The Field Guide to Vegetable Gardening
Vegetable gardening is perfect for gardeners of all expert levels. You can grow vegetables indoors or outdoors, so yard space doesn’t have to be an issue. Stagger planting of your choice vegetables to create a year-round production of organic, fresh produce.
Sproutabl’s vegetable gardening guides give you in-depth information on a variety of veggies so you can begin your own vegetable garden. You can see all our vegetable guides in the sidebar of this page.
VEGGIE GARDEN PRIMER
Like most types of gardening, vegetable gardening requires some research. Although some vegetables grow in similar ways, they require different care and have different sunlight, watering, and fertilization needs. So, it’s important to learn about the types of vegetables you want to plant, how they grow, and where they grow best before beginning your garden.
Unlike other gardens, like flower gardens, for example, you need to prepare an area of your garden meticulously before growing vegetables. Depending on what you’re growing, you’ll need to create a healthy soil with adequate moisture and ensure that the area meets the sunlight requirements for your veggies.
Many flowers can be planted in a normal garden soil, without much fussing beforehand. If you want your vegetable plants to produce high-quality vegetables, though, you’ll need to ensure you’re feeding them properly. Most veggies fare well with a compost added into the soil and an organic fertilizer to keep them producing great looking and great tasting crops.
WHAT TO EXPECT
If you are dedicated to caring for your vegetable garden, your results can be amazing. The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests beginning with a small vegetable garden during your first season or two, until you begin to learn what works and what doesn’t.
If you plant too much in the beginning, you may end up with more than you can use, and you definitely don’t want to see the fruits of your labor going to waste. So, pick two or three of your favorite vegetables to start growing and stick with them until you become more seasoned.
As you expand your vegetable garden over time, here are a few things you can expect from your garden:
Since you’re growing veggies in your own backyard, you know exactly what’s going into them. Use organic fertilizers to feed your plants and natural pesticides or pest-prevention techniques. Therefore, you’ll never have to worry about chemical residue on your home-grown vegetables, leaving you with peace of mind that you’re feeding your family, and yourself, healthy produce.
Once you decide to start a vegetable garden, you should commit to the process. It takes time to produce excellent yields, but your work will bring great results in the end.
Putting in some extra work before you plant your vegetables can bring about a higher crop yield. Consider building up your soil and creating raised beds for more fertile, loose soil. Adding in compost and fertilizer before you plant can give your vegetables an optimal start.
Certain vegetables can be pruned through their growing seasons to actually yield a fuller, more productive plant. Pruning helps you get rid of smaller, less desirable shoots on the plant that take nutrients, water, and sunlight away from other, more productive parts. Eventually, this can give your vegetable plants a better crop yield.
Vegetable gardens can provide you with year-round produce, if you’re strategic in planting warm weather and cold weather crops during their optimal seasons. You can stagger planting throughout the growing season to provide you with fresh produce for longer.
Here's a fantastic resource by Good to be Home that can act as a cheat sheet for lots of this info.
Additionally, many vegetable gardeners plant vegetables indoors or in containers during off-season so they can still enjoy fresh crops throughout the year. It may take some time to create the best veggie-planting plan for you. Johnny’s Selected Seeds created a handy chart that can guide you to planting vegetables in succession for a year-round yield.
WHAT YOU NEED
Vegetable gardens don’t require a lot of materials, but you do need a few things before you begin:
- Understanding of your hardiness zone. Check the hardiness zone for your region, so you’ll know what plants fare well in your climate, and when the best times to plant are.
- Containers or a garden bed. New gardeners may benefit from planting a few vegetables in containers first, to get the feel for vegetable gardening. Or, if you’d rather get started in your garden, consider creating a small, raised bed to plant a few vegetables in.
- Tools. A tiller to loosen soil, a shovel for digging, and a wheelbarrow to carry plants, vegetables, tools, and soil through your garden are all helpful for a vegetable gardener.
- Mulch, compost, fertilizer, and pest control. You should research the best compost and fertilizers for the vegetables you want to plant. Also, check the requirements for mulching to help reserve water and temperature in the soil. If the veggies you plant are prone to specific pests, learn techniques to naturally control infestations in your garden.
Beginning vegetable gardeners should start out with some of the most common vegetables to grow, like:
- Leafy greens, like spinach and kale
These plants, for the most part, require fairly little maintenance, and even beginner gardeners can produce excellent crops if the provide proper soil, watering, and sunlight.
Different vegetables grow well in different climates. Kale, for example, is a cool-weather crop that should be planted in warmer weather, so it can become established in cooler weather. Other crops, like tomatoes, grow best in warmer weather.
Some gardeners prefer to plant vegetables in containers to prevent the possibility of weather affecting their crops. Doing so allows gardeners to move their plants outdoors to soak up the sun, and back indoors if the temperature drops too much.
You can protect your outdoor garden from extreme weather conditions by using temporary canopies to block sun and rain, or row covers to help insulate your crops. Also, mulching helps the soil maintain a consistent temperature to help prevent your crops from being affected by extreme weather changes.
WHERE TO START
Fortunately, vegetable gardens grow in a variety of ways: in an outdoor garden, in containers, in a greenhouse, or in small pots in your home. If you don’t have the outdoor space for a vegetable garden, you can still grow fresh produce in your home or in containers on your patio.
This video by Beth's Garden provides helpful tips to successfully grow vegetables in containers:
For in-depth resources on growing your own vegetables, we invite you to check out our right sidebar. Here, you’ll find information for growing specific vegetables, like asparagus, broccoli, and carrots, so you can start your own garden. You’ll become an expert in no time, with everything you need to know about spacing, caring for, and harvesting the vegetables of your choice. Whether you want to grow vegetables in your backyard or indoors, Sproutabl’s guides will provide you with the best up-to-date information for growing quality produce.