How to Grow Vegetables in the South

Overview

The climate of the Southeastern United States presents almost ideal growing conditions for the vegetable gardener. Mild winters and a long frost-free period from spring to fall mean that the Southern gardener can grow plants from early spring until late fall. In the coastal regions of Florida, Texas and the Gulf states, it is even possible to grow vegetables year round.

Step 1

Test the soil by scooping a sample from several parts of your garden into clean containers with a garden trowel. Stick a piece of masking tape on each container and write the location from which you dug the soil onto each label with a marker. Take the containers to your local extension office and have them analyzed for deficiencies in the soil.

Step 2

Amend your soil according to the results of the soil test by spreading your soil amendments onto the surface of the soil and tilling the amendments into the soil with a rototiller to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Depending on the results of the test, you may need to amend the soil with nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium or lime. You may also include compost or manure in your soil amendments.

Step 3

Start cold-tolerant green leaf seeds and tomatoes indoors in late February or early March by planting them in seed trays with a sterilized planting mix or peat moss.

Step 4

Sow root crops such as carrots and turnips directly into the ground as soon as the soil is warm enough to be worked, typically in mid-march.

Step 5

Start warm-weather crops such as cucumbers, squash and pumpkins indoors in late March or early April.

Step 6

Take your seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day as the last average frost date of the year approaches to allow them to "harden off." Hardening off means getting the plants used to outdoor temperatures, which are more humid and vary more than indoor temperatures in the South.

Step 7

Plant the seedlings directly in the garden soil with a garden trowel once all danger of frost has passed.

Step 8

Cover tender plants such as tomatoes with floating row covers at night to protect them from unexpected cold or frosts.

Step 9

Keep new seedlings watered well until they become established. Then water as needed. In the spring, the rain will supplement your gardening. However, by late summer the rain will have stopped and watering will be required.

Step 10

Plant single-crop vegetables such as beans in stages to extend your harvest.

Step 11

Control weeds with plastic sheeting, weeding, hoeing and mulch.

Step 12

Plant a second crop of cold-tolerant plants such as lettuce, broccoli and kale in late August. These plants may be harvested into the winter months.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Garden trowel
  • Plastic containers
  • Masking tape
  • Marker
  • Soil amendments
  • Rototiller
  • Peat moss
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Seedling trays
  • Floating row covers
  • Garden hose
  • Sprinkler
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Mulch
  • Garden hoe

References

  • Testing Your Soil
  • Growing Vegetables In The Home Garden (Part One)
  • Starting Seeds Indoors

Who Can Help

  • SouthernGardening.org
Keywords: vegetables, southern gardens, planting vegetables in the South

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.