Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Vegetable gardening in florida
 Planning the garden
 Soil preparation and fertiliza...
 Planting the garden
 Care of the garden
 Pest control & diseases
 Growing vegetables without...
 Harvesting and storing
 Individual crops
 Herbs in Florida
 Garden insects, diseases, nutrient...

Title: Vegetable gardening in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066192/00001
 Material Information
Title: Vegetable gardening in Florida
Physical Description: iii, 105 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Stephens, James M
Affiliation: University of Florida
Publisher: Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date: 1977
Copyright Date: 1976
Edition: Rev. 1976.
Subject: Vegetable gardening -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by James M. Stephens.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00066192
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 44615745

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page 1
    Vegetable gardening in florida
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Planning the garden
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Soil preparation and fertilization
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
    Planting the garden
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Care of the garden
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    Pest control & diseases
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
    Growing vegetables without soil
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
    Harvesting and storing
        Page 58
        Page 59
    Individual crops
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
    Herbs in Florida
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
    Garden insects, diseases, nutrient deficiencies
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
Full Text

getable Gardening In Floridg

V.,., ~

A" 'Yr




8: i:i;il


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Revised 1976
Fourth Printing

Vegetable Ga'dening

In Florida


James M. Stephens
Extension Vegetable Specialist
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Doyle Conner, Commissioner

t^i 2 I*WV0

liz k4
Ot' *

*Originally published as Grow Your Own Vegetables, a WPA project.


People who live in the state of Florida are fortunate in that
they are able to grow a wide variety of vegetables throughout the
year. As this country begins its third century, many Floridians are
taking it upon themselves to re-affirm their food self-sufficiency by
starting their own vegetable gardens. Most of the vegetables that
they grow are consumed fresh in their daily menus, while many
will freeze or can their surplus production for later use.
This booklet is dedicated to those persons interested in raising
some of the many varieties of vegetables that can be grown in
Florida. Due to numerous requests for information on organic gar-
7 dening and hydroponics, this new edition will include current in-
formation on those two popular techniques. We hope that all who
aspire to be home gardeners will find the information in this book
useful, and that they will discover the health and happiness that
can come from growing their own vegetables.

Doyle Conner
Commissioner of Agriculture

- Table of Contents

. I. Vegetable Gardening in Florida
Sunshine, Soil. 2
II. Planning the Garden
Selecting the vegetables, Paper plans, Succession
plantings, Tools. 4
III. Weather
Frost protection. 9
IV. Soil Preparation and Fertilization
Soil reaction and Lime, Commercial fertilizers,
Sidedressing, Measurement of fertilizer, Organic
matter, Composts. 12
V. Planting the Garden
Start with good seed, Plant tested varieties, Seed
treatment, Planting the seed, Starting with trans-
plants. 22
"Planting Guide for Vegetable Gardens" 27
VI. Care of the Garden
Cultivation and weed control, Mulches, Supporting
tall growing crops, Watering the garden, Trickle ir-
rigation. 30
VII. Pest Control and Diseases
Nematodes, Insects, Insecticides, Diseases, Appli-
cation of pesticides, Rodents and small animals. 38
VIII. Growing Vegetables without Soil
Water culture, Aggregate culture, Minigar-
dening. 48
IX. Harvesting and Storing
Canning and freezing surplus vegetables. 58
X. Individual Crops 60
XI. Herbs in Florida
Location and soil preparation, Propagation, Con-
tainer grown herbs, Harvesting and curing, Sources
of seed and plants, Individual herbs. 84
XII. Garden Insects, Diseases, Nutrient Deficiencies. 99


No state in the United States is climatically better located
than Florida for production of a year-round vegetable supply in
home gardens.
For many years hundreds of successful gardens, containing a
wide variety of vegetables, have been planted by home gardeners
throughout the state. A large part of the vegetables grown in the
home gardens are consumed in the home, thus helping to reduce
today's inflated cost of living.
There is no valid reason, from the standpoint of either pro-
duction or nutrition, why Florida growers cannot or should not
produce in gardens an abundant, year-round supply of vegetables.
During winter months, while northern states experience
temperatures too low for most vegetable crops, Florida's climate
permits the production of many vegetables. While midsummer's
excessive heat and showers prevent some vegetables from growing
well, certain crops can be grown during this season. By growing
crops for canning and freezing during the best growing season,
enough vegetables may be produced to supply the family with veg-
etables throughout the year. However, these favorable tempera-
tures promote the development and persistence of many insects
and diseases that are a challenge to gardeners. Even so, there are
few desirable vegetables which should be eliminated in Florida
gardens simply because of insect and disease problems. To be sure,
some crops are disastrously attacked, occasionally or regularly, but
the problem is not peculiar to Florida. Wherever gardens are
grown, there are insect and disease enemies that must be fought.
Those who neglect the first principles of vegetable culture
-varietal selection and disease and insect control-may expect
failures. Upon such neglect must be placed much of the blame for
occasional pessimism regarding vegetable production in Florida.
Any garden endeavor will be only as good as the intelligent plan-
ning, work, energy, and enthusiasm which go into it.
The home vegetable garden helps to keep both farm and city
families well fed. For the city family, in particular, it provides
wholesome recreation. The garden also affords an opportunity to
teach young people a sense of responsibility, and a garden which
exceeds family requirements can be a source of income.


A vegetable garden is easier to plant, cultivate, and harvest if
it is near the house. If possible, locate the garden near a source of
water for irrigation. Under most conditions, the garden should be
surrounded by a fence sufficiently high and close woven to keep out
poultry, dogs, rabbits, and other animals. Such a fence not only
protects the garden, it also serves as a trellis for pole beans, to-
matoes, and other crops needing support.

Figure 1. A garden fence acts both as a barrier to unwelcome guests and as a
trellis for vining crops.

Vegetables do best when they get at least 5 to 6 hours of full
sunlight during the middle of the day. If there must be a choice,
put the fruiting crops-tomatoes, corn, peppers, cucumbers, and
melons-in as full sunlight as possible, as broccoli, collards, cab-
bage, and most of the leafy crops can withstand more shade. Tree
and shrub roots compete with vegetable plants for nutrients and
moisture. Furthermore fumigating the garden soil may injure
nearby ornamental plants whose roots extend into the garden plot.
If the garden must be located near trees or shrubs, dig a ditch 1/
to 2 feet deep and place roofing paper or metal roofing along side of
the trench. Refill the ditch with soil.

S Figure 2. Nearby
Sc g a ornamentals pre-
Ssent shade and
root competition
problems, and
could be injured by
garden fumigation.


You can grow a goof garden wherever weeds will grow. Avoid
areas that are low and wet during the season of the year that a
garden is to be grown. A fertile soil that is easily worked is the
best, but other soils may be used. Usually the town and city gar-
dener has little choice in soil; however, he can greatly improve an
unfavorable soil by adding organic material (manure, compost,
leaves, grass, etc.) and commercial fertilizer.
The rockland soils of Dade county pose a special problem. Most
gardeners in that area will find it best to construct above ground
beds rather than attempting to pulverize the rock into manageable
soil. Sides of the structures should be 12 to 24 inches high, of wood,
concrete block, or plastic construction, and should be placed di-
rectly on the rocky surface. Good garden top-soil should then be
poured into these gardening enclosures.

Figure 3. A raised
above-ground gar-
den bed, such as
this one on Dade
County rockland,
may be the answer
Stoproblem soils.


In planning the home garden, many factors should be con-
sidered so as to insure maximum production from land available.
Grow the crops that are liked by your family. This list may be
limited by the size of the garden and by the crops that are likely to
be successful in your area. For example, asparagus and rhubarb
seldom product acceptable yields in Florida. The nutritive value of
the vegetables should also be considered.
Before planting, a plan of the garden should be prepared on
paper, showing the location of each crop, the amount to be planted
on each date, crops to follow earlier ones, and companion crops that
are to be planted in the same area. No one plan will suit the needs
of everyone. The suggested year-round plan for Central Florida
submitted here may be adapted to individual needs. Planting dates
for North Florida are approximately two weeks later in the spring
and two weeks earlier in the fall. For South Florida the planting
dates are about two weeks earlier in the spring and two weeks
later in the fall. However, planting dates will vary for crops and by
locality. Check the Suggested Planting Guide, Table 4, before
When making your garden plan, the following suggestions
may be helpful:
1. Group crops by similar planting and
maturation dates in order to keep the en-
tire garden in production as much as
possible. Within each grouping (block),
give consideration to arrangement ac-
cording to plant size.
2. Arrange low-growing vegetables
such as radish, turnips, mustard, and let-
Stuce along one side of the garden (or
block), the medium-tall-growing plants
such as peppers, bush beans and squash
:'... in the middle of the garden, and the
~tall-growing vegetables such as pole
beans, sweet corn and stake tomatoes
Along the other side. Such arrangements
'i minimize shading effects.
Figure 4. Where space is limited, as in this small
Florida garden, proper layout and design are im-

3. More than one crop, each requiring about the same spacing,
may be planted within a single row.
4. Run rows north and south so that exposure to sunlight is even
for all rows.
5. Under certain conditions, planting on the south side slope of a
bed running east and west might have advantages such as wind
protection and quicker soil warm-up.
6. Crops that span more than one season, such as strawberries,
should be placed to one side of the garden so they do not interfere
with seasonal preparation of the garden.
7. Interplant quick-growing crops like radish among slower-
growing ones. The fast-growing radishes are out of the way before
the longer-growing crop needs the space.
8. Allow ample space between rows for convenient cultivation
with the type of tool you plan to use.
9. Don't plant too much of any one crop at one time, especially
those crops which must be eaten fresh, like radish, and cannot be
stored. Follow the Planting Guide to determine how much a row
of each crop will yield.
10. To provide fresh vegetables over a long period of time, make
interval plantings of any one vegetable every 10 to 14 days. This
practice works particularly well for crops such as beans, sweet corn
and peas which have a short "peak" period of quality.
11. Plant two or more varieties having different maturity dates
to prolong the season for any one crop. While genetic crossing may
occur, this is a problem only in sweet corn where "xenia" effects
show up on the ears (example: yellow kernels mixed with white
12. Plant sweet corn in blocks rather than in single rows so that
much pollen is present in the air around the corn stalks. This
practice should produce better pollination and ear fill-out.
13. Even in Florida, a continuous year-around supply of fresh
vegetables is not practical due to seasonal variations. For an ample
supply of most seasonal items, approximately one-tenth acre per
each member of the family should be sufficient.
14. Design your garden so that crop rotation is practiced. This
practice primarily prevents diseases from living over from season
to season. Try to avoid growing the same vegetable in the same
location more often than once every three years. In fact, rotation
should be by families of crops as well as by individual crops.

Figure 5. Rows
spaced too closely
cause crowding and
interfere with cultural

15. Use stakes, string and a yardstick to lay off straight rows.
Follow your previously prepared plan. Place a garden label at the
head of each row. Information on the label should include the crop,
variety and planting date.

To be sure of a continuous supply of garden-fresh vegetables
throughout the season, successive plantings of many crops may be
made. Space plantings 10 to 14 days apart of radishes, snap beans,
sweet corn, turnips, and other crops. Also, one crop may follow
another one in the garden. Study the Suggested Garden Plan,
Table 1, for combinations of crops to handle in this manner. For
example, you may follow fall cabbage with spring peas.
Through careful planning and companion cropping, production
from the small garden may be greatly increased. Provided the soil
is properly fertilized and water is available, frequently two or
three vegetables may be grown in the same area; for instance,
crops that mature quickly can be planted between the rows or in
the rows with crops that occupy the space for a relatively long
period. Lettuce and cabbage are often set alternately in the row,
with radishes planted between the rows. The radishes and lettuce
are out of the way before the cabbage needs the space.
Squash or pumpkins can be planted in between early corn if
the corn is spaced at least three feet between rows and single
plants spaced 18 inches or more apart in the row. The stalks should
be removed as soon as the corn matures, so as to make room for the
In small gardens early beans, lettuce, radishes, or turnips may
be planted between rows to be planted later in the spring with
tomatoes, eggplant, okra, summer squash, and sweet potatoes.

(Family of five Approximately % acre)
Rows 100 feet long

Followed by Followed by
Fall Planting Spring Planting Summer Planting

Vegetable Date Vegetable Date Vegetable Date

Onions, Onions, From Fall May
Shallots....... Aug. Dec......... Shallots....... Planting... Peas, So........
From Fall May
Strawberries Sept.-Oct......... Strawberries Planting... Peas, So.............. May
Strawberries ........................... .. Strawberries ..................... Okra.................... From Spring
From Spring Planting
Collards........... Planting....... Collards.............. Jan.-Apr...... Collards...........
Eggplant, Summer Eggplant, July
Pepper Planting.... Broccoli ............. Jan.................. Pepper........ May-June
Squash.............. Aug...................... Beets............ Jan.-Feb........ Potatoes, Sw. if not trans-
Turnip, planted in
Mustard, spring.
Radish..... Sept.-Dec.......... Carrots............. Jan.-Mar....... Potatoes,Sw.
Beans, Snap Sept.................. Onions................. Jan.-Mar....... Potatoes, Sw.
Beans, Snap ................................. Radish.......... Jan.-Mar...... Potatoes, Sw.
Peas, So............. Aug. 10-20.... Cabbage............ Jan...................... Potatoes, Sw.
P eas, So. ... ............. ............ .... Cabbage........... .............................
Tomatoes....... Aug.-Oct.......... Beans, Snap Feb.-Mar....
Tom atoes ..... .............. ..... ........ Beans, Snap ............................
Tomatoes................................. Beans, Lima Feb.-Apr.....
Okra.............. Aug.................. Beans, Lima ............ .....
Broccoli......... Aug.-Dec......... Peas, So.,
Onions........... Aug.-Nov... 2 rows..... Mar.-May.... Cover crop such as
Beets................. Oct.-Dec........... Squash................ Feb.-Mar..... Crotalaria Spectabilis
Eggplant, or Crotalaria Striata.
Carrots............ Oct.-Dec............. Pepper.......... Jan.-Feb...... Mar. 20-Jun. 20
Cabbage, Tomatoes,
2 rows...... .. Sept.-Dec.......... 5 rows............ Jan.-Apr.......
Okra..................... Feb.-M ar......
Potatoes, Ir.,
4 row s.......... Jan.............
Beans, Pole
2 rows............ Feb.-Apr.....
Cover crop from summer Corn, Sw.,
planting 4 rows.......... Feb.-Mar.....
Potatoes, Sw. Potatoes,Sw. From Spring
5 rows.......... Feb.-Apr..... 5 rows........... Planting
Cucumber..... Feb.-Mar......
Winter.......... Feb.-Mar...... Cover crop
Watermelon... Jan.-Apr.....

NOTE: This plan shows the arrangement and the rotation of crops for one
year. The summer and fall gardens should be placed in a different area of the
garden each year.

Early peas may be planted between the rows being saved for later
plantings of tomatoes.
Radishes may be mixed with carrot seed and sown in the same
row. Since carrots germinate slowly the radishes will help to mark
the row and mature before the carrots need the extra room.
While succession and companion cropping is recommended for
the small garden, the practice makes heavy demands on the soil.
Two or more crops cannot be successfully grown on the same area
unless plenty of water is available, liberal amounts of fertilizer are
used, and the best cultural practices are followed.
Every gardener needs a hoe, a rake, and a spading tool. Two
stakes and a heavy cord are a help in making straight rows. A
trowel is used in transplanting, but you may use a hoe or shovel.
For large gardens, a handplow
multiplies the gardener's efficiency
S many times. Dusters and sprayers
are discussed under Pest Control. A
gasoline-powered roto-tiller is prob-
ably the best equipment for prepar-
ing the soil for planting. If the size
of the plot does not justify buying
a roto-tiller, one can usually be
rented for the day's work. Often,
two or more gardeners might share
the rental expense in order to get
their plots broken.

I Figure 6. A wheel-plow is a handy, versatile
tool providing many years of service.
Small garden tractors save labor at planting and cultivating
time and are justified economically in large gardens. Such a tractor
may be most helpful in a garden cared for by young people because
they will take a greater interest in it than in ordinary equipment.
Gardening is easier if all tools are kept clean and well-
sharpened. Tighten all loose nuts, bolts, or screws with a wrench to
save wear, and sharpen all cutting edges. Most edged tools can be
easily sharpened on a file, emery wheel, or grindstone.
Tools last longer if you keep them free of rust. Clean any
rusted tools with a rust-remover paste, steel wool, or sand paper.
After cleaning, rub all tools with an oily rag. Keep the tools under
cover at all times except when they are being used.


A good gardener must be a good student of the weather or
follow the advice of someone who is.
Weather in the different seasons may vary from year to year.
Therefore, forecasts by radio, television, and newspapers are valu-
able to the gardener. However, seasonal weather generally repeats
itself from year to year. This helps the gardener use long-time
weather records in deciding the best time to prepare soil, plant,
transplant and harvest. The planting dates in the planting guide
(Table 4) were prepared on the above basis.
Successful spring and summer gardens in North and Central
Florida, and South Florida to a certain degree, depend on the
gardener's knowledge of late winter and spring temperatures. Both
yields and quality normally are highest from plantings or trans-
plantings made as early as the weather is favorable for good
growth. A careful study of the dates of the last killing frost in
spring helps in estimating when to plant or transplant with least
In very early plantings, many of the crops will withstand light
frosts. Some gardeners are willing to risk these early plantings to
have the seasons' first vegetables. For example, it is ideal to have
snap beans emerge from the ground the day after the last killing
frost in the spring. However, if the beans emerge too early and are
killed, replanting will not cost much and the risk might be well
worth taking.
Plantings in fall and winter gardens in North and Central
Florida must be made early enough for plants to make most of
their growth before the first killing frost. Hence, it is important to
know about when to expect the first killing frost. This also helps to
determine when to harvest tender crops such as tomatoes and
sweet potatoes. Although killing frosts sometimes occur in South
Florida, the cooler fall and winter months are the most desirable
months for gardening.
The gardener is also interested in when it is most likely to be
wet or too dry. The general weather cycle from year to year is
usually very similar. Therefore, the gardener may make his plans

There are several preparations which one might take to
reduce chances of losses from frost. Of course, there are
many areas of south Florida where a killing frost is highly

Averae Date of
Last Killing Frost

Figure 7. Average dates of last killing spring frosts in Florida.

