Vegetables are among the most satisfying plants for gardeners to grow. They thrive in moist, sunny conditions and reward you for your efforts with baskets of fresh produce. Plant cool season vegetables including lettuce, broccoli, peas, and carrots from seed four to six weeks before the last average frost. Plant warm season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplant after the last frost. These crops do best when planted as small seedlings, either purchased at garden centers or started indoors yourself.
Spread 1 to 2 inches of compost or manure over your garden area. Dig down into the soil to a depth of 6 inches and turn the soil over, mixing the compost or manure into the soil as you work.. Remove any rocks, weeds, or dirt clods and rake the soil to level it.
Create furrows with a hoe to the depth recommended on the seed package to plant your seeds. In general, plant small seeds like lettuce and carrots no deeper than 1/4 inch in the soil. Plant medium sized seeds like beans and peas 1/2 inch under the soil. Plant large seeds like pumpkin 1 inch under the soil. Space the seeds according to package directions. Pat the soil firmly down over the seeds.
Plant young seedlings when they are 3 to 4 inches tall and have four or five leaves. Dig small holes with your shovel or a trowel and remove the plants from their pots. Place the plants in the holes and push surrounding soil firmly back into place, patting it down with your hands.
Water your plants and seeds with a fine mist sprinkler for 20 minutes. Thereafter, check your vegetable garden daily. Most vegetables like evenly moist, but not soggy, soil. Water before the soil gets dried out and plants droop, to prevent plant stress.
Weed your vegetable garden weekly to prevent weeds from competing with young plants. As vegetable plants mature, they'll shade the ground and crowd out weeds, but pull weeds often when your garden is just starting.
Fertilize your vegetables during their flowering period (usually July for most crops). Apply a granular, slow-release vegetable fertilizer to the ground according to package directions. Work the fertilizer into the soil with a hoe and water the ground for 20 minutes to activate the fertilizer.