Many home gardeners start small, planting perhaps a 6-foot-by-6-foot vegetable patch, and then gradually expand their garden as they gain knowledge of vegetable cultivation techniques and confidence in their gardening abilities. Once you’ve grown your own vegetables, and experienced how much fresher and tastier they are than those you can purchase in the store, it’s natural to want to grow more and more. With a large garden space you have more choices of what and where to plant. However, it requires a much greater time commitment to prepare the soil, plant the vegetables, fertilize and weed the garden.
Decide how large a garden is practical. Consider how much time you have to devote to gardening. Ask family members if they would be willing to help you, at least with turning and preparing the soil. Take your budget into account. Water can be expensive in some parts of the United States. Consider the cost of tools and large quantities of seeds or plant seedlings. Take into consideration the cost of other materials you may need, such as fencing.
Choose the garden location. Select a sunny area of your yard. Make sure your garden space will receive six hours of sunshine on average each day; a location with 10 hours of sun is even better. Make sure the location is in a place where it is easy to run an irrigation tube from the home’s main water source to the garden area.
Select the vegetables to plant. First, pick the vegetables that your family prefers to eat on a consistent basis. Consider mixing flowers, herbs and vegetables in the garden. Enjoy the pleasure of picking fresh flowers, harvesting vegetables for meals, and having flavorful herbs to use in preparing the meal—all from one large garden.
Prepare the soil. Committing to a large garden indicates you want to have enough vegetables to supply your family’s needs at the times of year when the garden produces. Take extra care to add nutrients the soil needs to be productive. Put in at least 2 inches of compost, or an equivalent of 15 percent of the total soil in the garden. Rent a rototiller to turn the soil rather than trying to do it all by hand. Don’t plant until the soil is loose enough for good aeration. Break up any compacted areas of the planting bed.
Install an irrigation system. Put in a drip irrigation system so the vegetable plants’ roots receive adequate water, especially in the hottest summer months. Use soaker hoses, flexible tube with perforations that release water directly onto the ground, or drip emitters. Don’t try to water a large garden just with the hose. Some plants will be deprived of necessary water.