Average Date of
First Killing Frost


Figure 8. Average dates of first killing fall or winter frosts in Florida.


Figure 9. Covers placed over tender vegetables may
hold back enough heat from the soil to save the plants.

unlikely. First, plant cool-season hardy
crops during frost likely periods of win-
ter. Then, know something of the nature
of frost. It usually comes on cold,
clear nights preceded by a day or two of
clear skies. The idea is to conserve .
just a small fraction of the previous
day's heat reaching the soil from the sun, {.
and transfer to the area of the plant at
just the coldest time. One way is to keep
the soil compact when there is danger of
frost. Compact soil allows heat absorbed by the soil to move up-
ward to heat the plant. Do not cultivate when frost is likely. Loose
soil acts as a barrier to heat moving up from the soil beneath. A
mulch, such as pine straw or hay also keeps heat in the soil, leav-
ing the air around the plant cold and subjecting the plant to frost
injury. If you use straw or mulch, place it over the top of the plant
to hold heat around the plant. A Hotcap may be placed over the
plant to hold heat around the plant. Cloth may be placed over the
plants in the night to hold back the heat. Keep the soil moist.
Moisture not only adds heat to the soil, but to the air around the
plant at the crucial time of lowest temperatures. Watering also
helps compact the soil and adds heat holding capacity to the soil. It
has been estimated that adding 10% moisture to the top six inches
of soil increases the heat holding capacity by 50%. Sprinkling the
plants to keep them wet, even if ice forms on the leaves is very
effective, but may require large quantities of water if the freezing
temperatures are reached much before sunup. This may also result
in a loss of sleep for the gardener. Finally, for just a few rows of
plants still small enough, the gardener can cover with soil, being
sure to scratch out the plants as soon as the danger of frost has
passed. There are commercial foams available which work as well
as soil, but these are not in widespread usage at present.

Turn the ground about three weeks before planting with a
spade or plow when it is dry enough to work. A good test is to mold
a handful of the soil into a ball with the hands. If this ball is not
sticky but crumbles readily when pressed with the thumb, the soil
is ready to be worked. Plow or spade the soil 6 to 8 inches deep or
about as deep as it has been worked in the past. See figure 10.
For information on soil fumigation and soil insect control refer
to "Pest Control and Diseases."
Harrow or rake the soil soon after turning to maintain good
soil texture and prevent excessive drying. For small-seeded crops,
such as carrots, a finely pulverized surface insures easier planting,
better germination, and a more even stand. A plank drag or har-
row is useful in gardens to fit the soil for small seeds. With these
tools the job may be done faster than with a rake. The success of a
garden often depends on getting the job done promptly and
efficiently so as not to interfere unnecessarily with other work. The
thoroughness with which the soil is prepared before planting de-
termines to a large extent the ease, efficiency, and amount of culti-
The symbol [pH] and the figures accompanying it are used to
express the degree of soil acidity. A soil with a pH of 7.0 is neutral,
while one with a pH of 6.9 or below is acid, or "sour," and one with
a pH of 7.1 or above is alkaline, or "sweet."
Figure 10. Soil preparation is perhaps the most laborious task confronting garden-
ers. Power roto-tillers make the job easier and more fun.

Most vegetables grow best on a soil that has a pH between 5.5
and 6.5 or slightly acid. Proper applications of lime made to ex-
tremely acid soils will increase the production of most vegetables.
Too much lime in the soil may be just as bad as too little. Apply
liming materials only if a soil test indicates a need for them. If the
soil is thought to be too acid, take a sample to the County Agricul-
tural Agent for testing. The results of the test probably will be
expressed in terms of pH. A reaction below pH 5.5 indicates a need
for lime. Dolomitic lime is a good liming material because of its
magnesium content; however, owing to its slow reaction, it must be
applied well ahead of planting. Hydrated lime may be used where
a quick-acting material is needed. It may be applied two weeks or
more before planting provided it is mixed well with the soil.
The amount to apply depends upon the soil reaction or pH
value, type of soil, and kind of liming materials used. If your soil
has a pH below 5.5, apply the amount suggested by your County
Agricultural Agent; however, 2 to 3 pounds of dolomitic lime to
each 100 square feet of area should be adequate except on ex-
tremely acid soils. Hydrated lime may be used at % the above rate
for dolomite.
The liming material should be spread evenly over the garden
before plowing or spading. If plowing has already been completed it
may be applied and worked into the soil thoroughly by hoeing,
raking or harrowing.

All materials applied to the soil to furnish plants with nu-
trient elements, except animal manures and other organic resi-
dues, are called "commercial fertilizers." The nutrient elements
most likely to be needed on most soils are nitrogen, phosphorus,
and potassium. These nutrients are always given in this order
in the analysis shown on the fertilizer bag. For example, a
"6-8-8" is a fertilizer containing 6 percent available nitrogen
(N); 8 percent phosphorus, expressed as phosphoric acid (P205);
and 8 percent potassium, expressed as potash (K20). (See Figure
Other elements are needed by plants, but these are usually
present in the soil or are needed only in relatively minute quan-
tities. They can be supplied in the fertilizer in instances where
needed. In some gardens, particularly on the marl soils, the land
may be alkaline due to the high lime content of the soil. When
alkaline water is used for irrigation, the soil may also become
alkaline. In such cases it may be necessary to use fertilizer con-

training manganese and boron. On the other hand, gardens on sand,
muck, and peat soils may be so strongly acid that lime is needed to
correct acidity and supply sufficient quantities of calcium and
magnesium, as recommended in the previous section.
Commercial fertilizers should be used in gardens to supply an
abundance of mineral nutrients, so as to insure production of satis-
factory crops of high quality. Manure is an excellent source of
organic matter for garden soils, and usually is a good source of
nitrogen and potassium, but is low in phosphorus. Nutrients from
manure are more slowly available than in commercial fertilizers.
The high availability of nutrients, especially nitrogen, in commer-
cial fertilizers is very important in vegetable growing. Even when
manure is used on the garden it is desirable to apply a commercial
fertilizer containing some nitrogen and a high percentage of phos-
Fertilizers are available with a wide variation in the amounts
of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. Most commercial grades show
specified amounts of minor elements. The kind of fertilizer to use
on a garden will depend on the soil type and the previous treat-
ment of the soil.

Figure 11. Commercial fertilizer provides fast-growing vegetables with readily-
usable plant foods. Check the labels for proper mixtures.

In home gardens where many kinds of vegetables are grown in
a small area under intensive culture, it becomes necessary to sug-
gest practices that are widely adapted and will be satisfactory for
the crops that have large nutrient requirements, but will not be
injurious to those with the lowest needs. It is possible to use too
much fertilizer and thus injure crops. See picture of fertilizer in-
jury in the color picture section.
Sandy, clay, and marl soils in Florida are usually low in ni-
trogen, phosphorus, and potash; fertilizer for these soils should
contain a high percent of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. Muck
and peat soils are high in nitrogen, but lack phosphorus, and are
usually very low in potassium. With these facts in mind, the fol-
lowing grades and amounts of fertilizer are recommended.


"Amount 100 sq. ft.
Soil Grade 1b ft. row Amount
Sandy, clay, or marl..... ................. 6-6-6 or 6-8-8 '/% lb. 2-4 lbs.
Muck or peat................ ................. 0-12-20 %1 lb. 1-2 lbs.

One-half of the first and main application of fertilizer should
be broadcast over the entire garden plot one to two weeks before
planting. The other half should be banded at planting time.
Do not put bands of fertilizer under the seed, as the young
roots might be burned. Instead, place the fertilizer on each side of
the seed row. To do this, you must make two furrows about six
inches apart and only 2-3 inches deep. Spread the fertilizer down
the furrows, then, fill the furrows level with soil.
Use a string to mark off a seed row between the two rows
containing fertilizer, after the fertilizer has been applied to the two
rows and covered properly.

Additional nitrogen may be supplied during the season by two
or three light applications of soluble forms equal to / to 1/ pound
of nitrate of soda per 100 square feet. Leafy crops, such as cabbage,
kale, collards, lettuce, and spinach, which often require more nit-
rogen than other garden crops, may be stimulated by sidedressing
with a nitrogen fertilizer at the above rate. As a rule, the tuber

Figure 12. Use a string to mark the planting furrow
and prevent placement of fertilizer too close to the
seeds or transplants.

Figure 13. Most Florida soils do not hold fertilizer in
the root zone for extended periods of time. Thus, addi-
tional applications, called side-dressings, are needed
from time to time.



and root crops, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots,
and turnips, need a higher percentage of potash than other vegeta-
bles. Additional potash may be added by applying soluble forms
equal to 1 pound of muriate of potash to each 100 square feet of
area. Where a sidedressing of both nitrogen and potash is needed,
you may apply complete fertilizer as a sidedressing at /4 the rates
listed in Table 2; do not use the nitrogen carrier on muck and peat

Because of the small quantities of fertilizer required for short
rows and small plots, it is easy to apply too much fertilizer. The
chemical fertilizer to be applied should always be weighed or mea-
sured. Table 3 shows how much fertilizer to apply to each 100 feet
of garden row or to each 100 to 2,000 square feet of garden area.
If it is more convenient to measure the material than to weigh
it, pounds of a common garden fertilizer, such as 6-8-8, super-
phosphate, ammonium phosphate, or muriate of potash, may be
converted roughly to pints or cups by allowing 1 pint, or 2 kitchen

measuring cups, to a pound. For example, Table 3 gives 0.25 pound
for a 100 pound, per acre application to 100 square feet. This would
call for about 1/4 pint, or 1/ cup, of fertilizer.


Weight of fertilizer to apply when the
amount to be applied per acre is:

Measurement 100 400 800 1200
pounds pounds pounds pounds

Rows 100 feet long spaced:
2 feet apart............................................ 0.5 2.0 4.0 6.0
2% feet apart.................................... .6 2.4 4.8 7.2
3 feet apart......................................... .7 2.8 5.6 8.4

Area (square feet):
100 ............. ... .. .25 1.0 2.0 3.0
1,000 ............................................... 2.5 10.0 20.0 30.0
2,000.............................................. .. 5.0 20.0 40.0 60.0

Ground limestone and granular sodium nitrate weigh about
11/3 times as much as the same volumes of water; therefore, mea-
sured quantities of these materials should be about /4 less than
those calculated as equivalent to the weights in the table. For
example, % pint of ground limestone weighs about 1 pound. Am-
monium sulfate and granular ammonium nitrate are much lighter,
weighing about seven-tenths as much as the same volumes of
water; therefore, volumes of these substances calculated by the
foregoing method should be increased by about one-third.
Garden soils may be deficient in manganese, boron, copper,
and certain other minor elements. Such deficiencies are not likely
to occur when the pH is between 5.5 and 6.0. When the pH is
higher than 6.5, manganese sulfate may be needed for beans,
strawberries, peas, beets, and certain other crops. A deficiency of
manganese shows up as a fading of the green color in the leaves,
with the veins remaining green. A spray application of 2 pounds of
manganese sulfate to 100 gallons of water should be made to cor-
rect the nutrient deficiency.

Where the soil is neutral or alkaline in reaction-pH 7.0 or
higher-borax is likely to be needed for turnips, beets, spinach,
cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce, and
rutabagas. The most noticeable symptoms of boron deficiency are
black corky areas in the flesh of turnips, rutabagas, and beets;
rough cankers on the outside of beets; blackened small center
leaves in the case of head lettuce; internal stem browning of cab-
bage and cauliflower; small deformed center leaves on spinach; and
cracking of celery petioles.
The best insurance against a boron deficiency when it occurs is
to apply common borax. Arrange the garden so the above men-
tioned crops are in one section. Apply common borax at the rate of
12 pounds per acre or 4 ounces per 1,000 square feet. Borax should
not be applied for beans and peas.
Copper deficiencies develop on muck soils and possibly on the
lighter sands. Applications of 25 to 50 pounds of copper sulfate per
acre or 1 pound per 1,000 square feet of garden on these soils are
required for good vegetable production.
Manganese sulfate, borax, copper, and certain other minor
elements, where needed, may be mixed with the fertilizer since it
is very difficult to spread these small amounts uniformly. These
materials can also be applied to growing plants. They may be dis-
solved in water and sprayed on the foliage without harm if the
rates given are not exceeded. Use 1 gallon of water for 100 square
feet of garden.

Most Florida vegetable gardens will be greatly benefited by
the use of abundant quantities of organic material applied to the
soil. Usually, the organic matter is in the form of animal manures,
plant manures, cover crops, compost or mixed organic fertilizer.
These materials are incorporated into the garden soil at least three
weeks and preferably longer before planting.

Benefits From Adding Organic Matter
Improves tilth and condition of soil.
Improves ability of soil to hold water and nutrients.
Improves bufferingg" capacity of soil; that is, it keeps
soil from "over-reacting."
Supports the soil's micro-biological activity (or the life of
the soil).

Contributes nutrients, both major and trace.
Releases nutrients slowly.
Acids released when organic matter decomposes help
convert insoluble natural mineral additives into
plant-usable forms.

What Happens to Organic Fertilizer
Under suitable conditions the organic matter is decomposed by
micro-organisms such as fungi, bacteria, molds and earthworms. In
the process insoluble and unavailable (to plants) nutrients, such as
nitrogen, are gradually changed into simple usable products. Some
of the organic matter becomes part of the soil humus.
The decomposition process occurs best in a soil that is moist,
warm, well-aerated and properly limed.

Animal Manures
Where animal manures are available to home vegetable gar-
deners, they are probably the best source of fertilizer and organic
matter for the organic gardener.
Manures vary greatly in their content of fertilizing nutrients.
The composition varies according to type, age and condition of
animal; the kind of feed used; the age and degree of rotting of the
manure; the moisture content of the manure; and the kind and
amount of litter or bedding mixed in the manure.

Composition of Fresh Manure
With Normal Quantity of Litter

Kind of Manure % Water % N % P % K

Cow 86 .55 .15 .50
Duck 61 1.10 1.45 .50
Goose 67 1.10 .55 .50
Hen 73 1.10 .90 .50
Hog 87 .55 .30 .45
Horse 80 .65 .25 .50
Sheep 68 1.00 .75 .40
Steer or feed yard 75 .60 .35 .55
Turkey 74 1.30 .70 .50

How Much to Apply Broadcast
Before Planting
Cow, horse, hog-25 pounds per 100 square feet (about five
tons per acre) of garden soil. For best results, supplement each 25

pounds of manure with 2-3 pounds of superphosphate. (Organic
gardeners may wish to substitute ground rock phosphate or raw
bone meal.)
Poultry, sheep-12 pounds per 100 square feet (about three
tons per acre) supplemented with 1-2 pounds of superphosphate,
ground rock phosphate, or raw bone meal.

After Planting As a Sidedressing
Cow, horse, hog-Sidedress with up to five pounds per 100
square feet of row.
Poultry, sheep-Use up to three pounds per 100 square feet of
If a mulch is present, rake it back at the edge of the root zone
in order to apply the band of manure, then re-cover with the
Animal manure is not always a completely well-balanced fer-
tilizer. It is advantageous to broadcast a complete garden fertilizer
(such as 6-6-6) in addition to the manures.

Acceptable manure-like organic fertilizer (artificial manure)
may be obtained through the process of composting. Simply put,
compost is made by alternating layers of organic materials, such as
leaves and kitchen table refuse, with manure, topsoil, lime, garden
fertilizer, water and air, in such a manner that it decomposes,
combines and yields artificial manure.

I.. -.--. . .



Figure 14. A well-constructed compost pile converts bulky organic materials into a
form useful for soil improvement and fertilizer.

How is the Compost Pile Made?
The compost pile is made of convenient size, usually not more
than 10 feet square (100 square feet) and 3-5 feet high. The top
should be left flat or with a slight depression in the center to catch
rain or added water. Too much water eliminates air and slows the
decay process.
One way suggested in building the pile is to make a layer of
leaves, straw, grass clippings and other organic materials one foot
deep, wet down and pack. Spread a layer of manure 4-6 inches deep
over this layer of wet material. Then spread up to three pounds of
superphosphate and one pound of ground limestone or dolomite per
100 square feet. (See Figure 14).
Instead of the superphosphate, you could use five pounds of a
complete garden fertilizer such as 6-6-6 per 100 square feet. Also, a
layer of topsoil is sometimes used.
Then continue to repeat the process until the pile has reached
3-5 feet high.
Compost will begin to heat after two or three days. Keep it
moist, but not too wet, and do not disturb for awhile.
After three or four weeks, fork it over, mixing the parts to
obtain uniformity.
Most anything organic can be used in the compost pile, but
most popular materials are natural materials such as straw,
leaves, pine straw, grass clippings, shrub clippings, garbage, fish
scraps, water hyacinths, etc.

Use of Compost in the Garden
Compost for the garden should be ready after two months to
one year, depending on the time of year, type of materials added
and skill of the composer. When the compost is broken down into a
homogenous mixture and no undecomposed leaves or other mate-
rial may be seen, it is ready for use.
Since compost is artificial manure, it should be used much as
you would manure.
Broadcast it over the entire garden three weeks or more before
planting. Or, if you have only a small quantity of compost, it may
be mixed into the soil along each planting furrow or at each hill
site. In all cases, apply it at the rate of about 25 pounds per 100
square feet, or /4 pound per square foot.


