A Beginner's Guide To Starting A Vegetable Garden [FREE Garden Planning Printables]

Monday, May 15, 2023

The Beginner's Guide To Starting A Vegetable Garden [FREE Garden Planning Printables]

Gardening is an AMAZING way to enrich your life and you can do it in your own backyard!  Once you get started it's relatively cheap to maintain every year and you can grow your OWN FOOD which not only saves you money (how often does produce from the grocery store go bad in your kitchen before you can eat it?) but you also are connecting with nature and your environment.  It's very rewarding.   A lot of people that recently have moved into a house with a yard have asked me where to start when it comes to a vegetable garden so here's some advice to get you started.

1. Pick the correct spot. 

It's very important to know where the sun hits in which part of your yard. We have a southern exposure garden so it gets daytime sun from about 10 am till 3 pm.   Another part of our yard gets harsh all day sun and afternoon sun from about 10-6 and it's has really taken a toll on the vegetables we used to keep in pots in that part of the yard.  So for us, it's best to stick with the southern exposure part of the yard.  Of course you also want to make sure you get enough sun in certain parts of your yard otherwise your plants won't grow.  Know your yard and you'll know you're potential for gardening. 

2. Plan your space. 
Do you want an in-ground garden, a raised garden bed, potted vegetables plants, or a little of everything?  Look at the space you have to work with and decide what you would like to do.  Your space will determine what you can successfully grow.  It's also important to decide on ways to keep critters out.  For our raised garden beds we put plastic fencing around it and it's done a great job of keeping almost everything out but beware of Chipmunks that can fit through even the tiniest holes.  Also be sure to check your local ordinances on where you can place a garden.  There are some townships and municipalities that don't allow side yard or front yard gardens.  The last thing you want to do is invest your time, effort, and money in a garden you get a citation for.  Yes, it's silly that they even do that, but I'm trying to help you out here! 

3. Plan your vegetables. 
So now you get to decide what your family likes to eat.  What do you normally buy at the store most often for your meals? Is it tomato based products?  Maybe it's lettuce for salads.  Lettuce is a GREAT thing to plant in any garden because you don't necessarily have to worry about it going bad in your fridge (just pick it and eat it as you need it) and you are less likely to be affected by those obnoxious lettuce recalls.  Also do some research online and see what vegetables need what amount of space and their sun and water needs.  Some may not do so well in your specific garden.  It's always trial and error for the first few gardening seasons so don't get discouraged if you have to change things next year because you noticed something didn't do well at all.   Make a list of all of the items you want to plant in your garden. 

4. Decide on seeds or seedlings. 
Growing things from seed is so fun but sometimes I get really impatient so I buy seedlings that have already been started at a local nursery. For me personally - squash and lettuce is super easy to grow from seed but I like to get my tomato plants, peppers, and eggplants from the nursery, already started.  I'm also still getting used to when the best time to plant the seeds is since Pennsylvania weather is bipolar every year! 

5. Write out a care and maintenance plan. 
You can use the free garden care plan printable I have provided here or create your own. This is where you will make a note of all of the items you are going to plant.  Once you get your purchasing done you can track when you plant everything, how it's doing, and what kind of care it needs.  You'll also want to research any fertilizer or pest control products.  Sometimes there are treatments gardeners do once or twice a season or even more often.  I personally don't do anything.  I do plant pollinators and pest control plants which I'll get to below.   

6. Decide on pollinators and pest control. 
Bees are a blessing because they help pollinate your vegetable plants so make their job easier by researching some flowers that bees LOVE and planting them among your vegetables or in flower pots around your garden beds.   Also do some research on what plants prevent pests and what you should plant them near.  There are certain herbs that keep pesty bugs away from certain vegetables so it's always important to include those in your garden planning each year. 

7. Make your shopping list. 
Now you should have everything planned out so you need to make your shopping list and start gathering what you need. Some of the items on your list may be: 
Wood boards to make your  garden beds
Seeds and Seedlings
Additional flowers
Plant markers
Garden gloves
Large shovel
Hand trowel and hand rake
Make sure to shop around for the best deals on stuff like soil that you may need to buy a lot of.  The good news is that most of these costs are just the first year because you'll use the same soil (with the exception of adding an extra bag or two) each year and you hopefully won't need to replace your fencing for a while. 

8.  Start your garden! 
Enjoy the time you spend gardening.  Be patient and check on it every day and take notes.  This is your time to learn how things do with your specific yard and your level of care.  If you run into issues a gardening book specific to your region is probably your best bet.  I use mine like a bible!   Do your research on when each item needs harvested and at the end of the gardening season take notes for next season on what you want to do again, what was a huge failure, and what you barely consumed. 
FREE Garden Planning Printables

FREE Garden Planning Printables

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The Beginner's Guide To Starting A Vegetable Garden [FREE Garden Planning Printables]

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