A backyard garden can provide a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables that your grocery store's produce aisle can't beat. Whether you're planting your vegetables from seeds or transplanted seedlings, several general cultural tips can ensure a great planting experience and a lush, healthy vegetable garden.
Vegetables grow best in rich and loose soil, according to Purdue University. Amend the ground heavily with organic matter like aged compost until the dirt is dark and crumbly.
Choose your gardening site according to the sunlight needs of your plants. Needs vary widely by plant. Generally, fruit-producing vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes need at least six hours of direct sunlight, while leafy vegetables like lettuce can grow in partial shade, according to the University of Florida.
The ideal planting time for a vegetable plant varies widely according to the specific species. Some plants, like many beans, thrive in cool temperatures, while others, like tomatoes and summer squash, do better in warmer temperatures. Consult a regional cooperative extension office (see Resources) for the recommended planting times for common vegetable species in your area. Whatever the species, only begin planting several weeks after the last frost date in your region.
Planting your vegetables in raised garden beds, constructed by piling dirt above the original soil surface, may make it easier to work and manage your plants because they're higher and require less stooping, according to Colorado State University. Garden areas with extremely heavy clay soils that can't be easily amended may also benefit from bringing in soil and building raised beds above the poor soil.
Mulch your vegetable beds after your planted seedlings are a couple inches tall, according to the University of Florida. This helps conserve soil moisture, thus reducing your vegetable garden's watering needs, and also helps block out invading weeds.