Vegetable Gardening In The Southeast

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner
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If you are new to vegetable gardening it is hard to know what crops do best in your area and when to plant them. The same goes for folks who may have gardened for years but then moved to another part of the country with a new climate. There are numerous books about growing vegetables, but not many speak to the climate conditions specific to the different areas of the country. Timber Press has sought to remedy that with a series of books, each organized the same way—a Get Started section, and month-to-month and Edibles A to Z sections. Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange covers the southeast region of the U.S. with her new book The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast. The official publication date for this book is December 11, however it is available now from Southern Exposure’s online catalog.

The Southeast region is not all the same and Ira distinguishes between the Upper South and the Lower South. Southern Florida, where the temperature never goes below freezing, is not covered in this book. I’ve never lived further south than I do now near Richmond, Virginia. This book helped me understand gardeners who live in the rest of the region. In the Lower South, the hottest times in July and August are a transition time, with not much coming out of the garden save for okra, sweet potatoes, and southern peas. Whereas a little to the north, we are busy harvesting tomatoes and most other summer crops. Nevertheless, there is heat and humidity throughout the region and Ira addresses the issue of heat very well. If you live elsewhere, but have a friend in the Southeast, you might benefit from reading this book as a means of understanding your friend’s gardening habits and schedule.

Sweet potatoes and southern peas, along with peanuts, are some of the staple crops I’m adamant about growing. I’ve written about how I’ve prepared them in my Homegrown Friday posts. Those crops and many more are in the Edibles A to Z section of the book, which has growing, harvesting, variety, and seed saving tips for each crop. The Get Planting section of the book has a chapter for each of the twelve months. At the beginning of each month there is a page with things to do to plan, prepare and maintain; sow and plant; and what could be harvested fresh from the garden. The rest of each chapter has gardening information and something specific to that time of year. I like that there is much mention of using transplants and extending the season using floating row covers.

Learn more about Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast at Homeplace Earth. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, the Mountain States, or the Northeast, you might find the Timber Press books on those regions helpful. Even though I’ve been gardening in the same place for many years, I’ve discovered that it is helpful to reread some of the gardening books that got me started. Now that I’m at a different level in my gardening I’m finding things that may not have been of interest the first time through those books, or reminded of things I should be aware of. Even if you are an experienced gardener, you will find something of interest in these regional books.

Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to at

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