Vegetable Gardening Ideas

If you've never grown your own vegetable garden before, the thought might seem a bit intimidating. Many people see vegetable gardens as very large, complicated projects that can take time and effort to get going. In reality, there are many beginning vegetable gardening ideas that are simple and easy to get started with.

Rows, Circles or Squares

When gardening space is at a premium, think about the different ways you can plant and grow your vegetables. Traditionally, large vegetable gardens are planted in rows that have enough space between them for walking and pulling weeds. This method can be unproductive if you're only wanting to plant a few rows of your favorite vegetables. Corn, for example, is pollinated by the wind. If you have just one short row of corn you have to hope the wind blows just right for it to be pollinated properly. A better approach is to plant the corn in circles or squares, so no matter which way the wind chooses to blow there will be more corn close by on all sides. Gardening in square or rectangular beds is also popular for easy management and care. Planting vegetables in small garden beds no wider than 4 feet ensures you're able to easily reach into the center of the bed from all sides. Consider leaving space between beds wide enough for your lawnmower, and planting grass or white clover in the walking paths.

Canning Gardens

Consider growing a vegetable garden for home-canning purposes. Canning gardens give you fresh food during the summer and fall, and provide extra for canning to put away for winter and spring use. Canning gardens can be grown in small spaces with just a few select vegetables, or they can be larger gardens that produce a wide variety of vegetables to can. Easy plants to grow that are also fairly easy to can include sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, and carrots. Pole beans are prolific and just a few plants grown up a small trellis can provide a bountiful crop. Tomatoes are a popular choice for home canning. Cucumbers can be pickled right in the jar.

Winter Gardens

While most gardeners think vegetable gardens can only be enjoyed during the spring and summer months, there are actually several different types of vegetables that grow well in cooler weather too. In fact, you can have a winter vegetable garden that produces food for you in the coldest months of the year and still provide fresh vegetables in the early spring while you're waiting for new sprouts to arrive. Beets, spinach and scallions can be started in December or January in some parts of the U.S., while carrots can be left in the ground after frost hits (they'll keep for months until you're ready for them). Parsnips and brussel sprouts have the best taste after they've been nipped by frost.

Companion Gardens

Companion gardens are vegetable gardens that have specific plants and herbs planted near each other, so they can help give or take needed nutrition from each other and help protect from disease and pests. Plus, you get three different vegetables from the space typically reserved just for one. One easy companion garden to try consists of corn, pole beans and squash. Corn grows strong and tall but it's a greedy plant that takes a lot of nitrogen from the soil. Pole beans need supports to grow on and, being legumes, they add nitrogen to the soil. When grown together, the corn will provide the support for the beans to grow on while the beans furnish plenty of nitrogen that the corn needs. Squash---as well as melons or cucumbers---make an excellent third addition to this companion garden because they act as a living mulch. The broad leaves of these plants help shade the soil, which helps retain moisture and prevents the soil from getting too hot. The height of the corn and beans help filter the sunlight reaching the lower lying plants so they're not easily burned.

Keywords: vegetable gardening ideas, companion vegetable gardens, growing winter vegetables

About this Author

Kathy Burns-Millyard has been a Web designer, developer, Internet consultant, photographer and prolific professional writer since 1997. Specializing in business, technology, environmental and health topics, her work has appeared in "Wireless Week" magazine, "Entrepreneur" magazine, "Computer User" magazine, and in hundreds of publications around the Web.