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How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Having your own vegetable garden has a myriad of benefits! One of the biggest reasons you may be considering taking on the task is to save money at the grocery store. It’s true! Harvesting your own food can save you a bundle, plus you know exactly where it came from.

Planting vegetables is much more than just burying a seed in soil and watering it. We’ve gathered all of the important information you need to know to successfully grow crops this season.

Tools You Need to Grow Vegetables Outside

Before you start digging up the ground, you may need to take a trip to your local home and garden supply store. Here are the main tools you’ll want to have on hand for planting fresh veggie seeds.

  • Trowel
  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Hose or watering can
  • Sprinkler (If you live in a dry climate)
  • Garden rake
  • Angled shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Kneeling pad

As you shop you’ll notice there are plenty of more goodies you can pick up. If you’re planning on planting tomatoes or peppers, a metal trellis for each plant will make harvesting much easier.

How to Start an Outdoor Vegetable Garden

Biting into a mouth-watering cucumber or spiralizing a fresh zucchini from your own garden can unlock flavors you’ve never tasted before. Growing your own veggies is a great way to spend time outdoors and eat healthier foods.

If you’re ready to dig into this springtime activity, keep on reading.

Size Matters

The first thing you’ll need to consider is the size of the garden you want to make. If this is your first-ever vegetable garden or any type of garden for that matter, it’s best to start small. The last thing you want is a massive garden that’s mostly filled with weeds.

Create a space that you feel comfortable tending to. A good size beginner's garden is around 10 by 10 feet. Choose less than 10 veggies to plant so that you’re not overwhelmed with specifics.

Choose What to Grow

When picking what to plant, it couldn’t be more simple. Ask yourself: “What do I like to eat?” If you’re not too picky, some veggies are much easier to grow than others. Keep in mind not all plants continuously provide food throughout the season.

Vegetables such as the following can only be picked once before needing to be replanted:

  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Corn

Popular options including the following continuously grow throughout the season, giving you an endless supply:

  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans

Seeds vs. Transplants

Once you’ve made a list of what you want to plant, you have two options on how to go about planting. By far the most cost-efficient method is to use seeds. These often cost less than $2 for a pack at your local gardening center.

If you’re reading this in the early spring or late winter, you could even germinate seeds from your food for free. For example, you can plant bell pepper seeds indoors from the bell pepper you buy from the grocery store.

Once the ground is ready, you’ll be able to transplant what has grown. Plants like carrots and romaine hearts can actually regrow from the parts we usually throw out! Nature is truly incredible.

Your other option is to buy a vegetable plant and transplant it into the ground. This can save you a ton of time and often costs less than $5 per plant.

Pick the Perfect Location

When you’re preparing to start a vegetable garden, you’ll want to pick the perfect location in your yard. Choosing the growth site is one of the most important steps of the whole ordeal. First, pick a place you don’t mind walking to every day to water, weed, or prune.

If you have the option of having it close to the house, do so. Also, make sure the area gets plenty of sunlight during the day. You want to aim for six to eight hours of natural sunlight for most vegetables. Root vegetables can thrive in as little as four hours of sunlight.

Plan a Layout

The easiest way to arrange your garden is by lining the plants up in rows. A row of peppers here, a row of tomatoes there, and so on. When doing this, the rows should have 18 inches between them.

This will give you plenty of room to weed, till, harvest, prune, and water the plants. If it helps you arrange your seeds, remember that taller plants such as peas and cucumbers do best on the north side of the garden.

The Importance of Watering

The amount you’ll have to water the garden is directly affected by your region. Someone in Arizona is going to have to water much more than someone in Oregon. The first few weeks after planting you’ll want to frequently water the garden.

After that, feel the soil three inches below the surface, if it’s dry, it’s time to bring out the hose.

Prevent Pests

There are plenty of pests that enjoy your garden as much as you do. It can be hard to deter deer, as it takes an eight-foot-tall fence to do so. This can end up blocking a lot of sunlight.

If you notice caterpillars or big insects in your garden, remove them by hand, placing them in a far-off area. There are also safe insecticidal soap sprays that can keep away pesky bugs. Lastly, to prevent fungal disease, make sure you’re watering the soil and not the leaves.

Step-By-Step Instructions For Planting a Vegetable Garden

Here’s everything broken down into a simple step-by-step guide:

  • Step 1: Measure an outdoor space for your garden in an area with a lot of sunlight
  • Step 2: Till the area and prepare the soil for your seeds or transported plant
  • Step 3: Create rows by mounding the soil, then proceed to poke holes to place seeds. These should be a certain distance apart, according to the seed packet.
  • Step 4: Cover with a thin layer of soil
  • Step 5: Make markers for each row to help you know what’s growing where
  • Step 6: Give the newly planted seeds a big drink!
  • Step 7: Come back daily to water and weed the area
  • Step 8: Enjoy your harvest!

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