There's nothing like fresh vegetables straight from the garden. Vegetable gardening can be a way to supplement what you get from the grocery store or to provide for your family for an entire year. The larger the garden, the more you can grow.Start small and scale up your garden's size as you learn what you need.
Select a garden area that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Sites with southern exposure provide the best area for gardening. Avoid areas with extended periods of shade from trees or houses.
The basic tools needed for a vegetable garden include a full-size garden spade, rake and fork for working the soil. A hoe will make cultivating and weeding easier. Small hand-held spades and claws are good for transplanting. A kneeling pad will save your knees, and a good pair of gardening gloves will protect your hands. Invest in a good hose and nozzle to keep your garden watered during dry periods.
You may need to amend the soil with peat moss, sand, lime or composted manure. The ideal soil pH for vegetables is between 6.0 and 6.5, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Purchase a soil test kit at a home improvement store or nursery, or take a sample of your soil into your local cooperative extension service. Straw makes a good mulch for a vegetable garden; you can turn it under into the soil at the end of the season. Don't discard your yard waste; start a compost bin to save money by making your own "black gold."
Choose varieties from local stores, as they are likely to grow best in your area. Buy varieties that have clear instructions and information on the back, such as how long from planting to harvest, what the seedlings look like and how far apart to plant and thin. Choose a few cool season plants for spring planting and again in the fall. Check the back of the seed package to ensure the seeds were packaged for the current year.
Local nurseries, farm stands, grocery stores and home centers sell vegetable seedlings to transplant into your garden. Select a small variety of herbs, peppers, tomatoes and bush variety squash. Put them in a sheltered place for a few days to harden them up before setting them in the garden. Purchase tomato cages, stakes and a trellis for taller plants like peppers, peas and beans.
Home centers and garden centers sell wire fencing for enclosing your garden to keep out rabbits and deer. One or two rabbits can eat an entire row of seedlings in an evening. Plant pest-repelling annuals like marigolds and nasturtiums along the fence perimeter as natural insect repellents that won't chase away bees.