How to Garden Vegetable Beds


Techniques for gardening in vegetable beds changes depending on the season. In the spring, most vegetable gardens require daily maintenance as plants become established. As summer approaches, maintenance drops down to one or two times a week until it's time for the fall harvest, when you are once more outside almost daily. Taking care of your vegetable garden properly in the spring helps ensure less work during the heat of summer and an abundant harvest in fall.

Step 1

Prepare a well-draining garden bed in full sun in late fall or in spring once the soil thaws enough to work. Remove any large rocks and old plant material from the bed. Lay a 3-inch layer of mature compost and any recommended fertilizer for the plant varieties over the bed and till it in to a 10-inch depth using a power tiller or hoe.

Step 2

Plant seedlings outside when directed, based on the seed packet instructions or plant labels. Plant most seedlings after the last spring frost date in your area. Space plants in rows the recommended distance apart for each variety.

Step 3

Provide 1 to 2 inches of water a week---enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Provide a once-weekly, deep watering as opposed to daily light watering. Lay a 2-inch layer of organic mulch over the bed to preserve soil moisture.

Step 4

Pull weeds as they grow in between the young plants. Break up the soil surface every two to three days with a hand cultivator tool to prevent weed seeds from becoming established. Once plants are larger, they will shade the ground and prevent most weeds from germinating.

Step 5

Apply a second application of balanced fertilizer once plants begin forming fruits or setting flowers. Apply at the rate recommended on the fertilizer label 6 inches away from the stems of the plants. This prevents fertilizer burning and damage to the roots and leaves.

Step 6

Inspect plants and vegetables regularly for signs of insects or disease. Treat pest problems immediately with an organic or chemical control.

Step 7

Harvest the vegetables as they ripen. This encourages further fruiting on many plants and helps extend the harvest.

Step 8

Harvest all remaining vegetables by the first frost except those from cool weather plants such as greens. Remove the plants from the bed and compost or discard them. Begin preparing the bed for the following spring with fresh compost and fertilizer.

Tips and Warnings

  • Late-season spring freezes may kill tender seedlings. Watch the weather report and cover plants with an upturned bucket or sheet of plastic if a freeze is expected overnight.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Power tiller
  • Hoe
  • Hand cultivator
  • Mulch
  • Pesticide


  • Iowa State University Extension: Planting the Home Vegetable Garden
Keywords: vegetable garden, maintaining garden beds, starting a garden

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.