How to prepare a vegetable garden from scratch

Are you new to gardening? Don’t know how to prepare a vegetable garden as a beginner?

Then this article will guide you in making a vegetable garden from scratch. Not only that but also it will help you to manage the garden and handle the problems you will face in the garden.

Well, you might be afraid of hearing the words problems, manage, handle, and all but chill. For making a vegetable garden you don’t need a Ph.D. degree in gardening!

All you have to do follow some steps to own a vegetable garden of your own. I have kept the steps as simple as possible so that as a beginner it is more reliable for you. So let’s dive in deeper and find out the awesome tricks to grow your garden.

10 really easy steps to make a vegetable garden

As a beginner, you may think that vegetable gardening will really be a difficult task. But don’t worry. I have tried to make this as simple as possible for you. So, here you go!

Before you start vegetable gardening, you need to assure that you are prepared for this battle!

Relax!! You just need some practice, choices, and plans. Okay, now let’s see what preparations we have to take first

1.              Make a vegetable garden patch with a potted plant

Practice makes a man perfect. So, as a beginner, you should start with a patch garden. You don’t know how to prepare the soil or what vegetables you would like. So to solve this problem start with a little container garden.

This way you can know what to do how to do it. Besides, the disappointment of failure will be smaller with small gardens. Also by this, you will be aware of the budget of your garden and how much hard work it will take to make a garden.

Moreover, for making a sample garden you don’t need extra space. You can make this on a deck or even a balcony where you get enough sunlight.

2.              Analyze the gardening problems with your mini container garden

Now you have a mini sample garden. Identify the problems that you have faced in making and managing this garden. Note down all the problems like:

·         Seeds have not grown well

·         Plants are not in a good shape

·         Pests and disease attacks

·         Animal attacks and many more like this

Don’t miss any problems to write them down!

3.              Choose a suitable land

Now you have the basic knowledge of gardening and its problems. So, it’s time for to step forward.

A good location can ensure a good garden whereas a poor location will give you poor vegetables. Choose a location near your house so that it can be easier for you to take care of it.  The characteristics that a good location have –

Proper sunlight

Basically, your fastest-growing vegetable plant needs direct sunlight for 6 to 8 hours daily to do photosynthesis. The leafy veggies can tolerate some shades. So, in the shady part, you can plant some herbs or leafy veggies like lettuce, kale, parsley, spinach.

For root vegetables like carrots, radish, 4 hours of sunlight is enough. So to cultivate root vegetables you can choose a land sunny for a particular day time. Besides, the veggie can enjoy a little bit of afternoon shade if the summer is too hot!

Proper draining system

If your soil is too wet, it can destroy the roots of your plant. As a result, your plant will die. So, make the soil is not too damp and you have a well-draining system in your garden.

But you also have to be careful that you are watering your plant’s soil regularly to keep them moist, especially during the hot weather. If you feel that the soil is dry on the surface then it’s time to water. 

Along with this remove the rocks as well if the soil is rocky. The plant can’t grow its roots well in rocky soil and the water can’t react properly to the plant. 

Stable and less windy

Often wind may affect your plants. If the wind flow is too high, it can uproot the young plants of the garden. Besides, wind can keep the pollinators away from the plants.

Also avoid the location, where there is too many people or animal visit. Many times plants die as they came under the feet at such a young age.

Nutrient-rich soil

The plant needs two types of nutrients. One is macro-nutrient and another is micro-nutrient. A plant basically collects these nutrients from the healthy soil as you can’t feed them by using hand and mouth.

For this, you need land where the soil is full of nutrients. You can also collect some samples of your soil. Send them to the nearby lab to know which nutrients are missing there.

You can also check the soil texture at home. The texture of the soil determines the water draining level and the presence of nutrients too.

After checking the texture, make sure to use organic fertilizer to make your soil full of nutrients. 

4.              Chose a plot size

As a beginner, you should start with a small garden. Though you have the basic garden skills now, it is wise to choose a smaller size. It will be too much for you to handle a big garden.

So just start with a small one and collect experiences!

·         10’x10’which means a 100 square feet garden is an ideal size for a beginner. It is perfect when you are planting on plain ground. With this garden, you can produce different types of vegetables as per your choice.

