Master Gardener: Year-round gardening challenge not as hard as it sounds

Gardening challenge

A single raised bed is all you need to take the year-round gardening challenge.

Shawn Banks / NCCE
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014 at 02:16 PM.

I have a challenge for you: Grow at least one type of vegetable each season of 2014. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Vegetables can be grown outside in southeastern N.C. from late winter through late fall.  And, if you are willing to invest in a low cost cold frame or frost protection cloth, harvesting through the winter is easily possible. Plus, I will help you by sending out regular vegetable gardening email updates if you sign up for the challenge.

Taking the challenge

You can officially join the Year Round Gardening Challenge by filling out a quick online survey on the Pender Extension website, The survey will ask you simple question about what you would like to grow, the size of your garden, and your gardening experience level. Everyone who takes the challenge will have the option to subscribe to the Food Gardener email news service to receive regular updates about planting times, recommended varieties, insect and disease problems, sustainable and organic pest management, and upcoming classes and events.

Each month, three winners will be randomly selected from all challenge participants to receive a free Zone 8 Month by Month Garden Guide. Developed and written by Pender County Master Gardeners, this valuable resource is full of gardening advice for local conditions and usually sells for $9. The following season by season guide will help you plan how you will meet the year round garden challenge. 

January – March. January is a great month for ordering seeds and getting organized for the year to come. Believe it or not, February is the month to start planting hardy crops outside. Potatoes and garden peas, along with their close relatives snow peas and sugar snaps, should be planted in the ground between early February and early March. Carrots, parsnip, lettuce, spinach, mustard, rutabaga, radish, and turnip seed can be sown in the garden from mid February to early April.

Transplants of onions, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collards can be set out during this time as well. If you want to start your own transplants of these crops sow them in an unheated cold frame in January and February. March is the time to start seeds of eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes indoors to have transplants ready for spring.

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