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Raised bed vegetable garden

Successful home gardening comes with careful planning and constant attention. Select the site carefully, plant at the correct time, use the right amount of fertilizer, use adapted varieties, and control pests.

Site. Select a site exposed to full sun. Too many gardeners try to grow vegetables in competition with trees, shade from buildings, or fences. The soil should be well drained and free of harmful chemicals, oil, ashes, mortar, etc.

Soil Management. You can improve your garden soil by adding organic matter—compost, leaf mold, or well- rotted sawdust. Work it into the soil in the late fall.

Lime and Fertilizer. A soil test is the best way to determine lime and fertilizer needs. Your county Extension office has information about soil tests. Testing at least every 3 years is a good idea. For most vegetables, the soil pH should be around 6.0 to 6.5. To be effective, the lime must be mixed into the soil before planting. Long-season crops such as tomatoes, cabbage, pepper, okra, and potatoes need more fertilizer than short-season crops. Experience and close observation are the best guides for additional sidedressing.

Seed and Plants. Seeds are cheap, so get the best available. Don’t seed too thickly. Plant small seed, such as turnips and carrots, about 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch deep. Plant larger seed, such as beans, cucumbers, and peas, about 1 inch deep. Use only stocky, healthy, fresh plants. Always water transplants to settle soil around roots. Set tall plants deeper in the ground than they grew originally.

Weed Control. To control weeds, use a mulch. Deep cultivation after plants are older will do more damage than good. Chemical weed killers are not usually recommended for home gardens. Before using a weed control product, get full information on how to use it and what crop it should be used on.

Irrigation. Water is essential for a top-notch garden. During long dry periods, soak the garden thoroughly once a week; don’t just sprinkle daily. Light, frequent irrigation helps only during the period of seed germination. Overhead irrigation, especially late in the afternoon, is likely to spread certain foliage diseases. If you use overhead irrigation, do so earlier in the day so plants can dry before night.

Disease Control. The best practices in disease control are rotation, clean seed, resistant varieties (when available), early planting, plowing under old crop debris, mulching, and seed treatment. Chemical fungicides may be used to control some common leaf diseases of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. If the garden is heavily infested with nematodes, either move the garden or heat the soil through a process called soil solarization.

Insect Control. For a successful garden, you must control insects. Early planting will miss some insects, but usually you’ll have to use insecticides. Use biosensitive insecticides as your first choice to treat for insect problems in the garden. Safer insecticidal soaps will help control aphids and other soft-bodied insects early on. Malathion is a good all-round material for aphids and red spider mites and gives some worm control. Carbaryl (Sevin) is another effective material, especially for bean beetles, tomato and corn earworms, cucumber beetles, and pickleworms. Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt (Dipel, Thuricide) is an excellent biological control for cabbage worm or cabbage looper.

Use all chemicals—for insects, weeds, or nematodes—according to directions on the label. The label will tell you the amount to be used, the crops to use it on, and the number of days between application and harvest. The label is one of the most important pieces of garden literature available. Read and heed it for effective use and safety.

Harvesting. The main reason for a home garden is to produce high-quality vegetables. Harvest often to get vegetables at the proper stage of maturity. If beans, okra, cucumbers, etc., are left to mature fully, the plant will stop producing. Early morning harvest, before vegetables absorb heat from the sun, is best for most vegetables. Freeze or can the surplus if you want to enjoy your garden all year.

Alabama Vegetable Garden Planting

These planting dates are for Central Alabama. For South Alabama, make spring plantings approximately 10 days earlier and fall plantings 10 days later. In North Alabama, make spring plantings approximately 10 days later and fall plantings 10 days earlier. The planting chart is two pages. Use the the button at the bottom of the chart to advance it to page 2. You can also type the vegetable you are interested into the chart’s search box.

