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Get garden ready
There’s no better resource than UGA Extension

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension dates back more than 100 years, when it was established at the turn of the 20th century as a resource for sharing the latest university-backed agricultural research with farmers across the state. Today, with a network of dedicated specialists and agents at offices in every one of Georgia’s 159 counties, UGA Extension continues its work to serve farmers and businesses in agriculture, a driving force for the state’s economy. According to the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at UGA, food and fiber production and related industries contributed $73.2 billion to Georgia’s $1.2 trillion economy in 2021 alone — making agribusiness the state’s leading industry.   

But while UGA Extension remains an invaluable resource for farmers, its reach extends far beyond the state’s cotton and peanut fields, making its way into homes, schools and communities throughout Georgia. A collaborative effort among county governments, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the University of Georgia’s colleges of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and Family & Consumer Sciences, UGA Extension’s expertise is expansive, covering a wide array of topics across its three main program areas: 1) Agriculture and Natural Resources; 2) Family and Consumer Sciences; and 3) Y-H Youth Development. From pollinators, poultry, pollution prevention and pest management to food preservation, family development, field crops and fungus gnats, UGA Extension has something for everyone.

With a varied approach that includes programs and workshops, newsletters, club meetings, field days, publications and more, its experts make it their mission to translate the “science of everyday living” into easy-to-understand information, freely available to all Georgia residents, from teachers and lawncare experts to homeowners and casual gardeners.

One of the oldest and most primitive pleasures enjoyed by humankind is the ability to cultivate, harvest and enjoy foods straight from the ground. It’s a process in which many farmers take part every day as they work to provide Americans with an abundant and secure supply of food, fiber and other essential commodities. Thanks to modern agriculture, it’s no longer a necessity for the average U.S. household to maintain its own backyard food supply. Still, you don’t have to be a professional grower to experience the myriad benefits of raising your own garden. 

Science has shown that gardening can actually improve one’s health — both mind and body. While it undoubtedly promotes increased physical activity and a healthier, nutrient-rich diet, tending to the earth also has been found to boost well-being and relieve stress as it fosters an ongoing interaction with nature. In fact, many home gardeners say that the psychological benefits are the top reasons they garden, even more important than economic or social reasons. 

Working with the soil quite literally grounds us, and it’s a hobby that can be enjoyed nearly all year long. With its long, hot summers and mild winters, nearly all of Georgia — and Bulloch County in its entirety — falls into Zones 8 and 9 on the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2023 Plant Hardiness Zone Map. This map is based on the average lowest temperatures in regions across the country and offers important information to help gardeners choose plants that will thrive in their local climate. 

According to UGA Extension horticulturalists, there are two major planting periods in Georgia:

  1. SPRING: March to May, following the last killing frost; plantings are harvested in June and July.
  2. FALL: Mid-July to September, before the first killing frost; plantings are harvested from October to December.

What's Growing in Georgia?

That means there’s something to be done to plan, prepare and care for a veggie garden nearly every month of the year. As a guide, experts with UGA Extension have developed a thorough growing calendar, full of tips for success for seasoned gardeners and newcomers alike. The following is a shortened, modified version; it can be read in its entirety online at, where you’ll also find numerous in-depth guides to specific gardening practices and recommendations.

Vegetable Garden Calendar


  • Choose a location for your garden. The site should be near a water supply, with well-drained soil, and receive at least 8–10 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Map out your garden plan on paper. Be sure to include various vitamin groups and plant varieties when choosing your veggies. 
  • Decide on the amount of each vegetable to be planted, including enough to can and freeze, if desired. To lengthen the season of production, purchase enough seed for two or three plantings.
  • Collect soil samples, if you didn’t in the fall, and have them analyzed by UGA Extension. (Vegetable gardens should be sampled every one to two years.) Test results are used to determine the amount and kind of nutrients that should be added to the soil for optimal growth.
  • If nematodes (microscopic worms) are present, measures should be taken to control them before crops are planted.
  • Apply manure or compost, as well as lime, sulfur and fertilizer according to soil test results and requirements for your selected vegetables. The folks at the county Extension office can help determine your specific needs.
  • Prepare plant beds and seed boxes or containers for sprouting veggies including tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.


Pick up a free collection bag from the Bulloch County UGA Extension office (Bulloch County Center for Agriculture, Suite 600, 151 Langston Chapel Road, Statesboro). Using clean tools and containers, collect eight to 10 samples of the soil from several locations throughout your garden plot, at a depth of 6 inches. Combine the samples in a plastic bucket, and allow to dry overnight on a flat surface lined with clean white paper. After drying, transfer about 1 pint of the mixed soil into the soil sample bag, and drop it off at the local Extension office. Test results are typically returned within seven to 10 days. 

  • Routine soil test: $6/sample
  • Organic matter: $8/sample
  • Other tests available: Basic water, plant tissue analysis, feed and forages, special analysis
soil sample bag


  • Plant your seed boxes. When the seedlings form their third set of true leaves, transplant them to individual containers. (For peppers and eggplants, this will take about eight weeks; for tomatoes, six weeks.)
  • Seed herbs for April planting. Keep in mind that some types, including French tarragon and rosemary, are best to buy as young plants rather than to seed.
  • Prepare the land for planting. Early plantings should be on a ridge, or raised bed, which helps with water drainage and allows the soil to warm up earlier.
  • Make early spring plantings. Choose from carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, English peas, Irish potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips.


