The warm, humid climate of the southeastern state of Georgia provides vegetable gardeners with a very long growing season. Cold hardy crops can be planted as early as January 15th in the southern parts of the state and about a month later in the north. Plenty of sunshine and summer rainfall that averages three to four inches a month make for ideal growing conditions. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the plant hardiness zones for Georgia range from 6b in the far north to 8b in the south.
The vegetable garden must be laid out in rows according to the varieties to be grown. Crops such as carrots, onions, and beets are small and can be grown in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Larger vegetables such as asparagus, melons and squash need twice as much room. Refer to the Vegetable Planting Chart published by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension for detailed information on spacing and planting depth for most vegetables.
Correctly preparing the soil is essential to having a productive garden. Aged compost or manure should be mixed into the soil at least a week before planting. The ideal soil pH level for vegetables is 6.0 to 6.5 which is slightly acidic. As soil types and conditions can vary widely across Georgia, having a test done to determine the pH level before planting the garden is highly recommended. Soil tests can be arranged through local county extension offices.
Before sowing seeds, the soil should be pulled into a mound about six inches high along the planting row. The mounded soil will be warmer and provide better drainage for the plants. Seeds should be planted at the recommended depth and spacing along the row. All seed packages have this information. After planting, the seeds and soil need to be kept moist at all times. If hand watering, use a fine spray to ensure the seeds are not washed away.
When to Plant
Cool season varieties such as cabbage, asparagus, lettuce and many root vegetables are sown first. Planting dates range from early January to mid-March depending on the severity of the winter. Warm season vegetables including melons, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers are planted two to three months later. Vegetable gardeners must pay close attention to climate conditions in any given year and adjust planting dates accordingly.
Locate the vegetable garden in well exposed area that gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Tall plants such as corn and pole beans should be positioned on the north side of the garden so they don’t overshadow smaller varieties. Make sure the garden is within reach of an adequate water supply. If possible, choose a location close to the house to make maintaining and harvesting easier.