Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be very satisfying, especially when you live in a climate that provides a very long growing season. Such is case with the southeastern U.S. state of Georgia, where long, hot summers and ample average rainfall create excellent conditions for growing a large range of produce. Georgia is in USDA hardiness zones 6b in the north to 8b in the south, where cool season vegetable planting can begin as early as February.
Choose a well-drained, exposed area of your yard that gets at least eight hours of sunshine a day. Mark the corners of the plot with wooden stakes and remove any turf or other plants. Turn the top four to six inches of soil with the spade and cover evenly with at least four inches of compost or manure. Dig the organic material into the soil lightly and leave the plot to rest for several days before planting.
Draw a sketch of the plot and plan the arrangement of your garden by referring to the vegetable planting chart published by the University of Georgia, the link to which is in the References section below. The chart provides detailed information about planting times and row spacing for a variety of vegetables.
Rake the soil so it is level and mark out the rows with stakes and string according to your sketch. Make a mound of soil about six inches high along the length of each row. Follow the seed packet directions for each type of vegetable and plant according to the spacing and depth instructions.
Water the garden sufficiently to keep the soil moist at all times. Soaker hoses laid between the rows will save time and provide more effective irrigation. Weed your garden as often as possible and keep an eye on your young plants for signs of damage from pests, such as rabbits, insects or disease.
Even though Georgia in typically a warm region, it can get late frosts in the spring. If you plant frost-sensitive vegetables on or before the average date for the last spring frost, keep some plastic or gardening fabric handy to cover plants overnight to protect them from frost damage.
Contact your local office of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service to find out what kinds of fruit trees grow best in your area. Peaches are especially well known as being a good fruit tree for Georgia. Purchase good quality fruit trees and shrubs, and find out if they are self-pollinating or need cross-pollination to bear fruit.
Select a sunny, well-drained location to plant your trees. The trees should be spaced about 20 feet apart, although the spacing will vary by the types of trees you are planting.
Dig your holes large enough to easily accommodate the root ball. Be sure all roots are pointing downward; it is OK to prune extra long roots so that they do not curl up. Gently backfill soil around the roots and tamp down the soil when you are done.
Keep the trees well watered but be sure the soil drains adequately---most fruit trees do not like wet feet. Be patient. Depending on the type and variety of fruit tree planted, it may take five years or more before they bear fruit.
Stay alert for pests and diseases that can harm your young trees. Wrap the base of the young trees with rigid plastic to protect them from damage from rabbits or string trimmers.
About this Author
Based in Surrey, British Columbia, Stephen Oakley is a freelance writer focusing on environmental issues, travel and all things outdoors. His background includes many years spent working in the Canadian wilderness and traveling worldwide.