Growing your own fruits and vegetables at home sounds great, but what all goes into it? Seeds, tools, water, sunlight, time, and the right nutrients, to name a few.

After talking with Charlotte Garden Club member Dottie Henberg, one thing is clear: you need to have good dirt. A great garden starts with great soil.

“The best way to have a successful landscape here in the Piedmont region is to either create or purchase good planting soil – that goes for vegetables, trees, shrubs, and flowers,” said Dottie.

When you are building a new home, a lot of the red clay from the building process remains on the property. For a vegetable garden, you can purchase a good planting mix from a local mulch yard or gardening center to promote success in your garden. Or you can create raised beds for planting, which will ease maintenance and make tender roots happy.

If you decide on raised beds, you should place the garden in an area that has sun for a large portion of the day, preferably oriented towards the south.

A few other things to note are to have good drainage, good water retention, and, of course, good nutrition. Mixing compost into your soil mix can have a very positive impact on this, and topping the bed with mulch will protect the soil and keep it moist, keeping your plants happy.

We are currently in the middle of the summer growing season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for what comes next. Dottie mentioned plenty of delicious vegetables and herbs that you can plan on sowing the seeds or seedlings for later this month or in August.

Carrots, salad greens, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, beets, broccoli, kale, onion, spinach, and cabbage are all great fall and winter vegetables you can add to your home garden. You can plant some of these indoors as well.

Don’t worry: you can still plant tomatoes for the fall, which top the list of most popular veggies to grow in the country.

Sage, parsley, oregano, and thyme are a few hardy herbs to keep in mind when getting your late summer plants ready to go, as they will thrive in that colder weather. These herbs will produce all through the winter, so planting them in late summer will provide you with an early-winter harvest.

Planting in late summer is a great way to get a start not only on growing your own food but improving your soil, so by next spring you'll be planting the yummy summer vegetables like zucchini, squash, cucumbers, beans, and eggplants.

“Remember that everyone loves your vegetables, including deer, rabbits, and bugs, so you have to either be willing to share or have a fence around your raised bed to keep those hungry critters away,” said Dottie.

There are plenty of resources in and around Charlotte when it comes to gardening, whether you are learning new things from Dottie at the Charlotte Garden Club, receiving the monthly newsletter from the Mecklenburg County Extension Master Gardeners, or taking an affordable class with the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

Visiting the Botanical Gardens might inspire you to add flowers to your yard as well. Other local gardens to check out for your floral interests are McGill Rose Garden, Duke Mansion, or Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

Starting out with the right materials and giving your garden the nutrients it needs will lead you to a beautiful and bountiful harvest. What are you going to plant next?


Wendy Garcia


Wendy has been an Internet Sales Manager with M/I Homes for the past 3+ years, but has over 16 years of real estate experience in the Carolinas and has been working in sales for over 12 years. Her love for real estate and training continues to grow every day. She's married with two young children and has a rescued pit bull. She loves to cook, bake, and loves helping animals in her free time.