How to Grow Vegetables at Home

Overview

Many people choose to grow their own vegetables in order to save money and to have access to healthy, wholesome food. Whether you want to convert a sizable section of your yard into a vegetable garden or just have a tomato plant or two, you'll enjoy the fruits of your labor if you give your plants the care they require. The biggest mistake new gardeners make is trying to do too much too soon.

Step 1

Plan your garden. Choose what you want to plant, remembering most first-time gardeners tend to go overboard and plant too much rather than too little. Consider how much produce you can use. For example, one tomato plant will provide 8 to 10 pounds of tomatoes, and one zucchini plant yields four or five zucchinis each week during the height of the growing season. Also consider your space. Your gardening area will need at least six hours of sunlight per day. Consider how much time you want to devote to gardening. Weeding and watering has to be done consistently in order to grow a good crop of vegetables.

Step 2

Purchase your plants. If you go to a greenhouse or nursery, the employees are generally knowledgeable about gardening and will be able to answer any questions you might have. Choose plants that look healthy. If the leaves are yellow, spotted or have holes, that is a sign the plant is diseased. Look for plants with strong green stems and a lush appearance.

Step 3

Prepare your soil. Use the spade to dig about 6 to 10 inches into the ground throughout the entire garden area. If the dirt is clumped, break it up with the side of the spade. Remove grass and weeds from the soil. Add compost or manure, along with any products specifically recommended for the vegetables you chose.

Step 4

Dig a hole with the trowel as deep as the plant's rootball and a little wider. Place the plant in the hole and fill it in with dirt, packing firmly. Check the instructions on each plant to see how much space to leave between plants. Water thoroughly when you're done planting. Add 2 or 3 inches of mulch around the plants to cut down on weed growth and hold the moisture in.

Step 5

Maintain your vegetable garden by watering and weeding regularly. Your garden needs about an inch of water a week. Instead of frequent, shallow watering, water thoroughly once or twice a week to help your plants develop strong roots. Weed by hand or with a hoe.

Things You'll Need

  • Plants or seeds
  • Soil enrichment materials: manure, compost and/or bone meal
  • Spade
  • Hoe
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Hose

References

  • University of Illinois Extension Service: Vegetable Gardening Basics
  • Extension: How Much Water Does My Vegetable Garden Require?
  • Iowa State University Extension Service: Tomatoes
Keywords: gardening, growing vegetables, planting vegetables

About this Author

Janet Clark has worked as a professional writer for nine years. She has had more than 400 articles published. Her work has appeared in The Iowan, Iowa Gardening, Friends Journal,The Des Moines Register, Today Magazine, Fort Dodge Business Review,The Messenger, and CareerApple.com. She has also written a novel, Blind Faith. Clark has received several awards from the Iowa Press Women for her work.