December Florida Gardening: What We’re Planting, Zone 10

If you’re a Florida gardener, you may be wondering how to react to the latest USDA hardiness zone map. As many of us suspected, it really is getting a bit warmer, which means December Florida gardening can mean you can take more chances. Here in Zone 10, in Central Florida, I have a long list of winter veg and cool season blooms on my list.

December Florida Gardening

As the winter season begins, Florida’s unique climate offers a variety of gardening opportunities. Whether you’re in the panhandle or down in the tropical south, December is an ideal time to start sowing seeds and planting a range of vegetables and flowers. Here’s a guide to what you can plant this month, with some basic info and planting instructions.

Root Crops

close up photo of beetroots on black background
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December is perfect for planting root crops in Florida. These underground treasures like carrots and beets thrive in well-drained soil and full sun. Sow the seeds directly into your garden, ensuring they have enough space to grow. Keep the soil moist and thin out the seedlings as they develop, allowing the strongest to flourish.

Beets

Beets are a fantastic choice for Florida gardeners in December. These vibrant root vegetables prefer well-draining soil and a sunny location.

Plant the seeds about half an inch deep and space them about 1 to 2 inches apart. As they grow, thin the seedlings to allow about 3 inches of space between each plant. This ensures each beet has enough room to develop fully.

You can also multi-sow your beets in soil blocks or large cell trays to plant out wherever there’s a gap in the garden.

Beets are not only nutritious but also versatile in the kitchen, perfect for salads, roasting, or pickling.

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Carrots

Carrots are a must-have in any Florida winter garden. They thrive in sandy, loose soil that’s well-drained and rich in organic matter.

Plant carrot seeds directly into the ground, spacing them about an inch apart. Thin them carefully as they grow, allowing about 2 to 3 inches of space between each plant.

Regular watering is important to keep the soil moist, which helps in forming long, healthy carrots. The joy of pulling up your own homegrown carrots is unmatched!

Rutabagas

Rutabagas, often overlooked, are an excellent addition to your December garden in Florida. These root vegetables need full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.

Sow the seeds directly in the garden, spacing them about 4 to 6 inches apart. As they grow, thin the seedlings to ensure enough room for the rutabagas to develop.

These are another root vegetable that’s a great candidate for multi-sowing.

They’re ready to harvest when they reach a good size and have a firm texture.

Rutabagas are lower in calories and carbohydrates than white potatoes and can be roasted, mashed, or added to stews, as well as making great home fries.

Radishes

Radishes are perfect for quick harvesting and are ideal for Florida’s winter gardens. They prefer cooler temperatures and well-drained soil.

Plant the seeds about half an inch deep and an inch apart. Radishes grow quickly, so thin them early and keep them spaced about 2 inches apart.

Keep the soil moist for tender, crisp radishes. They are ready to harvest in just a few weeks, adding a fresh, peppery crunch to your salads.

Turnips

Turnips are a versatile and easy-to-grow vegetable for your December garden. They prefer full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.

Sow turnip seeds directly into your garden, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Thin the seedlings to allow about 4 inches of space between each plant.

You can also multi-sow them in blocks or cell trays, harvest the largest roots as they mature. Regular watering will help develop tender, flavorful turnips.

They can be harvested when they reach the size of a tennis ball and are delicious roasted or in soups.

Cold-Tolerant Brassicas

Cabbage thrives in December Florida gardening
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Winter is one time of the year when brassicas really thrive in the Florida garden. These vegetables will need full sun during December. Keep the soil consistently moist to encourage lush, healthy leaves.

These greens not only add variety to your winter garden but also to your kitchen, offering fresh, nutritious options for your meals.

Try heading cabbages, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, as well as Tuscan kale, frilly, or Red Russian kale.

Cabbage

Cabbage is a great choice for Florida gardens in December due to its cold tolerance. Plant cabbage in a spot that gets full sun and in soil rich in organic matter.

You can start them in cell trays and then plant out or sow directly. Space the plants about 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on the variety. Regular watering and fertilization will encourage robust growth.

Cabbage heads are ready to harvest when they are firm and have reached a desirable size.

Kale

Kale is a hardy green that grows well in Florida’s winter. It prefers a sunny location and soil that is rich in organic matter.

Start in cell blocks or direct sow in December. Space the plants about 12 inches apart to give them room to spread.

Water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist, which is key to tender, flavorful leaves.

Kale can be harvested as needed, removing the outer leaves as they mature. The flavor of kale improves with a touch of frost, should we get one.

Peas

Garden peas and snow peas are ideal for sowing in December in Florida. They thrive in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Providing support for climbing varieties will help them grow upward, maximizing space in your garden. As they prefer cooler weather, make sure to plant them early in the winter for a successful harvest.

Irish Potatoes

December Florida gardening is an opportune time for those in Central and South Florida to plant seed potatoes. Those in North Florida should wait until January.

Choose an area with plenty of sunlight and soil that is loose and fertile for optimal growth. Regularly mound the soil around the plants as they grow, which helps in the formation of the potatoes underground.

If you don’t have the garden space for planting potatoes, you can grow them in containers. Even cardboard boxes will last long enough until they’re ready to harvest.

Alliums

Garlic, onion sets, and shallots are excellent for planting in Florida’s December. They require a sunny spot with soil that drains well. Space them adequately, as crowded bulbs can hinder growth.

Water them regularly, but be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to rot.

Spring Vegetable Starts

tomato seedling
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The reason I get excited about December Florida gardening is because I can start my long-season spring vegetables for planting out in the spring.

In Zones 10 and 11, gardeners can start warm-season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

I start mine in a greenhouse, but you can keep them outdoors under cover as long as the weather stays warm.

The best thing about Florida gardening is our back-to-back growing seasons.

If you want to learn more about planting schedules in Florida, check out my Florida Gardening Planner on Amazon. It provides a year-round planting schedule along with logging and planning tools for a full year of gardening in the Sunshine State.

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