Planning Your Vegetable Garden

tomato

If you have a farmer’s market or other local source where you can buy fresh produce, you are fortunate. Nothing beats the taste of any fruit or vegetable that has not traveled very far by the time it gets to your kitchen. If you want to get that “fresh-picked” taste from your own backyard, consider growing your own vegetable garden this year. 

How to start

Like any home project, you will want to plan and consult with reliable resources to ensure you’re headed in the right direction. Talk to friends and neighbors who have successful gardens. Get advice from an employee at a local nursery who can help you choose soil and fertilizer as well as plants. The Farmer’s Almanac is a great place to find help online. 

Planting, watering, and weeding a garden before it’s time to harvest can be very time consuming. Make sure the size of the garden and the maintenance time required is compatible to your schedule. You can always start small, and go bigger next year if you think it will be manageable. 

What to plant

If you’re not sure what to plant, the simplest way to decide is to make a list of what produce you like to eat. You wouldn’t be really enthusiastic about cultivating a tomato plant if you hate tomatoes, would you? Once you have a list of 4 or 5 things, begin shopping for plants. For your first garden, select produce that is hearty and easy to grow. 

When to plant

Check your Hardiness Zone to understand when you need to get the plants in the ground. If you start your vegetables from seed to transplant later, you’ll sow the seeds indoors — likely before last frost. If this is your first garden, you may find it less stressful to begin with established plants found at a nursery, farmer’s market, or garden section of a home improvement store.   

Where to plant 

If you have a place in your yard which gets full sun during the day, that’s where you’re going to want to have your garden. Raised beds are a great option if your soil isn’t ideal, but you’ll need enough space to lay out the sections. If you just don’t have the real estate for a full garden, planters are a great option. Herbs do very well as potted plants, as do a surprising selection of vegetables.