Vegetable Gardens for Beginners

Overview

If you've decided to get healthier and eat more vegetables, it's easy to go the extra step and grow a few of your own. To get a jump on the spring planting season, start by clearing and preparing an area in the fall. Then when spring rolls around, all you'll have to do is start some seeds, or purchase them already started, and then get growing. For your first garden, you can grow a tomato plant, radishes, a hill of zucchini and some basil, maybe a cucumber plant or two, and green beans, in an area no larger than four feet by 10 feet. Keep it small and simple.

Step 1

Decide where your garden will be. Choose an area that gets full sun most of the day and that is within reach of a source of water or a hose.

Step 2

Rake, mow, or otherwise clear the weeds and any existing plants from your garden area. Then leave the remains on top of the soil.

Step 3

Spread thick sheets of newspaper over your planting area, overlapping them to make sure no weeds can sprout through cracks or openings. The newspaper will prevent weed seeds from sprouting and will kill any existing plants underneath.

Step 4

Layer compost, peat moss, top soil if you have it, leaves that you have raked up from other parts of your yard, and any other organic materials you can think of---lawn clippings are great.

Step 5

Plant radish seeds directly in the soil in late summer or early spring---you can plant immediately after you make your quick and easy garden bed. Make a shallow furrow about 2-3 feet long and scatter radish seeds into it. Then cover them with ¼ inch of soil.

Step 6

Dig a "moat" around an area about 18 inches round and dump the soil you dig out in the center, forming a hill for zucchini or cucumbers. Plant about eight seeds or young plants around the edges of the center circle. The "moat" allows water to seep in deeply around the plants' roots.

Step 7

Plant tomatoes 2-3 feet apart and then drive two to four stakes around each plant for support when they get larger---it's important to keep tomatoes that are forming off the ground to prevent insect damage or rot from the wet ground.

Step 8

Plant green beans, eggplant, peppers and herbs like basil from starter plants in the same way you planted your tomatoes.

Step 9

Mulch around your newly planted vegetables with compost, sawdust, bark, or leaves you have raked up from other plants. Grass clippings provide a rich source of nitrogen and using them in your vegetable garden is a great way to recycle in your own backyard.

Step 10

Fertilize only once about 1 month after you plant your garden. If your soil is rich in organic materials like compost, your plants won't need much additional nutrition. Use a balanced fertilizer, for example 10-10-10, available at all garden departments.

Step 11

Harvest and enjoy your veggies when they look like tomatoes, peppers, green beans and squash that you buy at the store. Then explore some cookbooks and develop your own recipes that you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be careful---gardening can become an addiction and you might get spoiled eating your own homegrown veggies, to the point where anything from the grocery store just doesn't satisfy you.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Rake
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Seeds or starter plants
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel

References

  • Gardening know how
  • Lasagna gardening
Keywords: vegetable gardens, beginning gardening, tomatoes zucchini

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.