The Vegetable Gardening For Beginners Guide explains how to start a garden, what vegetables to grow and when to plant them. We have added this year a “starter” gardening plan that includes easy-to-grow veggies, companion planting techniques, as well as some beautiful flowers. The Braga farms DFW run is located in the heart of DFW and supplies farmers markets all year. We have planted more than 45 varieties of fruit and vegetables at our urban homestead on less than a cultivated acre.
Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
Why garden, you ask? What about the chance to eat the freshest vegetables and fruits you have ever tasted? Garden-fresh foods are a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh, sweet flavors and vibrant textures of vegetables. Fresh vegetables are the best, especially when you can grow them yourself.
Choose the right location
It is crucial to choose a great location for your garden. Substandard location can lead to subpar vegetables. Here are some tips to help you choose a great site.
Sunny spot: Vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Some vegetables, especially leafy ones, can tolerate some shade.
It drains well and doesn’t stay wet. If your soil is poor drainage, you can plant vegetables in a raised bed/raised row to improve drainage. Wet soil can lead to rotted roots. You should remove any rocks from your soil. They can interfere with root growth, and cause weaker plants.
Stable and not windy: You should avoid places where strong winds could cause damage to your plants or prevent pollinators from performing their duties. You don’t want to plant where there is too much foot traffic, flooding or other problems. You want to plant in a place that Goldilocks would love – somewhere that is “just right”.
Nutrient-rich soil. Your soil is what feeds your plants. Poor soil will result in unhealthy plants. To help your plants grow, add plenty of organic matter.
Choose a Smaller Plot Size
Beginners make the common mistake of planting too many plants too quickly. This is a huge mistake! Plan your garden carefully to avoid zucchinis taking over your attic. You should start small and only plant what you know your family will eat.
Dimensions of the Garden
A 10’x10′ garden (100 sq. feet) is the best size for planting in the ground. Choose 3 to 5 favorite vegetables, and purchase 3 to 5 plants.
A 4’x4′ or 4’x8′ size is recommended for beginners when planting in a raised garden bed. Our Raised Garden Bed Guide explains the benefits and how to build one. It also explains what soil you should use to fill it.
A 12’x24′ garden in the ground would be the best size for a first-timer. A garden that can feed a family of four might include 3 hills of yellow squash, 1 mound zucchini, 10 assorted peppers, 6 tomato plants, 12 okra plants, 12 bush beans, 2 cucumbers in a cage, 2 eggplant, 6 basil, 1 rosemary, as well as a few low-growing herbs like oregano and thyme.
No matter how big your garden is, ensure that there are paths at every four feet that will allow you to reach your plants for weeding and harvesting. You should be able to reach the middle of the row or bed without having to step on the soil.
Tips for choosing vegetables
Pick what you and your family like to eat. Don’t plant brussel sprouts if no one loves them. If your children love green beans, you can put more effort into growing large quantities of beans.
Be realistic about the amount of vegetables that your family can eat. You will be wasting your time if you try to grow too many plants. You could also give away excess vegetables to family and friends or local soup kitchens.
Take into account the availability of vegetables at your local grocery store. You might want to grow tomatillos instead of carrots or cabbages which are easily available. Some vegetables are just so much better when grown at home that it is almost shameful not to think about them. We’re thinking here of tomatoes and garden lettuce. Homegrown herbs are also far cheaper than those purchased at the grocery store.
You should be prepared to care for your plants during the growing season. Are you planning a summer vacation this year? Keep in mind that zucchinis and tomatoes are at their best during the middle of summer. You will need to take care of your crops if you aren’t home during the summer. You could also grow cool-season crops like lettuce, kale and root vegetables during the cooler months of spring and fall.
High-quality seeds are best. Although seed packets can be more affordable than individual plants, if the seeds fail to germinate, both your time and money are wasted. A few extra dollars spent in spring on the seeds for the year will result in better harvests.
Garden Planning Tool
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a great online tool that makes garden planning easy. This tool allows you to draw your garden plan online and then drop in your favorite vegetables. It automatically calculates the spacing needed for each crop. You won’t have to waste seeds or crowd your plants. The Garden Planner automatically determines the frost dates in your area, identifies common vegetables, and even identifies any companion plants. You can then print your plan, and the tool will remind you about your harvesting and seeding dates for each vegetable.
You’ll also find many free garden plans to inspire you! You’ll notice that the tool provides crop rotation so that you can properly reposition your plants if you plan for a second season.