How to Start a Vegetable Garden

What you’ll need

  • Rake
  • Garden hose
  • Shovel
  • Straw (or other mulch cover)

step 1: Plan

Few tastes rival that of homegrown tomatoes or freshly picked corn. Plan your garden well and enjoy tasty, wholesome vegetables all season. For best results, sketch your plan on paper before putting shovel to soil. Choose your favorite vegetables and space according to seed packet or plant tag instructions.

Links

Planning a New Vegetable Garden
Choosing the Right Size and Location for Your Vegetable Garden
Types of Vegetable Gardens
Selecting Vegetable Varieties
Early, Midseason, and Late Vegetables
Basic Tools for Vegetable Gardening

step 2: Prepare the Soil

Soil quality is everything when it comes to growing vegetables, so don’t cut corners on soil prep. Whether you’re planting in a raised bed or flatbed garden, add organic materials and slow-acting granular fertilizer. How much you add depends on your soil’s needs. Garden soil for flowers & vegetables conveniently contains everything you need for optimum vegetable growth. Add approximately 4 inches over your garden area and then work it into the soil. Rake the area smooth and remove rocks and debris.

Links

Compost in Vegetable Gardens
Preparing Vegetable Garden Beds

step 3: Plant

Sow seeds directly into the garden at the appropriate planting time. Broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peas and spinach are popular cool weather crops. Plant them one month before the last expected frost in your area. After the last frost, put in warm weather crops, which include corn, cucumber, melon, squash and tomato. Use string and stakes to ensure neat rows. If your budget allows, you can buy seedling plants and transplant directly into the garden for a quicker harvest.

Links

General Vegetable Care Guidelines
Planting Seasons for vegetables
Intensive Vegetable Gardening
Growing Vegetables From Seed
Selecting Vegetable Plants & Seeds
Vegetable Seeding Techniques: Broadcasting, Hills, Drills
Planting Depths for Vegetable Seeds
Sowing Vegetable Seeds Outdoors
Growing Seeds Indoors
Vegetable Seed Catalogs
Start vegetable seeds indoors for garden planting in spring
Planting Vegetable Seeds
Buying Vegetable Seedlings
Growing Vegetable Seedlings Under Lights
Planting Vegetable Seedlings Outdoors
Prepare seedlings before transplanting
Supporting Vegetables

step 4: Water and Feed

Your young plants will need plenty water to establish. You can water and fertilize at the same time with all purpose plant food, or use water soluble tomato plant food for your tomato plants. Follow instructions on the back of the label to avoid burning tender leaves and young plants. Water regularly, making sure the soil never gets too dry.

Links

Watering Vegetable Gardens: When To Water Vegetables
Watering Methods for Vegetable Gardens

step 5: Mulch and Prevent Weeds

After the seeds break through the soil, apply a pre-emergent weed preventer around the plants . Weeds can steal important nutrients and water away from your vegetables. Last, spread approximately 2 inches of mulch around the plants. Grass clippings make an excellent mulch as they hold in moisture, help prevent weeds and add extra nitrogen to the soil after breaking down.

Links

Mulching Vegetable Gardens
Controlling Weeds in Vegetable Gardens
Controlling Slugs and Snails in Vegetables

step 6: Protect Plants from Animals

Links

Protecting Vegetable Gardens from Deer
Protecting Vegetable Gardens from Small Animals
Controlling Birds in Vegetable Gardens