For each vegetable you plan to grow in your garden, you will
have to decide whether to start it from seed, from plants, or from
plant parts.
The main advantage in starting directly from seeds is that you
have a wider selection of varieties from which to choose. Further-
more, not all vegetables do well when transplanted and must be
grown from seed sown directly in the row where they are to be
grown. Most vegetables may be seeded directly in the garden row.
Some exceptions are sweet potatoes, strawberries and Irish

Good seed may mean the difference between success and fail-
ure in your garden. Buy good seed from a reliable dealer. For some
crops, seed may be saved from one's own garden, but for many
other vegetables, saving seed is impractical.

Plant varieties of vegetables which have been tested and found
to be adapted to your area. Vegetables resistant to pests and toler-
ant of adverse weather conditions are much easier to grow success-
fully than those that are not. Refer to the Planting Guide, Table 4,
for those varieties which are best suited for Florida conditions.
Of course, it is a privilege enjoyed by gardeners to try varieties
which have proven themselves elsewhere and which may do well in
their gardens. However, many gardeners are cheating themselves
of the best possible results by continuing to grow inferior varieties
without ever testing the suggested varieties.

Most seed companies treat seeds with a fungicide to protect
seeds and seedlings from fungus diseases. Such seed treatment is
usually indicated on the packet label or by the red, blue, purple, or
green color of the seeds. If in doubt, it is good insurance to treat
your own seed.
A thiram material (Arasan 50, Arasan 75, or Thiram 75) may
be purchased at seed and garden supply stores and applied dry to
most all vegetable seeds. Treatment may be made to large quan-
tities of seeds according to label directions. In treating small pack-
ets, insert a pinch of dust, and shake well to cover the seeds.

When vegetable seeds are placed in the soil, they can sprout,
grow and make plants. The soil contains water and plant food for
the small plants to use and grow larger.
But seeds can be planted so deep the young plants can not
reach the top of the ground. Or they can be planted too shallow and
may be washed away with the first rain.
Small seeds like carrots are planted shallow and fairly close
together. They help each other break through the soil.
Plant in straight rows. The garden will look better and be
easier to hoe or cultivate. Rows should be marked off. Use a string
or a cord stretched between two stakes.
Larger seed like corn are planted farther apart. The young
sprouting plants are larger and stronger. They do not need to help
each other break through to the soil surface.
Larger seed make stronger young plants. They can be planted
deeper than the small seed. The younger plants from larger seed
can grow farther to reach the soil surface.
After the seed is dropped or placed in the furrow, use the hoe
or the rake or your hands to cover the seed. Fill the seed furrow
with soil. Leave the ground level or slightly mounded above the
Starting vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes in the gar-
den as transplants rather than seeding directly in the garden row
is a common practice.
When you use plants as starts, you realize these main benefits:
1. Avoid adverse weather-Sow seeds indoors, then remove
outdoors, thus permitting earliness.
2. Choose the best plants-Since the seedbed produces
many more plants than needed, only the very best plants may be
planted in the garden.

Figure 15. Many vegetables are best
established in the garden by transplant-
ing rather than by direct-seeding.

3. Obtain small number of plants-Where only a few plants
are needed, these may be purchased from a nursery or grown in a
4. Reduce seedling decay-The disease-free, precise envi-
ronment of a planting pot is more ideal for seed germination and
seedling growth than is the garden soil.

Which Vegetables to Transplant

Certain vegetables may be transplanted with ease, others re-
quire more care to transplant successfully, and some may not be
transplanted except in containers. The following chart indicates
ease of transplanting:

Which Vegetable to Transplant
Without Container

Easily Survive

Brussels Sprouts

Transplant Well,
But Require Care


To Transplant


Growing Transplants

Start your transplants by any of the following methods:
Plant pot-Sow seed directly into a plant band, peat pot, or
peat pellet. The peat pellet is a compressed mixture of peat and

Figure 16. An outdoor seedbed might be
the best choice where many transplants
are needed for large gardens or commu- -
nity sharing. '.-
Figure 17. Such transplant containers as
peat pellets allow transplanting with -. -'--. .
minimum root disturbance. '


nutrients about the size of a jar lid. When placed into water, it
expands to form a planting pot soft enough to insert a seed. Many
of those listed above in the "Difficult-to-Transplant" category may
be started and transplanted in a plant pot.
Seedbox-Sow seed into a container filled with soil or soil
Seedbed-Sow seed into a well-prepared hotbed, coldframe or
open seedbed.
The Seedflat or Seedbox
A seedbox, or flat, is about the most practical way for a home
gardener to start a small number of plants. In miniature, the seed-
box serves the same purpose as a hotbed. Any small, shallow,
wooden or plastic box can be used as a seedbed; however, one 3-5
inches deep, 12 inches wide, and 18 inches long is most convenient.
It should not be too heavy to move easily when the soil is moist.
Small cracks in the bottom provide drainage. A newspaper may be
placed in the bottom to prevent soil from dropping through the
Place a %-inch layer of pea-size gravel in the bottom of the box.
Take a loose, fertile garden soil from an area where vegetables
have not been grown. Better yet, prepare a mixture of one part soil,
one part perlite, and one part peat, or use ready prepared potting
mix. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of 6-8-8 fertilizer.
Fill the container to within 1/2 inch of the top of the box or
container, firm the soil and level with a board.
Moisten the filled flat with water and let drain.

Broadcast tiny seed over the surface and press them gently
into the surface with a board. No need to cover them. For larger

Figure 18. A seedbox (lower left) should be filled with sterilized soil or a good
soil mixture.
Figure 19. Tomato, and other vegetable seeds, may be scattered over the soil sur-
face, then lightly sprinkled with soil to cover (lower right).

". ... -',/,"- .
;7 1- 06^:?*1 "- -.. :

-. .." -- -

.. _. ..
- ," -.
:'~~~~~~~~~~ "'",- .. -''",- *"-.; ,;. :.,- ---"


Figure 21. A seedling needs ample room
to become a sturdy, compact transplant.
Either thin seedlings from one to three
20. Another seeding method is to sow seed inches apart, or transfer to another con-
-/2 inch deep furrows, tainer.

seeds, make furrows in the seedbed 4 inch deep and two inches
apart; cover seed and press until firm with a board. Place a news-
paper or plastic material over the box until seedlings begin to
emerge. Do not let the soil dry out.
Thin plants to 2-3 inches apart when they are about two
inches high, and transplant them to another flat, paper cups, or
plant pots. Before setting plants in the garden, place them
where they will be hardened by the sun and wind. Increase the
time the box has full sunlight each day until the plants are
thoroughly hardened.
Transplanting Suggestions
Most vegetables are ready to set in the garden when they are
4-6 weeks old. Set only the best plants that are strong, stocky,
vigorous and disease free.
Avoid disturbing roots when transplanting. Where seedlings
are to be removed from boxes or flats, block out the soil by cutting
into squares. If individual plant containers are used, moisten the
soil and remove the container before placing in the garden. Some
containers such as the peat pellet may be inserted into the soil.

Figure 22. (lower left) Set only the best plants that are strong, stocky, pest-free,
and well rooted.
Figure 23. (lower right) Many individual plant containers may be set into the soil
without removing the transplant.


"" Figure 24. Some protection from the hot sun
l may be helpful for a few days after setting the

Transplant when conditions are best-soon after a rain, when
cloudy, or in the late afternoon. Protect plants 2-4 days after
transplanting with something like a palmetto fan, bush or board.
When setting the plant into the soil, do not compress the soil
too tightly around the roots; gently pour water into the hole to
settle the soil around the roots. After the transplanting water has
dried a bit, cover the wet spot with dry soil to reduce evaporation.
Starter Solution
While transplanting, a starter solution helps get the plants off
to a quick start. Special starter solutions may be purchased, or one
can be made by dissolving 1-2 tablespoons of 6-8-8 fertilizer in one
gallon of water. A better solution would be one with a high content
of phosphate such as 10-50-10. Mix at the same rate as above. Pour
/2 pint of the solution into the transplant hole as the plant is set;
then cover the moist soil with dry soil.

Figure 25. When setting the plant, disturb roots as little as possible, water
thoroughly, then cover wet soil with dry soil to conserve moisture.


Spicing Seed Planting Dates in Florida PlanI Pounds Days
Crop Varieties Seeds/Plants InInches Depth (inclusive) Hardi- Yield to
100' of Row Rows Plants Inches North Central South nesst 100ft. Harvest
Beans, Snap Extender, Contender, Harvester. 1 lb. 18-30 2-3 1!'-2 Mar.-Apr. Feb.-Mar. Sept.-Apr. T 45 45-60
Wade, Cherokee (wax) Au.-Sept.jSept.
Beans. Pole Dade, MNCaslan. Kentucky Wtnder 1b. 40-48 13-6 1!2-2 Mar.-Au. Feb-Apr. Sept.-Apr. T 80 55-70
191 Blue Lake Aug. Sept.
Beans, Lima Fordhook 242, Concentrated, lHen- lb. 24-36 2-3 1 '-2 Mar.-June Feb.-Apr. Sept.-Apr. T 50 65-75
person, Jackson Wonder. Dixie Mar.-Aug. Sept.
Butterpea, Florida Butter (Pole) ____
Beets Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red 1 oz. 11-21 3-5 -1 Sept.-Mar. Oct.-Mar. Oct.-Feb. H 75 60-70
Broccoli Early Green Sprouting, Walltam 29, 60 pits. 30-36 16-22 'i-1 Aug.-Feb. Aug.-Jan. Sept.-Jan. H 50 60-70
Atlantic ( i oz.)

Copenhagen Market, Marion Market,
Badger Market, Glory of Enkhuizen,
Red Acre, Chieftan Savoy
Smith's Perfect, Seminole,
Edisto 47. GCulfstream
Imperator, Gold Spike, Clantenay,
Snowball Strains

Celery Utah 52-70, Florida Pascal

Chinese Cabbage


Corn, Sweet





Lettuce (Crisp)

Michihli, Wong Bok

Georgia, Vates

Silver Queen (white) Gold Cup
Golden Security, Seneca Chief,
many others

Poinsett, Ashley (slicers), Wisconsin
SMR 18, Pixie picklerss)
Florida Market

Deep H-art Fringed, Full Heart
Early White Vienna

Premier. (Gre t Lakes types,
Bibb, Matchless, Sweetheart,
Prize Head, Ruhy, Salad Bowl,
Parris Island Cos, Dark G(reen Cos
Southern Giant Curled, Florida
Broad Leaf

G05 pits.
(' oz.)

'/ oz.

l oz.

55 pits.
( oz.)
150 pits.
(04 oz.)
125 pits.
('!4 O.)
75 pits.

:10 pits.
(*4 02.)

% oz.

'A oz.












24-36 14-24 M Sept.-Feb.


























Oct.-Jan. Oct.-Jan.



Sept. _





Oct.-Jan. II

Oct.-Jan. H






125 70-90

150 75-90

100 70-75

80 55-60

150 115-125













Nov.-Feb. I 1 100 I 50-55

Sept.-Mar. Sept-Jan. H

Sep -Mar. Sept.-MarT Hii 100






to Cauliflower

~ ' '

`~ --- -- --







Clemson Spinehless, Perkins Liong
Excel, Texas Grano, Granex, White
Granex, Tropicana Red
White Portugal or White types,
Shallots (Multipliers)
Moss Curled, Perfection
Little Marvel, Dark Skinned
Perl'eclion, Laxlon's Pro'gress
Blackeye, Brown Crowdler, Bush
Conch, Producer, Floricream, Snapea.
Zipper Cream
Calif. Wonder. Yolo Wonder, WiOrld
Hungarian Wax, Anaheinm Chili
Scbago, Red Pontiac, Kennebec,
Red LaSoda
U.S. No. 1 Purto Rico, Georgia Red,
Goldrush, Nugget, Centennial
Cherry Belle, Comet, Early Scarlet
Globe, White Icicle, Sparkler (white
Virginia Savoy, Dixie Market,
Hybrid 7
New Zealand
Early Prolific Straightneck, Early
Summer, Crookneck, Cocozelle,
Zucchini, Patty Pan
Alagold, Talle Queen, Butternut
Fla. 90, Tioiga, Sequoia, Fla. Belle
Floradel, Tropic, Manalucie,
Flo,arnerica, Better Boy
Walter, Homestead, Florida MH- .
Large Cherry, Roma
Japanese Foliage (Shogoin)
Purple Top White Glove
Charleston Gray, Congo,
Jubilee, Crimson Sweet
Tri-X 317
New Hampshire Midget, Sugar Baby

2 oz.

400 pits. or
sets loz. seed
800 pits. or sets
1 '/2 OZ. st, IS
4 oz.

l'h I is.

15 lbs.

80 pits.

1 oz.
80 pits

2 oz.
1 oz.

100 pits.
35 pIts.
'Cd iO.)
70 pits.
(, /oz.)
% oz.
I oz.




























Onions (Bulbing)



Peas, Southern

Pepper (Sweet)


Potatoes, Sweet


CD Spinach

Spinach (Summer)
Squash (Summer)

Tomatoes (Stake)



Water- (Large)



Mar -Aug-




















Fel. Oct



Feb.-Jun i









50 70

50 90-95








Jan.-Mar. Oct.-Feb. II 150
Jan.-Mar. Jan.-Mar. T 400

4-6 -%

60-84 2










Other Vegetables for the Garden.-Jerusalem artichoke, Brussels sprouts, cassava, chayote, chives, dandelion, dasheen, dill, fennel, garbanzo bean, garlic, herbs, kale,
leek, luffa gourd, honeydew melons, and rutabaga. Note globe artichokes, asparagus, and rhubarb not well adapted to Florida.

tH-Hardy, can stand frost and usually some freezing (32'F) without injury.
SH-Slightly hardy, will not be injured by light frosts.
T-Tender, will be injured by light frost.

6 14'



Thinning the seedlings in the row is one of the most important
of garden operations. It is difficult to sow small seeds thinly
enough to permit the plants to make the best development. The
planting guide (Table 4) gives the proper spacing for plants in the
row after thinning.
Thinning should be done while plants are small and when the
soil is moist, so they can be pulled out easily without injuring the
remaining plants. Turnips, rutabagas, and other root crops should
be thinned before their taproot becomes fleshy. Onions from seed
and radishes may be left in the ground until those that are thinned
are large enough to eat.
Pull surplus turnip plants when they are 4 to 5 inches tall and
use for greens. Plants thinned from the beet row may also be used
for greens.
Carrots should be thinned first when they are 2 to 3 inches
tall, so as to stand about 1 inch apart. They may be left until large
enough to be eaten, when alternate plants may be pulled and used,
leaving more room for those that are left.
Cultivation generally increases the yield of vegetable crops
because of weed control On some soils cultivation may be needed
also to loosen the soil and allow water to enter more rapidly.


Figure 26. (Above) Avoid overcrowding by
thinning plants to proper spacing.

Figure 27. (Right) The main purpose for culti-
vation is weed control.

Weeds can be the gardener's worst enemy. They not only steal
the moisture and fertilizer but also serve as a cover for insects and
diseases. Many weeds are affected by virus and fungus diseases
that are carried to the crops. Furthermore, by shading the plants
and interfering with air circulation, tall weeds may retard the
evaporation of dew and rain from the foliage, thus favoring infec-
tion by bacteria and fungi.
A single cultivation will kill practically all weeds less than 1
inch tall, but it is difficult to kill them when they are 4 to 5 inches
tall. It is not necessary to cultivate when there are no weeds, but
during good growing weather weeds grow enough to make weekly
cultivation necessary.
Shallow cultivation is best, for it is less injurious to crop roots
than is deep cultivation and is just as efficient in controlling weeds.
A garden plow with weed knives or shallow sweeps is one of the
most efficient and useful tools for the home garden. A hoe is the
next best hand tool for weed control.

.-t -

Figure 28. A common garden hoe is still the best tool for removing weeds from the
average garden.

Chemical weed killers, called herbicides, are commonly used
by commercial growers to control weeds in large fields. Use of
herbicides requires a thorough knowledge of the chemicals used
and finely calibrated application equipment. Generally, home gar-
deners are not in a position to use herbicides in gardens due to the

wide assortment of kinds of vegetables grown there and lack of
sufficient application expertise to avoid injury to plants.
Weed growth can be prevented by the use of mulches. Mulches
also tend to conserve soil moisture, prevent erosion, do away with
any root damage by deep cultivation or hoeing, and keep clean the
fruits of such crops as strawberries, tomatoes, squash, and melons.
Straw, pinestraw, old hay, grass, leaves, paper, sawdust, and wood
planings are the most common materials for this purpose. These
mulches are most beneficial when applied as soon as the plants are
large enough (6 to 8 inches high) so they will not be covered by the
Most mulching materials tend to lower the soil temperature;
however, black mulching materials may raise the soil temperature
a few degrees.
Some mulches, if carefully used, may be good for more than
one year. Usually part of the straw, pinestraw, hay, or wood by-
products can be saved for another year with less work than getting
an entire new supply. Any reasonable quantity left on the garden
will, however, be beneficial to the soil when turned under. For each
bushel of sawdust or wood-shavings which is turned under, a
broadcast application of 1 pound of nitrate of soda or /2 pound of
ammonium nitrate should be made in order to aid in the rotting of
the wood.

Figure 29. A good mulch controls weeds, conserves moisture and fertilizer, and
provides a clean surface for drooping fruits.

P *

Figure 30. In recent years, black
plastic has become popular as a mulch
on soils that hold moisture well or that
can be watered from beneath.

Figure 31. When installing plastic
mulch, make sure edges are
sufficiently anchored.

SFigure 32. Plants may be set through
Holes cut in the mulch.

