- Decide on the type of garden you want to have—even a pot with a tomato plant is a garden.
- Choose and prepare your garden site. You will need sun, soil, and access to water.
- Check your planting zone. This tells you when you can plant and how long you have to grow your vegetables.
- Select your seeds or plants. You’ll be amazed at the many varieties available for your garden.
The popularity of clean eating is causing many people to consider starting a vegetable garden. Once you decide to grow your own vegetables, you’re in for a lifetime of fun, adventure, and lots of good eating. Once you taste your first tomato or cucumber, or fresh salsa made from veggies you picked from your garden, you’ll be hooked! So, let’s get started!
Planning A Vegetable Garden: How Big and Where?
If you have a small yard, consider growing some vegetables like peppers or swiss chard in your flower beds. Both are very colorful, and you can eat them! If you have a little more room, you could have raised-bed gardens. Of course, the traditional garden planted in the ground can be any size you have the room for.The first step is to decide on the type of garden you will have. If you live in an apartment or condo, you probably won’t be able to plant in the ground. No problem! You can have an indoor vegetable garden, or your vegetables can be grown in containers on your balcony or patio. Vegetables like growing in pots as much as flowers do.
Once you have decided on the type of garden you want to have, you must decide on the location. The more sunlight you can provide, the better. Most vegetables need a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun. More is better. Once you have decided on the type and location of your garden, it’s time to prepare the site.
If you are going to have a container vegetable garden, you get to start shopping! Purchase pots of different sizes, but buy the same style and color for a calmer, more coordinated look. If you prefer a more fun, casual look, consider pots in a variety of colors or shapes.
The raised-bed gardeners will have to construct the raised beds. Basically, you will make a box with no top or bottom. This is definitely an easy DIY project. You don’t have to worry if the location you want your garden has poor soil. Fill the box with fresh soil, add compost, and you are ready to plant.
If you are planning a traditional garden, you will have a lot more work to do. Remove anything that is currently growing in the location you have chosen. If you are going to use an area that is currently lawn, you will have to remove the sod. The easiest way is to rent a sod cutter. These machines will cut under the grass, removing both the grass and most of the root structure. You can do this with a shovel and a lot of sweat equity, but it is worth the money to rent the sod cutter.
Once the sod is removed, improve the soil by adding some compost and aged manure, both available by the bag, and dig it into the soil. Remove any weeds, remaining grass, and any stones or debris from your garden. This is a pretty labor-intensive job, but the better you prepare now, the less work you’ll have later.
One last method is the lasagna garden, where you cover the proposed garden plot with several layers of newsprint that you dampen. Get the blank end rolls from your local newspaper if you live near one or use papers printed with soy-based ink. The paper blocks weed-growth yet lets worms work their magic as they loosen and fertilize your soil.
Next, build up your garden in layers—hence, the name—of soil, compost, soil, compost, soil, compost. You can have bags of it delivered if you don’t have any nearby. By that point, your garden is deep enough to plant in, and you’ve done zero digging! You can add other natural supplements found in gardening stores into your layers, too. This is like a raised bed with no box around it.
The Grow Zone
The next step is finding out what growing zone your garden is in. The growing zone is determined by factors like how far north or south you are. Other factors that can affect the grow zone include elevation and proximity to the ocean or the Great Lakes. Once you know your zone, you will have an approximate length of growing time.
It also tells you the average date of last freeze in spring and the first frost in fall. This will help you to determine what you can grow successfully in the time you have in your growing zone and to determine when to plant seeds if you want to start your own plants.
Partner with Park Seed
Now it’s time for the fun part: choosing what to grow! Park Seed’s incredible selection of the best seeds and plant selections will assure even the novice gardener of success. Plant what you love to eat.
If you like to eat raw vegetables for a snack, plant those favorites. If a big part of the summer meals includes grilled vegetables, plant those. Add in something just for fun like an heirloom tomato plant or a vegetable you’ve never tasted. Have fun with your garden and enjoy the freshest, most flavorful vegetables possible.