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planning a vegetable garden

With the rising costs at the supermarket, fears of chemical contamination, and a food supply chain situation, you will find starting a vegetable garden a simple solution to those problems.

It doesn’t matter if you have a home backyard or an apartment balcony. A vegetable garden is doable by anyone.

Even the beginner.

Let this step-by-step guide show you how to get into vegetable gardening for your survival preparations

Here, you’ll learn how to grow your way to a fantastic harvest – from making the right vegetable choices to where, when, and how to plant them.

How To Start A Vegetable Garden Step By Step (Start With A Plan)

Planning your vegetable garden is a must.

Beginner or a green thumb hobbyist, you need a solid plan to start a vegetable garden, whether in pots on your balcony or several hundred square feet in your backyard.

How To Decide On A Location For Your Vegetable Garden

Consider where it would be possible to grow a vegetable garden. 

    • Vegetables will need at least 8-10 hours of sunlight a day. 
    • What kind of effort will be involved in using that space?
    • Is it easily accessible from the house?
    • Will you have to level out a sloping landscape?
    • How about water? In addition to sunlight, you will need adequate water to keep those vegetables thriving. You’ll want easy access to a water supply.

Decide on a location to deal with those questions and decide how much time and effort you will make to grow your first vegetable garden.

No worries if a location does not look suitable for the yard or you don’t have one. We’ll talk about growing vegetables in pots and indoors later.

Planning A Vegetable Garden Size (Why It Matters)

vegetable garden planning

 

What’s your harvesting intent?

Are you forgoing vegetable shopping and planning to supply your vegetables via your garden?

Or are you supplementing your existing use of vegetables?

How about just as a hobby, a bucket list check for fun?

Considering supplying all your vegetables for yourself and the family, consider this: You will need 150-200 square feet of space for each person.

That could be more than you would want to tackle at this time. It would be in your best interest to start smaller.

A lot smaller.

A 10 x 10 area would be a good starting point for someone learning how to start a vegetable garden.

That’s 100 square feet, which can grow a lot of produce.

How To Measure And Prepare Your Backyard Vegetable Garden

Time to get to work. 

Connect some stakes pounded into the ground at the perimeter with some twine. Now you know where to start digging.

Right now, remove any grass, weeds, and anything else that doesn’t belong in a vegetable garden. 

Time for a soil test. 

A soil test is a great way to ensure vigorous vegetables throughout the growing season. Testing could be done by yourself and is inexpensive and well worth the time and cost when it comes to being a successful gardener of vegetables. 

You will need to find out the all-important pH level of the soil. The pH level should be within the 6-6.5 range for nutrients to work correctly.

Test kits are available at those big box stores and online.

After testing your soil, you could find it too acidic (low pH). You can raise it by adding powdered limestone, which you can find at most home and garden stores.

Consider applying organic materials such as compost or sulfur if the pH is high. Sulfur would also be available in home and garden stores.

Both are time-related fixes, usually taking several months to see any results, so apply these methods in the fall or early spring. The application rate will be on the packaging. And remember, more is not better

After applying one of those amendments, turn it into your soil with an ample supply of peat moss and compost.

Yes, I know, you don’t have any compost now. No worries, pick up some composted cow manure at the garden center. 

That’s composting gold.

Both of those amendments will do wonders for your soil quality, and your vegetables will reward you with an awesome harvest for doing it.

You now need to prepare to plant your vegetable garden.

Generally speaking, you could incorporate rows or squares. Use stakes and string to map out your design on the ground.

Rows will be straight horizontal lines one foot apart, for the squares incorporate a grid by staking in one-foot spacing around the perimeter of your garden.

Remember to give yourself access to areas for maintenance and harvesting.

How To Start A Vegetable Garden In Raised Beds

garden raised beds

Raised beds, also known as square-foot gardening, is an excellent option for beginners starting their vegetable garden.

Easily placed on a prepared site in the landscape or an apartment balcony, the choices are almost endless. Raised bed ‘kits’ are available in those big box stores and online. As a beginner, do yourself a favor and buy one of these instead of attempting a DIY project.

They’re made from various materials, such as wood, resin, metal, and fabric.

As for placement, the same rules apply to sunlight and water needs.

As for a growing medium, combine bagged topsoil, peat moss, and compost.

Fill them up (at least 6” deep) and plant.

How To Start A Vegetable Garden In Pots

Pots are an excellent solution for smaller gardens. They are moveable and easy to set up for starting a vegetable garden.

Purchase pots with drainage holes. Larger pots could be put on a caddy with wheels to make moving easier.

The location will need that sunlight. You can quickly bring water to your veggies using a watering can.

Potting soil is readily available, some containing all the fertilizer you need already incorporated in the mix.

You can grow just about any vegetable in pots. 

A one-foot diameter pot will hold one tomato plant and up to three pepper plants. Four to five leafy varieties of lettuce will grow in one pot.

Some will need support. Tomato cages will not only support tomatoes, but they will also support the vines of other vegetables.

Best Vegetables To Grow For Beginners

You could love celery and crave sweet corn on the cob, but growing these could be difficult due to their needs and growing space.

As a beginner gardener, choose what you want to grow and eat by starting with some easy-to-grow and maintaining a variety of vegetables.

 

        • Bell Peppers. 

        • Lettuce

        • Cabbage

        • Cucumbers

        • Garlic

        • Strawberries

        • Tomatoes

        • Zucchini and Squash

What Herbs Are Good for Beginners To Grow?

If you’re growing vegetables, why not grow herbs to flavor things up a bit? You could produce 4-5 varieties in a 15-inch pot outside your front door.

