How to start a vegetable garden in your home
This post may container affiliate links. See here for a disclaimer.
Wondering how to start a vegetable garden in your home? It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and the beauty of growing your own food is that it can be done no matter how little the space you have at home is. The internet has played no small role in sharing nifty ideas that can help you plant a garden even in your own kitchen. I plant a handful of vegetable types each year, and do plan to up my game and take this more seriously. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to realize that I enjoy gardening (a chore we used to dodge as kids). I’ve learned some things along the way e.g how to go about starting a vegetable garden in your own home.
Now, let’s help you get started on this wonderful journey!
How to start a vegetable garden – what to consider?
The most important factor to consider is the location or position of your garden. I know that you’d rather plant a backyard garden; but it s not always practical. Of utmost significance is to ensure that your potential spot receives sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. This is the bare minimum that most vegetable require in order to do well. Sunlight also guarantees a decent temperature for your plants.
A proper location should also be closer to a water source, like a garden tap. It’s not a train smash if this is impossible. A good garden hose of enough length can be helpful in this regard
Another factor when determining a garden location is shelter from the elements. I made the mistake of exposing my tomatoes to a hail storm (something that could have been prevented if I had chosen a more sheltered spot for them).
Raised beds are also more preferable than planting on the ground as they allow you to prepare the soil to the optimum quality.
What kind and quality of soil do you need to plant a vegetable garden? Some of us are blessed with the kind that is agreeable to most vegetable gardening, but even if that is not the case – one can buy bags of proper garden soil at their nearest gardening shops. The best soil for planting most vegetables should be moist, with good drainage, and nutrient rich. In layman’s terms, the soil mustn’t be too too heavy (with clay), but not too sandy either. One way of testing if you have soil of gardening caliber is to fist squeeze some soil. It should form a ball when squeezed, and crumble once let go. Another more reliable method is to do pH testing (test the soil’s acidity). The kits for doing this are affordable and easy to use.
Using raised beds will also allow good soil control and drainage, and can be filled with the right quality store bought garden soil and compost.
Vegetables to plant
When it comes to a choice of veggies for your starter garden, you are spoiled for choice. Vegetables will vary by location, climate, and the season in which you intend to start your gardening venture.
Basically, some of the easiest vegetables to grow are:
- Radishes – radishes grow very quickly and can be ready to harvest within a month. It helps tons to see returns so soon in your venture.
- Bell peppers
- Tomatoes – do very well if you are in a warm climate
Know when to plant
I used to make the mistake of planting everything during springtime. It is the season of new beginnings afterall…right?
Unfortunately, this is not true for all vegetable plants. Some plants need more moisture and higher temperatures than others. It’s crucial for vegetable gardening success that you know when to plant which vegetables. This quick guideline will give you an idea of the best time to plant particular vegetables (and some fruits):
- Spring – Basil (herb), sweet/bell peppers ,watermelons, potatoes, cucumbers, oregano, fennel, asparagus, corn, pumpkins, and radishes are some of the vegetables that do very well when planted in Spring
- Summer – radishes still work when planted in summer (and autumn/fall). That makes it a quite versatile root vegetable to enjoy all year round. Other summer gardening veggies are carrots, eggplant (aubergine/brinjal), beans, amaranth, bell peppers, tomatoes, parsley and celery.
- Fall/Autumn – planting during the Fall season means that you get to enjoy your home grown food even during the winter months. This also means that some vegetables will still be on the ground during the first weeks of winter. Timing is everything for fall or autumn vegetable gardening. Time your autumn season planting such that they will have achieved proper growth at least 6-8 weeks before a major frost. A simple search engine search of “frost dates for….. (name of your area)” will give the results to help you work out your planting schedule for the Fall season.
Different plants will require varying depths on the ground, as well as distances between them e.g root vegetables require more space between them to allow for optimal growth. Seed packets will outline the requirements for proper planting.
It’s not necessary to water your vegetable on a daily basis. Invest in a garden hose and give your garden a deep watering 1-2 times a week. Deep irrigation encourages roots to rich deep into the soil to seek moisture (self sufficiency). Sandy soil will need more watering as it drains faster.
You have various options for suppressing weed growth in your garden. You can use mulch, or pull, dig or cut them out to discourage further growth. Mulch is a mixture that is made from various sources like leaves, grass, or bark. Among other things, it discourages weed growth and also protects plants from pests. To make your own mulch, shred dry leaves with a mower and store them with grass in a bin (add water to make the mixture wet). Cover the bin over the winter period, and should be ready to be used as mulch by spring.
Fertilizers can be synthetic, or organic – depending on your preferences and what you have available. The synthetic fertilizers are man made materials and will affect the environment negatively. Either way, some soil may need more fertilizers than others. What you need to note is that the most common elements needed for a good fertilizer are nitrogen and phosphorus.
The rule of thumb is to add fertilizer at least once a year.
One of the mistakes I routinely make is to harvest some vegetables too early. Make note of the estimated harvest time as soon as you plant each vegetable. These should be at the back of your seed packets (and easily available online). Some vegetables result in a once off harvest, but some can be harvested repetitively as new ones sprout after each harvest e,g spinach, broccoli, lettuce.
Make it all fun (and a learning experience) by keeping records of your gardening journey. What worked, what failed? How did you deal with failures? What were the harvest times for each of your plants etc? You can also invest in a gardening diary or planner to make your life as a beginner gardener much easier.
I hope you find these tips and considerations on how to start a vegetable garden to be useful. Feel free to pin, share, tweet etc to benefit friends and family.