If like me you have always wanted to plant your own vegetable garden but never really known where to start, then here are 5 steps to get you going.
I've often fancied the idea of growing my own vegetables. From many points of view it is a good thing to do. There are money savings to be had of course, but to me just knowing that the vegetables you are feeding your kids with are vegetables that have come from your own garden, are 100% fresh, and you know exactly how you have cultivated them and tended them
And of course, growing your own vegetables is a fantastic example to set for your kids. And if you can get them involved, and taking ownership for some of the vegetables grown, or letting them have there own little patch, then they are much more likely to eat the vegetables grown, and therefore you get them outsides and involved and leading much more healthy lives.
And for those out that that maybe think you need a big garden to plant your own vegetable garden then think again. There are methods where you can grow vegetables indoors, or in raised beds, or even if you rent an allotment, there are options for you to get going
Now my problem has always been "how to get started" so I thought I would take a bit of advice from a friend of mine who has been growing vegetables in his back garden for many years.
What we decided to do is put together a "five easy steps" article, a sort of "short beginners guide to vegetable gardening" .... and here it is - "5 Easy Steps to Plant Your Own Vegetable Garden"
5 Easy Steps to Plant Your Own Vegetable Garden:
Of course just by reading this article you are not necessarily going to be able to go straight out and plant your own vegetable garden, but this article outlines the things you need to consider, and things you will definitely need to do to be successful
Once you have decided what you want to do and where you want to do it, then go away and watch some videos, read some books, take some classes, and you will be all set...
Step #1. Decide What You Want to Plant.
I remember when I was a young boy (many moons ago) my Dad had a short lived but successful attempt at growing potatoes, and they were (honestly) the best thing I had ever tasted (accompanied by a bit of butter and salt and pepper)
Consequently, potatoes would be the first thing on my list
But there are lots of other vegetable options - plus you could grow fruit and herbs - so it is worthwhile writing down what you want to grow
Start by making a list of all the recipes you frequently make. Note which vegetables and herbs you use over and over again, because this will tell you not only what you should plant, but also in what quantity.
Don’t forget to jot down other items your family enjoys, even if you aren't using them in your cooking currently. Growing your own vegetable garden is a great way to expand your culinary horizons.
This planning phase is a great time to get your children interested in gardening, too. Ask what they might like to grow or make fun suggestions if they are too young to come up with ideas on their own. Pumpkins, ornamental gourds and sunflowers (for their beauty and seeds) are popular choices with kids of all ages. Fast growing plants, such as lettuce and beans, are also great choices for children because they produce noticeable results quickly.
Once you've made a list of plants you want to grow, collect mail order catalogs, search online or stop by your favorite garden center to find seeds and cuttings. You can learn a lot about what grows well in your area by tapping into these resources, as well.
Step #2: Pick a Location for Your Vegetable Garden
Just like in real estate, planting a successful vegetable garden is all about location, location, location. If you want your plants to thrive, there are a couple non-negotiable items you will need to provide:
- Sunshine. Pick a sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Water. Make sure the location you choose has easy access to water. You will need to water your plants whenever Mother Nature refuses to cooperate, so make sure you have a convenient source of water nearby.
- Accessibility. Gardens need care, so position your vegetable garden in an area that is convenient to get to with the tools you need to work in it. If you place it too far from the house or garden shed where you keep your tools or in an area difficult to reach with a wheelbarrow, you may find yourself tempted to neglect it. Make your life easier and plant your garden in the most convenient sunny location you can find.
- Good Drainage. You may have to do some work for this one, especially if you live in an area with heavy clay or compacted soil. If you find the area you want to plant tends to collect standing water, you will want to build your beds up to protect your plants from overly wet feet.
If space is a problem for you then check out the eBook in the banner below - a really good guide to growing vegetables where space is limited
Step #3: Create Your Garden Beds
Once you’ve identified where you want your garden, you will need to decide where you want the individual beds within it. As you are doing so, keep in mind the orientation of the sun throughout the day because taller plants or those growing on trellises can cast damaging shadows if they aren’t positioned correctly.
To create the individual beds, many old school gardeners swear by the traditional practice of removing heavy layers of sod, then tilling and amending the soil beneath it before planting your vegetable plants.
Although this method will certainly work, you simply don’t have to work that hard. Instead, you can use the Lasagna Gardening method of building your beds UP instead of digging down to create them. This methods works equally well with raised garden beds or directly on the ground.
To get started, add flattened cardboard or a thick stack of newspapers on top of the ground and then add alternate layers of peat, topsoil, aged manure or barn litter, organic mulch, yard clippings and/or compost.
You can either prepare these beds months in advance or right before you plant. Either way, the layers will meld together into a beautiful, rich soil for your plants.
For more details on this no-dig gardening method, check out Lasagna Gardening, a New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens.
Step #4: Start Planting!
Once your beds are ready, it’s time to start planting!
Before you start digging, you have some choices to make: you can sow seeds directly into the soil, start seeds indoors then harden them off outdoors before adding them to your garden, or plant established transplants you’ve purchased directly into your prepared beds.
Some plants require direct sowing, while others need to be started indoors several weeks before the frost-free date in your area in order to perform well. While you are creating your list of plants you want to grow, make a note of the growing requirements for each so you can give your plants the best chance of survival.
Step #5: Tend Your Patch!
Once you've planted it all you need to look after it so you'll need to get into a discipline.
Your garden will likely need plenty of water, weeding and watching that birds don't steal all the carefully planted seeds
Do your research, follow up on instructions, and enjoy the fruits of your labours
If you decide to follow these five easy steps to plant your own vegetable garden, you will be rewarded all season long with an abundant supply of fresh and healthy produce.
Plus, you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing you and your family did it yourselves