If you've decided on starting a vegetable garden, but you're not sure on where or how to start, keep reading. Here's some basics for planning your first vegetable garden.
Why start a vegetable garden?
First of all, starting a vegetable garden is a great way to save money on your grocery bill.
The plants you purchase can yield pounds of vegetables throughout a season that you'll be able to stop buying at the grocery store. So that $3 tomato plant will provide you with a high return on your investment if tended to properly.
An at-home vegetable garden is perfect for those who want to control the amount of pesticides, chemicals and fertilizers that end up in their food. You'll be able to control what kinds of plants you grow, specific varieties and how you grow them. Planting and growing vegetables is also an easy outdoor activity to do with your kids with results that they'll be able to taste--it may even be an easy way to get kids to eat more veggies if they had a hand in growing them.
Where to start
One of the first things you should do when planning your first garden is think about what vegetables you'd like to grow. Tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers and squash produce throughout the entire growing season. Other crops, like corn, radishes and carrots, only produce once and will need to be replanted once picked.
Pick plants based on the needs of you and your family -- keep in mind that you don't want to purchase too many plants and end up with excess that goes to waste.
After you've figured out where to start and what you'd like to plant, you'll need to figure out how much space you'll need.
How much space are you willing to devote in your backyard to a vegetable garden? Some plants can become very large and cumbersome as they grow.
An easy way to start is to purchase a raised garden bed kit from the hardware store and set it up in a corner of your yard with plenty of light. Most of the garden bed kits measure 4-feet by 4-feet which allows the gardener to reach it from all sides. When you set it up, be sure that you can walk completely around the garden bed.
Basic vegetable garden rules:
- Vegetables need at least six to eight hours of sunlight
- Enrich your soil with compost or a fertilizer of your choosing (there are organic and non-organic varieties)
- Placement matters, so try to avoid planting near a tree which could steal nutrients
- Don't plant too close to the house to prevent animals from stealing your harvest
- Vegetable gardens need at least one inch of water a week
- Check your frost dates before you start planting--find out the first and last frost dates in your area so you can begin your planting schedule
Suggested vegetables for beginners
- Zucchini squash
- Bush beans
Choose vegetables that you like and start from there. Tomato, zucchini and pepper plants will continue to produce throughout the season so you may only need one or two of each plants to fulfill your needs.
Now that you've got the basics of your first vegetable garden, you can start planting and begin enjoying the fruits of your labor in no time.