SUMMER PLANTS IN MIAMI
Miami is a very unique place to grow food. We're different from the rest of the country—while growers elsewhere are starting to plant, we're saying goodbye to our growing season. We can't really compare or share information with the other states in the country, because we have more similarities to places in the Caribbean or Asia. Miami even has different weather conditions from the rest of Florida! We live in what the USDA calls the zone 10b. If you're looking up any information about local agriculture, including "10b" in your Google search will make it more accurate.
Summer here can be, for some people, a dead season—but for others it's an opportunity to grow vegetables and fruit trees that are rare for our typical diets, diets we've built from what's available at the grocery stores, ways of eating that were uniquely imposed on us. This is actually a very exciting time of the year, because you get to explore and discover new plants, new flavors. The typical European vegetables won't survive the harsh temperatures or the extreme humidity, but more tropical plants can survive!
This is also a great time of the year to take advantage of the pause and work on the quality of your soil. When your soil is healthy and full of nutrients, your vegetables will taste and look completely different. If you have an area in your house where you'd like to start a new garden, cover crops are a great option for the summer. These crops are planted during the non-production season; while your season is "at rest," they allow your soil to rejuvenate and increase its fertility. They also help increase the nitrogen in the soil, prevent compaction, and eliminate pests. Here in Miami, you can use the following crops: buckwheat, sunn hemp, or cowpeas.
If you have the space, summer is a good time to start your own compost system. You can make it as easy or complicated as you'd like. There are many ways to compost and it depends on how much work you want to invest in it and how quickly you want the results. As long as you combine food scraps with mulch or dried leaves, with time, you'll get results. Turn all your food waste into valuable free soil. (There are some things to avoid placing in your compost, such as cooked food, meat, dairy, oil, onions, and citrus.)
Many plants can grow from cuttings, so if you know people that have a plant that you like, you might be able to just grow it from a piece of their plant. (You can also use YouTube to discover ways to grow from cuttings.) Below is a list of fruits, vegetables, and plants to grow this season, so you can get inspired to start your own food forest. The ladies at Little River Cooperative are having an amazing plant sale this weekend (Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7) where you'll find many of the plants mentioned here. They also do workshops throughout the year, so I highly recommend you to follow them on Instagram @littlerivercooperative if you are a plant nerd like us ;)
Fruits, Vegetables, + Plants to Grow in Miami's Summertime
Suyo Long cucumbers
New Zealand spinach
Lemon bay rum
Black pepper vine