Growing vegetables in your backyard can supply you with an abundance of fresh tasty vegetables to pick and eat, right off the vine. Vegetable gardening saves you money and provides gratification. Planting your own vegetable garden requires careful planning, hard work and regular maintenance, but you will be rewarded at harvest time with a bountiful crop of vegetables. Take the time needed, and perform the right preparation to ensure your vegetable garden offers the best environment for growth.
Select an area of your backyard that provides full sun for at least six hours. Pick locations with well-draining soil, and close to a water source. Measure the area chosen for your backyard vegetable garden.
Draw a diagram of the garden on paper marking the length and width available. Pick the types of vegetables you want to grow, and figure out how many of each you have room for. The spacing of the vegetables will vary, but the majority requires at least 2 feet. According to University of Florida Extension you should choose vegetables with varying planting dates and harvest times to spread out the planting and harvest seasons. Plan to plant taller vegetables on the outside or back rows of the vegetable garden to prevent them from shadowing smaller plants. Allow room for any vegetable supports, like tomato cages or poles for beans.
Prepare the soil at least a month before, or during the fall of the previous year. Remove all of the foliage from the site selected. Get rid of all rocks, branches, roots or other debris. Dig to a depth of at least 1 foot. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter, such as well-rotted leaves, aged manure and compost. Cultivate it into the soil, and level the area with a rake. Loosen the soil again on the day of planting your vegetables.
Plant the vegetables in your backyard on a cloudy day or late in the day to avoid wilting the vegetables. Dig a hole big enough to bury fiber or peat containers, or to place the vegetable transplants slightly higher than it was in the container. Tomato plants are typically planted much deeper; up to two-thirds of the plant is buried.
Carefully remove the vegetables from the containers and place them in the holes. Backfill with removed soil. Follow the directions on the packaging for seed depth and spacing, if you are planting vegetable seeds, instead of transplants.
Water the newly planted vegetables with a starter fertilizer. Follow the directions on the label. Apply a standard fertilizer, such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) monthly during the growing season of each vegetable planted, advises North Carolina State University Extension. Spread the fertilizer on both sides of the vegetable, keeping it 4 to 6 inches away from the stems. Saturate the vegetables with water, after applying fertilizer.
Supply at least an inch of water weekly to the vegetables throughout the growing season, if rainfall does not. Check the top inch or two of soil, and water vegetables when it is dry.
Cover the area surrounding the vegetables with a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Hand-pull or use a hoe to cultivate the top layer of soil to prevent weeds, if mulch is not used.