Besides, harvesting vegetables will be enough for your family. You can choose 3 to 5 variable plants and plant 3 to 5 plants of each variable.

·                 But still, if you want to have a bigger garden, then I would suggest you choose a plot of 12’x 24’. This size of your ground garden will be enough to feed a family of four 3 hills of yellow squash; 1 mound of zucchini; 6 tomato plants; 10 assorted peppers; 12 okra plants; 2 cucumbers on a cage; a 12-foot row of bush beans; 6 basil; 2 eggplants; 1 rosemary, and a few low-growing herbs such as oregano, thyme, and marjoram.

·                 If you choose to plant in a raised garden bed, the perfect sized garden bed will be 4’x4’means 16 square feet or 8’x8’means 64 square feet.

·                 It doesn’t matter how big or small your garden is! All you have to take care of the fact that there is a path after every four feet or so. This path will allow you to reach your plants for harvesting and cleaning.

Just make sure you don’t have to step on your other plants or soil to reach out to the plants.

5.              Prepare the ground

The land selection is done but you can’t put your seeds directly in the soil. That will not do any help to you. In fact, it will make you disappointed when you will notice that the plants are not growing properly.

·                 Start preparing your garden soil by pulling out weeds and the best time for it is summer. There can be some perennial weeds too, make sure you are removing them too.

·                 If the weeds are too many to remove and you find it too difficult, just use weed-removing objects. Try to use organic products more than chemicals. For example, you can use glyphosate, black impermeable, corn gluten meal.

·                 Once your ground is free from weeds it’s time to fork your ground with the garden fork. If you do it in winter, the weather will do the rest for you that may take a couple of weeks.

·                 Using the garden fork, fork the soil roughly and leave the soil in clots. The frost and cold will break down the soil and you will get the soil ready within spring. If the soil is not clay soil, it will be detangled and powdery by that time.

·                 On the other hand, if the soil is clay soil, you need to have some patience as it will take time to detangle. Though it’s difficult to deal with clay soil, it is more fertile and nutrient-rich.

·                 Finally, when you turn over the soil, many weed seeds may come to your plot and germinate. So, if notice the seedlings early in the garden, it’s better to use a hoe and throw them out of the garden. Besides, the slugs will go away.

6.              Choose the vegetables

Out of excitement many beginners planning to plant a lot of plants in their garden. As a result, they could not manage the garden well or their harvests are wasted. Besides, many choose a vegetable that is too difficult to handle!

·         While selecting vegetables read the instructions on the seed package carefully. They have different benefits, some are suitable for container gardening, some are disease resistant, and many more.

·         You can try 2 or 3 varieties of the same veggies. Many times if one fails, others work. In this way, you can be sure about next time planting.

·         Next, you need to know whether you want to grow vegetables from seeds or from young plants. Seeds of annual veggies (peas, beans, squash, lettuce beets) should be planted indoors first about at least 6 weeks before the last frost. Seeds of carrots, beans, peas can be directly sown in the garden.

For slow-growing plants like broccoli, celery, kale, you can use seedlings and transplant them in the garden. This will give you an earlier harvest than seeds. Transplants also do a better job in case of resisting pests.

·         The next thing you need to be careful about is your family’s choice and how much they can eat. If your family members don’t eat broccoli, don’t plant them. Instead of them make a big portion of lettuce if your family loves them to eat.

A big portion doesn’t mean you will plant the same plant all across your garden. No, it’s a big no.

·         Bring some variation. Choose as you like. Plant as much as your family can eat. You can gift vegetables to your friends and relatives but don’t overdo them.

·         Sometimes you may think to grow easily available and cheap vegetables to plant. But that doesn’t seem like a good idea!

Instead of this plant some expensive or rarely available veggies. You can also put some herbs!

·         Always use high-quality seeds as low-quality or cheap seeds of the market may not germinate. Then you will lose your money as well as time instead of saving it. Moreover, you can choose seeds over individual plants as it is cheaper.

·         Choose vegetables both of warm-weather and cool-weather. This way you can get continuous harvest throughout the year. You can grow lettuce, carrots, and radishes during spring, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers during summer, and potatoes kale during fall.

