Working for the Weekend: Plant a Southern Fall Vegetable Garden

Jill Staake

While gardeners up north may look on Labor Day Weekend as the beginning of the end of vegetable gardening, southeastern gardeners know that the best times are still ahead! After a summer of hot and humid temperatures that make growing vegetables too difficult, the milder temperatures of fall and winter promise healthy harvests of homegrown treats.

For southern fall gardeners, first expected frost dates will dictate when and what you plant. (Try this frost chart from the Farmer’s Almanac for help determining those dates.) Remember that if your garden is small and your frosts are light or short in duration, you can probably cover your plants and keep them going right through spring.

Because the season can be cut unexpectedly short by a frost, especially in more northern areas, many people prefer to start with established plants from a nursery rather than seeds in the fall. Still, seeds are definitely a possibility, especially if the time to maturity is short (some snow peas need only 60 days). Read the seed packets carefully to determine if seeds are still a possibility for you.

As for what to plant? Well, that’s pretty much up to you. Beans, peas, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash… any of these can grow well in a southern fall vegetable garden, along with many others. Like all vegetable gardens, make sure your location has good soil, at least 6 hours of sun per day, and remains well-watered.

My small vegetable patch is near the house (and the rain barrel!) in a raised bed, so I can cover it to protect it from the occasional hard freeze here in Central Florida. We like to raise beans, peas, lettuce, and zucchini squash, with a pepper plant or two thrown in for flavor. What are you planting in your southern fall vegetable garden this year? What have you had the best luck with in the past? Drop by the comments and give us your tips!

Live too far north for a fall/winter vegetable garden? Let show you how you can extend the gardening season in your area!

Every Thursday, the Working for the Weekend segment highlights a project or job for Southeastern gardeners to tackle in the weekend ahead. Know of a project you’d like to see featured here, or a garden chore you’d like some help with? Make your suggestions in the comments section below.

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