How to Plant a Vegetable Garden in North Carolina


North Carolina gardeners must contend with a broad range of climates and soil types. The soil of North Carolina ranges from the rocky foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the west through heavy-clay piedmont soil in the middle of the state to the sandy soil of the outer banks region. North Carolina also gardeners face a varying climate. North Carolina's climate falls between USDA Hardiness Zone 8 on the coast to Zone 6 in the mountains. North Carolina gardeners must determine where their gardens fall within these conditions and plan accordingly before planting a vegetable garden.

Step 1

Select a garden site that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily and good air circulation.

Step 2

Test your soil for the soil pH, nutrient content and structure. North Carolina State University maintains a soil testing laboratory that North Carolina gardeners can access through the university's community and continuing education program. Contact your local county extension agent with the NC State University County Extension Service to find out the preferred method for taking, packaging and submitting a soil sample, as well as fees that apply.

Step 3

Consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Map to determine the hardiness zone for your location. USDA zone maps are located on the USDA website as well as many gardening books and the backs of seed packets.

Step 4

Break up your soil to a depth of 8 inches with a rototiller and remove all rocks, sticks, roots and debris with a rake.

Step 5

Add soil amendments based on the recommendations from the soil test. Spread soil amendments over the top of the soil in a 4-inch layer and turn them under with the tiller. Common soil amendments used in North Carolina soil include compost and peat moss to improve the drainage of heavy clay soils and moisture retention of sandy soils as well as well-rotted manure to improve the nutrient content. Raise pH levels with lime and lower a pH level with sulfur.

Step 6

Plant seeds in furrows or holes in the soil at a depth twice their diameter. Thin seedlings as they grow so that only the strongest seedlings remain. Plant transplants by creating a planting hole in the ground that is the same size as the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in the hole and cover with soil.

Step 7

Water your garden with 1 inch of water weekly. Use a soaker hose to provide water directly to the roots and prevent evaporation that can come from sprinklers.

Step 8

Fertilize with a granulated, balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer according to the package directions. Fertilizer directions vary between manufacturers.

Step 9

Cultivate around your plants daily with a hoe to remove weeds that compete for the plant's resources. Spread wood chips or straw mulch around the base of plants to reduce the weeds competing for the plant's resources.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Well-rotted manure
  • Lime
  • Sulfur
  • Seeds
  • Transplants
  • Soaker garden hose
  • Granulated, balanced fertilizer


  • NC State University Extension: Home Vegetable Gardening
  • NC State University Extension:Growing a Fall Vegetable Garden
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Soil Sampling

Who Can Help

  • Grow It: North Carolina USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: growing vegetables, amending garden soil, southern gardening

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."