Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Hendry County Horticulture News
November 1998 - Cool and Dry
By November, the long cool dry season is firmly entrenched in Southwest Florida. We began to get hints in October, but now the season that we all waited for is finally here. The humidity and mosquitos of the summer months have abated and we no longer need to mow our lawns on a weekly basis. While we are all breathing a collective sigh of relief, maintaining a beautiful landscape or successful garden is a year round job.
Barring any late rains, the ground has begun to dry out and irrigation will become necessary to maintain lawns, gardens and shallow rooted plants in top condition. Local soils are sandy and will hold 3/4-1" of water in the top 12 inches. This amount of water should be applied and the ground allowed to dry out somewhat before watering again. Light frequent irrigation is inefficient and does little for the plant, while over watering is wasteful and may harm plantings. A lawn fertilizer application should have been applied in October for best results, but if this was missed may still be applied in early November. This application should consist of a complete fertilizer, such as 16-4-8, at the rate of 6.2 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. for St. Augustine lawns or a nitrogen fertilizer, at the rate of 1.0 lb. of N/1000 sq. ft.
Almost any of the cool season annual flowers and vegetables may be planted this month. Most avid gardeners will have planted since September - October and should be nearing harvest, but it is not too late! For a steady supply of produce, it is wise to plant small amounts of desired varieties every few weeks, rather than plant the entire garden at once and have a glut at harvest time. Some vegetables that can be planted this month include beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, radishes, squash, sweet corn, Swiss chard, tomatoes and turnips. Most of the above will stand light frost but note that late plantings of pepper, pumpkins, and tomato are at risk of frost damage in December and January so make provision to protect these. When planting onions be careful to obtain Texas Grano or Granex or other short day type onions. Many of the onion sets sold locally are northern types and will not bulb in Florida
Flowers include asters, baby's breath, bachelor buttons, calendulas, candytuft, carnations, cosmos, cockscomb, daisies, dianthus, forget-me-nots, gaillardia, impatiens, lobelias, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, periwinkles, petunias, phlox, poppies, portulacas, salvia, scabiosa, snapdragons, statice, stock, sweet peas, sweet william, and verbenas. Bulbs such as amaryllis, callas, gladiolas, lilies, and narcissus may also be planted now. Use transplants for both flower and vegetable plantings to get a quick jump on the season.
Florida soils tend to be sandy and poor in nutrients. Barring a soil test use 2 ½ - 5 lbs. of a complete fertilizer like 6-6-6 per 100 sq. ft. Broadcast and work half of this amount into the soil and band the balance along the row. Generous additions of compost and other organic materials are also advised. Periodic side dressing with a nitrogen fertilizer will increase yields.
Pests and diseases do not slow down with the cooler weather. Treat vegetables weekly to avoid diseases. Monitor plants for insects and treat as needed. Dry weather will often bring mites which can severely damage plantings if left unchecked. Contact the Hendry County Extension Office for more specific recommendations.
Gardens planted earlier in the fall should begin to yield blossoms and vegetables by mid November. Remember to continue plantings of your favorites to insure an extended season. Good luck and happy gardening!
Gene McAvoy is the horticulture agent with the Hendry County Extension Service. Direct your horticulture questions to PO Box 68, LaBelle, FL 33975, e-mail - email@example.com or phone 863-674-4092 or 863-983-1598. You are also welcome to visit the Hendry County Extension Office at 225 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle. Office hours are from 8:00 - 5:00.
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