Have you ever tasted garden fresh vegetables? You will be surprised by the taste – they are juicier, sweeter, and healthier than what you get in the market. Growing own vegetables is a rewarding activity that you can pursue if you have the time and space. There is nothing like having fresh vegetables every day, especially if you have grown them yourself.
Depending upon your climatic conditions, all you’ll need is good soil and vegetable plants. If you want to start a vegetable garden, but are not able to understand from where to, our garden guide will help you plan, plant and grow tastiest vegetables for your kitchen. You just need to follow each step one by one, and by the end of it, you will have your own juicy veggies growing.
Step 1: Choose Your Location
The first and most important thing that you need to look for is a suitable place to grow your veggies. The location will be the main determinant for the health and taste of your vegetables. Most vegetable plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to produce more yields and grow better in taste. Your location should receive sunlight throughout the day, most probably between 10 am to 4 pm.
Your plot soil should be loose and soft for the plants’ roots to penetrate. Make sure the soil has proper drainage. Pour water into the soil and check how fast it drains. If water passes out in less than 5 minutes, the soil is very loose. But, if it takes 15 minutes or so, it is your perfect soil. Proper drainage will ensure that the water neither drains off too quickly nor stays stagnant. You need to enrich your soil with organic compost to make the soil nutrients rich. Worm farming is a traditional yet highly effective way to enrich soil using organic compost.
Also, make sure that the location has a perfect moisture content, not too dry, neither susceptible to frequent flooding. It should not be prone to heavy rains or dry summer either. Ensure your gardening plot doesn’t connect with strong winds. Blowing winds can uproot young plants and may drive pollinators away.
Always start with a smaller plot. Since you are a beginner, managing a bigger garden can seriously be a tough task. Most beginners make a common mistake – planting too many too soon. Plan your garden small and with care. A beginner vegetable garden should not be more than 16 x 10 feet in size. A plot this big size can grow vegetables that can feed a family of four easily for a season.
Your garden should have 11 rows and each row should be 10 feet long. In order to get maximum sunrays, the rows should run north to south. You can have a garden smaller than this size and make rows shorter. You need to draw your plan on a paper just like how you would do for your meal prep. List the vegetables you would like to grow in your garden. Choose veggies that are easier to grow and that you use in your kitchen regularly.
Step 2: Choose Your Vegetables
Apart from choosing the right location, you also need to choose the right vegetables to grow. Growing different types of vegetables will not help a beginner unless you have extensive knowledge of farming and gardening. You should choose common and productive plants that are quite easy to grow. You may not know what plants may grow in your area. For general knowledge, consult a gardener or your local fruits and vegetable market.
Care is very important and each plant needs a different kind of attention and caring system. You cannot just dump all the plants in the ground as per instruction and hope that they grow and produce naturally. We have made a list of vegetables that are easier and less fussy to grow.
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetables for growing. You just need a container or hanging basket and plenty of sunlight, and you will be able to cultivate the vegetable in no time.
Salad Greens and Herbs
Herbs and salad greens, such as lettuce are quite effortless to grow. Greens are quick to grow and easy to harvest. They also take up very little space. Some of the simple to grow greens and herbs include lettuce, parsley, coriander, mint, marigold, and lemon mint.
Cucumbers grow almost like weeds; they are that self-sufficient. However, they need sunlight and warm temperature to thrive. They may also need support to climb vertically or horizontally. Bush cucumbers are supposedly perfect for home gardens, containers, and small spaces.
You can grow up to 6 varieties of peppers in your home or backyard. They are a tender and warm-season crop that easily resist most garden pest.
Bush beans and pole beans are both easy to grow vegetables. They are tasty too. If you are planting pole beans, you would need support, such as trellises for the vines. On the other hand, bush beans grow more compactly and do not need support. Both varieties require low maintenance.
Carrots are extremely easy to grow ground vegetables if you have the perfect soil. Raised bed, deep and well-drained soil is the preferable choice for carrots growing.
Just like carrots, this versatile veggie is equally humble and effortless to grow. You can grow them in containers or in the garden bed. They can also thrive in partial sun. You just need to sow frequently and water adequately to receive tasty and crispy radishes.
Cabbages are one of the low bad carb and highly nutritious veggies. Although they are a little tricky to grow unlike the other veggies, they are versatile, and once you have managed to plan the process properly, you will have two successful crops in one year.
Zucchini can be grown in containers or in direct soil. They can easily grow from seeds, just like beans and radishes. However, they need warm soil and prefer a moist climate.
