Beginner’s Guide To Growing Vegetables

Here’s our quick guide for the beginner vegetable gardener. Whether you’re a beginner or an old hand, planting in a pot or a plot, this advice will help you to plan and grow your tastiest vegetables ever.

Why garden? If you’ve never tasted garden-fresh vegetables (lots of people haven’t!), you will be amazed by the sweet, juicy flavors and vibrant textures. There’s absolutely nothing like them, especially if you grow the vegetables yourself—and you can!
We’ll highlight the basics of vegetable garden planning: how to pick the right site, figure out how “big” to go, and how to select which vegetables to grow.

START WITH A SMALL VEGETABLE GARDEN
Remember this: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one!
One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Unless you want to have zucchini taking up residence in your attic, plan carefully. Start small.

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WHERE AND HOW TO PLANT A VEGETABLE GARDEN
Plant in a sunny location. Vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The more sunlight they receive, the greater the harvest and the better the taste.
Plant in good soil. Plants’ roots penetrate soft soil easily, so you need nice loamy soil. Enriching your soil with compost provides needed nutrients. Proper drainage will ensure that water neither collects on top nor drains away too quickly.
Space your crops properly. For example, corn needs a lot of space and can overshadow shorter vegetables. Plants set too close together compete for sunlight, water, and nutrition and fail to mature. Pay attention to the spacing guidance on seed packets and plant tabs.
Buy high-quality seeds. Seed packets are less expensive than individual plants. If seeds don’t germinate, your money—and time—are wasted. A few “extra” cents spent in spring for that year’s seeds will pay off in higher yields at harvesttime.

 

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VEGETABLE GARDEN PLOT SIZE
A good-size beginner vegetable garden is about 16×10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size, based on the vegetables suggested below, can feed a family of four for one summer, with a little extra for canning and freezing (or giving away).
Make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.
Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.
SUGGESTED PLANTS FOR VEGETABLE GARDEN
The vegetables suggested below are common, productive plants, but you’ll also want to contract your local cooperative extension to determine what plants grow best in your local area. Think about what you like to eat as well as what’s difficult to find in a grocery store or farmers’ market.
(Each veggie links to a growing guide.)
Tomatoes—5 plants staked
Zucchini squash—4 plants
Peppers—6 plants
Cabbage
Bush beans
Lettuce, leaf and/or Bibb
Beets
Carrots
Chard
Radishes
Marigolds to discourage rabbits!
(Note: If this garden is too large for your needs, you do not have to plant all 11 rows, and you can also make the rows shorter.)

WHEN TO PLANT A VEGETABLE GARDEN
Know when to plant what. See our Best Planting Dates chart—a gardening calendar customized to your local frost dates—covering both sowing indoors as well as planting in the ground.

 

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Starting A Vegetable Garden

Starting a vegetable garden at home is an easy way to save money — that $2 tomato plant can easily provide you with 10 pounds of fruit over the course of a season.

But planting a garden with vegetables also gives you the pleasure of savoring a delicious, sun-warmed tomato fresh from your backyard. In almost every case, the flavor and texture of varieties you can grow far exceed grocery store produce.

Plus, growing vegetables can be fun. It’s a greatway to spend time with children or have a place to get away and spend time outdoors in the sun.

Learning what to plant in a garden with vegetables, and how to tend them for the best harvest, is probably easier than you think. If you plan it right, you can enjoy a beautiful garden full of the fruits of your labor, without having to spend hours and hours tending it. Planting a garden that includes vegetables and flowers means you’ve combined natural companions, and that can turn a potential eyesore into an attractive landscape feature. Read on for more tips on your first vegetable garden!

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At first, when deciding what to plant in a garden with vegetables, it’s best to start small. Many gardeners get a little too excited at the beginning of the season and plant more than they need, being that a number of vegetables tend to be high-yield.

So first, think about how much your family will eat when you’re planning a vegetable garden. Keep in mind that vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash keep providing throughout the season — so you may not need many plants to serve your needs. Other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, and corn, produce only once. You may need to plant more of these.

Slicing Tomatoes

Small Fruited Tomatoes

Sweet Peppers

Hot Peppers

Cucumbers

Snow Peas

Musclan Mix

Greens
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Vegetable Gardening: 10 Must-Grow Plants

Make space for at least one of each of these edible 10 must-grow plants in your garden plot. Easy to grow and reliable producers of scrumptious produce from spring until fall, our top 10 edible plants will fill your plate with garden-fresh flavor.

Continue reading “Starting A Vegetable Garden”