The following are easy to produce from seed or already started plants from the garden center.

 

        • Basil

        • Parsley

        • Oregano

        • Mint

        • Thyme

        • Dill

        • Chives

        • Cilantro

How To Start A Vegetable Garden From Seeds

vegetable garden seeds

Although time-consuming, starting a vegetable garden from seed will give you a true ‘green thumb’ sense of accomplishment and will also give you many more choices as to vegetable varieties.

You can find seeds and all the seed-starting supplies in big box stores, such as trays and peat pots. The seed package will give you your growing zone with insights to help you to determine when to start your seedlings and how deep to plant them.

To give yourself a jump on the growing season, consider starting seeds indoors on a window sill or under grow lights.

You will then need to ‘harden’ the plants to better adapt to the sudden shift outside. That’s accomplished by using a cold frame.

But wait, there is an easier way to start a vegetable garden for the beginner. 

Buy already established vegetable plants.

Readily available in garden stores, these young plants will give you a head start on the growing season without spending the time and effort starting your vegetable garden from seed.

They will also have been ‘preselected’ as the best-growing varieties in your area.

How To Start A Vegetable Garden Indoors

Those with little or no space to grow that vegetable garden outside should consider some indoor growing techniques.

Although you will not be growing for the multitudes, you can still get some satisfaction from starting a vegetable garden indoors for fresh produce.

Easy Hydroponics For Starting An Indoor Vegetable Garden

Today’s available hydroponic devices are plentiful and can be set up almost anywhere inside, even in a closet. 

They are self-contained with dedicated lighting. All you need is water and an electrical connection.

Window Sill For Growing Herbs

Efficient use of a very small space will give surprising results.  

A collection of four-inch pots filled with store-bought potting mix is all you will need to plant some seeds or established plants.

How To Care For and Maintain Your Vegetable Garden

For a beginner gardener or a seasoned professional, tending to a planted vegetable garden will require some work.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For Vegetables

For most of us, including beginners starting a vegetable garden, a solid 10-10-10 fertilizer will be a good choice for in-the-ground and raised beds.

Read the package directions for application amounts. Don’t turn this into the soil. You can burn the roots that way. Surface application only.

The fertilizer included in the bagged potting mix for container growing will be good enough. You could add more later in the growing season using a liquid fertilizer.

Why Pest Control Will Be Needed

You can have the only cucumber plant within a 50-mile radius; that pesky beetle will find it. Not to mention those four-legged kinds, such as deer and rabbits. Fungus and disease will also threaten your vegetables.

Several over-the-counter products will help you in your battle against pests and diseases.

Going down the aisle of that retail store, you will find ready-to-use premixed solutions. Just follow the instructions for a cure and safe results.

How You Should Water Your Vegetable Garden

Watering your garden

The number one reason most vegetable gardens fail is an issue with watering.

Some gardeners water too much and others not enough. Knowing your vegetable needs and when is the first step for successful watering.

Watering your vegetable garden in the morning is the best time. You want to avoid wet leaves overnight, which could invite fungus and disease.

Consider Drip irrigation for an efficient and safer way to water your plants.

Now That You Started A Vegetable Garden It’s Time To Enjoy It

You gained much knowledge on how to start a vegetable garden at home.

You picked a location in your yard or decided what containers to put on your balcony or patio.

Using your new knowledge, you will grow an amazing vegetable garden.

You also learned what kinds of vegetables you intend to grow.

Soon, you will be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

What are you waiting for?

Once started, it’s not difficult to keep your vegetable garden thriving. 

Gather what you need and get growing!

FAQ

Frequency Asked Questions about starting a garden.

How do I plan the layout of my garden?

When it comes to layout, you’ve got options! Raised beds are great for drainage and easier on your back. Traditional beds work too, but might require a bit more labor initially. Keep your plants spaced properly; overcrowding leads to lower yields and more disease. Remember, taller plants should be on the north side so they don’t shade the shorties.

What tools and materials will I need?

Grab a sturdy pair of gloves first. Then, a trowel, hoe, rake, and spade should be your go-to tools. If you’re considering raised beds, you’ll need wood, nails, or maybe concrete blocks. Don’t forget soil, compost, and fertilizers too!

How do I prepare the soil for planting?

Soil is like the VIP of your garden party. You should test it for pH levels and nutrient content—you can get a soil testing kit from any garden center. Amend it with compost and fertilizers as needed. Make sure it’s well-tilled to allow good root growth.

What is the best planting technique for vegetables?

Techniques can vary, but generally, you’ll either sow seeds directly into the ground or transplant seedlings. Follow the depth and spacing guidelines on your seed packets or stick tags. Water immediately after planting to help settle the soil.

How often should I water my vegetable garden?

Watering depends on the weather and the veggies you’re growing. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply rather than frequently. Aim for at least an inch of water per week, either from rain or your trusty hose.

How do I deal with weeds and pests?

Ah, the uninvited guests! Mulching can help you keep weeds at bay. As for pests, keep an eye out and act fast. Neem oil or insecticidal soaps can be your organic options.

Are there any tips for a successful first harvest?

Absolutely! Start with easy-to-grow veggies, pay attention to the needs of your plants, and don’t skip on feeding and watering. Harvest as soon as veggies are ripe to encourage more production.

Can I start a vegetable garden in a small space?

Container gardening is perfect for small spaces. You can grow many veggies like tomatoes, herbs, and even root vegetables in pots. Just ensure they have good drainage and are big enough for your plants.

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