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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I look at seed catalogs I see that we are in zone 9 - Tampa bay area -but so is my mum in Georgia and she has frost and cold and we have sun and heat so my question is, when do you plant tomato seeds/plants round here? Walmart has plants already but then, shops always jump the seasons:rolleyes:

I would rather plant heirlooms if pos. but not wanting to waste money on seeds I thought I would ask.

Its soooooo nice to have people to ask :happy:
 

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I lived a little further south, Port Charlotte area and I found I did better planting early tomatoes in the fall then heat tolerant ones in the spring. Any fruit that I had in August would literally cook on the vine just after it began to color up and ripen, and that was even when I planted where they got sun-dappled shade for a couple of hours around noon.

If you want to try the heat-tolerant ones, they may go better for you. Just a little ways north or south in FL makes a big difference. Now is not too early to start. I had better luck with smaller 4 to 8 oz varieties then the beefsteaks, 10 oz+. Watch for cutworms, lots of mulch and water. A good way to water is to put a little hole in the bottom of a gallon milk jug, fill with water and cap tightly. The water will go out slowly as the bottle collapses. Having one of those jugs trickling during the heat of the day helps prevent the plant heat-stressing. The Tomato Growers Supply catalog has really good variety descriptions and points out which ones do well in heat.
 

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Our local extension office has lots of information on what/how to plant in our area -- it should be worth it to check out yours and see what the state recommends.

And since your taxes have already paid for this, it's definitely worth it to get all the information from them that you can!
 

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Your whole growing season is upside down. Technically, the zone 9 is migrating north with global warming, but there is always the chance of a freeze- I believe it was MLK B day weekend 1996 when it was 17 degrees in Clewiston, down at the bottom of Lake Okeechobee, and I was out backpacking with my Boy Scouts.
Fall, winter and spring are yur standard vegie growing seasons. Cool weather vegies like sugar snap peas, and Irish potatoes, are wintertime. If you want spinach, or parsnips, or brassicas, those are winter. Winter is the dry season, you'll need to water. Most of Florida is sugar sand (except the lucky people in the hostorical Everglades area who have muck) Yu can amend the sugar sand, but it will be heat blasted and vaporized into sand again within 3-6 months. Consider raised beds or container gardening.

Summertime the heat and humdidity and rains will destroy most of what the rest of the world considers heat tolerant crops. Swiss chard is a winter vegie for me. About the only things we found that grow well in the summer are sweet potatoes, peanuts, blackeye peas, and yardlong beans. Oh, and Malabar spinach. Limas should be planted in summer. They won't start to set pods till the fall and you'll lose most of your beans to bugs until cool weather sets in.
Consider also your micrclimate. According to Sunset Mag's gardening zones, my city place, an hour north of Miami, is zone 11. USDA lists our lake cabin area as zone 9. We are on high ground, lakefront, and its really a zone 10. My neighbors daughter lives on the other side of the Lake Wales Ridge, on a lake, but lower ground. Her microclimate is zone 8 and she has given up trying to grow citrus.

We bought a special low chill apple 3 in 1 grafted tree from Raintree Nurseries, and a slef fertile crabapple (Evereste) We have Jaboticabas at both the lake and city. Good for wine, jams, and fresh fruit. Pakistan Mullberries. Avocados. Dovyalis (spicy tropical peachlike fruit) Banaanas. Monstera Deliciousa. Pineapples. Carambloas (very productive, we get 3 crops a year) Bluberries will grow in your area. If you have a tropical microclimate and think about tropical fruits and vegetables, be sure to check day length. Very frustrating to me over the years to try to grow tropical vegies and find they need short days- winter- conditions. Everything else in the world grows during the winter, why would I need to try to grow tropicals during the winter?
If you can spare the time go by University of S FL gardens a- or Fairchild down in miami, or Echo Farm in N Ft Myers. Lots of good gardening ideas. And hey, good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
:D

Thanks, I hadnt thought of any of those ideas, I have to get the holliday hat off and put the real life one on, me thinks lol
 

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get your spring garden ready now!. start with early maturing vegetables this will get you going and beat the bugs in may-sept. Oh that old phrase ? "April showers bring May Flowers" Bugs to Buddy and welcome, Later Guilt trip, Zone 9 Central Florida Twenty five miles north of Tampa and Twenty five years. Oh I just about forgot I Had a frost the last of Oct. Go figure, killed 80 Cucumber plants to the Ground
 
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