Vegetable Garden 101: How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Vegetable gardening is a very rewarding (and tasty) experience, even for a beginner! The idea of starting from scratch and building your first vegetable plot can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll show you how to start your vegetable garden from the ground up, and soon you’ll be on your way to fresh vegetables grown in your very own garden!

Choose Your Plot

The first, and perhaps most important, step to start your vegetable garden is choosing where your plot should go. All plants, especially vegetables, have specific needs in order to grow.

  • Sunshine—Most vegetables (and herbs!) need at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.
  • Soil—Plants need soft soil that their roots can easily grow through, so loamy soil is ideal. Proper drainage will ensure that water neither collects on top nor drains away too quickly.
  • Environment—You don’t want to plant in a place that’s prone to flooding during heavy rains, or in a place that tends to dry out often. You also want to avoid planting where any strong winds could knock over your young plants or prevent pollinators from doing their job.
Garden Plot

Work Up Your Soil

Once you’ve chosen your spot, you’re ready to work up your soil! It’s important to make sure your soil is ready to go before planting any seeds to ensure they have a healthy environment for growth.

  • Till Your In-Ground Plot—Tilling is the act of breaking up the soil in your garden so that it is aerated and ready for new seedlings. Ideally, your soil should be a crumbly consistency so your new plants are able to easily break through and take root.
  •  Weed Control—If you are tilling an in-ground plot, weed control is very important, but easy to combat. Simply putting cardboard or newspaper under your soil will help prevent existing weeds from growing through.
  • Amend Your Soil—Soil amendments like compost or Bumper Crop® provide essential nutrients for your vegetables. Mix this with your top soil, whether in-ground or in a raised bed.

Protecting From Pests

After you’ve tilled and planted your seedlings, you’ll want to ensure your vegetable garden doesn’t become a feasting zone for animals and pests.

  • Fencing—The best way to keep animals (pests and pets alike) out of your vegetable garden is to build a fence around it. You can do this using wood and either netting or plastic. Make sure to build one high enough to deter deer from jumping it.
  • Repellent—You can also lay organic repellent outside of your fence line. This will not hurt any animals, but rather help to keep them away.*
  • Companion Plants – Planting flowers in your vegetable garden that are known to repel pests is a great organic alternative. Marigolds, lavender, and other plants with a strong scent will deter Bambi or Thumper from eating your plants in the first place.
  • Feed Pests Elsewhere – Deer and rabbits are just hungry and sly neighbors. If you plant native berry shrubs 500+ feet away from your garden, they are more likely to eat those easy-to-reach berries than your protected kale and lettuce.
  • * Generally, you would not treat your vegetables for insect pests until you start to see signs on your established plants.

Keep Them Hydrated

Watering your vegetable garden is an important chore in your vegetable gardening routine, but there are ways to make it easier. Typically a vegetable garden will need about 1 inch of water per week. That can be roughly estimated as a 5-second count from a regular garden hose per square foot of garden space. Setting up a dripline hose that runs along the base of your plants will make this easier to maintain since it slowly lets water into the soil at an even pace.

Setting up a rain gauge will let you know how much water Mother Nature is providing for you. This way you know how to regulate your watering schedule so you don’t overwater your vegetables.

Always remember, gardening should be fun, not scary! We hope these tips help make gardening at home feel more achievable and exciting. Before you know it, you’ll be harvesting delicious peppers and carrots right from your own backyard.

Happy planting!

Now that you’ve built your plot, you’re ready to start planning your garden!

Want to start growing your seeds now? We have a guide for that to!