How To Plant a Vegetable Garden

I love to garden. I love digging in the dirt, planting little plants, scattering seeds, trimming overgrowth, even weeding as long as I haven’t let it get too out of hand. I love picking flowers and produce. It’s all just so fun to me.

Why Vegetable Gardens Are Great

There are lots of good reasons to grow an interest in gardening, particularly vegetable gardening:

  • Grow the food you love to eat. It’s right there and you won’t need to run to the grocery store.
  • Know what’s gone into that produce. You can make it pesticide free and organic.
  • Enjoy the full flavor, freshness, greater nutrition. Picked when it’s ripe gives it better flavor and fewer vitamins are lost because of transportation.
  • Get some exercise. Digging, bending, stooping—all good for you.
  • Breathe all that fresh air.
  • Gardening with the kids can be educational for them and a wholesome family activity.
  • Gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. Plus your friends and neighbors will love you if you share excess produce.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. All plants, not just trees, are good for the environment. And less of your food will have to be shipped in from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Garden Location

You’ll want to find a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of bright sunlight each day. The more exposure, the better your harvest will be. My own garden has been getting about 6-7 hours of sun each day and I was absolutely astounded at how much more produce my daughter got from her garden that got about 12-15 hours of sun each day. So, when it comes to sunlight, more is more!

You’ll also want to choose a spot that will be easy to water. Here in Colorado supplemental water is a must. If the garden spot is hot, some extra water will be even more important. When it comes to heat, some plants handle it better than others. For example, tomatoes like it warm, but peas do not.

Also, if this is your first garden, start small. As you get into it, you can enlarge.
Once you’ve settled on a location you’ll need to do some preparation.

If the area is currently grass, you’ll have to dig up the grass. Shake the dirt off the roots and get rid of the grass. If you turn it into the ground you’ll have a lot more weeding to do as the grass regenerates itself.

Now you have a plot of dirt. Add some organic matter like old leaves, straw, old grass clippings (be sure that weed & feed fertilizer wasn’t used on the grass). And/or you can buy compost and composted manure. By adding these to your dirt, you are making your soil more nutritious for the plants. They will grow better and produce more with great dirt. Dig these things in really well. You’ll want to dig at least as deep as your shovel—8-10 inches. Worms will change the additions into dirt, but you don’t need to wait for that before you plant.

Plant What You Enjoy

I always planted green beans near the edge of the garden because my daughters and their friends loved to eat them raw. As they played in the yard, they picked beans and nibbled away. I also love to plant cherry tomatoes. Not only are they fun to share, but I nibble them as I work in the garden.

Speaking of green beans and tomatoes, you’ll want to plant them after all danger of frost. That means they go in the ground after Mother’s Day. If nighttime temperatures have been down around 35 or lower, don’t plant them until there has been 5-6 consecutive warmer nights. If you buy plants from a nursery, the same is true for lots of the plants you’ll buy.

All Plants Grow Differently

Things like peas, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and spinach should be planted earlier. They will produce earlier in the season and finish up earlier. You can plant these as soon as the ground can be worked, but after you’ve prepared it. Last year I planted lettuce, peas and carrots on March 20th. To be honest, only the lettuce really took off, but chilly April temperatures didn’t kill the peas and carrots.

Keep Them Wet

Seeds need moisture to germinate and little plants need it to grow a strong root system. As things come out of the ground you can spread some straw between rows or plants. As the plants get bigger, add more straw to reduce evaporation and weeds. In a couple of months you’ll be reaping the benefits of your work. Enjoy!

Are you a gardener? What tips do you have to offer? If you’re just getting started, what questions do you have?

5 Basic Gardening Tips

Gardening can be such a rewarding and relaxing hobby. Although it may seem weird saying something involving manual labor can be relaxing, it’s true. Gardening keeps you active and reduces stress levels, therefore allowing you to be relaxed. Gardening can also be good for your health. Allowing yourself to relieve stress is good for your health, and eating the nutritious whole foods that you grow in your garden is great for your health too! If you need some help starting your garden, don’t worry, we have come up with some helpful tips for gardeners that are just starting out.

1. Know Your Region

This is important because you will want to understand what limitations there are, as well as the possibilities available. This might be obvious, but you have to realize not everything grows everywhere. What you plant will be determined based on where you live. Knowing what to plant what will help your plants grow the best they can while having the least amount of maintenance. In order to help you understand what to plant in your region you can always talk with someone at a local gardening company.

2. Keep Your Soil Healthy

You will need to check the nutrient levels, as well as the pH of your soil, you can do this by taking a sample to a local nursery, or you can buy a at-home testing kit for your home. These kits are available at places such as; Lows, Home Depot, or of course any gardening store. Testing your soil for these things will tell you how acidic or alkaline your soil is, and this affects how your plants will absorb nutrients. Testing your soil is something that can help you determine what to plant, as well as how you should treat your soil. Different plants thrive best in different pH levels, therefore you need to know the level in order to determine what you will plant. Sometimes you can get custom soil mixes if you know what you are wanting to plant, this way the soil can be catered directly to that plant, allowing it to thrive. Talk to a local nursery, or experienced gardener to find out what pH level is best for what you are wanting to plant.

3. Start Simple

When being introduced to gardening, vegetables are always something fun and easy to start with. Most vegetables don’t take too long to grow, so if you make a mistake you won’t have wasted a bunch of your time, and you can try again. Some fun flowers to start with are sunflowers, or ferns. Both of these flowers are easy to grow, and can be grown all across the United States. Sunflowers grow quickly, and get very tall, and ferns are known as “easy to grow ferns.” Start with simple things like this, and if you have success with them you might realize you want to move on to more complicated plants.

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4. Understand How To Water

You have to make sure you are giving enough water to your plants, and are consistent about it. You can judge if you are giving your plants enough water based on if the water penetrates the soil, make sure it does this and doesn’t just get the surface. The amount of water will vary from plant to plant, your newer plants will need more water because their roots aren’t developed, so you will have to water them more frequently. Some people think watering at night is best so the sun doesn’t evaporate the water, but this isn’t true, watering at night leaves your plants more prone to fungus and other diseases. The best time to water your plants is actually in the morning before it gets too warm, this will allow the plant to really soak up the water. Make sure you stay consistent and give your plants the water they need so that they can grow to their full potential.

5. Be Patient

Gardening is a process, and it does take time. Sometimes it can be frustrating because you want to see results fast, but plants don’t grow overnight. Your plants are living organisms and they need time to soak in nutrients and water in order to grow. Make sure your plants are getting the right amount of nutrients, water, and sunlight so that they are able to grow efficiently. Be careful not to over-water them, sometimes impatience can cause this, but it won’t help your plants if it’s not something they actually need. Keep an eye on your plants regularly, and unless something looks wrong, just have patience and let them be.