But First, Soil Samples…
Fall is the best time to sample, but it is not too late to have your soil sampled to ensure your home garden has the best chance of generating quality fruits and vegetables. Soil samples test for the nutrients that are available to the plants. The University of Georgia can then recommend certain amendments to adjust for your crop. pH is also tested and plays a big part in plant growth and production. Check out this pamphlet for more soil sampling information: https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/C%20896_5.PDF
What to grow?
Whether you are a first-time gardener or a seasoned grower, deciding what to plant is half the fun. The options are endless, but it really depends on preference. Lets take a look at some common vegetables in the home garden: beans, corn, peppers, and tomatoes.
Here is a general calendar guide for your home garden: https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/C%20943_4.PDF
- Bush Beans vs Pole/Runner Beans
- Pole/Runner beans grow in a trailing or vine habit. They can be trained to a tepee frame for a fun playhouse for children. They do take more time to mature, but they produce a handful of beans each day. With continuous harvesting they will continue to produce up until the first frost.
- Bush beans will grow 1-2 ft high and tolerate the hotter temperatures better than the running varieties. This type is typically planted in double rows to support each other. These are great for smaller home gardens with limited space.
- Check out this UGA publication about beans: https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/C%201006_2.PDF
- Majority of corn grown in home gardens are the sweet corn varieties: normal sugary (su), sugary enhanced (se) and supersweet (sh2). Sweet corn is not difficult to grow and you can add it to many different dishes or enjoy it grilled.
- By following the guidelines in this publication, your sweet corn will do great: https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/C%20905_4.PDF
- From the mild bell peppers to the habanero and chili peppers, growing peppers is relatively easy and rewarding. Peppers can be classified as sweet and hot. Some of my favorite peppers to grow are the Big Bertha bell peppers and Jalepeños. One thing to consider is problems like blossom-end rot and insects. Through proper management of the whole garden, you won’t have many issues.
- The varieties are endless and there is a tomato for everyone. Cherokee Purples are a popular heirloom variety that produces a purpley flesh that has a sweet rich taste. The Beefmasters and the Better Boys produce larger, meaty, red fruits. Tomatoes are generally tolerant of insect damage, but occasionally need management of common garden pests.
Check out the full Home Garden Series publications at: https://extension.uga.edu/publications/series/detail.html?id=71&name=Home+Garden