Vegetable gardening can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby. Working the soil and tending growing plants offers a therapeutic contrast to an otherwise hectic life. And growing vegetables leads to a certain satisfaction when it is time to harvest. Purchased vegetables can rarely compete with the fresh, flavorful just-picked items you can get from a home garden.
Select a location far from trees and shrubs that receives at least six to eight hours of sun per day. Consider an area about 25 square feet if you are a beginning gardener, recommends the University of North Carolina, as this will be a manageable size to start with and provide sufficient fresh produce for the average family.
Draw a garden plan. A simple sketch of what you want to plant where will do. Keep in mind that tall vegetable plants should be placed on the north side, and perennials such as asparagus should be along one edge.
Get a soil test--university extension services are a good place--and use the results to guide soil preparation. Once soil is adequately dry (when you press a small amount of soil in your hand it crumbles and breaks into clumps rather than staying molded in a ball), till the garden soil to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. Work compost, any deficient nutrients and a basic vegetable garden fertilizer into the soil. Rake the area to smooth it out.
Mark garden rows by stretching a string tightly and tying it between small stakes at either end. Use a piece of angle iron or aluminum to create a furrow with even depth.
Plant any cool season crops, which must mature before the weather gets too hot, as soon as you have prepared the soil. Cool season crops include radishes, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and onions. Plant seeds at the recommended depth and firm the soil after covering them up.
Plant warm season crops after the danger of frost has passed. In more northern areas, warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant should be started indoors to give them adequate time to grow and mature before fall frost. You may purchase seedlings or start seeds yourself. Plant transplants in the garden slightly deeper than they were in containers.
Water seeds or seedlings immediately after planting. Water them regularly throughout the growing season, using the soil as a guide to when water is needed. Dig down about 2 inches and note whether soil is wet or dry. If it is wet, check it again in a few days. If it is dry, water your vegetable garden. Water until the soil is wet to a depth of about 6 inches.