This guide, vegetable gardening for beginners, will help you learn how to start a garden from scratch. In this post, I’ll cover some of the the basics of gardening, from the layout, to the types of beds and provide more in depth links to posts you can read.
It can feel daunting knowing where to start, but vegetable gardening is an incredibly rewarding hobby. Have you ever tasted home grown vegetable produce? There isn’t anything quite like the flavor of freshly harvested produce. The great news is you can start a vegetable garden from scratch and relish in the fact you can grow vegetables year after year.
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How to Start a Vegetable Garden for Beginners
Growing a garden is such a rewarding experience. I want you to know the excitement of planting the seed, watching it sprout, seeing the vegetable grow and then being able to harvest the produce. Here are the easy steps to follow on how to start vegetable gardening for beginners.
Choose a Garden Location
Go out to your yard and take a look around. Where do you see the sun during the morning, afternoon and evening? This is the first step in locating the best place to start a garden.
Most vegetables need around 6 hours of sunlight each day. Where you find the most sunshine throughout the day is where you will want to plan for the location of your vegetable garden.
Another thought to consider in the location of a garden is the drainage for water. Planting in an area that floods or dries out quickly would be an area to avoid.
Garden Bed Types
In Ground Gardening: In years past, I have used the traditional gardening method of planting in the ground. It is cost effective, easy to start, and easy to change if the need arises. The down side to in ground gardening is the weeds. They will be the number one enemy as you work to keep them out of the garden. In the spring, it will often take longer for the soil to warm making it take longer to get seeds in the ground.
Raised Beds: Raised garden beds can be made from wood, timbers, bricks, or rocks. Wood can be costly and once they are in place, it is a commitment to leave them there. The advantage to raised beds is the soil often warms faster in the spring, allows for better water drainage and they are easier to reach. Keeping weeds out of raised beds is much easier than the in ground method.
Container Gardening: Many vegetables can be grown in containers. This is a great way to maximize space, especially for those who want to garden on balconies or a patio. The con to container gardening is the pots can be costly and the soil tends to dry out quickly.
Back to Eden Gardening: Back to Eden gardening, is a garden method I have researched and I am quite interested in. It’s a way of gardening I hope to eventually add to my current way of growing vegetables, as we expand our garden.
Raised garden beds have been my choice for gardening for the past several years. They look nice, are easy to build and they are easy to maintain. In a post called, How to Build Cedar Raised Garden Beds, I share the details on how you can make one.
Having good soil is the key to a successful vegetable garden. Plants need nutrient rich soil to grow. Start with well drained soil and plan to add as much organic matter as possible. Compost, and well aged manure will increase the ability of your soil to drain and hold in moisture.
In our garden, I fill our raised beds with well aged manure from a local farmer. The aged manure has sat for over a year and been turned many times, making it very good for growing vegetable in.
Know Your Frost Dates
Knowing your frost dates will help prevent frost damage from varying spring weather temperatures. As soon as the weather begins to get nice, many gardeners are anxious to start planting. However, getting plants in the garden at the right time is an essential first step to a successful spring garden.
The Farmers Almanac is a great resource in finding out when your first and last frost date is in your area.
Water needs to be easily accessible. Nothing will cause a gardener to experience burn out faster than carrying water to thirsty plants when the temperatures are hot. Consider installing a water source near the garden or, even better, a drip irrigation system.
Garden tools can be costly but, buying the best quality tools your budget will allow, can go a long way in getting the most out of what you have spent. Start small in the amount of tools you own, it’s easy to go above and beyond what you will generally use.
The top essential tools to get you going on any gardening endeavor are garden gloves, a hand trowel, spade, a garden hoe, garden hose with a nozzle, and a wheelbarrow. It is also helpful to have garden markers like slate plant labels.
Starter Seeds or Plants
Now that you have all of your garden plans thought out, it’s time to start the fun job of planting. The quickest way to get your garden growing is to purchase plants from a local greenhouse and transplant them into your garden. Some varieties are best grown from seed and for all of my seeds, I purchase directly from Bakers Creek.
Some vegetables are considered slow growing and are best grown from seeds. The seeds are started indoors, and then transplanted outside into the garden when they are ready. All of my seeds are started inside, planted in eggshells with an organic seed starting mix. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers and tomatoes are best started from seed.
Vegetables with long taproots, such as carrots, don’t transplant well and need to be direct seeded into the garden. Some vegetables are quick growing, such as peas, squash, and beans. These do best being direct seeded into the garden.
Read your seed packets. All of the information you need to know will be on the back of the packet. Information, such as how deep to plant the seeds, how long it takes to sprout, and how far apart to space the seeds is located on the back.
More Tips | Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
Start Small: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the care a garden can need. Start small and then add more as you find you need the space. When I built my raised garden beds, I started with four, the next year I added four more.
Only Grow What You Will Eat: Unless you plan on giving away or selling a lot of produce, only grow what you know your family can eat. Plants, such as, squash, zucchini and cucumbers produce a lot of vegetables.
Garden Journal: Keeping a garden journal is a fun, simple way to track your garden’s progress through the seasons. It’s easy to lose track of what day you planted seeds, or the name of the seeds you planted. Journal entries don’t have to be elaborate but it provides a way to look back on the information you may need.
In keeping a garden journal, I find it helpful to write down the names of the seeds I have started as well as the date they were planted. Other information that may be included, the day the seed sprouted, when harvesting the vegetable began, how much harvest was brought in and final thoughts on the taste. All of these factors will help decide if this is a variety you would like to grow again in your garden.
One of the most rewarding homesteading tasks in knowing where your food comes from. I hope this guide, Vegetable Gardening for Beginners, gives you the courage to start your own garden.