Thinking about putting some of your leisure time into vegetable gardening? Then, this article is perfectly suitable for you.
And, the truth is, growing your veggies is simpler than you might imagine, just a little planning can make it a breeze. Yes, creating a flower garden is easy too. However, when you can get same day flower delivery in Mississauga, why put yourself into so much inconvenience?
Lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, beans, garlic, and peppers are among the simplest to grow. While tomatoes pose a bit more challenge, they flourish with the right care.
The beauty is, that many summer veggies thrive in compact spaces or climbing up a trellis, making it feasible for even the smallest deck, patio, or balcony to yield a fruitful harvest.
But if you are a first-time gardener, it might take you some time and tips to get into the habit. So, let’s address that first before discussing anything else.
5 Things You Need to Know Before Planting Veggies
When I first started gardening, it felt like I was on cloud nine. The basic procedure was exciting, I was getting the much-needed sunlight and vitamin D, and so on and so forth. All-in-all, I was happy.
However, as I did whatever I pleased, I got almost everything wrong. Hence, after a week or two, I decided to scrap everything and start my journey again.
But I don’t want the same thing to happen to you as well. That’s why I have put this guide before giving you some core gardening tips and suggestions. Let’s get the party started, then.
I: There’s Always a Right Place for a Plant
Plants are like our children. They’ll not grow in the right place if you don’t provide them with an excellent environment and ecosystem. Thus, when you’re choosing a spot for your plants, ensure that you are ticking the following boxes accurately –
- Choose a sunny spot: Most vegetable plants require almost 6-8 hours of sunlight to thrive daily. Some leafy ones can handle a bit of shade.
- Ensure good drainage: If your soil tends to stay wet, use raised beds for improved drainage. Remove rocks from rocky soil to avoid hindering root growth.
- Pick a stable, sheltered location: Avoid windy spots that could harm young plants or disrupt pollination. Choose an area with minimal foot traffic and low flood risk.
- Use nutrient-rich soil: Good soil equals healthy plants. Add organic matter to enrich your soil and support plant growth.
Remember, if you’re not sure about what or how you need to do it, I’ll suggest you get help from a professional gardener. They can certainly help you show the right direction altogether.
II. Figure Out How You Want to Water the Plants
When trying gardening for the very first time, many people like the idea of lugging around their garden with a hose. However, trust me, it’s probably the most irritating thing I have ever done.
It can take the fun out of gardening. Veggies like cucumbers crave a lot of water to thrive, and dragging hoses around isn’t exactly enjoyable.
A smart solution is to use soaker hoses. They get water right to the roots, making the whole process more efficient. Unlike overhead sprinklers that waste water through evaporation, soaker hoses save more water and keep your plants happy.
III: Do a Soil Test Beforehand
Before starting your garden, take the time to conduct a soil test in the chosen area. It might seem like an additional task, but it’s important.
Without understanding your soil’s condition, you might waste money on unnecessary nutrients. Local university coop extension services typically provide affordable soil tests (around $20) covering pH and nutrient levels.
It only needs to be done every few years, making it a much wiser and budget-friendly decision. Although home test kits are available, they may not be as accurate or thorough.
IV: Start Small, Always
For gardening success, beginners often fall into the trap of planting more than they can handle. To avoid a sudden zucchini invasion in your attic, start small and choose only what your family enjoys eating. Consider the following garden size as a rule of thumb:
- A 10’ x 10’ plot in the ground or a 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 8’ raised bed is manageable.
- Opt for 3 to 5 favourite veggies, buying 3 to 5 plants for each if in the ground.
- If using a raised bed, check our Raised Garden Bed Guide for tips on building and soil.
Thinking bigger? A 12’ x 24’ ground garden is the max for newbies.
For a family of four, picture 3 hills of yellow squash, 1 zucchini mound, 10 peppers, 6 tomatoes, 12 okra plants, a row of bush beans, 2 caged cucumbers, two eggplants, six basil, one rosemary, and a sprinkle of low-growing herbs. Regardless of size, create paths every four feet for easy access to weed and harvest without trampling your plants.
V: Choosing the Right Vegetables
For beginners, pick veggies that are simple to grow and yield well. Choose ones you can start from seeds in the soil, except where mentioned.
It’s smart to check with your state’s Cooperative Extension Service to know the ideal plants for your region. If your area is super-hot, veggies that like cooler weather might face challenges.
Besides these, here are a few other things that you need to focus on before growing your garden.
A: Consider Your Family’s Choices
Select vegetables that you and your family enjoy eating. Skip Brussels sprouts if no one likes them and focus on growing favorites like green beans. Be realistic about your family’s vegetable consumption to avoid overplanting and consider sharing excess produce with others.
B: Keep the Availability Status in Mind
Think about what’s easily available at your local grocery store. If tomatoes and lettuce are supermarket staples, you might prioritize growing tomatillos instead of less common options. Homegrown herbs are not only cost-effective but also a flavorful addition to meals.
