How to Grow Vegetables for Beginners

Overview

Vegetables can be easy to grow, even for beginners. Regular watering and including fertilizer in your garden is essential, as is keeping weeds and pests away. Start with a well-tended small garden the first year, and add more garden space and different types of vegetables as you gain experience.

Step 1

Choose a site in full sun, one that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sun daily.

Step 2

Prepare the garden area. For raised beds, loosen the soil and add a layer of compost 1 to 2 inches deep. For a traditional in-ground garden site, add a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost and till it into the soil.

Step 3

Mark rows for planting. Use a small stake where the end of each row should be, and run twine between the stakes to mark the row. Set plants or seeds along the twine line.

Step 4

Position stakes both lengthwise and crosswise, and run twine between the stakes to mark a grid. Plant seeds at the intervals where the twine intersects. Use grid placement in a raised bed for evenly spaced small vegetables such as radishes or carrots. Remove the twine and stakes after planting.

Step 5

Follow the planting instructions on the seed packets. Packet information tells the proper space between rows, seed spacing within the row, and how deep to plant the seeds. Some packets even show what the seedlings look like, so you won't confuse them with weeds. Keep the packets for reference.

Step 6

When the weather still is cool, plant spinach, lettuce, radish, pea, beet and turnip seeds. After the last frost date for your area, plant carrots, squash, beans and corn.

Step 7

Transplant cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower plants early in the spring. They can withstand light frost. Allow 12 to 18 inches between these plants. Tomatoes and peppers are not frost hardy. Transplant them when there is no danger of frost in your area. Space pepper plants 2 feet apart, and tomato plants 3 feet apart. Tomato plants need a cage or trellis for support.

Step 8

Pull weeds. Cultivate lightly around the plants throughout the season.

Step 9

Keep the garden evenly moist. Balance irrigation with rainfall to equal about one inch of rain per week.

Step 10

Add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch to suppress weeds and hold in moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Prepared garden area
  • Small stakes
  • Twine
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Vegetable plants
  • Spade
  • Hoe

References

  • University of British Columbia: Beginner's Guide to Vegetable Gardening
  • Farmers Almanac: Beginner's Vegetable Garden

Who Can Help

  • Sunset: How to Grow Your Own Vegetables
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About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.