Now that warm weather is here to stay, it is a great time to plant warm season vegetables in your favorite garden spot. All too often many of us get in a hurry to get out our tomatoes, peppers, beans and other warm season vegetables. We’ve also gone through the plant early, cover overnight when temperatures drop close to freezing routine. Followed by the task of uncovering them before temperature get to hot for them the next day.

Regardless of when you planted cool season vegetables and herbs, now is the time, before it gets too hot. Actually, many of you have already planted part or all of your warm season plants by now. Others are in the process of filling up their garden spaces. The three necessary items needed to grow a good garden are:

Full sun or lots of sunlight for most vegetable crops.

A readily available water source (years ago I ran a water line to my garden area so a short hose is all that is needed).

Good soil, which is not always available in the red clay hills of South Carolina where we live.

Because of No. 3 above, many gardeners have gone to creating raised beds in clay soil so they can add lots of rotted organic matter to enhance the soil’s physical and chemical characteristics.

The organic matter in the raised beds can be maintained year to year with fall leaves that are tilled into the soil in later winter.

Raised bed gardens are often small in total area as compared to many home gardens, but the addition of organic matter and easier access to water makes most very productive. Most raised bed gardeners plant fewer total vegetable plants, but they are generally more productive with good management practices.

Soils with good amounts of added organic matter drains better that plain red clay and can produce more vegetables than larger soil level garden spots.

Another item that might be useful in our area is a fence to keep out deer, dogs and other roaming animals and people.

Another useful aspect of using raised beds is that you can have growing vegetables for longer periods during the year and can easily remove seasonal plants and plant another crop of spring, fall, spring or summer vegetables.

This all might sound too easy, but with regular removals of smaller quantities of spent plants a new vegetable can be added for the next growing season (spring, summer or fall).

Last, but should be first, is pick up a copy of Clemson’s bulletin “Planning a Garden,” which will aid any garden in planting various vegetables during the best time for them.

If you have questions or need advice, call our office at 864-223-3264 or stop by off East Cambridge at the old Brewer School location.

James Hodges is a Clemson Extension agent in Greenwood County. He can be reached at 864-223-3264.