Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Grow a Vegetable Garden in North Carolina

By Patricia Hill ; Updated September 21, 2017

The climate in North Carolina is well suited for growing vegetables. Begin gardening as soon as the weather is warm enough to be free from all dangers of frost. Although North Carolina consists of varying climate zones, most sections from the extreme north can begin gardening by mid-April. Southern portions of North Carolina can get a jump start by planting as soon as mid-March, and mountainous regions typically wait until late April. While this schedule works for most vegetables in North Carolina, plant cabbage family vegetables earlier because they are not as heat-tolerant, and pests become more of a problem in the summer.

Select the size of your vegetable garden. Consider whether this will be a hobby vegetable garden or to provide a substantial food supply. Kathy Jundt, a master gardener volunteer at North Carolina State University cooperative extension, recommends 625 square feet to feed a family of four.

Select the location of your vegetable garden. It should be a location that receives at least six hours of full sun each day. A place close to a source of water makes it convenient when the weather is dry and plants need help with moisture.

Remove all grass from the top layer of the garden area using a shovel. Dig a couple of inches below the grass to get to the roots.

Add organic compost to condition and improve the soil. Organic compost consists of dried leaves, twigs, decayed plant matter and grass clippings (if no pesticides have been used). North Carolina soil varies in nutrients. Adding organic compost prior to tilling will amend the soil to improve quality and nutrient levels.

Till the ground using a garden tiller. Dig 6 to 8 inches deep into the soil. This helps to condition the soil and improve drainage and aeration.

Make rows in the vegetable garden using the tiller with a furrow attachment or by simply marking off rows with a garden hoe.

Add organic fertilizer to each row using your hand to lightly broadcast down the row.

Place vegetable seeds into the row, evenly spaced according to the package instructions for the type of vegetables you're planting.

Cover seeds lightly. Small seeds require less soil to cover than larger ones. Lettuce, carrot and radish seeds should not require more than 1/4 inch of soil covering them. Beans, pumpkin, peas, squash and cucumber will require somewhat more, but even large seeds should not require more than 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch soil on top of them.

Water the garden lightly with a garden hose to help set the seeds into the soil.

Watch for sprouts and seedlings to emerge. During the sprouting period, do not allow the vegetable garden to dry out completely, because doing so will kill sprouting seeds.

Apply organic fertilizer at two-week intervals after the first leaves appear on seedlings.

Apply organic pesticides as needed. Many parts of North Carolina consist of sandy and loamy soils, which typically contain more salt than traditional garden soil; therefore, your garden might not need pesticide treatment as often as other areas.

Harvest as often as your crops require. When cucumbers, squash, zucchini and okra begin bearing, you can anticipate harvesting every two or three days. Beans, peas and tomatoes might require weekly harvests.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Hoe
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Garden hose
  • Organic pesticide


  • The best time to water a vegetable garden is in the late afternoon or early evening. Watering during the day when weather is hot can cause extreme evaporation. As water is applied to the garden, evaporation begins and continues to all moist surfaces of the garden, including plant leaves.


  • Consult weather reports to ensure all dangers of frost have passed before planting vegetable seeds.
  • Summers in North Carolina can be quite hot. For your own safety, during hot weather, work in your vegetable garden early in the morning or late in the evening after the sun has gone down and high temperatures have subsided.

About the Author


Patricia Hill is a freelance writer who contributes to several websites and organizations, including various private sectors. She also contributes to the online magazine, Orato.com. Empowered by a need to reveal that unhealthy food and diet is a source of health-related issues, Hill is currently working on a cookbook and website for individuals with Crohn's disease.