How to be cool in the garden

By: By Tom Hroza - Contributing columnist

By Tom Hroza

Contributing columnist

In Eastern North Carolina, gardeners get more than one opportunity to harvest a bounty of vegetables from the home garden each year and plans for our second opportunity, a fall garden, should start now.

Everywhere you go people are talking about the weather, it’s so dry, how much rain did you get last night, we haven’t had rain in a month, and all the showers just completely go around our place. It’s so hot, everything in my garden has dried up or is on the way to drying up.

Well take heart, because fall will be here before you know it and now is the time to prepare for our fall garden. I know everyone gets a little burned out from the spring and summer gardening, but a fall garden can be a pleasant surprise if we do a little planning now. The first thing we need to do is decide what we would like to eat and can we grow it successfully here.

Let’s take a look at some options: cucumbers, beans, beets, greens including cabbage, kale, collards, mustards, etc., okra, carrots, spinach, lettuce, turnips, broccoli, and cauliflower to name a few.

After making your list of things you and your family like to eat, decide when to plant them. NC Cooperative Extension offers a “Home Vegetable Gardening” (publication AG-06) that lists suggested planting dates for commonly grown vegetables in our area. You can request it at your local Cooperative Extension office. You can also view or print it from the following website:

Now decide whether you want to plant a transplant or direct sow the seeds. I like to transplant things like broccoli, cauliflower and collards and direct seed beets, carrots, beans and squash.

If you look at your gardening calendar, now is the time to start our plants that we want to transplant later such as broccoli, cabbage, etc. I like to start my own plants from seed rather then buy transplants from the hardware store, because I have a better choice of varieties. Some varieties are better adapted to our climate; some more resistant to insects and diseases and most important some just taste better. Don’t be afraid to try new varieties, you might be surprised.

Sow, plan ahead and enjoy a cool fall garden. Here are a few website that may help you find seeds for your fall garden:,,,,,

The use of brand names in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service of the products or services named or discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

Tom Hroza is an Area Extension Agent specializing in Horticulture serving Sampson and Duplin Counties.

Tom Hroza is an Area Extension Agent specializing in Horticulture serving Sampson and Duplin Counties.