You don't have to be a farmer to start a garden. Gardening can be very fulfilling, as well as providing ecosystems for beneficial pests and insects, and helping out the family pocketbook in these recessive times. Many vegetables are easy to plant and grow, and are good selections for a first-time gardener. It is often a good idea to start out with a small space and a few plant choices to learn what works best.
Select a well-drained site for your garden. You can easily start a garden in a small space or even in a container. There are many vegetables that grow well in small areas, but you should take care not to overcrowd your plants. When growing in containers, it is best to plant only one type of vegetable per container, whereas, you can grow several varieties of vegetables in a small garden plot. You will want to consider the amount of sun that your selected site receives. (Containers offer more flexibility in this area, because you can move containers to accommodate the required sun exposure of each individual type of plant.)
Decide which vegetables to plant. Some considerations to keep in mind are the growing requirements of each type of plant. For example, vining plants like peas, beans or cucumbers may require some support, tomatoes do well in large containers that can accommodate a tomato cage or stakes, while root vegetables can be planted as companions for upright growing plants with shallow roots. Vegetables that are in the same family should not be planted near one another because they attract the same pests, and sun-loving vegetables should not be planted with taller crops, such as broccoli or tomatoes. Do not choose vegetables that require large amounts of space, such as potatoes, melons, winter squash or pumpkins. Corn is included here, because although it is an upright grower with shallow roots, corn must be planted in rows to assure pollination, which places high demands on space.
Prepare the soil by adding organic nutrients and mixing them well into the soil. You can use compost or manure, but compost works better for containers. (For garden plots, lay black plastic over the soil a week or two ahead of time to get rid of existing vegetation.) You may also want to add sand or peat moss to containers for better drainage.
Plant seeds or seedlings according to directions. Be sure to follow spacing and depth guidelines.
Water and keep moist until plants are well-established. Then water regularly and cultivate or pull weeds to prevent them from using water and nutrients that your vegetables need. Weed when you thin plants to conserve on time and energy.