Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
August, 2007
Regional Report

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This hibiscus is awaiting a new bed in the fall garden.

Fall Gardening is a Pleasure

If you've never grown a vegetable garden before, now is the best time to begin. Other gardeners wait for spring, and longingly read their seed catalogs. We dash home from the beach or mountain retreat, grab whatever we like to eat, and plant it. That's because conditions are favorable for planting a garden now in our region.

I'd never discount the effects of torrential rain, even hurricanes, and their alternative, horrendous drought, because the weather can dash any gardener's hopes as it destroys their crops. However, predictable insect invasions are less numerous in fall, and moderating temperatures especially at night are more conducive to growth than the extremes of spring and summer.

Vegetable Tips
More than any other plant group, vegetables need full sun to grow, flower, and produce the luscious edibles we seek. Amend the soil with compost (your own or a purchased product) to improve its drainage and moisture-holding capacity. Then put the plants on a nearly constant-feed program, starting with weekly doses at half strength. When the weather cools off a bit, and the plants grow, step up to full-strength solutions of organic fertilizer. Mulch and regular watering are the saints of the fall garden, enabling you to conserve whatever you apply in addition to rainfall.

Now and Later
Bush beans are a big hit in the fall garden because they grow so well now, as does squash and zucchini. If soils are less than perfect, plant the seeds, water once, then cover with a board or fine mulch. Seed must make good contact with the soil and stay moist to germinate, and a cover helps with that. Check daily so you can remove it as soon as the seeds begin to break the soil.

Prepare a bed now to plant spinach and chard next month. Work the soil, amend with compost if needed, and work in garden lime to sweeten the soil. In fact, spinach is one of the few veggies that need this treatment, but they will benefit greatly from it.

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