Growing a vegetable garden saves money and gives you the chance to grow a larger selection of produce than what you find at the grocery store. Many times the vegetables even taste better than those shipped across country to stock grocery shelves. Starting vegetables from seed is the cheapest way to begin and gives you more choice than purchasing nursery seedlings. Purchase your seed from respected growers and seed companies in later winter so you have time to start growing your vegetables before it's time to transplant outside.
Fill seed starting flats with a quality seed starting soil. Make your own by mixing 1 part compost, 1 part peat moss and 1 part vermiculite together -- then moisten thoroughly.
Sow seeds in rows that are 3 inches apart. Space each seed in the row approximately 2 inches apart and sow them to a depth twice that of the seed's width. Sow small, fine seeds directly on the soil surface and cover in a ¼-inch layer of soil or vermiculite.
Mist the surface of the soil with a spray bottle filled with water after sowing. Cover in plastic wrap to preserve the moisture, then place in a warm place to germinate.
Remove the plastic wrap once seedlings emerge -- approximately 7 to 14 days for most vegetable varieties. Place the tray under grow lights or in a sunny window sill. Keep the soil moist at all times.
Thin seedlings once they produce their second set of leaves so that they are spaced 3 inches apart in all directions. Snip the weaker seedlings off at soil level using sharp scissors, leaving the stronger and healthier seedlings behind.
Transplant vegetable plants outside after all danger of frost has passed in your area or when indicated on the seed packet. Some vegetables, like lettuce, need to be transplanted before the last frost date.
Prepare a well-drained garden bed in full sun for the vegetables. Lay a 3-inch layer of compost over the entire bed and till it to a 6-inch depth using a hoe or power tiller.
Place seedlings outside in a sheltered area, such as a porch, to harden-off for one week. Place them outside for two hours the first day, then gradually increase the time outside each day until the seedlings spend the entire day outside at the end of the week.
Plant seedlings in the garden bed to the same depth they were at in their seedling pots, except for tomatoes which are planted 1 to 2 inches deeper. Space the plants as recommended on the seed envelope for each particular variety.
Water regularly to keep the garden the bed moist. Provide 1 to 2 inches of water per week in a single deep watering as opposed to frequent light watering.
About this Author
Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.