Finally, you can’t choose a vegetable that will grow during your summer vacation. I mean to say you are away from home on a trip, then who will take care of your lovely plants?

7.              Know the little details of your vegetables

When you are done with choosing vegetables, go deeper with the details of planting those veggies. Like how much time they need to harvest, ideal temperature, planting time, and so on.

For your convenience, I am enlisting a small detailing demo of 5 vegetables. Just go for it and make your own preferences like this or with your required details.

Lettuce

Harvest time: 65 – 80 days (varies from type to type)

Ideal temperature: 45 -75 F

Planting time: Spring, fall

Spacing: 6 – 18 inches (varies from type to type)

Germination time: 2 – 15 days

Light preferences: Sun or partial shade

Spinach

Harvest time: 40 – 50 days

Ideal temperature: 35 -75 F

Planting time: Spring, fall

Spacing: 8 inches

Germination time: 6 – 21 days

Light preferences: Sun or partial shade

Green beans

Harvest time: 55 – 65 days

Ideal temperature: 55 -85 F

Planting time: Early Summer

Spacing: 6, 18 inches (row)

Germination time: 8 – 16 days

Light preferences: Sun or partial shade where hot

Cucumber

Harvest time: 48 – 65 days

Ideal temperature: 70 -85 F

Planting time: Summer

Spacing: 12 inches, 3 feet (row)

Germination time: 4 – 13 days

Light preferences: Sun or partial shade

Yellow Summer Squash

Harvest time: 48 – 65 days

Ideal temperature: 70 – 90 F

Planting time: Summer

Spacing: 12 inches, 3 feet (row)

Germination time: 6 – 12 days

Light preferences: Sun or partial shade

8.              Planning to put them in the places

Now you know when you need to plant the vegetables and their weather preferences. So now it’s time to know how to place them in your garden. Let’s take a guide for your garden layout.

You can select row cropping, intensive cropping, and square-foot cropping layout for your garden.

·                 Plant your veggies at least 18 inches apart rows so that you can get to walk. This approach is beneficial for big vegetable gardens. Row cropping will help you to use mechanical instruments or to fight weeds.

The problem with this approach is that you can’t plant many vegetables. But with intensive cropping, you will not face that problem.

·                 In an intensive cropping approach, you plant 2 or 3 plants really close in a wide row. The width of the row is about 4 feet.

Now you may think that the plants are too close to each other. Won’t that be a problem? So let me tell you that the plants are at a safe distance and grown-up plants won’t touch each other’s leaves.

In this layout, you can use every square inch of your garden but it is difficult to reach the plants when needed. Moreover, you can’t use it for vine plants like cucumber.

·                 There is another method called the square foot method that is derived from the intensive cropping method. Here you have to use a physical gridding system and divide a raised 4×4 garden bed into 1-foot squares per portion.

·                 Also, use 8 cubic feet of great quality garden soil and make 6 inches high for both sides. This layout works like 1 XL plant per square, 4 large plants per square, 9 medium plants per square, and 16 small plants per square.

·                 Tall plants like tomato plants, vertical supported plants like peas, beans, and cucumbers can be planted on the north side of the garden. If you plant tall veggies on the north, they won’t shade the other vegetables.

Use the shady (unavoidable shades) parts of your garden for cold seasons and use the sunny part for summer and spring. Moreover, you can use your DIY frame trellis for growing veggies.

·                 Try to plant vegetables seasonally. After harvesting, plant another vegetable for the next season. If you want to plant annual or perennial crops like asparagus, herbs, then give them the permanent location of your garden as per their requirements.

·                 Make segments in your garden on the basis of harvest periods. Basically, plant the quick harvest plant on the front side of your garden so that you can collect them easily. And plant the long harvest plants in the backside.

·                 Also don’t forget to keep the sunlight, water flow, and nutrient factors in mind while making the segments. Moreover, give space to your plants. Don’t put them all together and stop their growth.

·                 Sometimes it so happened that you don’t want to harvest all your spinach at the same time. So use stagger planting. Plant the seed with a couple of weeks gap or as you wish to harvest.