C: Be Serious about the Effort of Gardening
Be mindful of the time and effort required throughout the growing season.
If you have summer vacation plans, choose crops that align with your absence or arrange for someone to tend to your garden. Opt for high-quality seeds to ensure a successful and bountiful harvest, as spending a bit more upfront pays off in the long run.
Vegetable Gardening for Beginners – A Guide for Everyone
Gardening of any sort can be a little confusing at the beginning. After all, there are a lot of things to do, and most people tend to feel overwhelmed due to the same reason. That’s why I wrote the previous section so that you don’t make the same silly mistakes I did before.
Now, I will tell you about how you should do gardening, whether you are growing vegetables or flowers. So, without any further ado, let’s get started.
1: Buy Seeds from a Reliable Nursery
Choose reputable seed and plant nurseries like Burpee, Ferry-Morse, Harris Seeds, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds, for reliable results. Established organizations with decades of experience ensure high-quality seeds and better germination rates.
While big box retailers are suitable for planting seedlings, explore local nurseries for unique varieties. Online nurseries provide a much broader selection, well-packaged for safe delivery. Try to avoid unknown seed sources for better outcomes in your gardening endeavours.
2: Plant a Combo of Seedlings and Seeds
Seeds are usually cheap, often just a few bucks per packet.
However, in colder areas with short growing seasons, it can be tough to grow heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers from seeds—they might not mature before summer ends.
Starting them indoors earlier is an option, but it needs pots and grow lights, which might be overwhelming for new gardeners.
For plants that need a long time to grow, it might be easier to buy seedlings instead of seeds.
On the other hand, some plants do well when you plant them directly in the garden, as they don’t like their roots being disturbed. Choosing simple-to-grow crops like cucumbers, squash, peas, beans, and herbs like dill and basil is a good idea for direct seeding.
3: Always Keep an Eye on the Problems
Experienced gardeners often notice pests and diseases appearing suddenly.
Your healthy potato vines can quickly turn into a haven for black and yellow striped potato bugs seemingly overnight.
Detecting trouble doesn’t require expertise—just keep an eye out for unusual signs like wilting leaves, spots, yellowing, chewed holes, or strange-looking bugs.
Avoid the urge to panic and start spraying right away, as this may harm helpful bugs and pollinators. Take a moment to identify the issue before deciding on a solution.
Your local university county coop extension agent is a valuable resource that can help.
4: Grow Something That You Love to Eat
Grow veggies you enjoy; there’s no point in cultivating radishes if you dislike them.
Start with a few of your favourite types, like unique cherry tomatoes, tiny cucumbers, or beautiful white eggplants. Opt for varieties not commonly found in stores for a more fulfilling experience in planting, eating, and harvesting.
5: Opt for Container Gardening
If your yard lacks the ideal sunlight or has less-than-ideal soil, container gardening is a fantastic option. You can put pots anywhere, be it on a deck, patio, driveway, or even a small balcony.
Containers expand your gardening area warm up quickly in spring and provide more control over your growing conditions.
Plus, there are plenty of new vegetable varieties specifically suited for container gardening.
3 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables You Should Know About
There’s nothing quite like the joy of picking your dinner vegetables from your backyard. Maintaining a home garden may seem like a big task, but with the right seeds and timing, some veggies practically take care of themselves.
And the best part?
Your harvest is always fresh and pesticide-free.
The broccoli tree prefers a rather cooler temperature to grow. Hence, in a way, if you want to make the most out of it, it’s best to plant it early for a summer harvest or late for fall.
If you are worried about frost, start indoors and move outside later. For container gardening, use 12- to 16-inch deep pots, one broccoli per pot.
However, be sure to watch out for cabbage worms, white butterflies, or caterpillars. They love eating broccoli and making a mess out of it. Using proper medication can be helpful here.
Potatoes are incredibly flexible – great in recipes and easy to grow.
You can pick new potatoes in just six to eight weeks or choose varieties for a longer harvest until early frost. Plus, you can even grow them in a pot on a sunny balcony or patio.
Growing your onions is personally a cool thing for anyone. After all, no matter what you’re trying to do, you are going to need them more than anything else.
The best thing about them is that you can plant them both during a summer harvest and during the fall season for a great spring yield.
3: Salad Leaves
You can easily grow your salad leaves without a garden.
Just plant salad seeds in a tray with damp soil put it on a sunny windowsill, and in about three weeks, you’ll have fresh, crunchy greens. For an outdoor harvest, plant seeds in patio containers, raised beds, window boxes, or the ground starting in late spring.
Keep the harvest going by planting more seeds every two to three weeks and picking individual leaves when you want them.
Consider growing pumpkins in your garden for one delicious reason: pumpkin pie.
With ample space and a lengthy growing season required for these winter squashes, the mantra is simple – if you have the room, plant them!