Identify the planting locations for the vegetable garden. Choose a level, well-drained location with nutrient-rich soils. Ensure that the location receives at least eight to 10 hours of full sunlight each day.
Preplan the vegetable selection. When making the vegetable selections, consider the number of days to maturity, heat and drought tolerance, and disease resistance. Create a balanced selection that includes one tomato, one cabbage and two leafy greens, pod vegetables and root crops.
Consider planting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli, peas and spinach, as these are easily grown and go well together. Consider the companion planting method that involves planting certain vegetables with those that naturally repel insects. Plant garlic to prevent infestations of spider mites, aphids and weevils. Plant basil near the tomatoes to reduce the potential of hornworm infestations.
Map out the gardening space before planting. Coordinate the planting area with the vegetables so that every area of the garden is being used all the time. Plan the garden so that new vegetables can be planted immediately after the prior vegetables are harvested.
Prepare the designated planting area at least a week prior to planting. Dig up the planting area to loosen any compacted soils. Remove any weeds and debris from the area to eliminate competition.
Read and follow the planting directions of the seed packets carefully. Space the rows according to the needs of the plants. Plant the seeds in shallow holes that match the requirements of the vegetable. Sow the seeds thinly and return the soil in thin layers across the seeds.
Mark each row with the name of the plant and the sow date. Use a marking method that can withstand rain to ensure the information is not washed away, such as a stake poster written with permanent marker.
Irrigate the vegetable garden thoroughly to provide the vegetables with about an inch of water each week. Increase the irrigation levels during dry periods and reduce during periods of heavy rainfall. Never allow the garden to dry out.
Keep the garden free of weeds. Pull any arising weeds immediately, ensuring that the root system is completely removed from below the surface. Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch between the garden rows to reduce the potential of weed invasions.
Inspect the garden regularly for signs of pests. Check for slug infestations at night when they are most active. Treat the area with pesticides, but never apply pesticides while the vegetables are fruiting.
Fertilize vegetables about every four weeks. Feed leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and broccoli, with a well-balanced feed, such as 12-12-12 or 15-15-15. Feed other vegetables with lower levels of nitrogen and higher levels of phosphorus and potassium, such as a 6-24-24 or 8-16-16. Select a water-soluble fertilizer for all vegetables and apply during the regular watering schedule.
Harvest the vegetables as they become ripe. Always check the vegetables for color and firmness prior to harvesting. Harvest daily until complete.