Vegetable Garden: A Beginner’s Guide

Vegetable Garden: A Beginner's Guide

Are you finally ready to take the leap and start a vegetable garden this year?  You’ve been hearing your friends talk about their backyard vegetable gardens, but you can barely keep a houseplant alive.  No worries, it’s a lot easier than you think! Let me show you how with “Vegetable Garden:  A Beginner’s Guide”.

vegetable garden

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

raised bed garden

1. Decide on a Location

When starting your first garden, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the garden’s location. The spot you select will determine the type of plants that will grow best, how much sunlight and water the plants will receive, and what kind of soil you’ll be working with. So before you start digging, it’s important to take some time to consider all your options.

One factor to consider is the amount of sunlight the spot receives.

Most plants need at least six hours of sunlight per day to thrive, so a spot that gets plenty of sun is ideal.

If you’re not sure how much sun your potential garden spot gets, you can observe it for a few days to get an idea. Another important factor is the type of soil you have. Different plants prefer different types of soil, so it’s important to know what kind of dirt you’re working with before you start planting.

And finally, you’ll also want to think about how much space you have to work with. A small patch of land will limit the number and type of plants you can grow, but will keep your workload low. While a large area will give you more options, you’ll need to set aside more time for garden work.

By taking all these factors into account, you can choose the perfect location for your first garden.


2. Determine the Size of Your Vegetable Garden 

For first-time gardeners, one of the hardest decisions is determining the size of their garden. After all, you want to be able to enjoy your bounty, but you don’t want to be overwhelmed with upkeep. Here are a few things to consider when making this decision.

First, think about how much time you’re willing to spend on maintenance. A larger garden requires more pruning, weeding, and watering than a smaller one. If you’re short on time, it’s better to start small.

Next, consider your climate. If you live in an area with long hot summers, you’ll need to water more often than if you live in a cooler climate. This will also affect the size of your garden – a larger garden will need more water than a smaller one.

Finally, think about what you want to grow. If you’re interested in growing a lot of vegetables, you’ll need more space than if you’re just growing flowers. Root vegetables also require more space than leafy greens. Keep these things in mind when deciding on the size of your first garden.


outdoor vegetable garden

3. Decide what Style of Backyard Vegetable Garden works Best for You

When you first start gardening, it is important to decide what style of the home garden will work best for you.

There are four main types of backyard vegetable gardens: raised bed gardens, container gardens, tank gardens, and in-ground gardens.

raised bed garden

Raised bed gardens are a great option for beginner gardeners because they are easy to maintain and can be customized to fit any space.

container garden

Container gardens are also easy to care for, and they can be moved around if you need to change your garden layout.

stock garden

Tank gardens are perfect for small spaces, and they can be made from recycled materials like barrels or tires.

balcony garden


vegetable garden

In-ground gardens are the most traditional type of vegetable garden, but they require more effort to keep weed growth under control.

Whichever type of garden you choose, make sure to pick a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and has well-drained soil.


radish and carrots in ground

4. Think about what Vegetables You Want to Grow

Before you plant your first garden, it’s important to take some time to think about what vegetables you want to grow.  It’s also prudent to find out what gardening zone you are in.  Your zone will largely determine what you can and can’t grow.

As much as I would like to grow oranges and lemons, it’s just not going to happen here in Ohio without a greenhouse.

I’m in Zone 6a where I have a decent growing season and I can grow just about everything else I want, like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, etc.

Once you discover your gardening zone, check out Territorial Seed’s Growing Guides to determine what you can grow in your area.

13 Fastest Growing Vegetables in Summer

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 5. Buy Good Quality Vegetable Seeds and Plants

Come springtime, you’ll see seeds and plants for sale on every street corner and in just about every store!

However, it’s important as well as worth the money to buy good quality heirloom seeds and plants.  I buy from several different companies but one of my favorites is Territorial Seed Company.

They not only sell good seeds, but Territorial Seeds offers support to home gardeners on their website!


woman spreading compost in garden

6. Amend the Soil

Many first-time gardeners make the mistake of not properly amending the soil before planting their first garden.

The native soil in most yards is not ideal for growing vegetables. It may be too sandy or too clay-like, preventing proper drainage and root growth. It may also lack essential nutrients that plants need to thrive.

To amend the soil, first, test it to determine what amendments are necessary.  It’s easy to test your soil at home with a kit, however, you may want to take a sample of your garden soil to your local extension office and have them test it.

Once you know what ingredients to add, till them into the top 6-8 inches of soil. Be sure to mix the amendments thoroughly so that they are evenly distributed throughout the planting area. With the proper amendment, your vegetable garden will have a much better chance of success.

Composting for Beginners


ladies hands holding mulch

7.  Mulch Your Vegetable Garden for Weed Prevention

Mulching is an important gardening technique that can help to prevent weeds from taking over your garden.

There are many different types of mulch, but one of the most effective is black plastic. This type of mulch creates a barrier between the soil and the sunlight, which prevents weed seeds from germinating. It’s important to apply the plastic early in the season, before the weeds have a chance to take root.

You can also use organic mulches, such as straw or wood chips, which will decompose over time and add nutrients to the soil.

Whichever type of mulch you choose, be sure to apply it evenly and at a depth of 2-3 inches. With a little effort, you can keep your garden weed-free all season long!

Natural Weed Control in Your Garden


raised bed garden being watered

8. Taking Care of your Vegetable Garden

I suggest that you walk through your garden every day to look for small weeds that need to be pulled, bugs that need to be picked off and vegetables that need to be picked.  Things can change quickly overnight, it’s important to stay on top of what’s happening in your backyard garden.


lady bugs

9. Deal with Pests in Your Vegetable Garden

Any organic gardener worth their salt knows that dealing with pests just comes with the territory.

Whether it’s aphids, earwigs, or slugs, garden pests can quickly decimate a vegetable garden if they’re not kept in check. But there’s no need to reach for chemical pesticides – there are plenty of effective organic methods for dealing with garden pests.

One popular method is to plant certain varieties of plants that pests don’t like.

For example, earwigs hate fennel, and slugs avoid mint and sage. There are also a number of flowers that can help to deter pests, including marigolds, nasturtiums, and calendulas. 

Simply planting marigolds around the perimeter of my garden every year takes care of most pests!  The marigolds attract ladybugs, who are “pest-eating” machines!!

If you need more organic pest control strategies, try spraying your plants with a mixture of a bit of garlic, and a few teaspoons of dish soap in a spray bottle with water.  

Another strategy is to encourage beneficial insects into the garden, as they will help to keep the pest population in check. Lacewings, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps are all great options.

Finally, good old-fashioned vigilance can go a long way in keeping garden pests at bay. Regularly checking for signs of infestation and taking swift action can help to prevent a pest problem from getting out of control.

With a little knowledge and effort, any vegetable garden can be kept free of pests using organic methods.


10. Harvest and Share 

Once your garden begins to bear, be sure to check it every day!  Eat and enjoy your healthy bounty and share with friends and neighbors as well!

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