When starting a vegetable garden, take time to plan it before you rush to the store. Think about what your family likes to eat, and what you like to cook--or if you like to cook. If your family is partial to salads, look into growing vegetables you like to eat in salads. If your family likes meat and potatoes, grow varieties of small potatoes that you cannot find in stores. If you want to maximize space, consider vertical veggies like peas, beans and cucumbers that grow up poles or trellises.
Sow hot-weather vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a flat, according to seed packet directions. Start six to eight weeks before the date of the last frost in your area. Place the flat in a window that gets full sun. Use a mister bottle to water until the seeds sprout so you do not disturb the seeds or soil.
Prepare your garden as soon as the soil is thawed enough to work in the spring. Choose an area that gets full sun and dig up the soil to a depth of 1 foot. Dig in compost in a ratio of one-to-one with the soil.
Sow cool-weather crops such as lettuces and leafy greens as soon as all danger of frost has passed. Follow package directions exactly, as different species require different planting depths to germinate successfully.
Transplant hot-weather seedlings outside when ambient temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees F during a 24 hour cycle. Squeeze each cell to loosen the root ball. Plant in your garden in a hole twice as wide as the root ball. Cover with soil and tamp down to prevent air bubbles around the roots.
Use a mallet to pound stakes, poles or trellises into place around climbing vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans and squash. Lash the vines to the trellis using scraps of used pantyhose, which are strong and sturdy yet gentle to plants
Apply all-purpose vegetable fertilizer according to package instructions. Water consistently, as this promotes consistent vegetable growth. Water deeply, but stop before water starts to pool in puddles in your garden. If watering seeds that have not yet sprouted, use the mist selection on your adjustable sprayer so you do not disturb the seeds or soil.
Apply mulch to a depth of 3 inches once your seedlings have sprouted. Do not butt the mulch up against the seedlings directly. Instead, leave a 2-inch gap between the seedlings and the start of the mulch in every direction. Mulch helps to maintain consistent soil temperature, retain moisture and prevent weed growth.