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January 6, 2012

What can we grow in January in Florida

Let me start with the assumption that Floridians love their peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. And with some care, these vegetables could be grown practically non-stop throughout the year. I usually plant a few of these in containers to keep growing throughout the winter, as well as keeping some peppers and tomatoes in my cheap green house, that served me well for two seasons now. Granted, it does not protect the plants from freezing on its own, but with the addition of a heat lamp and a space heater, it keeps my tomatoes, eggplant and peppers fruiting all winter.

Being an un-trusting individual, I still keep a few containers of these warm weather vegetables aside from the green house, and bring them inside on frost nights.

A combination of a green house and containers keeps my family in tomatoes and peppers all winter long. The yields are reduced, compared to spring or fall, restricted by the number of containers and green house space.

But let's go back to planting, or should I say planning. First two weeks of January are a must seeding time for peppers. They take about four months to start fruiting, so we need to seed them now. The problem is, the temperature inside the house is about 65 to 70 degrees in January, at least here, in Central Florida. Peppers need at a minimum of 75 to preferably 85 degrees soil temperature to germinate. The top of the refrigerator and water heater, a familiar advise,  do not produce enough heat to germinate peppers. You could purchase a seedling mat and be well served by that. I use a "free" solution, a crock pot. In my crock pot, on WARM, two minutes bring the temperature to 90 degrees. That's all we need - turn the crock pot on warm, for about two minutes, twice per day, then wrap it with a baby blankets or towels, to keep it warm.

Peppers should germinate within 7 to 10 days this way. Immediately after germinating, put them under the light - in the green house, on the window sill, under the grow lights - wherever you have the space to keep them reasonably warm and in full sun.

Last two weeks of January we should use the same process to germinate tomatoes and eggplant.

Outside of these, you can still seed greens, such as lettuce and herbs, as well as radish, all throughout the winter, until late March.


  1. What are your favorite varieties of peppers?
    Which ones grow the best for you?

  2. Hi Tim, thanks for the comment.

    I used to grow many different varieties of sweet and hot peppers. Now I only grow two: Cubanelle for sweet pepper and cayenne for hot. Both perform exceptionally well and both suit a variety of culinary choices. Cubanelle is very hardy, fruits throughout the summer up until first frost. The only thing with Cubanelle, is to plant it on a hill of sorts so that summer rains do not soak their roots too much. Containers work very well for that purpose too. They sell Cubanelle seeds at Wal-Mart, I save my own now, so they are free :)

  3. Right now I have sweet banana peppers, some hot peppers from a friend who had extra form a mix packet so we don't know what they are, and some Big Bertha bell peppers doing pretty good.

    I am in SW Florida, Cape Coral to be exact.
    Check out my blog:

  4. That is a pretty sweet backyard greenhouse setup you have. I'm really hoping to put one together next winter too. Home grown vegetables throughout the whole year would be great.

  5. I just found your site and am so happy to get info on FL growing. Although I've lived in FL since '72,and tried gardening only 1 time with no success. I'm a Northern girl and planted accordingly so no wonder I had no success. Since retiring, I've been reading and hoping for a better garden experience.
    We now have purchased 2 1/2 acres 10 miles E of Naples. Currently only have 2 pr of breeding donkeys. But have plans of chickens, goats, & sheep for eggs, milk & meat. Donkeys make good protectors of predators and can be trained to work. The donkeys were hard to find but in 6 months we finally got 2 pair and just a few days ago we got a NEW BABY! My sister transported from Naples & N Ft. Myers and she got 1 male who she breed with a mare and will get a mule - much easier gate for riding. She sold her donkey because she has 5 horses and couldn't keep so many.
    We also have a plot of 40 X 20 for garden. I've put out beans & peas, tomatoes & onion sets in 1/3 of the space. I want to plant in increments to have a continuious supply of veggies.
    I've already learned so much from your blog.



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