It's not too late to get started on your fall garden. In fact, in Georgia, it's the perfect time to transplant seedlings and sow seeds. Over the weekend, with the help of my wood-working saavy husband, I got my garden going. Here's what I did, and what you can do, too.
Pick a spot to plant
You want to find a spot in your yard that receives a decent amount of sunlight (preferably at least 6 hours a day). My yard, however, doesn't get very much sunlight. Since it's almost entirely in the shade except for a small patch in front, I decided to plant some lettuces (not all vegetable plants require a ton of sun — some like being in cooler, shadier spots) in concrete containers on the shadier side of my house, and to plant the rest of the vegetable plants in the sunny spot.
The problem I ran into with picking this spot? The soil is terrible. Trying to churn it up was like trying to churn up concrete. Instead of breaking my back trying to turn the soil into something usable, I opted for raised beds. I think raised beds are a wonderful way to have a vegetable garden, especially because you can control what type of dirt goes into them.
Build a raised bed (or 2 or 3)
Pick a material to use in making your raised bed. Lots of materials will work, but I think a rot-resistant wood is best (be careful when choosing your wood; pressure-treated wood can sometimes leach chemicals into the soil and thus into your vegetables). Bricks can work well for making a raised bed, too.
Decide how big you'd like your raised beds to be. I chose for mine to be 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 12 inches deep. You can make them any size, but you might not want them to be too wide (that would cause you to have to actually stand in the bed in order to reach the plants in the middle). It was important for my beds to be at least 12 inches deep because the soil underneath them was so bad I had to make sure the plants would have enough good soil to grow their roots deep in the ground.
Construct your raised beds. Follow directions from a website, like this one
, to make the construction process easier.
If construction isn't your thing, you can always find a local garden business to construct some beds for you (or that sells pre-built ones). This option tends to be on the pricier side, but will save you a major headache if building isn't your forte.
Fill the beds with good dirt
Once you've constructed the beds, and put them in the correct place, they are ready to be filled with dirt. Local businesses that sell soil usually have good growers mix that you can buy in bulk, and will even deliver it to your house. Often this is more cost effective than buying bags of dirt from hardware stores (and you don't have to throw away a bunch of plastic bags!).
Get to planting!
Once you've got your beds filled with good soil, you're ready to start planting your seedlings and/or seeds. Georgia Organics
has a great planting calendar
that tells you what months are good for planting which crops. You can find seedlings and seeds at local farmers markets, nurseries and hardware stores.
Gardening books can also help you know when to plant what, and where to plant certain plants. For example, "Carrots Love Tomatoes
" is a simple book about companion planting and natural pest control.
After a few months of caring for your garden, you'll be able to harvest the fruits of your labor and enjoy some delicious home grown and home cooked vegetables.
Photo: Molly Canfield