How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Garden

Vegetable Garden Photo by pmulloy2112

Is there anything better than a garden full of your own fresh veggies? Growing your own food is very gratifying, not to mention delicious. It’s not hard grow your own food, but it will take some work to set up your garden for the first time. But once you invest the work to get your garden started, you’ll have years to enjoy growing fresh, inexpensive food.

Step 1: Find the Ideal Spot

Your garden spot should be in a relatively level spot, anywhere that receives 6-8 hours of sunshine a day. It should be a place that dries out quickly after a storm. You don’t want a garden that is mushy or swampy. Your roots will suffer and your plants won’t grow.

Make sure you mark your underground utilities before you dig. You don’t want to cut the invisible fence or the gas line!

Step 2: Plan the Plot

If you’ve never had a garden before, start small. Using twine, mark off an area the size of a small bedroom. This is a good sized garden for a beginner.

Raised garden beds are, for most beginners, the easiest way to get started on a new garden. The raised beds help to keep down weeds, plus they are easier to work. Your soil will be loose, rock-free, and ready for planting.

Old railroad ties or 4×4 pressure-treated lumber are laid out and bracketed together. If you plan for two 8×4 foot raised beds, with a one foot walkway in between, a one foot walkway on either side, and a one foot walkway along the end, you’ll have a garden that’s 11×9. You’ll need to call a garden supply center and have a load of clean topsoil delivered to fill in the garden beds. It’s an expense, but you will be guaranteed to start your garden with rich, weed-free soil.

If you live in a semi-rural or forested area, you may have to compete with racoons, deer, and rabbits. A chicken wire fence looped to metal posts will deter most animals. Just make sure that your fence goes all the way to the ground, (or even a few inches under the ground), to protect your food.

 

Step 3: Decide What to Plant

What should you plant? Well, what do you eat? If you eat a lot of lettuce, plant lettuce. If you love beans, plant beans. Plant your garden according to what you like to eat. Yes, radishes are easy to grow, but will you eat them? No? Then don’t plant them.

If you want a basic summer garden, here’s a basic outline of what to buy to get started:

  • 2 cherry tomato plants
  • 2 beefsteak tomato plants
  • 1 package of zucchini seeds (most families will only need 2-4 plants and zucchini plants get very large)
  • 1 package of summer squash seeds (most families will only need 2-4 plants)
  • 1 package of cucumber seeds (again, cucumbers get very large, so plan on leaving them lots of space to sprawl)
  • 1 package of bush bean seeds
  • 1 package of summer lettuce, such as mesclun mix

You can also plant other summer veggies, such as watermelon, eggplant, and peppers. If you want to grow more crops into the fall and spring, try cool weather plants, such as cool lettuce varieties, (such as romaine), spinach, and sweet peas. Growing your own Halloween pumpkin is a great activity to try with kids.

Carrots and potatoes are very inexpensive to buy. So, you may want to save your garden plot for more expensive crops, such as tomatoes, strawberries, or asparagus.

Follow the directions on the seed package and make sure that you thin your seedlings after a few weeks. That means, you will pull out the small and crowded seedlings to make more room for the more successful plants. You’ll get healthier, fatter crops if you thin them early on.

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