January is the beginning of our warm planting season. Most of these plants will not survive Florida’s summer temperatures, so they need to be started early if they are to have enough time to produce before they start to die back. In some cases, the plants will survive the summer, but they aren’t likely to produce. I’ve had cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers survive summer and start producing again in the fall. However, they were well established before summer hit.
The problem we run into is the risk of freezing temperatures. If we are going to get freezing temperatures, it’s likely to be in January, but we really aren’t out of the woods until March. The good news is that it’s very unlikely that most of central and south Florida will experience a hard freeze. Covering overnight with a sheet or plastic is usually enough to protect most plants. We did have one winter a few years ago when we experienced freezing temperatures for 2 weeks. Overnight temperatures were getting down into the teens. In that case, Hubby made a makeshift greenhouse with PVC pipe in an arch and each end placed in cinder blocks that lined the garden. Over the PVC, we had plastic sheeting and blankets. Under the arch, we had a heat lamp. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked and all of our plants survived.
If you are worried about freezing temperatures or just don’t get around to starting seeds this month, don’t worry. Many can still be started in February. You just may not get as large of a crop as you would starting in January. Good luck!