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August 3, 2011

What can we plant in August in Florida?

August is a very important month in terms of preparation for a fall harvest. All warm season vegetables that take two to four months to mature need to be seeded or transplanted into the ground in August so they can be harvested before Thanksgiving. Here in Florida it's spring planting all over again, with a bit of a twist.

Cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, beans and corn can be seeded directly into the garden now. Granted, Florida has three growing zones, so gardeners in each zone should adjust their planting schedule accordingly; the rule of thumb, North Florida should start planting earlier, followed by Central Florida, and then South Florida can wait till the end of August to seed these vegetables:

It is advised to seed gourd family directly into the garden because these vegetables have a long tap root, or the root that grows vertically into the ground. If these seeds are germinated in containers, there is a danger of the tap root to make a round ball and halter root development. I, however, learned a trick to transplanting these vegetables from containers: let the seed germinate in a styrofoam cup and then immediately transplant it into the garden as soon as first true leaves appear. This method eases the seed germination because usually the soil in a container is better than the soil in the garden, as well as we can keep the soil moist and close to ideal condition if we germinate in a container.

It is better to split  cucumber planting into two parts, two weeks apart. Cucumbers have a very short harvest time, so by planting two successive plantings we can enjoy our cucumber crop longer.

Amazingly, cowpeas can still be seeded in August in all three zones to provide green manure and some awesome harvest.

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants should be transplanted in the garden in August. If you missed seeding these vegetables in July, you can buy them in a box store and plant into your garden. My peppers are not ready yet to be transplanted, but they will be in a couple of weeks. Peppers and eggplant take longer to get to the transplanting size:

Tomatoes are screaming to get into the soil. This weekend, weather and my own energy permitting, most of them will be transplanted. When transplanting tomatoes, dig a deep hole so that you could accommodate eighty percent of the plant, only having a few leaves sticking out. This will allow the roots to grow from the stems as well as keeping the roots cool:

Since August is a very hot month in all Florida, it is better to plant tomatoes, peppers and eggplant behind some taller plants so they could be shaded from an afternoon sun. If this is not possible, then try to use some supports with the shade cloth. Water the transplants daily if there is no rain and mulch as soon as possible to give them needed moisture and coolness.


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