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20+ Must-Have Vegetables: What to Plant in December in Florida

Gardening in Florida during December offers a unique opportunity to cultivate a diverse array of vegetables, thanks to the state’s mild winter climate. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, knowing which vegetables to plant during this month can make a significant difference in your garden’s success. Florida’s climate allows for year-round gardening, making it possible to grow fresh vegetables even in the winter months.

In this guide, we’ll explore over 20 must-have vegetables that thrive in Florida’s winter conditions, ensuring a bountiful and healthy harvest. From nutrient-packed leafy greens to hearty root vegetables, these selections will help you make the most of your winter garden.

Read on to discover the best vegetables to plant in December in Florida and get ready to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce all season long.

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General Tips for Successful December Gardening in Florida

Gardening in Florida during December can be both a rewarding and challenging experience due to the state’s unique climate conditions. With mild temperatures and less rainfall, it’s an ideal time for growing a variety of cool-season crops. However, to ensure a successful garden, it’s important to follow some key practices tailored to this season. Here are some general tips to help you make the most of your gardening efforts in December.

Soil Preparation and Fertilization

  • Soil Testing: Begin by testing your soil to understand its pH and nutrient content. Central Florida soils can vary widely, so a soil test will help you determine what amendments are needed.

  • Adding Organic Matter: Enhance soil structure and fertility by incorporating organic materials like compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold. This practice helps retain moisture and provides essential nutrients for plant growth.

  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to ensure a consistent supply of nutrients throughout the growing season. Organic options such as fish emulsion or seaweed extract can also be beneficial.

Watering Practices and Irrigation

  • Consistent Watering: December is one of the drier months in Florida, so maintaining consistent soil moisture is crucial. Water your garden early in the morning to reduce evaporation and ensure plants have sufficient moisture during the day.

  • Irrigation Systems: Consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water directly to the plant roots, minimizing water waste and reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

  • Mulching: Spread a layer of mulch around your plants to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Excellent organic options include straw, wood chips, and pine needles.

Pest and Disease Management

  • Regular Monitoring: Inspect your garden regularly for signs of pests and diseases. Early detection can prevent small problems from becoming major issues.

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Use a combination of biological, cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods to manage pests. Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings to control aphids and other pests naturally.

  • Organic Solutions: Utilize organic pest control methods such as neem oil, insecticidal soap, or homemade sprays made from garlic or hot pepper to manage pests without harming beneficial insects.

Frost Protection Strategies

  • Monitor Weather Forecasts: Keep an eye on the weather forecast, especially during clear, calm nights when frost is more likely to occur.

  • Protecting Sensitive Plants: Use frost cloths, old sheets, or blankets to cover sensitive plants when frost is predicted. Ensure the covers extend to the ground to trap warmth.

  • Move Containers Indoors: If you have potted plants, move them indoors or to a sheltered area on particularly cold nights.

  • Watering Before Frost: Watering your plants before a frost can help insulate the roots and provide some protection against the cold.

Planting Techniques

Succession Planting: Stagger your plantings by sowing seeds every two to three weeks. This technique is ideal for vegetables like beets and broccoli, which can be planted in December in Florida. This ensures a continuous harvest and reduces the risk of crop failure.

Proper Spacing: Ensure adequate spacing between plants to promote air circulation, reduce the risk of disease, and allow each plant sufficient room to grow.

Depth of Planting: Follow recommended planting depths for seeds and transplants to ensure proper root development and plant stability.

General Maintenance

  • Pruning: Regularly trim your plants to remove dead or diseased foliage, promote healthy growth, and enhance air circulation.

  • Weeding: Keep your garden free of weeds to reduce competition for nutrients and water. Mulching can help suppress weed growth.

  • Harvesting: Harvest your crops frequently to encourage continued production and prevent overripening, which can attract pests and diseases.

Enhancing Soil Health

  • Crop Rotation: Practice crop rotation by changing the location of your crops each season. This helps prevent the buildup of soil-borne diseases and pests.

  • Cover Crops: Plant cover crops such as clover or rye to improve soil fertility, prevent erosion, and add organic matter to the soil.

By following these general tips, you can ensure a successful and productive gardening experience in Florida during December.

What to Plant in North Florida in December

Gardening in North Florida during December is an exciting opportunity to grow a variety of cool-season crops. The cooler temperatures and reduced humidity create favorable conditions for many vegetables, herbs, and even some fruits. Here’s a detailed guide on what to plant and how to care for your garden in North Florida this month.

Transplanting Easily

December is an ideal time for transplanting a variety of vegetables in North Florida. These crops thrive in the cooler weather and can be transplanted with minimal stress:

  • Arugula: A fast-growing leafy green that adds a peppery kick to salads.

  • Beets: Versatile root vegetables with edible greens, requiring well-drained soil and regular watering.

  • Broccoli: Nutrient-dense and prefers fertile, well-drained soil for optimal growth.

