What could be better than enjoying fresh, flavorful vegetables picked from your own garden? It's possible. While it can be time-consuming, starting a vegetable garden can be one of the most rewarding garden projects undertaken. There are some tried-and-true steps that must be followed, but your favorite veggies await you as a result.
Choose the right location to start a vegetable garden. Find a spot that offers plenty of sunlight and that has well-drained soil. Look for a location that is in a fairly open area, if possible, to give your garden good air circulation which promotes pollination and can help to prevent disease.
Determine the frost dates for your region. Check your farmer's almanac or consult a local nursery to gather the correct time. Wait to plant or transplant vegetables until after the last frost.
Prepare the soil. Take a sample of your soil to your local county extension office to have it tested for pH and nutrient content. Amend your soil with any nutrients or elements it may be missing. Strive to achieve soil that is a sandy loam. (This is a mixture of clay and sand and contains humus.) Squeeze a handful of soil in your palm, and if it crumbles as it falls, this is the correct texture.
Gather the right tools to plant the vegetable garden. Have access to a shovel, rake, hoe and garden hose, at a minimum. Use a wheelbarrow to make the task of transporting soil and compost easier. Keep a garden fork and trowel close by to help with weeding a transplanting. Consider purchasing stakes and garden lines to help keep the vegetable garden aesthetically pleasing.
Start preparing the garden beds in early spring. Do not work the soil when it is overly wet. Dig the soil about 12 inches deep with a hoe, if working in open ground. Add several inches of topsoil or compost if your soil is clay-like. Prepare small garden beds bearing in mind that the vegetable garden will require much watering, weeding and nurturing. Add additional beds later if desired.
Decide which vegetables to grow. Purchase the seeds and prepare to sow them outdoors. (Begin tomato, pepper, cabbage, eggplant and broccoli seeds indoors then transplant outdoors when the weather is permissible.) Buy vegetable seedlings or plants from a garden center or nursery if you are more anxious to get straight to planting.