Ready to get into gardening? It can be daunting at first, but gardening is an incredibly rewarding hobby. Our vegetable gardening guide for beginners will help you plan and grow your tastiest vegetables ever. Find out how much food you need to grow to support a family, the 10 best vegetables for beginners, and other tips.
VEGETABLE GARDEN FOR BEGINNERS
Why garden you ask? If you’ve never tasted garden-fresh vegetables (many people haven’t!), you’ll be amazed by the sweet, juicy flavors and vibrant textures. There is absolutely nothing quite like fresh vegetables, especially when you grow them yourself – which you can!
In this guide, we’ll highlight the basics of vegetable growing and planning: how to choose the right location for your garden, how to plant the right size garden, and how to choose which vegetables to grow.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT LOCATION
Choosing a good location for your garden is absolutely crucial. A sub-par location can result in sub-par veggies! Here are a few tips for choosing a good website:
- Plant in a sunny spot. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The more sunlight they get, the bigger the harvest, the bigger the veggies, and the better the flavor.
- Plant in good soil. Plant roots penetrate soft soil more easily, so you need a nice loamy soil. Enriching your soil with compost provides the nutrients you need. Proper drainage ensures that water does not pool at the top or drain away too quickly.
- Plant in a stable environment. You should not plant in a place prone to flooding during heavy rains or in a place prone to severe drying out. You also don’t want to plant somewhere where high winds could knock over your young plants or discourage pollinators from their work. Plant in a spot that would make Goldilocks proud.
CHOOSE A PLOT SIZE: START SMALL!
Remember: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated with a big one!
One of the most common mistakes beginners make is planting too much too soon—much more than anyone could ever eat or want! Unless you want zucchini in your attic, plan your garden carefully. Start small and only grow what you know you will eat.
A good sized beginner vegetable garden is about 16×10 feet (or smaller) and features plants that are easy to grow. A plot of this size, based on the vegetables suggested further down this page, can a four headed family for a summer, with a little leftover to preserve and freeze (or give away to jealous neighbors).
Make your garden 11 rows wide with each row being 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.
Vegetables that can produce more than one harvest per season include beans, turnips, carrots, collards, turnip greens, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.
(Note: If this garden is too big for your needs, you don’t need to plant all 11 rows, or you can just make the rows shorter.)
HOW TO GROW THE BEST VEGETABLES
In addition to choosing the right location, here are a few tips that will help you grow your best vegetables yet:
- Distribute your plants properly. Corn, for example, takes up a lot of space and can overshadow shorter vegetables. Plants that are too close together compete for sunlight, water, and food; are more susceptible to diseases and pests; and not mature. Observe the distance instructions on seed packets and plant tabs.
- Use good quality seeds. Seed packets are cheaper than individual plants, but if seeds don’t germinate, your money – and time – is wasted. A few extra pennies spent on this year’s seed in spring translates into higher yields come harvest time. See a list of mail order seed catalogs here.
- Water properly. Watering your plants the right amount – neither too much nor too little – gives them the best chance of producing shapely, mature vegetables. Learn more about watering vegetables.
- Plant and harvest at the right time, not too early or too late. Each vegetable has its own planting dates, so be sure to check the seed packet. Check out the almanac’s best planting dates – a gardening calendar customized to your local frost dates.
RECOMMENDED PLANTS FOR A BEGINNER’S VEGETABLE GARDEN
The vegetables suggested below are common, productive plants that are relatively easy to grow. It’s best to contact your state’s Cooperative Extension Service to find out what plants grow best in your area and when is the best time to plant. Think about what you like to eat and what is hard to find at a grocery store or farmer’s market.
Top ten vegetables
(Tip: Click on a vegetable’s name to see its detailed growing instructions.)
- zucchini squash
- bush beans
- (Bonus) marigolds to deter pests and add some color!
MAKE PLANNING EASY: USE THE ALMANAC GARDEN PLANNER!
Create a smarter, more productive garden. Use the online almanac garden planner – now the #1 garden planner on the planet. Check it out here: http://gardenplanner.almanac.com/
In a few minutes you can draw your garden plan on your computer. We’ve done all the research for you!
The garden planner automatically pulls in the frost data for your location! Plus, it shows you how many plants fit in your space so you don’t waste seeds or overcrowd your plants!