Inspired by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ info-graphic “Edibles to Plant in December,” we decided to highlight everything on the list that starts from seed and is growing in December.
The edibles listed below are zoned statewide. The Southern Region takes the lead again for this month. For those in the Northern and Central regions: Sorry, but the beans, cucumbers, okra, peas and turnips sections don’t apply to you.
Edibles to plant from seeds this month
Beans: Bush, Lima and Pole (Southern Zone only)
- Bush: These mature early and do not need staking. Don’t over-fertilize, as too much nitrogen limits production. Flowers self-pollinate. Plant rust-resistant varieties. Bush beans can be further broken down into three types: snap beans (the pods are eaten), green shelling beans (the beans are eaten green), and dry beans (the beans are dried and then rehydrated before eating). Recommended varieties: Snap: Bush Blue Lake, Contender, Roma II, Provider, Cherokee Wax; Shell: horticultural, pinto, red kidney, black bean, navy, garbanzo.
- Lima: Pole and bush types exist; provide trellis support for pole-type varieties. Control stinkbugs, which injure pods. Don’t over-fertilize, as too much nitrogen limits production. Slightly more heat-tolerant than bush or pole beans. Plant rust-resistant varieties. Recommended varieties: Fordhook 242, Henderson, Jackson Wonder, Dixie (Speckled) Butterpea, Early Thorogreen.
- Pole: Don’t over-fertilize. Support the vines. May be grown with corn for vine support. Plant rust-resistant varieties. Recommended varieties: McCaslan, Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake.
Cucumbers: (Southern Zone only)
Two types: slicers and picklers. Pickling types can also be used fresh. Burpless varieties exist. Many hybrids are gynoecious (i.e., female-flowering; only female flowers set fruit). Bees are required for pollination. Recommended varieties: Slicers: Sweet Success, Poinsett, Ashley, MarketMore 76, Straight Eight, Space Master; Picklers: Eureka, Boston Pickling.
Okra: (Southern Zone only)
Soak seeds in water for six hours for better germination. Requires warm soils and temperatures. Very heat-tolerant. Highly susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Harvest pods a few days after flower petals have fallen, or pods will become tough and stringy (North and Central Florida only). Recommended varieties: Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley II, Cajun Delight.
Onions (Green and Shallots):
Depending on type, onions may be grown from seed, sets, transplants or division. Green/bunching onions may be grown fall through spring. Plant close, and harvest as needed. Insert sets upright for straight stems. Divide and reset multiplier types every year. Recommended varieties: Bulbing: Granex (yellow); Green: Evergreen Bunching, White Lisbon Bunching; Multipliers: Shallots, Leeks, American Flag.
Peas: (Southern Zone only)
- English or Snow: (North and Central Florida only). Don’t over-fertilize; too much nitrogen limits production (as do warm temperatures). May need support, depending on type. Consume soon after harvest for best quality. Recommended varieties: Wando, Green Arrow, Sugar Snap, Oregon Sugarpod II.
- Southern (aka Field Peas, Cow Peas, Crowder Peas, Cream Peas): Highly nutritious. Don’t over-fertilize; too much nitrogen limits production. Good summer cover crop. Cowpea curculio is a common pest. Maintain consistent soil moisture. Recommended varieties: California Blackeye No. 5, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Texas Cream.
Easy and fast-growing; thin early, and inter-crop with slow-growing vegetables to save space. Plant every two weeks during the growing season for a continuous supply. A spicy, bitter flavor can be caused by hot weather and over-maturity. Winter/Oriental radishes (such as Daikon) also grow well in Florida. Recommended varieties: Cherry Belle, White Icicle, Sparkler, Champion, Daikon.
Turnips: (Southern Zone only)
A quick-growing, cool-weather crop. Grow for roots and tops (greens). Broadcast seed in a wide row or single file. Thin early to allow for root expansion. Smaller roots (2 inches or less) are milder in flavor. Recommended varieties: Roots: Purple Top White Globe; Greens: Seven Top, Shogoin.