Is it better to garden in Greenville SC or Savannah GA?
Q: I am considering moving from Sacramento to either Georgia (Savannah area) or the Greenville area of South Carolina. I think the soil in that area of South Carolina is largely clay, so I’m imagining Georgia would be better from a gardening perspective?
A: Unless you plan to garden on a large scale, either Greenville or Savannah would be fine to grow vegetables and fruits. Both places have plenty of sunshine and a long period of frost-free days. I’m sure there are Master Gardener groups in both cities who could show you the ropes of Southern gardening.
FURTHER NOTES FROM AN EXPERT:
I have lived and gardened in both locations as far back as 1981. They are both unforgiving of poor horticultural practices. Savannah/Chatham has very poor sandy soils – except for one part of the area that has a greasy blue gumbo. East of I-95 you might have high pH and salt issues. While sandy soils make people think it is well drained the water table is high so most plant problems are about wet feet. West of 95 we usually have low pH. Still have wet feet problems. Less likely to have salt unless you are close to a tidal creek.
Greenville does have red clay. Soil conditioning and good cultural practices are necessary. Gardening is possible, but you might need a stick of dynamite (or two) to initially till the soil. You will deal with very low pH most of the time.
Both locations have very low organic matter, very low CEC, high compaction (for different reasons), poor drainage (for different reasons). The both have the ability to provide year round gardening and triple cropping.
If was choosing a location for good gardening soils I would choose somewhere in the Ohio or Mississippi basins.
In all seriousness gardening can be done in either Southern location, but they will find both locations will require much more work and diligence than what they are used to.
Timothy S. Davis, PhD
Chatham County Extension Coordinator