Baton Rouge, Louisiana's state capital, is located in the southern part of the state. It is in USDA hardiness zone 8, which means summers have a high amount of humidity and winters are warm, rarely reaching below freezing. The hot weather, along with the urban environment, of Baton Rouge may make some residents wary of growing a vegetable garden. This need not be the case, as there are a wide selection of crops that can be grown in garden beds or containers.
Plant cool-season crops, such as peas, lettuce and spinach, as well as root crops, such as carrots and potatoes, in late March to early April so they will mature before the hottest days of summer. Plant warm-season crops, such as corn, beans, squash, cucumber and tomato, in early to mid-April as these crops can withstand more heat.
Select an area in full sun for warm-season crops. Choose an area with six to eight hours of sunlight per day for cool-season and root crops. Check the soil in this area to see that it crumbles easily when worked with the hands and that there is no standing water.
Add a 6-inch layer of compost or manure to the selected area. Till the soil with a garden tiller to evenly mix the soil and compost to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Check the temperature of the soil with a soil thermometer to ensure that it is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mark off beds that are 1 to 3 feet wide for small vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, using string. Mark off 1-foot squares for vining plants like squash and cucumbers. Allow 2 to 3 feet between each section or row.
Use a border material, such as landscape timbers, brick or rock, to create a border around the marked-off area. Place the border material around the outer perimeter of the garden space. Take care not to make the border too high, but rather keep it at or slightly above ground level.
Plant vegetable seeds approximately 1 inch deep in the soil with a garden trowel. Plant seeds 8 to 10 inches apart if in wide beds. Place only one or two seeds in the center of a square section for vining plants.
Water the seeds until the soil is wet, but not seeping, with a garden hose that has a soaker attachment. Spread a layer of pinestraw 3 to 4 inches thick over the newly planted area. Place a 1- to 2-inch layer of pinestraw between each row or section.
Water plants at least three times a week with the garden hose. Stake tomatoes and beans as they begin to grow and become too heavy. Remove weeds at least once a week by chopping them with a garden hoe or by pulling them up by hand and discarding.