As the month of May approaches and draws to a close, so does our commercial vegetable growing season. The acreage of locally produced lettuce, celery, cabbage, radish, green beans, peppers and sweet corn is tapering off as we get closer to summer. With the exception of sweet corn, which tolerates the summertime's frequent rainy weather and temperature extremes, the coming environmental conditions are too inhospitable for commercial production of cool season crops.
Summertime is traditionally a time for rest, a fallow period, where vegetable crops are mostly out of commercial production so the soil can be nurtured and the presence of insects and diseases decreased before planting again in the fall. Planting cover crops to increase the soil's organic matter and help reduce pests like weeds and nematodes is a common summertime practice as is planning for the fall growing season.
A few farmers growing for local sales will keep some crops growing during the summer but you can support our local Florida farmers throughout the year by looking for the "Fresh from Florida" logo on produce packaging and signage where you shop for fruit and vegetables.
If you are motivated to start a summer vegetable garden of your own, here are some crops you may find success with in Palm Beach County:
Crops for Summer Gardens – look for heat tolerant varieties where available
- Pigeon pea
- Winged beans
- Asian long beans
- Calabaza tropical pumpkins
- Native "Seminole" pumpkins
- Garlic chives
Be sure your vegetable garden has good drainage, adequate space, easy access to water and plenty of sunlight. Consider using transplants when possible to allow your crop to get ahead of the weeds and to eliminate the risk of planted seeds being washed away by heavy rains.
Check plants frequently for pest activity as they tend to be more active in periods of warmer temperatures and high humidity. Depending on your neighborhood, some sort of temporary barrier to protect your garden from rabbits may be necessary before you even plant!
You can find more helpful resources:
This is an excellent time to plant fruit trees. A wide variety of tropical fruit is grown in Palm Beach County with different types maturing and ready to harvest throughout the year. Review this fact sheet for tropical fruit crops to consider in your yard: http://discover.pbcgov.org/coextension/agriculture/PublishingImages/Pages/Vegetables/Tropical%20Fruit%20Chart.pdf
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