Are you a beginning gardener or have you given vegetable gardening a try but didn’t yield much? We’ve done some research and talked with Experts on JustAnswer to give you the basics for starting a strong veggie garden this year.
Begin with the three S’s: Sun, Space and Soil
Sun: Do you have enough sun in your yard? Take a day to watch how trees, roofs and fences cast shadows in your yard to determine the sunniest spot for summer veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and squashes. If you don’t have enough sun, or want to grow veggies that do OK in part shade like lettuces, greens, onions and some herbs, a plot in part shade is fine.
Space: You can grow veggies just about anywhere. If you have a small yard or no yard, you might want to consider container gardening. Pots near a back door or even in a sunny windowsill inside will produce herbs and lettuces and greens that you’ll eat in delight knowing you grew your own.
If you do have a yard and are new to gardening, make sure not to overwhelm yourself the first season you grow veggies with a big plot. Like many things in life, it’s good to start small with gardening as well.
Most sources will also recommend raised beds for beginner or even seasoned gardeners. Raised beds are beneficial because 1) you can control the soil better and 2) you don’t have to bend as far, preventing back aches. If you’d rather garden on a plot in the ground, limit the size to nothing bigger than 10x10.
Soil: Veggies won’t grow well or at all if the soil isn’t good. Raised beds sometimes make this a non-issue if you can purchase good soil and compost from the get-go.
If you’re going to garden in existing soil in your yard, be diligent and have it tested to find out if your soil has strong nutrients or if you need to add soil amendments like nitrogen. As Rick, an Expert on JustAnswer points out, “A state university's agricultural extension service or many farm supply outlets (like Agway) will test the soil for free.”
Rick also notes that compost is critical to good garden soil, but he recommends buying it by the cubic yard, not in bags, as it’s a lot more affordable in bulk.
Once you have the proper soil and compost in place, you’ll want to consider turning, or “tilling,” the soil. There’s growing debate about tilling, so you might want to do the research and decide for yourself.
Picking Veggies and Taking Care of Them
Now you’re ready for the really fun part: Picking out veggies and herbs starts you know you’ll enjoy eating from when they grow. Be sure to check full sun or shade requirements for each plant.
On really hot days in the summer, you’ll want to make sure you water every day. You can get away with less watering in the spring if you have rain.
There are garden experts online ready to talk with you 1-on-1 on how to get your garden to grow.