to six years should
elapse on account of the probability of diseases that carry over
from year to year. Good drainage is necessary as the seed must
be planted early and unless the ground is warm there will be a
poor stand. Poorly drained soils seldom produce satisfactory
The land should be plowed and harrowed four to six weeks
before planting. If plowed immediately before planting the soil
is likely to dry out and give a poor stand.
In Lake, Levy and Marion counties planting usually begins
about January 15 to February 10; in southern Florida 10 days
to a month earlier; in northern and western Florida, usually
after March 1 or as soon as danger of frost has passed. The
field is laid off in squares, either 10x10 feet or 8x10 and the
seeds are planted in the checks. Before planting, the soil should
be freshened in the furrows.
About 1 pound of seed should be secured for each acre to be
planted. One planting will not require this amount, however;
many growers make two or three plantings 10 days apart to
.secure an even stand; then, when all danger of frost is past, the
plants are thinned in the hills.
Florida Cooperative Extension
Watermelons should receive about 800 pounds of fertilizer to
the acre, applied before the seeds are planted or half of it 10
days before planting and the remainder when the vines are
about 6 inches long.
On poorer soils, 1,200 pounds may be used to advantage. It
is never advisable to place fertilizer in the ground one day and
plant the next, as germination is likely to be reduced; and when
the second application is made after the plants are 6 inches high,
care should be exercised not to place it close to the plants or it
may burn them. Where the vines show lack of growth it is
advisable to apply from 50 to 75 pounds of readily available
nitrogenous fertilizer. Care must be exercised to avoid placing
it close to the plants or too much in one place, as it is likely to
make the plants shed small fruit or bloom.
The fertilizer should analyze 5-6-4. At least one-half of the
ammonia should be secured from an organic source, such as fish
scrap and tankage.
When the plants are small they should have sufficient culti-
vation to keep the soil loose and to keep down weeds. Water-
melon vines, however, are easily injured and the roots are tender,
so all cultivation should be shallow and at a safe distance from
As soon as the vines begin to run they may be pushed aside
and cultivation continued, but cultivation should be avoided when
the vines are wet for that will have a tendency to spread any
diseases that may be prevalent on the vines. After the vines
meet in the middle there is little opportunity for further culti-
vation, but in any case it should be shallow and always with the
view of preventing injury to the vines or the roots.
The variety most generally grown for commercial shipping
is the Watson. In past years many other varieties have been
tried but the Watson grows well on sandy soils and is well known
in the markets, is generally well suited to Florida conditions
and the melons are acceptable to the trade. Other varieties
grown for home use are Dixie Queen and Stone Mountain.
Since 1931 the Florida Experiment Station's laboratory at
Leesburg has tested 104 varieties and strains for wilt resistance.
Out of this number one selected from those tested in 1932 has
shown outstanding resistance to wilt and good shipping quality.
This variety is known as Leesburg and has been developed from
Kleckley Sweet. The Kleckley Sweet has been a favorite on
account of high quality, but not a good shipper. The Leesburg
has shown that it has resistance up to 75%, even when planted
on soils infested with wilt organisms, and has better shipping
qualities than the Kleckley Sweet.
Chief objections to the Leesburg melon from the commercial
grower's standpoint are the color of the flesh and brown seeds.
Experimental work is being continued to develop wilt resistant
varieties having good marketing qualities.
Returns from watermelon crops depend on a variety of fac-
tors. In the southern Florida area the crop is often harvested
during April and May and usually watermelons sell readily at
a good price. If, however, the weather is unfavorable and water-
melons are not of good quality the markets will pay less for
them. In central and northern Florida the melons are shipped
in June and early July when the demand is usually good; how-
ever, the price goes down for Florida melons when Georgia
melons begin to move.
Watermelons are relatively a cheap crop to grow as compared
with other vine crops. If all the crop is not entirely marketable,
a part of it can be used for hog feed; however, it is usually not
profitable to grow melons only for hog feed.
In the southern part of Florida the yield usually is relatively
light, requiring 4 to 10 acres to produce a carload. In the
northern counties production is heavier and a carload may be
produced on from two to five acres.
Watermelons are subject to destructive fungus diseases and
insect pests, principally anthracnose, stem-end rot and aphis,
all of which can be controlled. To control these diseases and
insects one must be equipped for spraying melons before the
pests appear. The Agricultural Extension Service can furnish
information to assist growers in controlling these pests.
The following bulletins from the Experiment Station should
be helpful: 225, Diseases of Watermelons; 288, A Wilt-Resist-
ant Watermelon for Florida; 232, Truck and Garden Insects;
252, The Melon Aphid; Press Bulletin 470, Mice and Gophers
in Watermelon Fields.