The first step at being a successful gardener is to become well-informed about gardening. Order seed and garden catalogues and study the information available in these. Visit the County Extension office to pick up garden and vegetable bulletins.
McDuffie County is fortunate to have several active Master Gardeners. One of these people may be your neighbor. I know they would be more than happy to share their garden knowledge with those who might be gardening for the first time.
Take the initiative to get started early. Garden planning is the first step, and over the holidays many may have some time to plan for next year's garden. The successful garden is planned according to family needs and desires. Size and design should be carefully planned. Gardens do not have to be large to be profitable. Initiative can turn small areas into productive gardens by keeping all available space within the garden always growing something 12 months out of the year.
Work with nature. Use irrigation to supply additional water if rainfall is not adequate. Help nature conserve water by spreading mulches under and around vegetables. Follow recommended planting dates to avoid planting vegetables too early or late. The TV commercial "You can't fool Mother Nature" also applies to gardening. Crops that are planted too early or late may not make it.
If you haven't taken a soil sample in several years, then do it now. Soil analysis is the only way to determine fertility and lime requirements. Should sample results indicate that lime is needed, get the lime, applied as soon as possible. To get the full benefit of lime it must be applied and incorporated at least 3 months prior to planting.