  • Make second plantings of quickly maturing crops like turnips, mustard, radishes and spring onions (immature bulb onions, similar to scallions or green onions). 
  • To ensure they have plenty of room to grow, thin out plants when they are 2–3 inches tall.
  • Before planting them in the garden, “harden off” transplants by placing them in their containers in a sheltered location outdoors for a few days.
  • Prepare garden rows for warm-season vegetables, which can be planted as early as the last week of March, weather permitting. Apply mulch (straw, leaves, compost or pine straw) between the rows to control weeds and conserve moisture.
  • Keep an eye out for insects like cutworms, plant lice (aphids) and red spider mites.


  • Plant your chosen warm-season, “frost-tender” crops: beans (snap, pole, lima), cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, field peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Plant tall-growing vegetables such as okra, pole beans and corn on the north side of other plants to avoid shading. For corn, plant two or more rows for better pollination. 
  • Within two to three weeks of the first planting, make a second planting of snap beans and squash. Within three to four weeks, plant more lima beans and corn. 
  • Plant tender herbs.
  • Cultivate the soil to control weeds and provide aeration. Add mulch between rows, if needed.

TIP: April showers bring May flowers — but don’t work in your garden when the foliage is wet, which can spread diseases from one plant to another. 


  • Make third plantings of snap beans, lima beans, corn and squash.
  • Prepare mulch for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, Irish potatoes, okra and lima beans. Apply the mulch before dry spells occur but after plants are well established — usually by blooming time.
  • Water your garden as needed. In the absence of rain, a good soaking once a week is usually adequate for heavier soils, while light, sandy soils may require more frequent watering. Water early in the morning, and use soaker hoses or irrigation tape, if possible, to keep the foliage dry, which helps prevent diseases.
  • Provide trellises or stakes for pole beans to climb. The plants should be attached by the time they start running.
  • If using stakes or trellises for tomatoes, tie up the plants and start removing any “suckers” — side shoots that grow between branches and the main stem.
  • Watch out for signs of pests, including various beetles and worms. They’re easier to control when discovered early.
  • Keep a journal or log book to help guide your next planting season. Record the names of your garden’s plant varieties, the seed source, and the plant and harvest dates, as well as fertilizers and any chemicals used. Note both your successes and failures, and your evaluation of each crop.

TIP: It’s important to keep your garden free of weeds and unwanted grass. They compete with plants for moisture and fertilizer.


  • Harvest summer vegetables including beans, peas, squash, cucumbers and okra. Pick them regularly to prolong production, and enjoy your bounty at its peak!
  • Harvest onions and Irish potatoes when two-thirds of the tops of the plants have died down. 
  • Preserve enough for the winter months ahead. Consider canning, pickling, freezing and drying a variety of vegetables.
  • Clear out rows of early crops as soon as the plants are through bearing. These rows can be replanted or may remain fallow (unseeded) to conserve moisture for fall crops.
  • Water your garden as needed.
  • Plant sweet potatoes and a second planting of Southern peas.

TIP: Potatoes and onions remain fresh for months if stored properly. Potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark place, and onions require a dry, airy place. Storing both vegetables together will shorten their shelf lives.


  • To allow them time to mature before the first frost, plant your final plantings of tomatoes, okra, corn, pole beans and lima beans no later than July 20. Also plant cucumbers, squash and snap beans. 
  • Clean off harvested rows immediately to prevent insect and disease buildup. 
  • Water deeply and less often, just as needed to prevent drought stress. 
  • Make sure the garden is well mulched to prevent weeds and conserve moisture.
  • Begin planning your fall garden.
  • Prevent grass from going to seed, which can crowd out garden plants and compete with them for nutrients.
  • Plant a pumpkin to harvest for Halloween! 


  • Plant the final plantings of snap beans and Irish potatoes (no later than August 15; seeds should be sprouted two to three weeks before planting) and cucumbers and squash (no later than August 31; varieties should be resistant to downy mildew).
  • Start plants for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and onions in a semi-shaded location.  
  • Apply fertilizer, and prepare the rows for cool-season crops.
  • Water just as needed to prevent drought stress. 

TIP: In order to calculate the planting date, determine the frost date, and count back the number of days to maturity, plus 18 days for harvesting the crop. For example, if snap beans mature in 55 days, and Bulloch County’s frost date is November 25 (the average date of the first 32ºF temperatures), you should plant them on or before September 13.


  • Choose mild-weather days to plant or transplant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, onions, radishes, spinach and turnips. 
  • Harvest mature green peppers and tomatoes before the frost gets them.
  • Water deeply and thoroughly, paying special attention to new transplants. 
  • Refurbish mulch to control weeds, and start adding leaves and other materials to your compost pile. When storing, keep manure covered to prevent nutrient leaching. 

TIP: Disinfecting garden tools can help prevent the spread of diseases. Before storing them in the fall, clean tools like shovels, spades and rakes with a homemade solution of nine parts water to one part bleach (1:10 ratio). Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) in concentrations of 70 percent or more can effectively disinfect hand pruners and other small hand tools, as well as small pots and saucers.  


  • Get an early start on next year’s garden!
–Spread organic matter like manure, rotted sawdust and leaves and plow them under to improve soil fertility and moisture retention. Be sure to save all those leaves for your compost heap!
–Submit a soil sample to UGA Extension for testing. 

  • Take inventory of the past year’s garden. Did you find you had too much of some vegetables and not enough of others? Was there a steady supply? Did you struggle with insects, diseases or nematodes?
  • Order flower and vegetable seeds early, while they’re all in stock. Be sure to review your garden log and choose varieties that were most successful in last year’s garden.
  • If you have seeds leftover from last year, check their viability by placing some between damp paper towels. If the majority of them do not germinate, order new ones. 
  • Add any garden tools you don’t have to your Christmas wish list!