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Simple Year-at-a-Glance Advice for New Metro-Atlanta Gardeners

Posted Aug 29 2012 9:25am

Many people with great intentions are starting gardens but then getting stuck as the seasons change and they are not sure what to do next. I'm sharing information with new gardeners on a daily basis right now on email and in person, so I decided to write this post in case this info is helpful to you as well.  (Warning to my global readers: this particular post is specific to my grow zone, although you may find the general tips at the end of this post helpful.)  

I tried to make things as simple as possible so that new gardeners could see the year at a glance and know basically when to do what here in metro-Atlanta (which is zone 7B north of about Lenox Road, and zone 8A south of there).  Obviously, there is lots more to say and learn about all of this (see my links at the bottom of this post if you want to learn more), but these are the basics.  This post goes hand-in-hand with my previous one , which includes lots of links I think you will find helpful.  The Georgia Organics planting calendar is a terrific resource as well.

 Fall Season

September 1-October 15: Plant seeds by September 15/transplants by October 15. October 15-November 1: Add winter cover crop seeds (winter rye, crimson clover, hairy vetch) where desired. Save leaves for compost.  Add crushed leaves as mulch to select beds that you are resting over the winter, or to any new spaces that will be cultivated in the spring. Around November 1: Plant garlic around edges of planting space, if desired. Winter Season
Around November 15 (or as needed): Add hoops/row cover to beds with leafy greens that you want to harvest all winter. Root crops and brassicas (broccoli and its friends) can overwinter without cover. Add wheat straw as a mulch to carrots.      Spring Season
February 12-19: Clean out any crops that didn’t overwinter well. Plant onion sets and seed potatoes.
February 27-March 15: Plant spring crops in open spots.  
Summer Season

Around April 15: Start planting select summer crops as spring crops finish.  Build and erect trellises and other needs support structures.
May 1-June 1: Plant the remaining summer crops (or consider sweet potatoes or cover crops for school gardens).
Around July 4: Do second planting of summer crops.
Around August 1: Consider a third planting of summer crops (maybe just a few).
Fall Season (yet again!)
Around August 15: Clear out any finished summer crops.  Start select fall crops under shade-cloth or window screen cover or plant in the shade of tall summer plants. 
By September 1--swing back to the beginning of this calendar!
General tips: Be sure to water daily for 7-10 days after planting new seeds.  After that, plants need about an inch of water a week. Rainwater is preferable. Remove dead leaves regularly.  Ideally, add fresh compost when you plant and then feed your plants with fish emulsion, liquid kelp, worm castings, organic fertilizer, or compost every 2-4 weeks (vary what you add so you hit all of these over time). Get a soil test once a year or so of at least one bed.  Cover crop as much as possible.  Expect to pay a "nature tax"--other species will snack a bit (it's okay).  Over time, work to create a complete ecosystem for balance.  Harvest frequently.  Donate excess. See my book , this blog's archives, and the blog posts I write for Farmer D Organics for more tips.  Most importantly--keep learning as you grow.
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