_Ll I



Leaves and pine straw make an excellent and economical
mulch if gathered 4 to 6 months before time of application and
placed in flat-topped piles so they become thoroughly soaked with
Recently, the use of black plastic as a mulching material has
become popular (Figure 30). This gives excellent weed control,
holds moisture in soil, and reduces soil rotting of fruits or pods.
Since dark colors absorb heat, black plastic is especially beneficial
to early planted crops. The warmer soil beneath the plastic enables
seed to germinate earlier and crops to grow-off faster than on
unmulched soil. Soil under black plastic may get too warm if used
in the hot summer. Do not use clear plastic, since light will pene-
trate and cause weeds to grow under it.
Ordinarily, plastic should be put down before planting. First,
rows should be prepared and fertilized when the soil has good
moisture. Plastic should be covered over the row and the edges
covered with soil. Seeds may be planted or plants set through slits
in the plastic. The use of trickle or drip irrigation allows use of
plastic mulch on difficult to wet soils such as deep sands and
rolling terrain. With this technique a watering line is placed be-
neath the plastic to provide constant moisture in the root zone.

Some of the taller growing plants and vine crops will need a
support of some kind to hold them erect.
To support pole beans and other similar plants, set 6-foot posts
every 12-15 feet in the row and drive stakes about 12 feet from
either end of the row. Stretch wire between the posts at top and
bottom, extending the top wire beyond the end poles and fastening
it to the stakes to serve as guy wires. Weave string between the top
and bottom wires to support the plants.
Shorter plants such as peas can be supported in the same way,
using 3- to 4-foot poles. If available, cut brush stuck in the ground
along the row will serve as a satisfactory support for such crops.
If the tomato plants are to be staked, use stakes 11/2 inches in
diameter and 6 feet long. Drive the stakes before the plants are set.
Space them 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. As the
plant starts to grow, remove the small side branches (suckers) as
they appear so only one or, at most, two stems are allowed to
develop. Don't remove leaves on the main stem. The side branches
(suckers) emerge where the leaf joins the stem; whereas the fruit-
ing cluster emerges on the stems between leaf or node.
Although it is possible, with proper care, to produce more per-

ure 33. Trickle irrigation provides a way to
:er and fertilize beneath plastic mulch.
Figure 34. Tall vining crops like pole beans re-
quire a trellis support for proper training.

feet fruits and to get an earlier crop if they are staked, the produc-
tion of tomatoes per plant is less than when they are not staked.


A short period of dry weather may reduce the yield and lower
the quality of the vegetables, and a long drought may result in a
total failure of many gardens. Vegetable crops grow best when
they receive about /2 to 1 inch of water each week as rain or
irrigation. Whether it will be profitable to irrigate depends on how
easy it is to get water to the garden.

Figure 36. Pruning a tomato plant me;
removing the "suckers" which arise at

Figure 35. Indeterminate varieties of to-
mato should be staked (or trellised), tied, and

Figure 37. Wilting is one sure sign
plants need water. If soil moisture is ade-
quate, check for root damage.

Figure 38. Overhead sprinkling is the
most popular method of watering gar-

If water is available from a hose you may water the entire
garden once every 7 to 10 days when less than 1 inch of rain falls
during that period. Except for seeds that are difficult to start in dry
weather, such as carrots and lettuce, water only once every 7 to 10
days and then heavy enough to wet the soil to a depth of 6 to 8
inches. This takes approximately 5/6 gallon of water to each square
foot of garden, or from 90 to 120 gallons for a garden no larger
than the average size room. One should know how much water is
being applied. This can be done by placing two or three straight-
sided cans in the area being watered. After checking to see how
long the sprinkler must run to apply 1 inch of water, you may
estimate the sprinkler running time when irrigating the garden.
If land slopes gently and the soil is not too sandy, water may
be applied to one end of the rows and allowed to flow down the
middles to the far end of the rows.

A porous hose through which water soaked has long been a
choice method of irrigating gardens. But these old soaker hoses
were heavily constructed and operated at 60-70 psi water pressure,

making them more expensive, more cumbersome, and more
water-wasteful than the new trickle watering tapes. Gardeners
now can obtain low pressure (3-5 psi) and low gallonage (1/3
gpm/100 ft.) trickle irrigation tapes or lines which offer these ad-
vantages to overhead sprinkling: (1)-conserves water,
(2)-conserves energy necessary to supply the water,
(3)-constantly waters root zone only, thus reducing weed growth
in row middles, (4)-keeps leaves dry, helping reduce diseases,
(5)-avoids washing dusts and sprays from leaves, (6)-allows
placement of water and soluble fertilizers under plastic mulch, and
(7)-lets gardener work in garden while watering.
Trickle irrigation systems vary according to manufacturers'
designs, but generally they can be connected directly to the garden
hose by simple techniques. Trickle lines are placed between two
rows of vegetables growing on a single bed, or closely adjacent
(3-4") to a single row. By merely turning a faucet handle, an entire
garden can be easily and efficiently watered with this innovative
method. Or, in cases where a faucet is not located directly at the
garden site, a tank such as a 55-gallon oil drum may be filled with
water which is then applied by gravity flow through a trickle irri-
gation system (see Figure 40).

Figure 40. Irrigating gardens in remote areas may be accomplished by
"barrel-trickle" technique.

Figure 39. Trickle-a splendid, new,
water-conserving way to irrigate your

I- -- -.


-, -
*.#"-' *T
M4r -~ _i



Nematodes are round, worm-shaped microscopic animals, sev-
eral kinds of which are present in almost all Florida soils. Many of
these are plant parasitic. One of the most damaging to vegetables
is the root-knot nematode. This pest enters the root tissue and
feeds, causing galls, root swelling, growth stunting, plant wilting,
and sometimes death of the plant. On fleshy roots and under-
ground tubers, cracking, splitting, and pimply bumps may result.
There are other nematodes, such as sting and stubby root, which
also attack vegetables, causing roots to be stunted and stubby
looking. Some kinds of vegetables such as okra, tomatoes, beans, and
cucumbers appear to be more sensitive than others to nematodes in-
jury, but most all vegetables are attacked to a certain degree.
Nematode-resistant claims are made for some varieties of vegetables,
but often without proper testing under Florida conditions. Since
nematodes may be reduced in numbers when a favorable host plant is
not present, planting such resistant cover crops as Crotalaria
spectabilis, velvet beans, or running conch (White Acre) peas will help
in control.
Soil treatment with chemicals two to three weeks before plant-
ing is the best means of controlling nematodes. Some chemicals not
only control nematodes, but also other soil pests such as diseases
(wilts, damping-off, and root-rots), weeds, and occasionally insects.
Table 5 will help in choosing a chemical nematicide or all-
purpose fumigant. Be sure to check the container label for those
vegetables cleared for treatment, and for the required waiting
period between application and planting.
For most vegetables, a waiting period of two to three weeks is
required for most chemicals except DBCP. For many vegetables, it
can be applied at time of planting or seeding. For sensitive to-
matoes and beans, wait seven days after application before plant-
ing. Planting very sensitive vegetables including onions, garlic,
Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and peppers where DBCP
has been applied recently may result in plant injury. DBCP is
available in granular form; only fresh granules should be used
since volatilization rapidly reduces effectiveness.
Before applying fumigants, make sure the garden plot is prop-
erly prepared in seed-bed condition. Then, open a furrow 6 to 8

inches deep, either at 12 inch intervals or at each row center. A
quart jar with two holes in the lid is a simple tool for applying the
chemicals. Pour into the jar the amount of chemical required to
treat 100 feet of row. Finish filling the jar with water if using
DBCP or SMDC, or fill with kerosene if the other chemicals are
used. Walking at a steady pace, dribble the liquid into the furrow;
cover and tamp with a rake; then keep the soil surface wet for a
few days. A gas tight plastic cover placed over the treated area for
seven days will greatly increase the effectiveness of the all-purpose
fumigants. Allow two weeks for aeration after removal of the plas-
tic before planting. Caution: Do not breathe the fumes or allow the
materials to contact the skin.

Table 5: Soil Fumigants for In-The-Row Pest Control

Fumigant Trade Name Amount/100
ft. of row

Ethylene dibromide Dowfume W-85 3.0 tblsp.
(EDB) Soilbrom 85
Dichloroproenes D-D pint
Dichloropropanes Vidden D
Dibromo-Chloropropane Nemagon 50% 2.3 tblsp.
(DBCP) Nemagon 6(0% 2.0 tblsp.
Nemagon 70Y/ 1.8 tblsp.
Sodium N-methyl Vapam 1-2 pints
dithiocarbamate Fume V
Chlorinated hydrocarbons Vorlex / pint
+ methyl isothiocyanate

Many insects attack garden crops. Unless controlled, they
seriously lower the yields and quality of vegetables. In extreme
cases, they may destroy an entire crop.
Most insects are readily controlled after they appear on the
plants, and the home gardener should learn to recognize and watch
for them. It is best to control them promptly. Serious trouble often
results from allowing insects to develop in large numbers on plants
which are left in the garden after harvesting is completed. Remove
these plants soon after harvesting. Insects pass through three or

four stages in their development. True bugs such as aphids and the
harlequin bug go through only three stages: egg, nymph, adult.
The nymph looks like the adult but is smaller and wingless.
Most insects such as beetles, flies, and moths pass through four
stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. For example, the moth lays an
egg that hatches into a cutworm. Then the full grown cutworm

Figure 41. Cabbage loopers have left
very little of this cabbage for the gar-
dener. Insects just might be the greatest
adversary for the Florida gardener.

Figure 42. Insects pass through three or
four stages in their development.

changes into the pupal stage. Within a week in warm weather a
new moth will emerge from the pupa, and the cycle begins again.

Hand-Picking Insects
In small gardens, hand-picking is a practical way to control
such insects as bean beetle, cabbage worm, tomato hornworm,
squash bug, cucumber beetle, harlequin bug, and Colorado potato
beetle. Many of these insects are on the underside of the leaves.
You may easily crush egg masses and clusters of newly hatched
insects on the leaves by squeezing or rubbing them between your
thumb and forefinger. This method works fairly well also against
the numerous ,mall-bodied aphids, or plant lice, that cluster on

small shoots. You may crush the larger insects or pick them off or
cut them with an old pair of scissors and kill them. Bean beetles
and potato beetles drop readily when disturbed and can be col-
lected more rapidly by slapping the plants sharply with your hand
or with a wooden paddle to jar them into a wide pan. Although
hand-picking is not practicable for all insects and is laborious, it is
surprisingly effective if done persistently.
Beneficial Insects
A few kinds of beneficial insects abound in Florida gardens to
help destroy insect pests. For example, the lady beetle feeds on
aphids. But to depend on them solely is to invite disaster, espe-
cially in the late spring and summer. Many gardeners attempt to
purchase adult lady beetles and praying mantis eggs for release in
their gardens. Such action has not proven too satisfactory, since
these predators are not restricted to the garden nor are they able to
eliminate enough of the pest.

Most insects may be controlled after an early discovery of their
presence on the garden plants.
Materials used to control insects are known as insecticides. In
the average size garden, the use of insecticides is the best way to
control most insect pests. Insecticides may be applied to the plants
in the form of a dust or dry powder by a duster, or are diluted in
water as a spray and applied with a sprayer. For dusting, the
insecticides come already diluted to the proper strength
with talc or some other powdered material and are ready for use.
For spraying, the insecticides are sold in concentrated liquid or
powder form to be mixed with water in the proper proportion

Figure 43. While not 100% effective,
dusting is the simplest method of con-
trolling insects for most gardeners.



5% 4% or 5% 2% 1%
Sevin Malathion Diazinon Rotenone1
Aphids ............................... X X -
Armyworms................... X X
Budworms....................... X -
Cabbage worms2 ............. X X X X
Colorado potato beetle...... X -
Cucumber beetle.............. X X -
Earworms........................ X -
Fleabeetle ......................... X X
Fruit, horn, pinworms...... X X
Leaf-hopper....................... X X X X
Leaf-roller....................... X X X X
Melon, pickle worms ........ X X X
Mexican bean beetle......... X X X
Pameras .......................... X X X -
Pea weevils..................... X X X -
Pepper weevils.................. - X -
Red spiders...................... X X -
Stink bugs....................... X X X -
Thrips.............................. X X X -
Leaf miners4 ................... - X -
'Rotenone gives satisfactory control of many of the above pests when infesta-
tions are light, but may be less effective than other recommended materials.
2Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacterial preparation which is highly effective
against cabbage worms.
3Dusting sulfur and Kelthane may be used for red spider control.
4Where diazinon is not effective, dimethoate may give good results on leafmin-

before applying. Dusting is probably more common than spray-
ing for control of most insects in the home gardens, and evening appli-
cations are generally preferable. If the materials listed in Table 6 are
used as sprays, follow the directions on the insecticide container.
A suggested general-purpose insecticide spray for insects of
vegetables is one containing malathion or diazinon plus Sevin or
methoxychlor. Many ready-prepared general purpose sprays and
dusts may be purchased and used according to label directions.
Combination dusts containing an insecticide and fungicide
may be purchased, and are acceptable where a combined insecti-
cide-fungicide is needed throughout the season. They are especially
useful on tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and melons. Dusts contain-
ing an insecticide like malathion or sevin and a fungicide like
zineb are available under various trade names and are the safest
and most effective materials for combined insect and disease con-


Chlordane may be applied to the soil surface as a 5% dust or as
a 1/2 to 2% bait for the control of ants, cutworms, grasshoppers,
and mole crickets (or the dust may be directed on the insects as
needed). Chlordane is sometimes included in general garden fer-
tilizers and may offer some measure of control of insects and
Where slugs are a problem, use a slug bait containing metal-
dehyde. Slugs resemble snails without their shells.


Many foliar diseases of vegetables may be controlled by apply-
ing a foliar fungicide. However, many other disease related prob-
lems such as root rots, damping-off, wilts, and virus mosaics are
not relieved by use of fungicides. For those diseases which are
affected, maneb and zineb are two commonly available fungicides
which give good results on a wide range of vegetables. Other fun-
gicides such as Bravo, Dithane M-45, or Manzate 200 also give
good control of general foliar diseases, but are more limited by the
number of vegetables on which they may be used.
A few specific problems may require the use of more specific
materials. Examples are Captan for fruit rots, basic copper sulfate
for bacterial leaf spots, and wettable sulfur for rust and mildew on
Be sure to check the label usage directions for all precautions.
For fungicides to be effective, they must be applied on a protective
or preventive basis. Apply regularly at weekly intervals, except 3-4
day intervals when disease is evident.
The following cultural practices help to prevent or control dis-
eases in the garden:

(1) Plant disease resistant varieties
(2) Plant seed from disease-free plants
(3) Select disease-free plants
(4) Spade garden early so vegetation has time to rot be-
fore planting
(5) Use a mulch to prevent soil-rots on fruiting vegeta-
(6) Clean up crop refuse early
(7) Plant early in spring to avoid late summer disease
(8) Eliminate disease-harboring weeds
(9) Water in morning so plants dry off rapidly


Use trickle rather than overhead irrigation
Dispose of severely diseased plants
Rotate garden or crops within the garden
Control disease-spreading insects
Use clean potting soil, or bake soil in oven at 180F.
for 1-1V hours

Figure 44. Plant diseases take their toll.

Many insects live and feed mainly on the underside of leaves,
and many plant-disease organisms enter there. To be most effec-
tive, insecticides and fungicides must be applied with equipment
that will cover the under as well as the upper surface of the foliage.
Dusting is increasingly popular because it is much quicker and
easier than spraying; however, spraying is generally more effective
than dusting.

A good duster for the average home gardener is an all-metal
plunger type of hand duster of a 1-quart to preferably 2-quart
capacity. With the extension tube and "underleaf" nozzle, the
undersurface of the foliage may be dusted without stooping. Other

if1usf rFigure 45. The rotary-one of the better
ESWE J'M t dusters.

popular models are rotary operated. Such dusters are a good in-
vestment. Most small dusters do not spread the dust to the under-
surface of the foliage, and many are unsatisfactory in many other
respects. Dual purpose container-applicators are convenient for
very small plots.
Dusting is done when the air is still and preferably when the
plants are wet. The dust is directed upward through the foliage,
and applied in a light, even coating to all surfaces. A pound of dust
properly applied treats about 400 feet of row of average-sized
plants. Since beds are necessary for the pollination of many vege-
tables such as cucumbers, squash, and cantaloupes, do not dust in
the early morning while bee activity is greatest.

The best type of sprayer for an average-sized garden is a com-
pressed air sprayer, equipped with an extension rod and angle
nozzle for spraying the underside of the foliage. Those of 2- to
3-gallon capacity are the most practicable. Fair results can be ob-
tained with the type of hand sprayer that gives a continuous spray
and has a two-way, or adjustable, nozzle to direct the spray up-
ward. This requires working in a stooped position. These hold 1 to
3 quarts of spray. The small, single-action, atomizer type of hand
sprayer, such as those used for household sprays, are unsatisfac-
tory, except possibly for container grown plants. Hose attachment
sprayers are less satisfactory than other types due to their large
droplet size. Do not use household sprays (oil sprays) on your gar-
den plants. A variety of dusters and sprayers are shown in figure
Measuring spoons are useful in measuring the pesticides care-
fully. The material is shaken thoroughly in a closed jar with a
small amount of water before it is put into the sprayer. Wettable
power sprays should be agitated or stirred continuously while

spraying. Emulsions, which turn milky when placed in water, re-
quire some time to settle out and do not need as much agitation.
Compressed-air sprayers are filled to no more than two-thirds
capacity. The water is measured each time, or a measuring stick is
marked with levels for different amounts. Diluted sprays soon lose
strength; therefore, they should be mixed fresh when needed. The
spray is directed upward through the foliage and all surfaces are
wet until they begin to drip. One quart of spray covers about 100
feet of row of average-sized plants. A few drops of household de-
tergent in each quart of spray helps to spread the water for good

Figure 46. Spraying, as with this
compressed-air model, is the most effec-
tive method for applying fungicides.

