Using fresh ingredients can greatly enhance the taste of meals---and there is nothing fresher than vegetables you picked a few minutes earlier and brought into the kitchen. Growing vegetables in a backyard garden also gives you a reason to spend more time outdoors in the fresh air. Gardening is a relaxing hobby that can be enjoyed by your children as well. Everyone gets excited when the vegetables emerge from the ground, or when the first small squash or melons appear.
Choose your garden location. Observe the patterns of sun and shade for your yard. Vegetables require plenty of sunshine--six hours per day at least and up to 10 hours is ideal. Don't locate the garden in an area that gets too much shade from trees, the house or fences. Think about how large a garden area you want, based on how much gardening time you have available and what quantities of vegetables you want to grow.
Select what to plant. Think about what vegetables work well in your style of cooking and what vegetables your family particularly likes. Your climate is also a consideration. Vegetables with a long time to maturity such as pumpkins or winter squash may not work in areas where the growing season is short. Corn does not always work well in an extremely hot climate.
Do a planting plan. Plot out on paper which vegetables will be planted where. Study the recommended plant spacing on the seed packages or the plant containers. Plant vegetables with a similar time to maturity in the same area, so as they finish producing you can free up space for the next crop.
Improve the soil. Before planting, make sure the soil is conducive to healthy plant growth. The soil should be loose, drain well and be nutrient rich. Turn the soil with a shovel or a power rotary tiller, and then add compost or other nutrients.
Install an irrigation system. A very small garden patch or container garden can be watered with a hose sprayer, but larger gardens are more productive when water is delivered to them through irrigation tubing where the water can be carefully regulated. Popular methods are soaker hoses, flexible tubing with tiny holes drilled into it so water can slowly seep out near the plant roots, or emitters that drip water directly onto the plant roots.
Fertilize the garden. Add granular or liquid fertilizer with balanced quantities of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium several times during the growing season depending on the needs of each plant. For instance, broccoli requires more fertilizer than beans and peas.