Gardening in the South
If you live in zones USDA Hardiness Zones 7 through 9 or if you live in the South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolina, Tennessee and southern Virginia), then this guide is for you. Subscribe and get the PDF with month-by-month gardening tasks and helpful tricks and tips.
We’ll go through each season and month to see what you should be working on and what lies ahead in your garden. With a rock solid plan in place you can have a fulfilling and productive garden all year round.
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December, January and February are usually a very quiet time in the garden. This is not the case in the South. In fact, many of the cool season crops such as brassicas do best at this time. Another benefit to the south is the ground rarely freezes thus is malleable for planting these during this time. Also, it is time to add perennials such as fruit trees. This is also the best time to build a raised bed, find out how to do it. Make your gardening plans now!
December – plant fruit trees, cover garden beds in mulch, weed around areas where cool season veggies are growing, collect leaves for compost
January – finalize plan for spring garden, order seeds, begin cool season plants indoors
February – plant cool season veggies directly in the ground, such as carrots and beets, mulch well, and finished compost to all beds
Definitely expect more rain during this time. While more rain means you do not have to water, watch out for flooding, pooling water and other excess water issues that can impact your crops.
March, April and May are the second busiest months with planting, starting seedlings, crop rotation and succession planting. This is also the time when side dressing with compost and setting up new or additional beds, planters, pots or plots should be completed.
March – the final frost will pass this month, keep an eye on the weather, start warm season plants indoors, watch for rain and flooding
April – begin direct sowing plants outside, harvest early veggies such as radishes, practice succession planting
May – look out for early heat waves, harvest remaining cool weather plants, put final round of warm season veggies such as okra and peppers in the ground
Seedlings that you may have started in late winter are ready to go in the ground now. The final frost for much of the south is some time in March, after which you are ready to put in those heat loving plants like tomato, okra and eggplant.
June, July and August the garden warms up. Unlike the most of the country (save the arid southwest) the summer is when the heat sets in and many, even heat-loving, plants suffer. Plan on increasing water at this time a limit the amount of direct sow planting you do toward the end of Summer.
June – the heat will start to rise into the 80s and 90sF, put another round of mulch to protect plants from drying out, begin watering schedule, get your final round of warm season plants or seeds in the ground
July – beginning this month the night time temperatures will warm as well making any remaining cool season veggies like lettuce bolt, the beginning of peach and stone fruit harvest starts now
August – the most quiet period, begin cool season plants indoors toward the end of the month for a fall garden and finalize fall garden plans
Mulch is your friend during this time as it allows for maintaining moisture around plants and preventing burning small or delicate plants. Plan the fall garden now.
September, October, November is fall and harvest season. However, for most of this south, this is round 2 of gardening. Likely most of the first rounds of crops including strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, okra, etc. have already produced plenty. It is in September when you should plant a second, cool-weather set of plants, including lettuce which are too difficult to grow in the summer.
September – you can begin planting another round of cool season veggies from now until the end of winter
October – harvest season! Many larger, longer season fruits and veggies will be coming in strong around this time including squash such as pumpkins and loofah, as well as some fruits such as apples
November – finalize your fruit tree plan, if you are getting some, be sure to have most of your cool season root veggies in by now
How does your gardening season work? Although you cannot control the weather, you can always remember to keep trying and that failing, even big crop failures, is a natural part of the process. Grow your food!
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