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Vegetable Garden Guide

When To Start Planting Your Garden

The idea of eating vegetables from your very own garden may have you wanting to dig in the dirt and start planting right now. Before you do that, it's important to understand the climate zone for your area. Climate zones are your guide in knowing when it's safe to start planting certain plants based on frost-free dates for the area of the country where you live. 

There is a frost-free date in the spring that indicates when it is safe to start planting vegetables or plants that don't like the frost. In the fall, there is also a first-frost date that tells you when it will be too cold for many things to grow well. The number of days in between these two dates is called the growing season.

Ask your local Southern States dealer about the frost-free dates in your area. You may also refer to plant hardiness zone maps which show a geographically defined area in which a plant is capable of growing as defined by climatic conditions including its ability to withstand the low temperatures of that zone.

The Southern States Vegetable Seed Catalog offers valuable information to gardeners. A planting chart on page 11 & 12 of the catalog lists optimum planting dates, based on the upper south climate zone, and includes a chart to determine how much seed to buy for your garden.

Easy Steps To Grow A Tasty Vegetable Garden

You've decided to plant a vegetable garden, but how do you begin? Here are some suggestions for getting started and reaping the rewards of fresh, tasty vegetables grown by you.

  • First, decide what you want to grow. A good plan is important for the beginner gardener. Your plan will include what vegetables to plant, which varieties to select, and their locations in the garden. The Southern States Vegetable Seed Catalog is a good resource to help you select the perfect vegetable varieties for your garden. Grow vegetables that you enjoy eating or sharing with friends and neighbors.
  • If you don't have an existing garden, walk around your yard and look for flat ground away from buildings and trees that gets full sunlight, is easy to water and is not used for other yard activities. If you're new to gardening, start with a small garden. You can always add to it later.
  • Next, prepare the garden soil. Mark out the garden area and use long-handled tools such as a Round Point Shovel to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. If the soil where you live is very dry, water first to make it easier to work. Don't dig when the soil is too muddy. Turn over the soil 7 to 10 inches deep and break up the clumps. Remove any rocks, branches and weeds. Remember to call your local utilities information hotline before you dig!
  • Vegetables will not grow well on poorly drained soil. If your garden soil has a lot of clay or is poorly drained, form high beds (3" – 4"-high mounds) so they will drain quickly and the soil will warm up.
  • Most vegetables are heavy feeders and require a soil well supplied with plant food and organic matter. The three nutrients used most by your plants are the so-called macronutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen stimulates green leaf growth and form's proteins and chlorophyll. Phosphorus contributes to root, flower and fruit development, as well as disease resistance. Potassium promotes stem and root growth and the synthesis of proteins.
  • Premium Vegetable Grower Fertilizer from Southern States is a balanced special blend of ingredients in addition to the preferred balance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash.
  • Use a balanced commercial fertilizer in the rows 10 -14 days before planting. Use a balanced garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10 at the rate of 4 to 6 pounds per 100 feet of row. Sprinkle it over the row and mix it in the soil 4 to 5 inches deep. The exact amount to use for each vegetable is determined by the kind of vegetable grown. Leafy vegetables most often require more fertilizer than pod vegetables.
  • Make 2- to 3-foot wide beds for where you want the plants to grow. This is ample planting area and is not too wide to reach across from both sides to weed, water and harvest your crops. Walk only on the paths between the beds so you don't compact the soil.
  • Always read the information on the vegetable seed packet. It will tell you when to plant your seeds in your area, which method to use and how deep and far apart to plant the seeds.
  • Make a series of furrows using a hoe or use the a garden seeder from Southern States to precisely plant sees at the depth and spacing necessary for maximum yield.
  • Finally, water thoroughly but gently, using the fine-spray setting of the garden hose from Southern States. As your garden grows and water needs increase, use a pulsator sprinkler with tripod

Before you know it, your garden will be growing and you'll be enjoying the fresh-picked flavor of a variety of vegetables you grew yourself.

Below, we've provided some quick & easy advice for growing great vegetables this year. Call us or find our local store to talk to our garden experts on local vegetable gardening tips.

Tips For Growing Juicy Tomatoes

For the earliest tomatoes, start tomato seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before time to set outside. After seedlings are about 2 inches high, transplant to pots or boxes. Transplant again, this time to the garden, after there is no longer a danger of frost. Place individual plants, including roots and dirt, in watered holes, leaving 3 to 4 feet between each plant. Have garden soil enriched with compost or aged manure. It's a good idea to mulch with straw while the plants are still only a few feet tall to ensure moisture retention. For best results, be sure to use a fertilizer with a high calcium content. This will help prevent blossom-end rot.

How To Grow Great Squash

By following a few simple rules, squash can make even the most indifferent gardener an unqualified success. As soon as the soil is warm, plant 8 to 10 squash seeds in hills of soil that are spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. Then thin the seedlings out, leaving the three sturdiest plants to each hill. Squash likes lots of organic matter such as aged manure or compost in its soil. For best flavor, harvest the vegetables while they are young and still shiny, and before their seeds are well developed. A versatile vegetable, the many varieties of squash lend themselves to everything from appetizers to desserts. They are excellent sautéed or steamed and when used in casseroles, breads or cakes. They're even good raw with dips.

Simple Steps For Marvelous Melons

When growing melons, weather is key. The warmer it is, the sweeter the melons will be. Plant melon seeds in late spring to early summer, when air and soil are very warm. It will help to use plenty of compost or manure, then cover with black plastic. Transplanted seedlings can be placed into holes punched in the plastic if necessary. Sow 1/2 inch deep in hills that are 6 to 8 feet apart. For cantaloupes and muskmelons, plant 10 to 12 seeds per hill, then thin to four plants each. Plant only 6 to 8 seeds per hill for watermelon, and thin as needed.

Advice For Growing Tasty Carrots

Sow carrot seeds early in spring as soon as the ground is workable. The seed is very small and much easier to sow if mixed with sand or fine soil. Sow 1/2 inch deep in rows 1 foot apart. Thin while young, and again several times as they grow, ending with plants 2 inches apart. Carrot seeds need to be kept evenly moist as they are slow to germinate, sometimes taking several weeks. For best flavor, wait to harvest until carrots are deeply colored and fully matured.

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