Figure 47. Here are just some of the '
many models of sprayers and dusters ': .
available. -:

Consider all pesticides as potential poisons, each to be applied
strictly according to manufacturers' precautions and recom-
mendations. Always wash vegetables from the garden thoroughly
before using. Use pesticides only as necessary to control insects
and diseases and where possible stop application during the har-
vesting season.

Store pesticides in their original labeled containers. Keep
them out of the reach of children and other irresponsible people.
Rodents of various kinds damage vegetable crops in Florida.
Salamanders (pocket gophers), moles, and mice cause much injury.
Unlike the mole which only burrows beneath the plant, the sala-
mander eats the plant roots in addition to burrowing. Both
animal's burrowing causes the soil to dry out around the roots.
Mice either work independently or follow the burrows made by
salamanders and moles, destroying newly planted seeds and young
plants. The above pests may be partially controlled by trapping,
using poison baits or gases, or placing repellents in their runs.
However, trapping is probably the quickest and most effective
method of control for salamanders and moles.
Rabbits may be controlled by fencing the garden with 1 inch
mesh poultry wire. Where other animals, such as armadillos,
squirrels, skunks, and raccoons, are damaging the vegetables, it
may be necessary to trap them or shoot them with a .22 caliber
riflle. Chemical repellents may be satisfactory for certain animals.
To prevent birds from damaging fruits and strawberries, special
bird-proof netting is available.


Growing plants without soil has often been called hydroponics.
The name implies that the plants are grown in water. However,
water culture is only one of the many methods employed. All of the
other methods might simply be grouped as "aggregate" culture,
which would include sand culture, gravel culture, and culture
utilizing other soil substitutes such as sawdust, wood shavings and

How Water Culture Works-In water culture, plants are grown
with roots submerged in a nutrient solution. The stem and upper
parts of the plants are held above the solution while the roots are
growing down in the solution (see illustration).
With this system, the main
considerations are suspension of
the plants above the water, pro-
vision of a suitable container,
provision of a suitable nutrient
solution, and proper aeration ofthe
water solution.
Containers for Water
Culture-There are many kinds
of containers that might be
used-a cement or wooden
trough, glass jars, earthenware
crocks, or metal containers. Of
course, these all must be leaf-
proof. Glass containers should be
painted dark on the outside to
keep sunlight from making
chemical changes in the solution
and to prevent the growth of
algae. Leave a narrow strip down
the side unpainted so the level of
the solution can be checked.
Metal and concrete containers
should be painted inside with as-
phalt emulsion to prevent corro-
sion and toxicity to the plants. Figure 48. Water culture.

By: James M. Stephens

Supporting the Plants-A "platform" for planting into and
supporting the plants as they grow will be needed. This is some-
times called the "litter bearer." It is often made of a chicken wire
or hardware cloth (wire) base on which is placed about three inches
of wood shavings, excelsior, or similar material called litter. The
metal wire should be constructed to fit across the top of the con-
tainer and should be painted with asphalt-based paint. The plat-
form and supporting material need to be porous to allow for aera-
tion (see illustration).


Solution Tank/ Armir
Figure 49. Aerated solution tank.

Styrofoam has also been suggested as a means of stabilizing
the plants above the solution. Plants are inserted into holes in the
floating styrofoam. Holes should be large enough to avoid constric-
tion of stems at maturity. Cotton or other material may be used as
shims in the holes around the stems. The tops of heavy or cumber-
some plants need to be further supported by trellising. Punch holes
at random in the styrofoam to allow for better aeration.
Aeration-Leave about one inch of air space between the litter
and the solution for young plants. As plants grow, allow 2 or 3
inches below the litter. Lack of oxygen in the water and resulting
growth impairment may occur unless air is pumped through the
solution with a pump, compressed air or other equipment. Bubbles
should be spaced 1/2 to 1 inch apart as they rise through the solu-
tion. Aerators normally used to keep fish alive in bait wells or
aquariums are suitable for small units.
Nutrient Solution for Water Culture-There is no one ideal
nutrient solution. Any good solution will contain all of the essen-

tial elemental nutrients needed for plant growth. The sources and
amounts of these nutrients will vary from one suggested solution
to another, but are commonly available as commercial fertilizer
and chemically pure salts. Along with the many formulae sug-
gested, there is a variety of ready-to-use solutions on the market.
Most all of these combinations give fair to excellent results when
used as directed.
With any solution, the composition changes as the plants grow
and utilize the nutrients. Therefore, care and attention must be
given to controlling the content, either by additions of certain in-
gredients as needed, or by changing the solution completely from
time to time. Since frequent testing is necessary to determine
which nutrients have gotten out of balance, it is easier for most
just to change the solution completely.

Amount for 25 gallons
of solutions

Salt Grade Nutrients ounces tablespoons
Potassium phosphate Technical Potassium 1/2 1
(monobasic) Phosphorus
Potassium nitrate Fertilizer Potassium 2 4 (of pow-
Nitrogen dered salt)
Calcium nitrate Fertilizer Calcium 3 7
Magnesium sulfate Technical Magnesium 1 1/2 4

Some elements are required in very small or trace amounts
and must be added to the above solution. The following formula
will provide a satisfactory solution for this purpose (Table 8).

In a small setup, the nutrient solution can be mixed in small
containers and added by hand as needed. At the beginning, the
container is filled with solution almost to the level of the litter.
Then, at predetermined intervals, the old solution is thrown out
and new solution added. The frequency and number of changes of


Amount of Amount to
water to add use for
Salt to 1 tsp. 25 gal.
(All chemical grade) Nutrients of salt of solution
Boric acid, powdered Boron 1/2 gallon 1/2 pint
Manganese chloride Manganese 1 1/2 gallons 1/2 pint
(MnC2 4H20) Chlorine
Zinc sulfate Zinc 2 1/2 quarts 1/2 teaspoon
(ZnS04O7H20) Sulfur
Copper sulfate Copper 1 gallon 1/5 teaspoon
(CuS04 5H20) Sulfur
Iron tartrate Iron 1 quart 1/2 cup
(or chelated Fe330)
Molybdenum trioxide Molybdenum 1 quart 1 ounce

the solution will depend on size of plants, how fast they are grow-
ing, and size of the container. Just as a starting point for begin-
ners, solution changes might be made at weekly intervals for the
first few weeks, then bi-weekly for older plants. Should the water
level get too low between changes, add only water until time to
change solutions. Adjustment of the pH of the water may be neces-
sary to keep it within an adequate plant growing range of 6.0-6.5.
This means testing with indicator paper and adding sulfuric acid if
needed to lower pH or an alkaline material such as sodium hydrox-
ide to raise pH.

Of all the forms of hydroponic culture, perhaps gavel culture
is most often used by commercial operators in Florida. However,
gravel is only one example of a solid material substitute for soil or
water. The use of such solid media is generally referred to as
aggregate culture. This technique has good possibilities for home
gardeners as well.
Crops are grown in beds which are really shallow tanks or
troughs that serve as the standard type of container for the gravel.
The gravel, sand or other aggregates are used much as soil is used
in conventional plantings-to provide anchorage and support for
the plants. The nutrient solution, or dry fertilizer for that matter,

may be applied in any one of several fashions: (1)-flooded from the
bottom up; (2)-slopped or drenched on the surface; (3)-trickled
onto the Surface; or (4)-scattered dry on the surface and watered
into the root zone. Whenever it is to be applied from the bottom,
fairly coarse materials such as gravel should be used so that the
medium will flood and drain easily. Sand usually is not coarse
enough for bottom feeding, but works well with top feeding. Where
the gravel is flooded with a nutrient solution at regular intervals,
the leak proof bed should be about 3-feet wide and any convenient
length, though 100 feet is common (see illustration).

Figure 50. Aggregate culture.

Such a trough could support a double row of tomatoes. For
single rows, beds 15-18" wide would be adequate. Usually, it is
made of plastic-lined wood, fiberglass, plastic or poured concrete
with sides about 12 inches high and with a V bottom so the center
is 13 to 14 inches deep. If concrete is not lined, the inside should be
painted to prevent chemical injury from the concrete and chemicals
reacting. Thus, a half-tile or similar device through the center of
the bed will feed or drain the solution rapidly from one end of the
bed to the other. There must be a pipe connection to the lowest

point in the V at one end of the trough with a little slope toward
that end. The slope should be precise, without low areas to impede
drainage. The nutrient solution can then be pumped into the
trough through that pipe and then drained out again when the
pump is shut off. Such flooding and drainage should be accom-
plished within a 10-30 minute period, and at intervals of 1, 2, or
more times daily. By personal inspection, it can be determined how
often applications are needed to maintain adequate moisture in the
root zone.
Some of the many combinations of aggregate materials which
have been tried successfully with tomatoes are as follows:
(1)-sand; (2)-1 part sand to 1 part vermiculite; (3)-1 part sand
to 1 part rice hulls; (4)-1 sand to 1 redwood bark; (5)-1 sand to 1
pine bark; (6)-1 sand to 1 peat moss; (7)-1 sand to 1 perlite; and
(8)-1 or 2 sand to 1 peat moss. In most cases, sand alone which
has been screened for proper size has been as satisfactory as sand
amended with other materials. Sawdust and wood shavings are
also acceptable.

With aggregate culture, one may use the same nutrient solu-
tion as prepared for water culture discussed earlier. Various tech-
niques might be used to apply the solution to the plants. For larger
troughs, a pump is often used to fill the trough to within an inch of
the top. When the pump is shut off, the liquid solution drains back
into the supply tank leaving the aggregate medium moist.
A simple, easy-to-construct system for small units would con-
sist of a 5-gallon bucket of solution supported by a pulley and
attached by a hose to the aggregate tank. At feeding time, the
bucket would be raised above the height of the tank so that the
solution would flow by gravity into the medium. Then, when low-
ered the excess solution would drain back into the bucket (see
A detailed plan for a backyard hydroponic bench is available
from the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Gainesville (ask for
Job 1043). This feeding technique is best suited to porous aggregates
such as gravel; some difficulty might be experienced where organic
such as peat are included. With organic mixes, and for very small
containers such as cans, buckets, and hampers, solutions could be
sloshed on top of the aggregate medium by hand at the required

Figure 51. A simple, easily-constructed gravity-feed system.

A rather popular technique is to pre-mix the nutrients into the
aggregate as the medium is being prepared using commercial grade
fertilizer. One especially popular mix is the Cornell Peatlite Mix,
listed here for the preparation of one cubic yard of mix:

(1) Shredded sphagnum peat moss 11 bushels
(2) Horticultural vermiculite 11 bushels
(3) Dolomite 12 pounds
(4) Calcium sulfate (gypsum) 5 pounds
(5) Superphosphate(20%) 2 pounds
(6) Calcium orpotassium nitrate 1 pounds
(7) Iron (chelated Fe330) 1 ounce
(8) Fritted Trace Elements 6 ounces

As the plants grow in the prepared mix, it is necessary to add
more nutrients from time to time. Again, any one of several prepara-
tions could be utilized satisfactorily for this purpose, but one of the
easiest-to-prepare solutions results from the use of commercially
available soluble fertilizer. Two suggested solutions for weekly feed-
ings are made with 20-20-20 analysis fertilizer at 1 pound /100 gallons
and 25-5-20 at 1 pound per 100 gallons. A suggested schedule for their
use would be to use the 20-20-20 for the first three weeks, followed by

the 25-5-20 the rest of the way. Where tomatoes are the primary crop,
substitute calcium nitrate for the complete fertilizer about every two
weeks at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 gallons of water to insure ade-
quate calcium and reduce blossom-end rot.

From the previous discussion, it should be apparent that hyd-
roponics generally is a complicated technique for growing one's own
vegetables. However, one variation that has caught on with even the
most novice gardener is referred to as "minigardening." It involves
growing plants in containers, utilizing either a prepared mixture of a
soil substitute and fertilizer, or aggregate culture.
Minigardening is practical for those who do not have sufficient
yard space for an outdoor garden. Even persons living in apartments
and condominiums can grow at least a few vegetables by planting a
Areas suitable are along fences and in fence corners, in and
around flower beds, adjacent to walks and drives, near the foundation
of the house, on patios, porches and balconies, and even on roof-tops.
Such small-scale container culture can be both practical and orna-
mental if properly and imaginatively done (see illustration).

Figure 52. Container gardening is fun for
Small ages.

Figure 53. Pots make excellent contain-
ers for lettuce.

*^i .^ r
r4r f7

Containers and Crops Best Suited

A wide assortment of containers might be used, ranging from
hanging baskets and flower pots to tubs, bean hampers, and refuse
cans. Most any container is suitable as long as it is sufficiently
durable and large enough to hold the fully-grown plant or plants. In
this respect, gardeners are limited only by their imagination. An old
bathtub might yield the prize tomatoes of the neighborhood, while an
old plastic beach ball cut in half could become an excellent herb
Here are some examples for containers and crops adapted to
Pots, cans, milk jugs: Chives, green onions, herbs, radishes, parsley, andlettuce.

Concrete blocks (hollow): Bush beans (2 or 3 plants in each section), parsley, herbs,
Plastic bags (durable): Depending on bag size, large tomatoes or small plants.
Bushel baskets & 5-Gallon trash cans: Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, pumpkins,
cucumbers, cantaloupes, and smaller vegetables.
Pyramid (constructed beds):** Strawberries, radishes, lettuce, onions, chives, herbs,
carrots, parsley, chard, cabbage.
Barrels and drums: Strawberries (set plants in holes in sides of barrel and along top.)
**In Dade County, where rockland soil is prevalent, the entire garden might best be
grown in constructed beds.

Figure 54. Baskets, buckets and bags become minigardens.

Using the Containers-Metal containers would best be painted
on the inside with ashalt paint, and clear glass containers on the
outside with dark paint. Be sure to punch holes at intervals 1" above
bottom of container to allow for drainage of excess moisture. Baskets
could be lined with plastic film to keep soil mix from spilling through
Fill container with growth medium. Use any of the prepared
mixes already mentioned, or a soil substitute such as sawdust, wood
shavings, vermiculite, or even just good garden soil. Keep in mind
that the lighter materials enable easy movement of containers.
In addition to the more detailed prepared mix already outlined
under Aggregate Culture, a first-time minigardener might start with
either one of the following two more simple mixtures:
(a) Thoroughly mix: 1 bushel of vermiculite
1 bushel of peat moss
1 cups of dolomite
1 cup of 6-8-8 fertilizer/with trace elements
(b) Thoroughly mix: 1 bushel of sand or garden soil
1 bushel of peat, cow manure, or well de-
posed composed compost
1/4 cups of dolomite
1 cup of 6-8-8 fertilizer/with trace elements

In general, the more porous growth media, such as sand and
gravel, most closely approximate hydroponic culture. These tend to
dry out fast and do not hold nutrients for very long. Therefore,
frequent plant feedings are necessary. Normally, the nutrient solu-
tion must be added and drained in the containers once or twice a day.
During especially hot, dry weather, the aggregate may need more
than two drenchings daily, sometimes as many as five. Use either
fertilizer solutions made with commercially available soluble fer-
tilizer (see aggregate culture), or the water culture solution.
Soil substitute mixes which contain ample organic materials,
and which have fertilizer included in the mixing process, also will
need additional fertilizer from time to time, but at much less fre-
quent intervals than with the porous sand or gravel culture. Once
every week or every two weeks may be sufficient. Use either soluble
fertilizer, or dry common garden fertilizer, applied on the soil surface
and watered thoroughly into the root zone. Don't apply too much or
fertilizer burn will result. Usually, 1 level teaspoonful per square foot

of soil surface is adequate at each feeding. Where ready-mixed solu-
ble fertilizers are purchased, follow label directions for application.


Prompt harvesting at the proper stage of maturity insures
good quality and more uses for the crop. Have plans made in ad-
vance for any extra vegetables.
The family can have an abundance of nutritious vegetables
practically all year by canning or freezing the garden surplus.
Proper freezing retains the color, flavor, and food value of most
vegetables better than canning. However, some vegetables such as
beets and tomatoes are most suitable to canning. Also, vegetables
that are usually eaten raw, such as lettuce, should not be frozen.
Can or freeze only high-quality vegetables. The quality of veg-
etables cannot be improved by canning or freezing. However, care-
less or improper methods may lower the quality of the canned or
frozen product.
For best results in canning and freezing vegetables, follow the
directions carefully in various pamphlets and publications avail-
able from the Florida Cooperative Extension Service and the
The following suggestions should be helpful:
1. Crops that are at the right stage for eating fresh are ideal for
canning or freezing.
2. Harvest in the early morning while vegetables are still cool.
3. Remove all overmature, bruised, diseased, and insect dam-
aged vegetables.
4. Wash vegetables thoroughly, using plenty of cool running
5. Keep vegetables cool by placing them in refrigerator or under
crushed ice.
6. Can or freeze vegetables as soon as possible after harvesting.
Some vegetables lose much of their quality even in 2 or 3
hours after harvest. The sooner they are canned or frozen, the
better the product will be.
Varieties recommended for freezing include: beans, snap
-Seminole, Tendergreen, Contender, Topcrop, and Wade; beans,
pole-U. S. No. 4 (191); beans, lima-Fordhook 242, Concentrated,
and Henderson; broccoli-Early Green Sprouting; carrots

-Imperator, Touchon, and Red Cored Chantenay; corn, sweet
-Ioana, Golden Cross Bantam, and Seneca Chief; mustard
-Florida Broad Leaf; okra-Clemson Spineless; peas-Little Mar-
vel and Emerald; peas, Southern-Blackeye, and Conch (White
Acre); spinach-Virginia Savoy; strawberries-Florida 90 and
Tioga; turnips--Japanese Foliage (Shogoin). Other varieties listed
in the planting guide (Table 4) may meet home freezing require-
Remove all cut, bruised, and diseased potatoes immediately
after harvest. Place sound potatoes in boxes or crates and store in a
cool, dry, dark place. Do not store potatoes where they will freeze.
Potatoes, Sweet
Dig sweet potatoes before frost and when the soil is relatively
dry. Handle them carefully to avoid bruising and carry im-
mediately to the curing house. Remove all diseased potatoes before
curing. Place the potatoes in crates or other containers and stack
so air can circulate freely. Wet the roots thoroughly then cover
with plastic. If possible, keep temperature 80 to 85 degrees
Fahrenheit and humidity 80-85% for a 3-7 day period; then, lower
the temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for storage.
Sweet potatoes may be stored in a hill or bank. Select a well-
drained area, level it off, and put down 6 to 8 inches of straw. Place
a vent stack in the center to allow moist air to escape. Place 15 to
20 bushels of potatoes around stack in a cone shape. Cover with
straw and 4 to 6 inches of soil. Dig a shallow trench around the hill
to carry off rainwater. Potatoes keep better if the hill has a shelter
over it.
Harvest onions after the tops have fallen over. Spread them in
thin layers in a dry, well-ventilated place for a week or more. Then
either tie in bunches and hang them up or remove the tops and
place the onions in slotted crates or boxes. Regardless of the
method used, store onions in a cool, dry, ventilated place.
Before frost injures tomatoes, they may be stored for several
weeks if you pick mature, green fruits and spread in a single layer
in a relatively cool place. Another way to store tomatoes is to pull
up the entire plant and hang it by the roots in a cool place.

