When it comes to vegetables, nothing compares to the fresh taste of plucking them from the garden to munch raw or cook them right away. Farmer's Markets can come close, but they're usually only held once a week, and not all cities have them. If all you've ever eaten is supermarket produce, and you have a little garden space and time, you owe it to yourself to learn how to plant a vegetable garden. It's really not that hard, and the rewards are plentiful!
I'll run through the basics of how to plant a vegetable garden, and you might also want to check out a book or two from the library.
Step One: Choose a good site
Some things to consider are the amount of sun (most vegetables need a full day), wind exposure, ground slope, and location (the nearer the garden is to your home, the more convenient it'll be to tend). You'll also want to note where the water spigot is located; closer is better. Beginners should start with a small plot that is manageable.
Prepare the soil
The first thing you need to understand when learning how to plant a vegetable garden, is that without nutrient-rich, well draining soil, everything else you do won't matter much. So it's important to learn your soil type, and amend it by digging in high-quality compost, minerals (if needed) and organic fertilizer.
Buy seeds and/or transplants
When selecting seeds or plants, first decide what you like to eat most. Next, consider the space required for these plants. Finally, take into consideration the ease of growing. Novices will have a more enjoyable experience selecting vegetables that are less finicky, such as squash, lettuce, tomatoes and radishes; melons can be challenging even for experienced gardeners.
Plan what goes where
Group plants by similar harvest dates and plant size. A popular space-saving technique is to interplant quick growers like radishes among slower ones like carrots. The radishes will be ready to harvest by the time the carrots get going.
Save room in your vegetable patch to make successive plantings of crops that have a short "peak" period, so you can enjoy them over a longer period of time.
Plant your seeds and starts
Sow seeds evenly in rows according the package directions, or set out the transplants at the recommended intervals. Select only the best transplants that are strong, stocky, and disease-free.
Water well and wait!
Vegetables prefer less frequent, heavy irrigation to light sprinklings. Irrigate well to get good growth, and to avoid the soil drying out between watering.
The hard part of planting your vegetable garden is over, and now the fun is just beginning. It's so rewarding to watch the seeds sprouts and see tiny seedlings grow into big plants laden with tomatoes, peppers, beans and more. Soon enough, you will be bringing in your bountiful harvest to have for supper!
How to plant a veggie patch for kids
Involving children in the process of growing produce can be a fun activity. Plus, it's one of the best ways to get them to eat their vegetables! Involve kids in the planning of the garden as much as possible.
Some kids will want their own veggie patch, while others don't mind sharing yours. Just make sure to start small so they can comfortably manage their plants. Buying them a kid-sized watering can and tools they can call their own will make their garden chores more enjoyable.
Some good plants to consider for kids are: sunflowers, radishes, cherry tomatoes (kids love to pick 'em and pop 'em right into their mouths), beans, lettuce and pumpkins.