image by H.B. Dean
Growing your own vegetables is a satisfying hobby, reduces your grocery bill and cuts down on gasoline consumption going to and from the store. Planting a spring vegetable garden involves preparing the soil, planting the vegetables and caring for the young plants.
Amend the soil in the vegetable garden a month before planting. Dig up the soil, remove any weeds, grass or other garden debris and amend the soil with organic material such as compost or well-rotted manure, or a complete plant food. According to The Garden Helper, "use 3 or 4 pounds for every thousand square feet of vegetable garden." Till or dig the amendment into the soil.
Test the pH of the garden soil. This can be done by taking a sample to the local agricultural extension agency or by using a kit purchased at a gardening center. Depending on the vegetables you plan to grow, you will need to add sulfur or lime to change the soil pH. The Garden Helper has a list of the pH requirements for different vegetables as well as information on changing the pH. Test and amend the soil several weeks before planting to allow the sulfur or lime time to work.
Till the soil and use a hoe to form rows. The number of rows will depend on the vegetables you plant. The spaces between rows should be large enough for easy access to the plants.
Plant vegetables that will grow tallest on the north end of the garden. This will keep the mature plants from creating shade on the shorter plants. Space the vegetables according to the seed packet or on the information stake that comes with the plant.
Water the seeds lightly to prevent washing them away. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. When they are several inches high, thin them according to the seed packet. Spread a light layer of mulch or seed-free straw around the seedlings to help retain moisture.
Add support for plants that require them. These supports can be cages made from wire or wooden stakes. Place the supports before the plant needs them to prevent damaging a root or breaking a stem.