If you want to test whether you have a green thumb for growing delicious food in a home garden, it’s time to start planning and planting — if you haven’t already.

South Carolinians are blessed to have a mild climate in which fresh vegetables grow abundantly and provide tables with barrow-loads of fresh, healthy food. Not only can vegetable gardening be a fun hobby, but home-grown produce can help families to keep down rising food costs.

Experts at Clemson Cooperative Extension say the number of home vegetable gardens are increasing across the Palmetto State. “Success or failure of home vegetable production can depend on many things, but some major reasons for failure are negligence, not following the proper instructions and not keeping up with current vegetable developments,” according to the service’s Home & Garden Information Center.

In planning a garden, Clemson Extension suggests several tips for success:

Write it down. Plan a garden first on paper and include who will do the work and food that your family likes to eat. Make sure there’s enough space to grow what you want to grow. “Remember that a small weed-free garden will produce more than a large, weedy mess.”

Order seeds by February. Some plants may be started early inside.

Consider sun and shade. If you are growing beans or other vegetables that require trellises, put the structures on the north side of the garden so they won’t shade other parts. 

Arrange plants. Group plants by the length of the growing period, by planting spring crops together to allow later-producing crops to grow in those places after the early crops are harvested.

Planting time. Make sure to consider a plant’s cold-hardiness when planting. Follow directions for the Lowcountry’s climate that are on seed packs. Check Clemson Cooperative Extension’s exhaustive list of factsheets to learn more about how to grow specific crops.

Use old City Papers. You can line your garden with newspaper to control weeds. Just top two or three sheets of newsprint with a layer of pine needles, grass clippings or dried leaves for an eco-friendly and inexpensive weed barrier. For more tips, visit

Planting schedule

Here is a general list of when you can start planting various vegetables and plants in your garden. You usually have 30 days to 45 days to get your plants into the ground in the Lowcountry, but for specific plants and recommendations, check online with Clemson Cooperative Extension.

Feb. 1: Asparagus, cabbage, carrots, collards, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, garden peas, white potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips.

March 1: Broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn and tomato.

March 15: Cantaloupe, cucumber, honeydew and summer squash.

April 1: Pole beans, eggplant, peanuts, Southern peas, peppers and watermelon.

April 15: Lima beans, edible soybeans (edamame) and sweet potatoes.

May 1: Okra.

Family Features contributed to this story. 

Help the City Paper keep delivering excellence

Winner of top 2021 state journalism honors (best editorial writing and best cartoon), the Charleston City Paper brings you the Best of Charleston every day. Support our “unafraid” journalism with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.