Dried Beans and Peas
Allow beans and peas to mature thoroughly on the plant. Be-
fore storing, spread them in a dry, ventilated place and allow to
dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Then shell or thresh and store where mice,
rats, and insects cannot damage them.


Detailed information on each major crop regarding varieties,
dates, and rates of planting, amount of seed to buy and average
yields are given in the planting guide. The following discussion of
crops is by no means complete; however, an attempt is made to
mention useful information that was not included in the previous
sections of this bulletin.
Amaranth, also called tampala, is a popular cooking green in
the tropics, but is only rarely grown in Florida gardens. Grow
amaranth in warm weather; plant and cultivate as you would mus-
tard greens.
Artichokes, globe
Globe artichokes are perennial, thistle-like plants whose
flower buds are the edible parts. This 4 to 5 feet tall plant is not
well adapted to Florida's climate, as it does best in a frost-free area
with cool, foggy summers. Our hot weather causes buds to open
quickly and destroys tenderness of the edible parts. Globe ar-
tichokes are grown from sprouts of root parts, set 6 to 8 inches deep
and 6 feet apart.

Figure 55. The globe artichoke is not
well adapted to Florida.

js Figure 56. Jerusalem artichoke was
called girasolee" by American Indians
S who grew it as a staple food for centuries.

Artichokes, Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Artichoke is
grown in some Florida home gar-
dens, but it is better adapted to
a more northern climates. This is a
tuberous, perennial vegetable
eaten like potatoes. It is grown as
an annual, with propagation and
culture similar to potatoes.

Asparagus is not well adapted to Florida. For good spear
production, a dormant period is required. Such dormancy is nor-
mally the natural result of drought or cold weather. Since Florida
has neither in severity, growth of asparagus is more or less con-
tinuous, resulting in weak spindly spears.
For gardeners wishing to try asparagus anyway, plant the
seed or set out crowns early in the spring. Set crowns 6 inches deep
and 12 inches apart. For trial, it is suggested that ferns (tops) be
cut back to the ground twice a year (January and August).
Many kinds and varieties of
beans may be grown in Florida
gardens, some year-around and '
others seasonally. Most all beans i

Figure 57. Florida's seasons are neither
cold nor dry enough for the dormancy re-
quired by asparagus.

Figure 58. Limas are just one of the
many kinds of beans grown statewide in
home gardens.

may be produced in frost free areas in the winter; pole and limas
make fair growth in the summer. Adaptable kinds include the com-
mon bush snap, wax, bush lima, pole lima, pole, sword, and the dry
As the name implies, pole beans require a trellis or simliar
support for the trailing vines. Lima beans require a longer and
warmer growing season than do snap beans. Bush limas mature
earlier than the pole type.
The sword and related jack bean produce large, broad 10-14
inch long pods which are edible in a young tender stage. Seeds are
usually white or red.
Dry beans includes a wide assortment of varieties, such as Pea
(Navy), Great Northern, Pinto, Cranberry, Kidney, Black Spanish,
Jacobs cattle and Soldier. Regular garden beans may be dried and
used as a dry bean.
Mung beans are a special kind of dry beans whose germinated
seeds yield bean sprouts. While production of dry beans has been
limited in Florida due to excessive rainfall in the drying season, a
gardener might grow them in the spring or late fall just as he
would regular beans. About 120 days from seeding are required for
beans to become dry enough to harvest.
With all beans, biggest problems are poor stands due to seed
and stem rots, a leaf disease called rust, and in north Florida,
Mexican bean beetle damage.
Beets are easily grown, yield heavily, and are high in vitamins
and iron content, especially when the tops are included for greens.
They are a hardy green and will not be injured by light frost and
will stand some freezing. Some gardeners have difficulty getting
beet seeds to sprout. Beet seeds
require ample moisture for
germination, which could help
explain the problem.

'. Broccoli is a hardy, easily
f grown, highly nutritious crop that
is rapidly gaining in popularity
"to with gardeners. It is similar to
S' J cauliflower, except that it is green
S and has a more open head. Unlike
cauliflower, sprouting broccoli
Continues to bear throughout the
Season and requires no blanching.

Plants may be started in plant boxes, cold frames, or hotbeds 4
to 6 weeks before they are to be planted in the garden.
The edible part of broccoli is the immature flower buds and
stems, along with the tender leaves. These heads are clusters of
green flower buds, and should be cut, with 6 to 8 inches of stalk,
before the buds open. After the main cluster is cut, small lateral
clusters will continue to develop throughout the growing season.
The plants are very hardy planted in the fall, and they will usually
continue to develop throughout the winter and early spring
months. Its general culture requirements are similar to those of

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are not con-
sidered easy to grow, but they
may be grown successfully in
Florida. They may be harvested
for a considerable period by pick-
ing the lower sprouts as soon as
they become large enough. The
leaf below each sprout is usually
broken off so the sprout may
be picked conveniently. Cool
weather is necessary for de-
velopment of solid sprouts.
This crop has the same cul-
ture requirements as cabbage.
See Cabbage below.

Figure 60. Brussels sprouts require
cool weather for solid sprouts.


Cabbage is a vegetable high in vitamin content, especially vita-
min C. By a wise selection of varieties and by planting at the proper
time you may have fresh cabbage for several months.
Cabbage is a hardy vegetable that is easily grown in the cooler
A wide selection of cabbage varieties are available which do well
in Florida gardens. These include red, savoy, and regular green
heading types. Cabbage is a cool season crop, so must be started from
seeds or transplants in fall or winter months. Major problems are
leaf-feeding worms and diseases.
Cabbage needs abundant moisture and fertilizer, and will not do
well on a very acid soil. Where the soil is highly acid, below pH 5.5,

4 .4

Figure 61. For a different cabbage treat,
try crinkle-leaf savoy.
Figure 62. Tapioca pudding is made from A.
cassava root starch. T

lime can generally be used to advantage. Cultivation should be shal-
low because a large portion of the cabbage roots develop near the
surface of the soil and run almost horizontally across the rows.

Carrots, an excellent source of vitamin A, are used almost daily
by the housewife. They are easy to grow and store, and only a small
space is required to grow a season's supply.
Carrots, like other root crops, thrive best during a cool season
and in a deep and fertile soil, well supplied with moisture. They are
hardy and may be planted any time during the winter months. See
planting guide, Table 4, for specific planting dates for the different
Carrots seeds are slow to germinate, and need careful attention
in planting to assure a uniform stand. In dry weather the seedbed
may be sprinkled every evening for from 10 days to 2 weeks to insure
rapid germination and a uniform stand. Another way to get a better-
than-usual stand of carrots is to make a furrow approximately 2
inches deep. Sow the seed in the furrow and cover with /2 inch of soil.
Boards or paper laid over the furrows until the seed germinate give
still further protection against drought injury.

Cassava, also called manioc and yuca, is an important food crop
in the tropics where it is grown for its starchy, tuberous roots. Tapioca
pudding is made from this root starch. It grows to a height of 6-8 feet,
and has large compound leaves palmately divided into seven leaflets.
It is propagated by planting short 10-inch sections of the stems two to
four inches deep at 4-foot spacings. Cassava requires 8 to 11 frost-free
months to produce usable roots.

Cauliflower is a difficult crop to grow. Like cabbage, it thrives
best in cool and moist weather; but unlike cabbage, it will not stand
much freezing or extreme heat. It is sensitive to a soil reaction below
pH 5.6. The young plants may be set in the garden whenever cabbage
is set, for it is only the matured heads that are not resistant to
freezing weather.
Cauliflower must be blanched to get a white head. Blanching is
done by tying the outside leaves together as soon as the curd (head)
has reached a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Examine the heads every day
or two to make sure they do not pass the proper stage of maturity
before harvest. Harvest the curds when they are still compact, not
open and riceyy."

Celery is difficult to grow and is not recommended for the aver-
age home garden. It thrives best when the weather is cool and the
moisture supply is abundant. The soil should be well-drained, fertile,
and well-supplied with humus. The soil reaction should be pH 5.6 or
above because celery is sensitive to highly acid soils.
The seeds may be started in a plant box, cold frame, or hot-bed,
but because of the difficulty in getting plants started most gardeners
prefer to purchase plants. Celery responds well to two or three side-
dressings of nitrate of soda (or equivalent nitrogen from other soluble
forms) at the rate of 1 pound to each 100 feet of row at 3-week
intervals after the plants are set in the garden. Scatter the nitrogen
from 4 to 8 inches away from the row and stir in lightly with a hoe,
rake, or cultivator.

Swiss Chard has large, glossy, dark-green leaves borne on white,
fleshy leaf stalks. Favorite varieties are 'Lucullus,' 'Fordhook Giant',
and the red-leaved 'Rhubarb' variety. All are commonly found
throughout Florida in gardens, both in the winter and in the summer.
Its main use is as a cooking green, and it has ornamental value as a
border annual. Chard may be seeded directly in the garden or trans-
planted. Space plants 6 to 12 inches apart. Harvest outer leaves as
The Chayote, also known as 'vegetable pear', 'mirliton', and
'mango squash', has been grown throughout the state for many years.

Figure 64. 'Michihli' Chinese cabbage
grows well in Florida, but is not a very
popular dish.

-T- Figure 63. Swiss chard is used mainly as
M "-i _.-"- .L.'e r -T a pot-herb.

It is tender, perennial-rooted cucurbit, with climbing vine and leaves
resembling its cousin, the cucumber. The light green, pear-shaped
fruit, which contains a single, flat edible seed, may weigh as much as
two or three pounds.
Some type of trellis or support for the climbing vines is required.
Plant the entire fruit as a seed, spaced 12 feet apart. The stem end of
the fruit is often left slightly exposed, but in colder areas of Florida
growers have found that the fruit should be completely covered with
soil to protect the bud from cold damage. Chayote is used in many
ways-creamed, buttered, fried, stuffed, baked, pickled, or in salads.
Chinese Cabbage
Chinese cabbage, or celery cabbage, grows very well in Florida
gardens. There are several varieties of this upright, cylindrical
shaped green vegetable. Michihli has wide, yellowish green wrap-
around leaves, and is most commonly grown here. Wong Bok and
Pe-Tsai have different leaf shapes. Chinese cabbage is a main ingre-
dient in Chinese cookery, where it is boiled or included in salads.
Chives (see chapter on Herbs)
Citron melon is also known as stock melon and preserving
melon. It should not be confused with the citron of the citrus fruit
family whose peel is candied and often used in fruit cakes. Citron
melons resemble small watermelons. The flesh is white and so tough
that the fruits can be bounced off the floor with only a small chance of
bursting. Due to the close relationship with watermelons, cross-
pollination of the two occurs often. Volunteer citron plants are com-
monly found scattered around old fields and roadsides throughout

Florida. Those wishing to grow them should use cultural practices
similar to watermelons and cantaloupes.

Cocoyam is a general name applying to several species of
Xanthosoma. This vegetable is similar to dasheen (taro), yet dis-
tinctly different. In southern Florida it has been grown in small
patches for many years, and on a limited commercial scale since 1963
to meet the needs of Latin Americans living there.
Cocoyams resemble elephant-ear plants, with large green leaves
about 2 feet wide. Edible tubers are washed and peeled, then baked,
mashed, fried or otherwise used as potatoes. To grow, set tubers on
pieces 3 to 5 inches deep; plant in the spring, as frost will injure.

The collard plant is essentially a cabbage that forms only a large
rosette of leaves instead of a head. It is more resistant to heat than
cabbage and is hardy to cold. The collard is a good crop for both winter
and summer greens in Florida. Collards may be harvested any time
after the plants are large enough by either cutting off the rosette or
picking the older leaves as they mature, leaving the younger, upper
ones to develop. Collards respond well to extra sidedressings with
soluble forms of nitrogen.
Corn Salad
Corn salad, also called lamb's lettuce and fetticus, is a salad
plant, but may also be used as a cooking green. It forms a rather large
rosette of leaves which are spoon shaped, to round, up to 6 inches long.
The vegetable plant is grown in Florida gardens very much like
endive or lettuce.
Both slicing and pickling cucumbers are popular vegetables in
gardens throughout Florida. Since they are very sensitive to cold
injury, spring and fall are the best seasons. They are grown in the

Figure 65. Collard greens-a southern deli-
cacy to some and a staple to others.

winter only in Southern Florida. A common gardener complaint is
that blossoms fall off the plant without setting fruit. Keep in mind
that each vine has both female and male flowers. Male flowers drop
off naturally, and even female flowers may drop unless bee activity is
sufficient for good pollination. Be sure to pick mature fruits from
the vines; those left on will keep vines from setting more fruit.
Garden dandelions are easy to grow in Florida gardens for cook-
ing greens. Culture is similar to lettuce. Grow during the coolest
seasons. Sow seeds shallow, then thin plants to stand 8 to 12 inches
Dasheen is a type of taro which has been a basic food plant in the
orient for 2000 years. The 'Trinidad' variety is most often grown in
Florida. It is similar to the cocoyam already discussed, resembling
elephant ear. Dasheens are planted much like potatoes, except that

the tubers are planted whole, three inches deep, and spaced two feet
apart in four-feet rows. Plant in the spring. They grow throughout
the summer and mature in the fall. The corms and tubers, used like
potatoes, are mealy and have a delicate nutty flavor.

Dill (see Chapter on Herbs)

Figure 68. The dasheen plant resembles
elephant-ear, and is attractive in the

Figure 69. Many cooks spend a lifetime
learning the many uses for eggplant.


Figure 70. Endive is a good substitute for
lettuce in tossed salads.

4' -

Usually six plants will produce all the fruits that will be used by
a family of five. Start eggplant from seed or transplants. Eggplant is
injured by frost, and does best in warm seasons, including the sum-
mer in Florida. Flowers are self-pollinated, but bees are helpful.
Harvest fruits when glossy and shiny. Green or mahogany fruits
indicate over-maturity. White and yellow varieties are also avail-


Endive is handled and used in a similar manner to lettuce, but
some persons prefer it cooked as greens. When the plants have become
large enough, draw the outside leaves together over the head and

fasten them with a string or rubber band. You may use an inverted
berry box instead. Blanching should be done two or three weeks before
the plants are to be used, to remove the bitter flavor.

Fennel (see chapter on Herbs)

The garbanzo bean, or chickpea, is a favored dish of Latins. It is a
low bushy pea-like annual plant with hairy stems, small round
leaflets, and round pods with flattened sides. While seldom grown in
Florida gardens, culture is similar to dry beans. Poorly drained soils
frequently cause poor results. A growing season of 4 to 5 months is
required for seedpods to reach maturity.

Garlic (see chapter on Herbs)

Figure 71. In early Florida times, dried
gourds were commonly seen suspended as

Figure 72. Kohlrabi is easily grown for
the enlarged turnip-like stem just above
the ground.


' Figure 73. Leek resembles the onion, but
S has flat, angled leaves.

Most all of the ornamental, gaily-colored, fancy gourds have long
climbing creeping stems. Since they are so closely related to squashes
and pumpkins, they may be grown similarly in Florida with some
degree of success. Grown on a trellis, some of the common gourds are
Turks Cap, Club, Luffa, Siphon, Calabash pipe, Bird House, Pear,
Apple, Warty Skinned, and Bottle gourds. For the most part, gourds
are not edible; however, some are edible if eaten at an immature
stage, such as the luffa gourd or running okra. The wax gourd, or
Chinese preserving melon, is much preferred as a cooked vegetable.
It is a large (30-40 pounds) melon, which is grown untrellised much
like watermelons.
Horseradish is a hardy perennial usually grown as an annual for
the pungent roots. Horseradish does not grow well in Florida, but
grows best in the northern section of the country, and at the higher
elevations of the tropics. Propagation is by vegetative means, using
side-root cuttings called "sets".
Kale is a hardy crop that belongs to the mustard (cabbage)
family. It grows under the same conditions as cabbage, and tastes
much like it, but it does not form a head. It is a good source of greens in
late fall and early spring, particularly in North Florida.
Kohlrabi is grown for the turnip-like enlarged stem just above
the ground. It is cooked as is cauliflower, and is an excellent vegetable
if used while tender. It is an easily grown and quick-maturing crop.
Kohlrabi must be harvested when between 1 /2 and 3 inches in diame-
ter, or it will become tough and stringy. It is a hardy vegetable and
will grow on a fertile soil with adequate moisture.
Leek forms a thick, fleshy structure like a large green onion
plant. Its leaves are flat in contrast to the round ones of the onion.

Figure 74. Butterhead is a fragile lettuce
represented most often by the Bibb and
Boston varieties. . ..