  • Brussels Sprouts: Develop best in cooler conditions; they need a long growing season to mature fully.

  • Cabbage: A robust vegetable that demands fertile soil rich in organic matter to produce firm heads.

  • Cauliflower: Requires consistent moisture and nutrient-rich soil to form tight, white heads.

  • Chinese Cabbage: Also known as Napa cabbage, it grows well in fertile, well-drained soil and is excellent for stir-fries and salads.

  • Collards: Hardy greens that improve in flavor after a light frost and are great for slow-cooked dishes.

  • Kale: Leafy greens that become sweeter after a frost; they are particularly cold-tolerant and ideal for North Florida’s winter conditions, versatile in both raw and cooked dishes.

  • Kohlrabi: Unique vegetable with edible bulbs and leaves, thriving in fertile, well-drained soil. It withstands cold temperatures well and is best planted in North Florida during the winter months.

  • Swiss Chard: Colorful and nutritious, it tolerates a wide range of temperatures and provides continuous harvest.

Transplanting Carefully

These crops have delicate root systems and require extra care when transplanting:

  • Celery: Requires consistent moisture and rich, well-drained soil. It has a long growing season and benefits from cool temperatures.

  • Mustard: Thrives in fertile, well-drained soil and enjoys full sun to partial shade. This fast-growing green adds a spicy kick to dishes.

  • Spinach: Thrives in fertile, well-drained soil with consistent moisture. It grows best in full sun to partial shade and can withstand cold temperatures, making it ideal for North Florida winters. Spinach can be harvested multiple times.

  • Swiss chard: Grows well in fertile, well-drained soil and can tolerate cold temperatures, making it suitable for North Florida. It is ideal for transplanting and can be harvested multiple times.

Direct Seeding

Direct seeding is an effective method for many cool-season crops, allowing them to establish strong root systems and grow vigorously:

  • Carrots: Thrive in loose, sandy soil; plant seeds directly to avoid disturbing delicate roots.

  • Onions (Green, Shallots): Plant sets or seeds in well-drained soil; they need full sun and consistent moisture.

  • Radish: Fast-growing root vegetable, ideal for quick harvests; prefers well-drained soil.

  • Turnips: Both roots and greens are edible; they grow well in well-drained soil and provide a hearty addition to meals.

By selecting the right crops and following these tips, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest from your North Florida garden in December.

What to Plant in Central Florida in December

Gardening in Central Florida during December offers a unique opportunity to take advantage of the region’s mild winter climate. With the cooler temperatures, you can grow a wide range of cool-season vegetables and herbs that thrive in these conditions. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to plant and how to care for your garden in Central Florida this month.

Transplanting Easily

December is an excellent time for transplanting various vegetables in Central Florida. These crops adapt well to the cooler temperatures and can be transplanted with minimal stress:

  • Arugula: Quick-growing and adds a spicy note to salads. Grows well in well-drained soil and partial to full sunlight.

  • Beets: Nutritious roots and greens. They prefer fertile, loamy soil and regular watering to develop properly.

  • Broccoli: Needs nutrient-rich, well-drained soil and consistent moisture to form large heads.

  • Brussels Sprouts: Best in cooler weather, they require a long season to produce robust sprouts. They are well-suited for Central Florida’s winter conditions.

  • Cabbage: Thrives in soil rich in organic matter. Consistent moisture helps in forming dense heads. It can withstand cold temperatures and is ideal for planting in Central Florida during the winter.

  • Cauliflower: Requires rich, moist soil for tight curds. Mulch to retain moisture and regulate temperature.

  • Chinese Cabbage: Grows well in fertile, moist soil and is perfect for salads and stir-fries.

  • Collards: Hardy and robust, they grow best in fertile, well-drained soil and can tolerate light frosts.

  • Endive/Escarole: Prefers cool weather and grows well in rich, well-drained soil. Ideal for adding to salads.

  • Kale: Becomes sweeter after frost. Thrives in fertile, well-drained soil and can be harvested multiple times.

  • Kohlrabi: Prefers fertile, well-drained soil and regular watering. Both the bulb and leaves are edible.

  • Lettuce: Needs cool weather and grows best in loose, fertile soil with consistent watering.

  • Swiss Chard: Versatile and colorful, it prefers well-drained soil and can be harvested continually.

  • Carrots: Cold-tolerant and suitable for transplanting in Central Florida. They grow best in loose, sandy soil and require consistent moisture.

Transplanting Carefully

These crops have delicate root systems and require extra care when transplanting:

  • Celery: Needs rich, well-drained soil and consistent moisture. Handle carefully during transplanting to avoid root damage.

  • Mustard: Grows quickly in fertile, well-drained soil. Full sun to partial shade is ideal.

  • Spinach: Prefers fertile, well-drained soil and steady moisture. Can be harvested multiple times during the growing season.

  • Potatoes: Plant seed potatoes in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Consistent moisture and mulching are key.

