Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 7-8

September 1 to September 31-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.

Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:

During the month of September warm season crops are pumping out their last bits of fruit for harvest. You can still get gorgeous tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and zucchini at this time, particularly if you’ve planted a second season crop. (If you didn’t, learn about how this planting technique can yield a longer harvest for you next summer.) At the same time, you need to be sowing seeds for fall and winter vegetables, including broccoli, kale, cabbage, and more. Now that the days and nights have started to slightly cool off it’s time to get busy in the garden again.

 

map for zone 7-8

Your Regional reporter

Katie Peters regional reporter photo

Katie Elzer-Peters is the author of Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening, Carolinas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Southern Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and many other vegetable gardening books. She lives in coastal North Carolina, where she enjoys four-season gardening.

To see what Katie's doing in her garden. Click Here!

1. Learn about growing a fall garden

In many ways it’s easier to grow vegetables in the fall and winter than in the summer. There are fewer pest problems and lower temperatures mean you don’t have to water as often. Most of the cool-weather vegetables we enjoy eating grow well from seed, which makes them cost effective to plant. Learn how to prepare the soil and your garden for cool-season vegetables.

2. Plant cool-season vegetables

Some vegetables that you plant now will last well into winter, or even spring. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, collards, and mustard greens can be harvested throughout the winter. You can stagger-plant carrots and harvest from November through March. Plant one crop of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds now for harvest around the holidays and another from transplants in February for harvest in late March and early April.

  • Collards, Georgia, , large
  • Broccoli, Sun King Hybrid, , large
  • Kale, Red Winter Organic, , large

3. Learn about how to cook and enjoy your summer harvest

This is the juggling act mentioned in the introduction—balancing warm-season vegetables with cool-season vegetables. With a bit of ingenuity, attention, and elbow grease you can extend your summer vegetable harvest into the fall. While you’re thinking about how to get the most out of your seasonal vegetables, now’s a good time to learn about perennial herbs that carry throughout the seasons. Plant once and harvest forever! The most convenient type of edible you can grow!

4. Plant berry bushes

Fall is an excellent time to plant berry bushes. They’ll have a chance to establish a good root system before the next growing season without the pressures of extreme summer heat. Some berry plants grow better than others in our climate. Highlighted here are varieties that are guaranteed to perform

  • Blueberry, The Southern Collection, , large
  • Blackberry, Darrow, , large
  • Blueberry, Pink Lemonade, , large

5. What you need for composting

Cleaning out the garden for the big seasonal switch means lots of plant material for composting! If you’ve never tried composting now is a good time to start because you can build an entire pile in one go. A leaf shredder processes “brown materials” such as dried leaves into smaller pieces that are easier for microbes to break down. A kitchen bucket keeps the “green materials,” including food scraps, under wraps until you can make it out to the pile. Finally, a sturdy composter makes it easy to produce great compost for the garden without tons of back-breaking work.

  • Leaf Eater Mulcher/Shredder LE-900, , large
  • Aerobin 400 Insulated Composter, , large
  • Kitchen Compost Pail, , large