Leeks should be started from seed in the fall in Florida and grown
very much like the common onion.
Lettuce is a hardy cool-season crop that grows during cool
weather. It is grown on practically all kinds of soil, but does best on a
fertile soil, well supplied with fertilizer and moisture. Lime is sug-
gested if the pH tests below pH 5.6.
The four principal types of lettuce are crisphead, butterhead,
leaf, and romaine. While all four types do best in the cooler months,
crisphead varieties should be tried only during the coolest season.
The leaf varieties grow exceptionally well here in Florida. They are
colorful and decorative as well as excellent in salads. A good variety
of romaine, the upright type, is Parris Island Cos. Other best va-
rieties are listed in Table 4.
Mushroom production on a large scale is too exacting and expen-
sive for the home gardener. Yet, there are many who would like to try
mushroom culture at home as a fascinating hobby. Their best bet is to
buy the ready-prepared trays offered for sale by some seedsmen and
nurserymen. These trays are prepared by commercial mushroom
growers who have composted the manure, pasteurized it, and grown
spawn in the trays. If the directions provided with each tray are
followed carefully, moderate yields can be expected, usually between
1/2 and 1 pound per square foot of tray space. Since mushrooms do not
require light, they can be grown indoors in most any place that can be
kept cool (60'F) and moist (70-80%RH).

Figure 75. For gardeners with plenty of Figure 76. Mustard and turnip greens
space, spring is the best time to grow are favorites both on the table and in the
cantaloupes. garden.
*-^wassF-ssaWs^ "Miiininn ii ri

Muskmelons (Cantaloupes)
Cantaloupes grow very well in Florida gardens when planted
in the early spring. Best sugar and taste are developed when the
fruits mature during the longer days of early summer. They are
attacked by foliar disease and melon worms. Heavy rainfall during
the harvest period results in watery, tasteless fruits and fruit rots.
Other types, such as Casaba, Persian, and Honeydew, are not too
successfully grown due to foliage diseases. Early loss of leaves re-
duces fruit quality. Adpatable varieties of Honeydew are being
researched in Florida.

Good cooking greens for fall through spring.
Okra has about the same hardiness as cucumbers and to-
matoes and may be grown under the same conditions. It thrives on
a fertile well-drained soil. An abundance of quickly available plant
food will stimulate growth and insure a good yield of tender, high
quality pods. Therefore, since okra may grow in the garden from

; Figure 77. Okra will produce during the
hot Florida summer.

spring to fall, it is necessary to sidedress the plants with a soluble
nitrogen carrier approximately every 3 weeks during the growing
As okra is a warm weather vegetable, seed should not be sown
until the soil is warm. The pods should be harvested within a few
days after the flower petals have fallen; if allowed to remain on the

plant too long they will become tough and stringy. Old pods will
also exhaust the plant if allowed to remain on it.
Okra is one of the crops that will produce during the hot sum-
mer weather.
Onions may be grown from seeds, sets, or plants. Time of
planting is very important for bulb formation. Varieties which
grow best in Florida are short-day varieties. Therefore, they must
be started in the fall (August November) so that bulbing is in-
duced by the short days of winter. Subsequent harvest of bulbs
follows in the spring or early summer. Space bulbers 3 to 4 inches
apart. Bulbs need to be thoroughly dried and cured before storing.
Hang up to dry in a hot dry place.
Spring onions, or green onions, may be started fall, winter and
spring. Plant them close and thin as needed.
Multiplier onions are hardy perennial bunching onions which
do not form enlarged bulbs. The shallot is a special form of this
type. Multipliers need to be divided and reset every year.
Parsley (see chapter on herbs)

Parsnips require a longer growing season than do beets and
carrots. The seed should be sown in the fall, and preferably mixed
with radish seed to help mark the row until the parsnips are grow-
ing. To produce a crop of large, smooth roots, parsnips need a deep,
loose soil that is high in humus content and well fertilized. The
quality of parsnips may be low unless they are exposed to low

Peas, Garden (English)
Peas grow best in cool weather and should be planted at the
recommended time. The best way to get a succession of peas is to
plant at the same time three or four varieties requiring different
lengths of time to mature.
Most home gardeners prefer to plant the dwarf varieties of
peas rather than the tall-growing ones, as the dwarf ones need no
brush or wire netting for support.
Since peas stay at the best table quality for only a relatively
short time, harvest them in prime condition and eat or preserve
them as soon as possible after harvest. The higher the tempera-
ture, the more rapidly peas will pass the edible state. Peas,

blanched and quick frozen, may be held in good condition for a year
or more.

Peas, Pigeon
Pigeon pea, or grandul, is seldom grown in home gardens in
Florida. It is much propagated in the tropics for its edible seeds
and pods. The coarse bush is deep rooted, making it adaptable to
our well drained sands. Some of its uses are as human food, fodder,
browse and game plants, and green manure.

Peas, Southern (Edible Cowpeas)
The Southern pea is a highly nutritious vegetable. It may be
eaten in the snap, green shell, or dry seed stage.
Southern peas will thrive on a wide variety of soil types but
will do better on soil free of fusarium wilt and root-knot nematode.
Preparation of the land and fertilization should be the same as for
snap beans. However, where nodulation of the roots is abundant,
the nitrogen needs of the plant will be supplied by the
nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules. If the pH is below 5.5,
liming should be beneficial.
Plant the early crop as soon as there is a reasonable assurance
that a killing frost is no longer likely. The late crop should be
planted about 90 days before the first killing frost in the fall. While
the plants may produce a satisfactory yield during the summer, the
two suggested growing seasons above are more desirable for pro-
ducing peas for canning, freezing, or storing. The low yield in
summer is probably due to excessive vine development and
difficulty of controlling cowpea curculio and other insects.

Figure 79. Southern peas (cowpeas) not only
are high in protein, but make an excellent Figure 80. Keep in mind that ornamental
green manure crop. Two varieties shown, peppers may also be very hot.


Twelve to eighteen plants of peppers should provide ample
supply for salads, sauces, and other uses for a family of five.
The culture of peppers is similar to that oftomatoes. Since they are
tender and require a long season for maximum production, plants
started 6 to 8 weeks before the last killing frost should be set in the
garden after the frost danger has passed. They should be transplanted
with care to prevent checking growth which will reduce production
materially. Irrigation will be beneficial during the dry seasons.
Peppers are ready to be picked when they are firm and crisp.
They are usually preferred while the color is still green, but are
still edible after turning red.
"Hot" peppers that haven't ripened before frost may be pulled
by the roots and hung in a cool sheltered place where they will
mature. Many varieties of hot peppers are very ornamental. Some
such as Datil, are very hot.

The Irish potato is a good choice for most Florida gardens.
When planted in the late winter or early spring, 100 pounds of seed
tubers should produce 10 bushels or more of potatoes. Use certified
seed potato where possible. Avoid tablestock potato as planting
stock. Each seed piece should be cut into a two-ounce size and
should have two or more eyes. The cut seedpiece could be dusted

Figure 81. Most Florida gardeners have
good luck with potatoes.
Figure 82. Green, tomato-like fruits that
form on the potato plant are not results of
crossing with tomatoes, as some garden-
ers think, but are the natural fruits of

~~c- V"

~LS1' !I/

with a fungicide such as captain to prevent seedpiece decay. Fall
planting is not advisable, except in South Florida. Be sure seed
stock for fall planting has been treated with a recommended chem-
ical to break dormancy. Otherwise, seed potatoes may not sprout.
Many gardeners are surprised to see small green, tomato-like
fruits forming on the tops of potato plants at certain times of the
year. These fruits are not the result of crossing of potatoes with
tomatoes, but are the natural fruits of the potato plant.

Radishes are hardy and mature quickly. The small round va-
rieties develop more quickly than the long ones. If radish seeds are
mixed with carrot seeds to mark the rows for early cultivation, it
may not be necessary to make separate plantings of radishes. All
radishes planted in carrot rows should be pulled as soon as they
are ready to eat. You may plant a few feet of row every 10 days to 2
weeks during the growing season to provide a continuous supply of
radishes throughout the season.

Figure 83. Good-quality rhubarb is -
difficult to grow in Florida.

In North Florida, rhubarb or
pieplant is propagated by root di-
vision because there is variation
in plants grown from seed. The
old crowns may be cut into as
many pieces as there are strong
No rhubarb should be harvested from a new planting the first
year and only a small harvest the second year. After this a full
harvest may be made for 8 to 10 weeks each spring. If rhubarb
becomes unproductive, it is advisable to check for root rot and root
knot. If either of these is present, it is best to start a new bed. Due
to the above pests and our warm climate, rhubarb is not very well
adapted to growing in Florida.
In South Florida, rhubarb seeds are planted in August; the
plants are transplanted to the garden about November 1. Rhubarb
may be harvested about February 1 from this planting.

Roselle grows readily in Florida. It is an annual 5-7 feet high
plant whose main edible parts are the fleshy sepals, called a calyx,
surrounding the seed boll in the flower. The calyx is bright red and
acid, and can be used in preserves, jelly, juice, or a sauce like
cranberry. It is usually started from seed in the spring in Florida,
requiring about 4 months to mature.
Rutabagas are similar to turnips except that they have smooth
leaves instead of hairy and rough leaves. They also have a larger
and rougher root, and require a month longer to mature. They may
be grown in almost the same manner as turnips.
Salsify or vegetable oyster
roots resemble small parsnips in
appearance; when cooked, their
flavor resembles that of oysters.
They require a long growing sea-
son. Salsify requirements are sim-
ilar to those of parsnips.

Figure 84. Salsify is also known as veg- .
etable oysters.

Soybeans, Edible
While few Americans think of soybean as a vegetable it has
been used as a vegetable in the Orient for over 1000 years. The
varieties suitable as a vegetable are different from those used as a
field crop. Major vegetable varieties are Verde, Disoy, Bansei,
Giant Green, Fuji, and Seminole. Tests on Bansei and Disoy
showed protein at 38 percent.
Home garden culture of edible soybean in Florida should
closely approximate that for lima beans.

Spinach is a hardy crop that grows best during cool weather. It
will withstand freezing better than most vegetables, but it pro-
duces seedstalks when days begin to lengthen in the spring. There-
fore, New Zealand Spinach or Swiss Chard should be grown for
summer greens. .

Spinach may be grown in any good soil that is well-fertilized
and not too acid. It seems to do best with a pH 5.6 to 6.0. As with
all other vegetables, shallow and clean cultivation is essential.

New Zealand Spinach
New Zealand spinach is entirely different from common
spinach in growth habit and climatic requirements, although they
are cooked and eaten in the same way. It has a flavor very similar
to common spinach except its flavor is much milder. New Zealand
spinach is a heat-resistant, warm-weather plant that is tender to
frost. The seeds are large, germinate slowly, and produce much-
branched, succulent plants that will grow about one foot high and
two feet or more in spread.
When the plant has a spread of a foot or so, the end 2 or 3
inches of the branches may be harvested with a knife. New growth
will arise along these branches and the ends of these new branches
may be harvested. Harvesting too heavily will retard growth and
reduce the total yield. The gardener must learn from experience
how much can be harvested under his own conditions.
New Zealand spinach promises to be one of the leading vege-
tables for greens in Florida gardens, because it may be grown
during summer months when other cool-season greens are not

The squash family offers many kinds and varieties suitable for
Florida gardens. By far the most popular is summer squash, rep-
resented by varieties of straightneck, crookneck, bush scallop and
zucchini. Summer squash grows rapidly from seed planted for pro-
duction during the warm seasons. Summer squash is harvested in
an immature stage; it does not store long.

~R Figure 85. Plant zucchini along with
other summer squash varieties.

Figure 86. For baking and storing, try
acorn squash.

The major winter squash varieties for Florida are Table Queen
(Acorn) and Butternut. Calabaza, the cuban winter squash, is
grown and relished mostly in Dade County, but can be grown
With squash, a major problem is dropping of blossoms and
small fruit. In most cases, this is related to insufficient bee activity
for pollination, or to a common fruit rot call Choanephora.
Pumpkins for pies and jack-o-lanterns can be grown in large
Florida gardens. Plant such varieties as Big Max, Connecticut
Field, Small Sugar, Spookie, and Cinderella. Allow four months for

In Florida, strawberries are grown as an annual crop rather
than as perennials. Good clean, disease free plants are obtained
from nurseries or plant supplies in the fall. They are set 12 inches
by 12 inches on beds mulched with black plastic, straw, or spoiled
hay. Plants set in the fall will begin to blossom in the cold short
days of winter; berry production follows in the late winter and
continues to about June. Runners grow from each mother plant in
the summer, and can be removed for resetting and further runner
production. A fresh start with new plants is best for each subse-
quent year. Adaptable varieties are a must for satisfactory produc-
tion under Florida conditions.

Sweet Corn
Sweet corn requires plenty of space and is adapted only to the
larger gardens. It is susceptible to frost injury and grows best dur-
ing warm weather, but will withstand more cold than will cucum-
bers, muskmelons, pumpkins, and squashes. It is one of the most
important home garden crops in Florida.

Figure 87. In Florida, strawberries are
best grown as an annual crop.

To have a constant supply of sweet corn for the table, plant
early, midseason, and later varieties at the same time. Also, a
S : -: similar effect will result from making additional plantings of the
same variety each spaced 10 days to 2 weeks apart. To obtain good
pollination and a full set of kernels on the cob, plant at least three
adjacent rows at each planting.
Many Florida gardeners still practice suckering (removal of
the side shoots at the base of the main stalk) sweet corn. Since
many years of experimental work have failed to substantiate the
claimed benefits from this practice, suckering is not recommended.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a warm-weather crop that requires a long
growing season. They may be grown in small gardens even though
they require a large growing space, because they may be grown
during the hot summer months when very few crops may be grown
in the garden.
S. A light to medium soil is required by sweet potatoes and they
do best on a sandy loam soil. They develop poor yields and roots of
undesirable shape in soil that receives heavy applications of ni-
trogenous fertilizer. Applications of manure should not be made
immediately before sweet potatoes are planted.
Several plants may be grown from a root bedded in the garden
soil. However it is generally better for the gardener to get disease-
free plants (draws or slips) or vine cuttings from seedsmen or plant
growers than to grow his own. A good plant for transplanting
should be about 6 to 9 inches long. The plants are usually set on
ridges 8 to 10 inches high, 4 feet apart.
The most important single problem is the sweet potato weevil,
which tunnels through roots making them inedible. At present,
control measures are inadequate.

Figure 89. Sweet potatoes are easy to
grow, but are greatly bothered by sweet Figure 90. The tomato is the most popu-
potato weevils. lar gardenvegetable inFlorida gardens.

4 F"

The tomato is the most popular vegetable in Florida gardens.
It can be grown successfully by many methods of culture in bas-
kets, in solution, on stakes, on the ground, mulched, unmulched, or
in a greenhouse. For staking and pruning, plant the climbing (in-
determinate) varieties such as Floradel and Tropic. For ground
culture, plant the bush (determinate) varieties, such as Walter and
Homestead. There are many speciality types which might be tried,
such as cherry pear, paste, and yellow-fruiting.
In addition to the usual insect, nematode, and disease prob-
lems, gardeners often encounter problems of blossom-end fruit rot
and blossom drop. Blossom-end rot is a nutritional disorder related
to too little calium in the fruit. When severe, spray twice weekly
with 4 tablespoons of calcium chloride mixed in 3 gallons of water.
Spray one quart per plant.
Blossom drop can be caused by too low or too high night tem-
peratures, too much nitrogen, too much shade, over-watering,
or even insects.

Tomatoes, Husk
The husk tomato (Physalis) is also called ground cherry, to-
matillo, and bladder cherry. It is occasionally, but rarely, found in
home gardens in Florida. Each fruit is smooth skinned, resembling
a tomato, which is completely enclosed in a thin, papery, easily
removed husk. The whole fruit, with husk removed, is used mainly
in preserves.

Tomato, Tree
Tree tomato is not a true tomato, but is a perennial shrub 6 to
10 feet high, having large, five-inch long, heart shaped leaves. The
fruit, which resembles a tomato in appearance, is two to three
inches long, oval, smooth, many seeded, and is borne on a long
stem. It is grown in Florida only in home gardens or around the
house, and only in frost free locations. It begins bearing two years
from seeding and is usually finished at 5 or 6 years. Duration from
bloom to mature fruit is about 3 months.

Turnips are a quick-growing, cool-weather crop grown both for
the tops and for the roots. Plants sown too thickly may be thinned
out and eaten as greens to make room for proper root development.
Roots should not be allowed to become over-mature, as they be-

come hot, pithy, and stringy. Some varieties, such as Shogoin do
not form tuberous roots.

Chinese waterchestnut is a rush-like plant grown in ponds for
its round corms or tubers. The chestnut brown color and the chest-
nutty flavor and texture of the white flesh give rise to its name.
Waterchestnuts are seldom grown in Florida, and few gardeners
have the controlled irrigation conditions required to grow the veg-
Watermelons require considerable space per plant; however,
they may be grown state wide where sufficient space is available.
Plant seed in the spring after danger of frost. Good bee activity is
necessary for adequate pollination. Otherwise, fruits may either
drop early, rot at the blossom end, or be poorly shaped.

f Figure 91. Turnips are grown for both
WiP 1, roots and tops.

Figure 92. Few gardeners have the
necessary water control system to grow

, k: 'h ,'i w. '-,'*' i I
W _I iaire

Figure 93. Watermelons require a lot of
growing room.