Step 3: Take Care of the Soil
A home vegetable garden will thrive excellently with organic fertilizers. While chemically forced feeding can gradually impoverish the soil, organic fertilizers and highly rich compost (procured from worm farming) are crucial and beneficial for the vegetables. Although, one must add various kinds of fertilizers and nutrients to the plant soil time to time, including rock phosphate, agricultural lime, greensand etc., organic matters in the form of cover crops, shredded leaves, compost, and animal manures build and maintain healthy and well-balanced soil.
Organic fertilizers improve the fertility, structure, and tilth of the soils, boost yields, and ensure vegetables stay longer than usual. Just like human beings, plants also require a continuous source of naturally formed nutrients and nitrogen. Just like how we avoid taking medication and supplements, plants must also rely on natural sources for rich food.
Step 4: Grow Your Vegetables (Good Growing Tips)
Spacing Crops is Very Important
Taller plants should be placed behind and shorter plants should be planted in the front. For instance, corn tends to take up a lot of space and can block light and air for shorter vegetables. Do not plant your plants together. Read the manual on the seeds packets and plant tabs and follow the instructions diligently. If plants are closely packed, they may not get enough water, nutrition, and sunlight to grow.
Use Only High-Quality Seeds
Do not go cheap here. If you want thriving plants and greater yields for years to come, make sure you invest greatly on your seeds. Make sure you buy seeds that easily germinate in your soil and climatic condition. If you do not want seeds, you can buy baby plants. However, vegetable plants are expensive than seeds.
Rows are Not Necessary for Small Vegetable Garden
Instead of traditional row planting, use 3 or 4 foot-wide raised beds to maximize space in the garden, especially if you are growing vegetables in your backyard. Single rows are greatly efficient in farms where farmers use large machinery for planting, cultivating, and harvesting. Fewer rows mean fewer paths in between rows, which means more square foot for growing crops.
Spaces between rows usually are walking-paths for farmers and gardeners. The more foot access you have, the more will you be compacting the soil by walking on them. Raised beds have less walking space, which creates untrammeled soil. Untrammeled soils are fluffier and better for roots growth.
You can do a lot many things with a raised bed or open beds garden, such as by switching the beds, you can downsize the garden, and you can free up existing space that is not currently raising vegetables and use it for planting green-manure crops or rotating growing area more easily.
Intensive garden system, such as open and raised beds is effortless. For instance, when vegetables are planted in a group, rather than in rows, they shade and cool the ground below. This means a gardener’s work of frequent watering, weeding, and mulching is considerably reduced.
Incorporate Trellising System
Trellising is another simple, yet an important method of growing plants in smaller garden space. If you have a small backyard but want to grow as many crops as possible, use vertical physical support for vining crops, such as cucumber and tomatoes, instead of using a horizontal space or container. The garden fence can work as your trellis as well. However, make sure the crops are rotated every few years to prevent annoying pests. Growing the plants upwards frees the ground space for cultivating other plants and vegetables.
You can also use wood and metal trellises instead of fences. However, make sure your trellises are built and set-up much before the veggies start to grow, probably even before you plant the crops. Also, few vegetables, such as melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers may need a little bit of a budge to grow upwards. In such a case, tie the plants gently to the support or weave them carefully through the trellis as they start growing.
Incorporate Crop Rotation
Move your crops every 3 years. Crop rotation is good for a vegetable garden. It means planting the same crop in the same place once in three years. This method ensures that the same garden vegetables do not deplete the same nutrients year after year. This 3-year planting system will work only if you make a plan of your garden on a paper during the season, marking the location of all crops strategically. It will help you remember exactly where you had grown what during the previous years. Save your plans for three consecutive years at least. Crop rotation also prevents or foils pathogens or pests breathing in the soil after the crops are harvested.
Try Continuous Harvest
In order to maximize the growing area in your garden and keep the soil healthy and fertilized for a long time, consider planting crops in succession. Succession harvesting means instead of preparing seedbeds, and planting or transplanting all crops all together within one or two days, plant a few seeds or transplants at a time throughout the entire growing season. Divide the job and make things easier. Instead of doing everything at once, plan and plant something new every week of the season. For instance, you can first plant the cold-loving greens and peas in early spring and then cultivate the transplants, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers that enjoy a warm climate and moist soil.
Similarly, sow the frost-hardy crops first and follow the rest as and when you planted based on your climate. Make sure you clean the beds after you have finished harvesting crops to make room for new veggies.
Succession harvesting ensures your harvesting-season lasts longer for every crop. For instance, while you snap beans and summer squash, you need not worry about harvesting other veggies. This means you will have a steadier and more manageable supply of fresh vegetables in your kitchen.
Vegetable gardening is all about observing and planning accordingly. Don’t forget to make notes and keep records of your inputs. Since it is an art and a skill, you can only perfect it if you practice it. All the best. Post your questions in the comments below and we shall get back to you at the earliest.