Planting a vegetable garden is a great way to save money and ensure the freshness of your vegetables. The difference between freshly grown vegetables and what you can buy at the supermarket, in both variety and taste, is astonishing. Knowing your soil before you start, and the plant varieties that produce well, can help provide you with vegetables year 'round.
The soil pH of your garden refers to the acidity level of the soil. Some vegetables grow only in certain ranges of soil acidity. Performing a pH test on your vegetable garden will give you an idea of what, if any, fertilizer is needed for the soil. pH tests are avialable at gardening centers. Alternatively, most University Extension services have pH testing laboratories where you can send soil samples and have them analyzed, at a small cost. Extension services will also recommend fertilizers and ways to improve the soil.
According to the University of Illinois, location is one of the most important aspects of a garden. Vegetables require at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Locate the vegetable garden far away from trees and shrubs that could block light. Situating the garden near an outside faucet makes watering the garden or setting up an irrigation system much easier.
Planning the shape of the garden, as well as what to grow, will keep you from ordering too many seeds. Vegetables should be chosen according to their season, their taste and the ease of growing them. Iowa State University recommends buying vegetable seeds early in the year to ensure the varieties you want to plant will be available. The University of Illinois suggests buying seeds that are classified as All-American Selections, which are rated on their ability to grow in a variety of conditions.
Container gardening is an option if you do not have enough yard space. A small amount of room on a porch, patio or window ledge is enough to grow a few vegetables. Use containers with drainage holes in the bottom to prevent root rot. The University of Illinois advises using slow-release fertilizers for container-grown vegetables so that the plants will be sure to get enough nutrients to thrive.
A basic hoe for weeding, a rake for preparing the seedbed, a spade, atrowel and a watering can are the basic tools for a beginning gardener. Labels, string and rulers are useful for setting up the garden, making straight lines and spacing the rows evenly. Labels will help you remember what plants are placed in a row, and the labels that come with your seedlings may show important care instructions.