Herbs are plants which are grown for the special flavor and
aroma of their various parts. They are used mainly to season, en-
rich, or otherwise improve the taste or smell of certain foods. Since
they are not primary dishes, they are not classified as vegetables.
However, due to similarity of their growth habits and cultural
requirements to vegetables, herbs are included here for discussion.
Most of the common savory herbs can be grown seasonally in
Florida in sufficient quantities for home use. In South Florida,
many herbs may be grown in the home garden throughout the
year. Since only a small portion of the plant is usually needed at
any one time and because the plants are generally small, herbs are
adapted to container culture. Their attractiveness as an ornamen-
tal plant makes them fit well into the home landscape, either in a
border planting, or included in the flower garden. Specially de-
signed formal herb gardens are both practical and attractive.
Since only a few plants of each herb are required for family
use, only a small section of the vegetable garden need be utilized.
Some of the herbs live from year to year (perennials), so should be
grouped together to one side of the garden where they will not
interfere with the preparation of the rest of the garden. The annu-
als probably should be grouped together, also away from the vege-
tables. Such grouping would allow restrictions of certain cultural
practices, such as spray for pest control, to vegetables only. In
general, the majority of herbs will grow satisfactorily under the
same conditions of sunlight and soil, and with similar cultural
techniques as are used for the vegetables. Therefore, check the
sections of this booklet which discuss such things as soil prepara-
tion, liming, fertilizing and watering. Special consideration should
be given to the location and care of a few of the herbs that are
somewhat sensitive to soil moisture conditions. Sage, rosemary,
and thyme require a well drained, lightly moist soil, whereas pars-
ley, chervil, and mint give best results in soils retaining considera-
ble moisture.
The annuals and biennials ordinarily are grown from seed
sown directly in place, while the perennials generally are best
started in plant beds or boxes using seed or cuttings, then trans-
planting into the garden or growing containers.

A few plants, such as sage, lemon balm, and rosemary, can be
propagated best by cutting. Stems from new growth or the upper
parts of older stems make the best cuttings for easiest rooting. Cut
the stems into 3 to 4 inch sections, each containing a set of leaves
or leaf buds near the upper end. To prevent wilting, place the
cuttings in water as soon as they are removed from the plant.
A shallow box filled with 4 to 5 inches of clean sand makes a
good rooting bed. Insert the cuttings to a depth of one-half to two-
thirds their length in the moist sand, firm the sand, and saturate
the sand with water. Place the box in a protected place and keep
moist, but not sopping wet, at all times until roots develop in about
two weeks. Continue to water until the cuttings are ready to- set
out in pots or the garden.
Such plants as thyme, winter savory, and marjoram can be
propagated by layering, which consists of covering the lower side
branches with soil, leaving much of the top of the plant exposed.
When the covered parts of the stems have rooted, they can be cut
from the parent plant and set as individual plants.
Older plants of chive, costmary, and tarragon can be multi-
plied by dividing the crown clumps into separate parts. These
subdivisions can be set as individual plants.
Mint spreads rapidly by means of surface or underground run-
ners that may grow several feet from the parent plant. New plants
arise at the nodes of the runners. These plants, with roots at-
tached, can be removed and transplanted to other locations.

Most of the herbs may be successfully grown in containers
attractively arranged outdoors along borders of drives, walks,
patios, porches, and balconies. A few can be grown fairly well in-
doors, with special care. Attention must be given to providing
plenty of sunlight. The culture of herbs in containers, including
some preparation and fertilizing, is similar to that for vegetables,
which is discussed in detail in the chapter on Hydroponics and

The seeds, leaves, flowering tops, and occasionally the roots of
the different plants are used for flavoring purposes. Their flavor is
due for the most part to a volatile or essential oil contained in
leaves, seeds and fruits. The flavor is retained longer if the herbs
are harvested at the right time and properly cured and stored. The

young tender leaves can be gathered and used fresh at any time
during the season, but for winter use they should be harvested
when the plants begin to flower and should be dried rapidly in a
well-ventilated, darkened room. If the leaves are dusty or gritty,
they should be washed in cold water and thoroughly drained before
The tender-leaf herbs-basil, costmary, tarragon, lemon balm,
and the mints-which have a high moisture content, must be dried
rapidly away from the light if they are to retain their green color.
If dried too slowly, they will turn dark and/or mold. For this
reason a well-ventilated, darkened room, such as an attic or other
dry airy room, furnishes ideal conditions for curing these herbs in
a short time. The less succulent leaf herbs-sage, rosemary, thyme,
and summer savory-which contain less moisture, can be partially
dried in the sun without affecting their color, but too long exposure
should be avoided.
The seed crops should be harvested when they are mature or
when their color changes from green to brown or gray. A few
plants of the annual varieties might be left undisturbed to flower
and mature seed for planting each season. Seeds should be
thoroughly dry before storing, to prevent loss of viability for plant-
ing and to prevent molding or loss of quality. After curing for
several days in an airy room, a day or two in the sun will insure
As soon as the herb leaves or seed are dry they should be
cleaned by separating them from stems and other foreign matter
and packed in suitable containers to prevent loss of essential oils
that give to herbs their delicate flavor. Glass, metal or cardboard
containers that can be closed tightly will preserve the odor and
flavor. Glass jars make satisfactory containers, but they must be
painted or stored in a dark room to prevent bleaching of the green
leaves by light.

Seed and planting stock of the savory herbs can be obtained
from a number of established herb gardens and seedsmen in vari-
ous parts of the country. Some dealers make a specialty of handl-
ing rooted plants, while others handle both plants and seed. Usu-
ally the seed of the more common herbs-sage, dill, fennel, parsley,
celery, and chive-can be obtained from local seed houses, while
the less common ones probably can be purchased only from those
specializing in savory herbs. Most herb specialty businesses sup-
ply a catalog of available material and prices free upon request.

The following are brief glimpses at the most common herbs for
the Florida gardens. Much of the information is based on a study of
culinary herbs in the Gainesville area conducted by H. Ozaki and
T. Josey, and from R. J. Wilmot's old Bulletin 600, "Herbs for

Anise Chive Garlic Parsley
Basil Comfrey Ginseng Rosemary
Borage Coriander Horehound Sage
Caraway Costmary Lemon Balm Savory
Cardamon Cumin Lovage Tarragon
Catnip Dill Majoram Thyme
Chervil Fennel Mint

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a small (two feet or less) annual
plant grown for its seeds. Due to the many white flowers, the plant
would be attractive in a flower garden or as a border plant. In
Gainesville, it makes fair but slow growth with only a minimum of
care. Start plants in the spring from seed. It may be grown in the
winter in South Florida. Cover seeds one fourth inch deep, thin
seedlings to leave 2 to 3 plants per foot in an 18 inch row (or seed
one plant in a six inch pot if container grown). Harvest the seeds
when they turn brown, separating the seeds from the fruiting
structures umbelss). Some drying of the umbels may be necessary
first before seeds are separated, cleaned and stored. Leaves may be
used fresh.


Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a pleasant smelling annual
plant with a spicy taste. There are many types, some large and
some small, with a range of leaf colors from green to purple to
variegated. Basil makes good growth in Florida, and is attractive
as a potted plant.
Plant seeds of this annual one fourth inch deep, fairly thick,
and thin seedings to about three inches apart in the row. Plant in
the early spring.
The green tender leaves may be used fresh at any time, or
dried along with the white flowers.

Figure 94. Anise (left) Coriander (right)

Figure 95. Basil J

Borage (Borage officinalis) is also known as burrage and com-
mon bugloss. It grows well in Florida, producing a large, spreading
branched plant with whitish spreading bristles. It has pretty blue
or purple star-like flowers. It would be attractive in a flower gar-
den. The flowers are used fresh to garnish beverages and salads.
Seeds of this annual should be planted thickly /4 inch deep,
and seedlings thinned to about six inches apart.

Caraway (Carum carvi) sometimes called kuemmel, is a bien-
nial plant started from seed. The slow growing one-to-three feet
tall plant has a hollow stem, deeply notched leaves resembling
celery and small white flowers. Flowers form seeds in the second
season, at which time the fruit pods should be cut from the plant,
dried, and stored in a closed container. Sow seeds one fourth inch
deep, space rows two feet apart, and seedlings six inches apart.
Seeds are used for flavoring while cooking vegetables or meats.
The plants are not particularly ornamental, and made only fair
growth in Florida trials.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a tropical, perennial
herb whose top regrows each year from an underground rhizome.
Little is known about culture of cardamom in Florida, but nor-
mally it reaches five to ten feet tall with two feet long leaves which


are smooth and dark green above, pale and finely silky beneath.
Small yellowish flowers are produced near the ground, which then
form oblong ribbed capsules. These dried capsules are used to
flavor and give aroma to coffee, candies, cookies, and other pastries.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria), also catmint, is little valued as a cook-
ing herb anymore, although it has condiment properties. Cats like
its aroma and taste. Catnip is a perennial plant three to five feet
high with square stems covered with fine whitish hairs. The one to
two inch long heart shaped leaves have scalloped notches around
the margins. Leaf color is grayish green; flowers, formed in small
spikes, are whitish dotted with purple (see figure 97).
Catnip may be started from seed or cuttings. In Florida, it
makes good growth from seeds planted in the spring, but is slow to
flower, thus, perhaps it would not be a very pretty ornamental
plant. Thin plants to stand twelve inches apart. Plants may be
transplanted to other areas or to pots. Leaves should be picked as

'*a' g .%,. Figure 96. Borage

e 97. Caraway (left) Catnip (right)


Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is an annual plant grown for
its aromatic, decorative leaves. It resembles parsley in growth
habit, but tastes and smells much like tarragon. Some forms have
thick roots eaten like carrots. Not much information is available
on its adaptability to Florida, but those wishing to try chervil
should sow seeds one fourth inch deep, thin to stand three inches
apart in the row. Leaves should be picked as needed to garnish
salads, soups, and other foods.

Chive (Allium schoenoprasum) is a perennial, onion-like plant
which grows in clumps. Leaves are about six inches long, slender
and tubular, with a bulbous base. Violet colored flowers are pro-
duced. In Florida, chive should be grown in the coolest part of the
year. Start from seeds or sets, August through March. The clumps
that form should be divided every two to three years and reset to
prevent over-crowding. Place sets about one half inch deep and
three inches apart. Chive does well in pot culture. Tender leaves
are best used fresh, generally chopped into a wide assortment of

Figure 98. Chives (left) Parsley (right) ... ... :....... -

Cultivated comfrey (Symphytum peregrinum) is also called
Russian comfrey, healing herb, blackwort, bruisewort, wallwort,
and gum plant. It is a hardy, herbaceous, perennial which grows
four to five feet high. Leaves are five inches wide by twelve inches
long, covered on the top surface by many short hairy bristles
(mustard-like). The leaves appear to be stacked one upon the other,
being larger at the base of the plant than near the top to form sort
of a large clump. Comfrey has an oblong, fleshy, perennial root,
black on the outside and whitish within, containing a clammy,
tasteless juice. Drooping bell flowers are white, purple, or pale
Comfrey does well in Florida gardens, growing year round and
tolerating cold weather. Since it is a perennial, it should be cut
back yearly (January or February) to reduce the thatch and en-
courage new succulent leaf growth. Start comfrey any time of the
year, although spring is best, using root or crown cuttings which
are two to six inches long. Place them two to four inches deep in
furrows spaces three feet apart.
Comfrey may be eaten as a cooking green, used as an herb, or
planted as an ornamental. Many medical remedies have been pro-
claimed for this plant.
Coriander sativum is a small leaved flowering annual plant
grown mainly for its aromatic seeds. Due to the pretty blooms, it
would be an attractive addition to the landscape or flower garden.
Seed should be planted in the fall, winter, or spring. Cover seeds
one fourth to one half inches deep, thin plants three to four per foot
in a two feet wide area. In Florida trials, seeds germinated quickly
and plants grew quickly and flowered early. When the tiny fruits
turn brown on maturity (generally about three months after seed-
ing) remove them from the plants and spread on screen to dry.

Figure 99. Comfrey

Once dried, the seed should be threshed from the fruiting struc-
tures and stored in dry, tight containers.
Costmary (Chrysanthemum majus) is a perennial herb with
clumps of long narrow leaves having a minty odor and bitterish
flavor. Not much is known about its growth habit under Florida
conditions. In other states, it produces small yellow flowers on five
feet tall stalks. It is usually started in the spring from seeds or
crown divisions. Leaves are picked and used as needed, either dried
or fresh.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a small annual plant of the
parsley family grown for its aromatic seeds. While seldom grown in
Florida, it would appear to be adapted since it requires a long
season of mild climate. Plant seeds thickly in rows two feet apart,
in the spring in most of the state, or the fall through spring in
South Florida. Seeding structures are harvested upon turning
brown, then dried; seeds are threshed and stored.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is the flavoring plant whose young
leaves and fully developed green fruits give dill pickles their name.
It is an erect, strong-smelling, fennel like annual plant reaching a
height of four feet. Yellow flowers develop into fruiting structures.
Dill grows well in Florida, being produced both commercially to a
small extent and in many home gardens. Seeds should be sown one
fourth inch deep, then seedlings thinned to twelve inches apart.

Figure 100. Dill

November through December is best planting time, although it
could be planted in the spring. Seeds usually are formed in about
65 days. Fruiting tops may be used fresh or dried, along with
young leaves and portions of the stems.

The term "Fennel" is confusing since there are two kinds.
Common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is grown for its shoots,
leaves, and seeds as flavoring agents in foods, and Florence fennel
(Foeniculum vulgare var dulce), also known as sweet fennel, fet-
ticus, and finocchio, is grown mainly for the thickened, bulbous
base of the leaves which is eaten as a cooked vegetable. Except for
the swollen above ground base of the leaves on Florence fennel, the
two are very similar in appearance and in their licorice-like
flavoring. The plant resembles dill, with narrow, finely feathered
leaves, bright yellowish-green hollow stems, and umbrella like
seed structures.
Sow seeds one half inch deep in the fall or early winter, space
twelve inches apart in rows three feet apart. Harvest, thresh, and
dry seeds which mature in the second year.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is similar to onion, except instead of
producing a single bulbous stem, it produces a compound bulb con-
sisting of groups of white or purplish scales. Each group is referred
to as a clove, and the bulb is enclosed in a purplish membraneous
bag. The leaves reach twelve inches, are narrow, but not hollow.

Figure 101. Sweet fennel

Figure 102. Garlic (left) Horehound (right)

Garlic culture is similar to that for onions. Suggested planting
dates are October through January. Garlic is propagated by divi-
sion of the cloves and planting each as a set.
Garlic must be well dried and cured after harvest before stor-
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is also called
chinese seng, ninsin, five fingers, and seng. It is a fleshy rooted.
herb native to cool and shady hardwood woods from Canada to
Northern Florida.
Reports indicate Ginseng roots often decay when attempts are
made to grow them under warm humid Florida summer conditions.
Ginseng plants are about 12 to 18 inches tall. Each leaf stem has
three or more compound leaves, with each leaf composed of five
oblong-pointed leaflets. The fruit is a bright crimson berry. The
mature root, which is the part used, is spindle shaped, three to four
inches long, up to one inch thick, and usually forked with circular
Ginseng must be grown in shade, with seeds, seedlings, or
roots planted in the spring. From seeding to harvest usually takes
five to seven years.
The main users of Ginseng are orientals who believe the dried
roots have stimulative properties. Beverages, such as tea, are
sometimes flavored with ground Ginseng root.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is a perennial herb, one to
three feet in height, with hairy oval to near round leaves (see

picture 102 ). It occurs as a weed in many parts of the United
States, and grows quite well in Florida herb gardens.
Seed should be planted in the spring one fourth inch deep,
with plants spaced 12-18 inches apart. Seed germination may be
slow. Plants can be transplanted, or old plants divided and re-
Leaves and stems are harvested as needed. One of the main
usages is in making horehound candy, where it is thought to help
relieve throat tickling and coughing. Curing (drying) leaves in the
shade preserves the color and flavor.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial, lemon scented
herb belonging to the mint family. Since mint grows so easily in
Florida, lemon balm might be considered to do well also. The
plants grow in clumps two feet high, with bright green, lemon
scented leaves.
Plants are started from seeds or cuttings. Sow seeds shallow in
the early spring, and space plants 18 inches apart. It may be two
years before the plant really forms into a well-sized clump.
Leaves and tender stems are used fresh or dried to provide
flavor and aroma to drinks, salads, or other dishes.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a tall perennial herb which
smells, tastes, and looks like leaves of celery. Not much informa-
tion is available on its culture in Florida. Normally, it is started
from seeds or transplanted, spaced 8-10 inches apart in the row.
The leaves and stems are used fresh as needed.

There are three kinds of marjoram commonly used as herbs.
Sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana); pot marjoram (0. onites);
and wild majoram (0. vulgare).
Sweet and pot marjoram are the ones usually grown in herb
gardens. The plants are very similar, except sweet marjoram tends
to grow upright while pot marjoram runs along the ground. Space
pot marjoram about 12 inches apart in the row and sweet mar-
joram six inches. Plants can be started early in the spring from
seeds, cuttings, or clump divisions. The leaves are used fresh or
dried. Marjoram is sufficiently attractive to make an excellent bor-
der planting for a flower garden.

Figure 103. Pot marjoram (background) Sweet marjoram (front)

The mints are some of the most easy-to-grow herbs for Florida
gardens. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (M. piperita)
are two of the more popular along with apple and orange mints.
Leaves are dark green, small, and pointed, with slightly notched
margins. Small flowers are whitish, bluish, or violet. Mint should
be started in moist soil, using surface or underground runners as
sprigs for new plants. In Florida, many of the mints grow pro-
fusely in shade or out. The leaves and flowering tops are the useful
parts, both fresh and dried.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) grows well in Florida gardens.
While the curly-leaf type is most commonly grown, the plain leaf
and the rooting types are frequently included in gardens. Parsley
is a cool season vegetable, best planted in late fall or winter. Seeds
should be sown one fourth inch deep, fairly thick, then seedlings
thinned to six inches apart. The leaves are used fresh or dried as
flavoring or as a decorative garnish. The rooting types are useful
as a cooked vegetable, particularly in soups.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a small perennial ever-
green plant with a very spicy odor. Small, narrow, dark green


Figure 104. Mint

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