·                 Finally, you can use some modern technologies too. There are many technologies that will help you to make a foolproof layout for your garden. 

9.              Make the garden thing happen

Finally, it’s time to take another step forward for vegetable gardening. Your location is ready and now it’s time for you to turn all planning into action!

You can directly put seeds in the soil or turns the seeds into seedlings and then plant. You can also buy the seedling from the nursery but that will be a little costly.

You can put direct seeds of tap-rooted vegetables like carrots or radishes. However, the vegetables that take a long time to harvest, you better don’t put them directly in the soil. First, make seedlings and then plant.

For directly planting you can choose out of two different methods given below:

·         Hill method: making a pile of soil ensures the heat for germinating seeds that need warmth. Make the pile high around 6 inches. If you are using garden beds, then the pile is not necessary.

Next, make 3 or 4 small holes on the pile with fingers and put one seed for a single hole. Read the packet’s instructions to find out what should be the depth of a whole.

After putting the seeds, water them gently. Separate the seeds at the required distance after germinating. Remove the week seedlings so that your plants will not be crowded.

·         Through method: In this method make a small pit using two fingers. Then spread the seeds lightly and evenly according to the pit’s length. Then just close the pit using some soil.

Follow the instructions to know the depth of the pits. Water the seeds and wait for the seedlings to come out. Then separate the seedlings after germinating and plant them properly.

So this was all about direct planting. Now let’s move forward to seedlings transplant. As we discussed earlier that slow-growing vegetables grow better when you put seedlings instead of seeds.

·                 The first thing is to buy high-quality seeds and potted them with a seed starting mix. This mix is not soil but ideal for seed germination. It’s better not to use garden soil for growing seedlings indoors.

·                 Make sure that your container gets enough warmth, sunlight, and water. Also, check the seed’s packet instruction to know if you have planted the seeds at the proper depth. If the depth is not correct, there is the possibility that the seeds won’t grow.

·                 As soon as the seedlings started to come out, put them outdoors for a certain amount of time. Repeat it for a few days to make your plants adjustable to the external environment.

But be aware of the fact that too much heat can damage your seedlings otherwise! Basically, late winter and early spring is an ideal time for sprouting seeds.

·                 When you think that the seedlings are now ready for planting, chose an ideal time to put them in your garden. Drizzly or overcast weather is perfect for the job but never mind if you don’t get it. Plant it early in the morning.

·                 Remove the tiny roots and put some fertilizer days before planting. This will make them stronger. Next, make a hole where you want to put the plant. Then remove the seedlings from the pot and put them in the ground.

·                 Do the transfer carefully. Don’t damage the roots. Add some extra compost tossed into the pot. Your plant will thank you for this!

10.          Caring for your garden

I know you have worked a lot till now to set up your garden. But you would feel really bad if somebody tells you that all your hard work will go in vain!

Wait! Don’t be upset. All you have to do now is taking care of your garden and all your hard works will pay off!

Some basic tips you need to follow to grow healthy plants.

Fight the weeds back

Weeds are also a kind of plant that will try to steal your plant’s sunlight, nutrients, and water. But you can’t make the police complain about that.

Use a hoe or a hand fork to cultivate the upper soil that will disturb the growth of weeds. A mulch of clean straw, compost, or plastic can also be used around larger plants like tomato plants. The mulch will also reduce the watering needs. Besides, frequent use of corn gluten meals will reduce the weeds from your garden.

Give foods to the plants

Foods give us nutrients and do the same for plants too! Well, I’m not talking about pizza or pasta. I’m talking about fertilizers for plants.

Basically, the directions of fertilizer application are mentioned in the seed packets. But you can use compost too. It’s organic, good for your soil as well as for your plant.

Animals are not allowed

Animals like deer, raccoons, rabbits, and others can damage your garden. Use a fence around your garden.

Make it about 8 feet tall or as much as you required. Also, make a 6 inches tall barrier under the soil to prevent rabbits from digging the soil and enter in the garden.

Moreover, the usage of repellents and technology are effective too to keep the animals away.

Insects should not exist

Pick up the large insects and caterpillars using hands. In case of a small infection, it is effective. But in case of large attacks use insecticidal soap spray. