Many beginning gardeners buy seedlings from a garden center, dig holes in the ground and plant the little plants, hoping for the best. These novices are almost invariably disappointed with the way that their garden turns out. Successful gardeners are aware that preparation is a big key to growing great vegetables every year. Prepare your soil the correct way, choose the right plant for your needs and care for the plants regularly, and you will create a vegetable harvest to brag about.
Inspect your yard to find the best garden site. This area should receive at least six hours of sunlight each day and be away from any trees or buildings that will shade the soil for any length of time during the day. Place the garden against a fence if you are growing any vining crops, as this will eliminate the need for added trellis material.
Dig your soil to a depth of 12 inches. Remove any rocks, roots or weeds from the soil. Mix in a 4-inch layer of well-rotted compost to help fertilize your plants and to aid in the soil texture.
Buy seeds or seedlings that are rated to do well in your growing area. If you are unfamiliar with planting zones, check with a university extension service to find yours. This will tell you the climate that your garden enjoys, the best time for planting and the length of your local seasons.
Plant seeds closely at first, then thin them after they have two sets of leaves. This will allow the stronger seedlings to grow while culling out the weaker ones that could have grown into spindly plants.
Use a rain gauge or can set near the garden to judge how much rainfall your garden receives each week. If there is not an inch of water in the gauge by week's end, water your plants to bring the total up to an inch.
Weed your garden at least twice a week. Weeds can take nutrients out of the soil and away from your vegetable plants. Remove the weeds to leave the nutrients in the soil for your plants to use. Weed carefully when your plants are young so that you don't disturb their root systems.
Pick your vegetables frequently when they ripen. Pick every two or three days to encourage the plants to produce more food. Make sure that you are picking the vegetables when they are young and have a smooth skin for the best flavor and quality.