Alabama Vegetable Garden Planting Chart

VegetableDays to MaturityCultivars**Planting Dates, SpringPlanting Dates, FallSeeds or Plants/100 ftSpacing, Rows/Plants (inches)
Spinach40 - 45Bloomsdale LongstandingFeb. 15 -
Mar. 15
September1 oz30x2-3
Rutabagas90 - 120American Purple TopJuly1/2 oz36x6-2
Radishes 25 - 30Cherry Belle, Scarlet Globe, White IcicleFeb. 1 -
April 1
Sept. 1 -
Oct. 15
1/2 oz24x1
Pumpkins 90 - 110Autumn Gold, Connecticut Field, Baby Bear, Jack Be Little, Peak A Boo, SpookieJuly 1 oz72-96x36-60
Potatoes, Sweet90 - 120Beauregard, Georgia Red, Red JewelApr. 15 - June 15***100 plants36x12
Potatoes, Irish70 - 90Red LaSoda, Red Pontiac, Sebago, SuperiorFebruary Aug. 1-1512 lbs36x12
Peppers 65 - 85Hot: Cayenne, Super Chili, Habanero, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeno
Sweet: Sweet Banana, Gypsy, Keystone Resistant Giant, Golden Summer, Chocolate Beauty, Purple Beauty, King Arthur, Bell King
April 1 -
May 10***
July***50 plants36x24
Peas, Southern60 - 70Pinkeye Purple Hull, Mississippi Purple, Mississippi Silver, Freeze GreenApril-July 1/2 lb42x4-6
Peas, Garden60 - 70Little Marvel, Green Arrow, Snappy, Victory FreezerFebruary1 lb36x2
Onions, Green40 - 55Multiplying: EvergreenOctober -
February
1 qt30x2-4
Onions, Bulb 100 - 120Fresh bulb: Granex 33, Grano 502, Grano 1015 Long-storing bulb: Yellow, White, RedJan. 15 -
Mar. 15***
Sept. 15 -
Oct. 15
1/2 oz or 400 plants30x2-4
Okra 50 - 65Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Lee, BurgundyApril 10 -
June 30
1 oz36x12
Mustard 40 - 50Florida Broadleaf, Giant Southern Curled, Red GiantFeb. 1 -
Mar. 15
Aug. 15 -
Sept. 5
1/2 oz30x2
Muskmelons 75 - 90AUrora, Ambrosia, Chilton, Gulf Coast, AthenaApril 1 oz60x24
Lettuces 45 - 85Leafy lettuces: Blackseeded Simpson, Salad Bowl, Red Sails
Bibb: Buttercrunch, Summer Bibb
Leafy salad greens: Arugula, Chicory (Radicchio), Corn Salad
Jan. 15 -
Feb.***
Aug. 15 -
Sept. 1
1/8 oz30x12
Kohlrabi45 - 55Grand Duke, RapidMarchAug. 15 -
Sept.
1/2 oz or 150-200 plants24x6
Kale50 - 70Dwarf Scotch, VatesAug. 15 -
Sept. 15
1/2 oz36x10
Eggplant 65 - 85Black Beauty, Black Belle, Classic, Ghost Buster, IchibanApr. 15 -
May 15***
July 1-20***50 plants36x24
Cucumbers 50 - 65Pickling: Calypso, Explorer
Slicing: Dasher II, Fanfare, Salad Bush, General Lee
Apr. 15 -
May 15
July 1-201 oz60x24
Corn, Sweet? 65 - 90Silver Queen, Golden Queen, Seneca Chief, How Sweet It Is, Merit, Snow BelleMar. 1 -
June 1
1/4 lb36x12-18
Collards 60 - 80Champion, Georgia Southern, Vates, Top BunchJuly 1 -
Sept. 15
1/2 oz36x12-18
Cauliflower 60 - 75Snowball, Snow Crown, Violet QueenJan. 1 -
Feb. 15***
July 25 -
Aug.10
1/2 oz36x12
Carrots 60 - 80Chantenay, Danvers 126, Lady Fingers, Scarlet Nantes, ThumbelinaMarch July 20 -
Sept. 20
1/4 oz30x1-2
Oriental Cabbages45 - 60Michihli, Bok choi, Pak choi, NapaAug. 1-15 1/2 oz36x12
Cabbage 60 - 85Bravo, Charleston Wakefield, Round Dutch, Stonehead Savoy Cabbage: AceJan. 1 -
Feb. 15***
July 2 -
Aug. 10
1/2 oz36x12
Brussels Sprouts90 - 120Long Island Improved, Jade Cross Hybrid, Prince MarvelAug. 1 -
Sept. 1
1/2 oz36x18
Broccoli55 - 75Green Comet, Green Duke, Packman, Premium Crop, MarinerAug. 1-15 1/2 oz36x18
Beets55 - 65Asgrow Wonder, Detroit Dark RedFebruary August1/2 oz30x2
Beans, Pole Lima80 - 85Carolina Sieva, Florida Speckled, King of the GardenApr. 15 -
May 15
July 15 -
Aug. 1
1/2 lb36x6-8
Beans, Lima65 - 75Fordhook 242, Baby Fordhook, HendersonApr. 10 -
May 10
July 20 -
Aug. 5
3/4 lb36x3-6
Beans, Pole Snap60 - 75Dade, Kentucky Wonder, Kentucky BlueApr. 10 -
May 10
July 20 -
Aug. 5
3/4 lb36x3-6
Beans, Bush Snap50 - 60Contender, Green Crop, DerbyAprilAug. 5-203/4 lb36x2-3
Asparagus2nd YearMary Washington (female hybrid), UC-157 (male hybrid), Jersey Giant (male hybrid)April***50 - 75 crowns36x9-15
Watermelons 80 - 90Bush Sugar Baby, Charleston Gray, Crimson Sweet, AU Golden Producer (yellow meat)April June 15-301/2 oz96x96
Turnips 40 - 60Purpletop, Shogoin, Just Right (roots)Feb. 1 -
April 1
Aug. 10 -
Oct. 1
1/4 oz30x2
Tomatoes 70 - 90Atkinson, Better Boy, Big Beef, Celebrity, Husky Gold, Monte Carlo, Small Fry and Sweet Chelsea (cherries)April*** July***35 - 50 plants60x2436
Swiss Chard 60 - 70Fordhook Giant, Rhubarb ChardFeb. 15 -
Mar. 15
September1/2 oz36x15
Squash, Winter85 - 100Acorn, Cream of the Crop, Winter Butternut, Vegetable Spaghetti SquashAprilJuly 15 -
Aug. 1
1/2 oz60x36
Squash, Summer40 - 55Dixie, Yellow Crookneck, Yellow Straightneck, Cocozelle, Freedom III, Lemondrop (straightneck), Prelude III (crookneck), Sundrops, Tivoli; Zucchini: EliteApril Aug. 1-151 oz36x15
*Days to maturity are from planting seed or setting transplants in the garden. The number of days will vary depending on cultivar (some mature earlier than others), temperature, and general growing conditions. Check catalogs for individual maturity time.
**Cultivars listed in this chart represent a few of those recommended for Alabama. There are many other good cultivars that are worthy of trial in the home garden.
***Transplant

 

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