Direct Seeding

Direct seeding is an effective method for many cool-season crops, allowing them to establish strong root systems and grow vigorously:

  • Carrots: Thrive in loose, sandy soil. Direct seeding avoids root disturbance, ensuring straight, strong growth.

  • Onions (Green, Shallots): Plant sets or seeds in well-drained soil with full sun. Requires regular watering.

  • Peas (English): Cool-weather crop that grows best in well-drained soil with support structures like trellises.

  • Radish: Fast-growing and ideal for quick harvests. Prefers well-drained soil and can be harvested within weeks.

  • Turnips: Both roots and greens are nutritious. They grow well in loose, fertile soil and require regular watering.

By selecting the right crops and following these tips, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest from your Central Florida garden in December.

What to Plant in South Florida in December

Gardening in South Florida during December is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the region’s warm winter climate. The mild temperatures allow for a diverse range of cool-season vegetables, herbs, and fruits to thrive. Here’s a detailed guide on what to plant and how to care for your garden in South Florida this month.

Transplanting Easily

December is an ideal time for transplanting a variety of vegetables in South Florida. These crops adapt well to the mild winter temperatures and can be transplanted with minimal stress:

  • Cabbage: Prefers fertile, well-drained soil and regular watering to develop firm heads.

  • Cauliflower: Needs nutrient-rich, moist soil to form tight, white heads. Mulch to retain soil moisture.

  • Chinese Cabbage: Grows well in fertile, well-drained soil and is great for salads and stir-fries.

  • Collards: Hardy greens that thrive in rich soil and can withstand light frosts, enhancing their flavor.

  • Eggplants: Prefer well-drained soil and full sun. Ensure consistent watering for healthy fruit development.

  • Endive/Escarole: Grows best in fertile, well-drained soil and cooler temperatures, perfect for salads.

  • Kale: Benefits from fertile, well-drained soil and regular watering. Becomes sweeter after a light frost.

  • Lettuce: Needs loose, fertile soil and consistent moisture. Ideal for salads and sandwiches.

  • Peppers: Thrive in warm conditions with well-drained soil. Regular watering and full sun are essential.

  • Sweet Potatoes: Prefer sandy, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

  • Swiss Chard: Colorful and nutritious, it tolerates a wide range of temperatures and is well-suited for South Florida’s winter conditions, providing continuous harvest.

  • Turnips: Ideal for planting in South Florida during the winter months, they can withstand cold temperatures and are best planted in December.

  • Tomatoes: Require well-drained soil and full sun. Consistent watering is crucial for healthy fruit production.

Transplanting Carefully

These crops have delicate root systems and require extra care when transplanting:

  • Celery: Needs rich, well-drained soil and consistent moisture. Handle carefully during transplanting to avoid root damage.

  • Mustard: Prefers fertile, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It’s a fast-growing green that adds a spicy flavor to dishes.

  • Spinach: Thrives in fertile, well-drained soil with steady moisture. Can be harvested multiple times during the growing season.

  • Potatoes: Plant seed potatoes in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Consistent moisture and mulching are key.

Direct Seeding

Direct seeding is an effective method for many cool-season crops, allowing them to establish strong root systems and grow vigorously:

  • Carrots: Thrive in loose, sandy soil. Direct seeding avoids root disturbance, ensuring straight, strong growth.

  • Beans (Bush, Pole, Lima): Prefer well-drained soil and full sun. Regular watering is essential for pod development.

  • Cantaloupes: Need sandy, well-drained soil and full sun. Ensure consistent watering and mulch to retain moisture.

  • Corn (Sweet): Grows best in well-drained soil and requires full sun. Plant in blocks for better pollination.

  • Cucumbers: Thrive in rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Regular watering is crucial for crisp fruits.

  • Onions (Green, Shallots): Plant sets or seeds in well-drained soil with full sun. Requires regular watering.

  • Peas (English, Southern): Cool-weather crop that grows best in well-drained soil with support structures like trellises.

  • Radish: Fast-growing and ideal for quick harvests. Prefers well-drained soil and can be harvested within weeks.

  • Squash (Summer, Winter): Needs rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Consistent moisture is essential for growth.

  • Turnips: Both roots and greens are nutritious. They grow well in loose, fertile soil and require regular watering.

  • Watermelon: Prefers sandy, well-drained soil and full sun. Ensure consistent watering and mulch to retain moisture.

By selecting the right crops and following these tips, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest from your South Florida garden in December.

Final Thoughts

December is a wonderful month for gardening in Florida, offering a unique opportunity to cultivate a variety of cool-season vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Whether you are in North, Central, or South Florida, the mild winter temperatures and reduced humidity create ideal growing conditions for many crops.

By carefully selecting the right plants and following best practices for soil preparation, watering, and pest management, you can enjoy a productive and thriving garden throughout the winter season.

Remember, successful gardening in December involves understanding your specific regional climate and tailoring your planting choices accordingly. With the right approach, you can look forward to a bountiful harvest that will provide fresh, homegrown produce for your table. Happy gardening!