Growing your own fruits and vegetables is healthy and educational. Have a plan before you start. Decide what to grow and choose things that you know your family will enjoy. Start small and expand your gardening efforts as you gain experience. Visit garden centers and nurseries in your area and ask for advice on fruits and vegetables that grow well locally. They will also have the seeds and plants you need to get started.
Choose a level site that gets six to eight hours of sunlight per day. The soil should drain well, so avoid low-lying areas where the ground may get saturated. Mark the corners of a small plot with the wooden stakes. Completely remove turf grass, plants and other debris from the plot. Dig down at least 6 inches to get beneath grass and weed roots. Loosen the top few inches of bare soil with the hoe and spread 4 to 6 inches of compost or manure over the entire plot. Turn the soil and organic material lightly with a spade to blend it. Give the organic material about a week to start breaking down into the soil before planting.
Make a drawing of the plot to plan your garden. Rows must be spaced according to the type of vegetable. For example, onions and carrots are small and should be grown in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Vegetables such as rhubarb and squash need much wider row spacing.
Rake the plot level and refer to your drawing to mark out the rows with stakes and string. Make a mound of soil about 6 inches high along the length of each row. Plant the seeds by following the depth and spacing instructions on the packages.
Spray the garden with a fine mist of water after planting. The soil and seeds need to be kept moist. Regular watering should be done early in the day when it is cool. Your garden will need at least 1 inch of water per week. Laying soaker hoses between the rows is an effective and time-saving way to irrigate. Remove weeds as they appear and examine your plants often for signs of insects or disease.
Growing Fruit Trees
Visit local nurseries and ask for advice on the types of fruit that grow well locally. You will also want to know how the trees are pollinated. Cross-pollination means you will need at least two trees for fruit production.
Select planting locations with good soil drainage and plenty of sunlight. Plant trees at least 20 feet apart. Dig holes that are twice the diameter of the root balls. Each hole should be 1 to 2 inches shallower than the height of the root ball. Center the trees in the holes and backfill the soil. Tamp the soil down with your foot while backfilling to hold the tree firmly in place. The point where the trunk meets the roots should be just above ground level.
Spread a few inches of mulch around the trees to warm the soil and help retain moisture. Water the trees thoroughly.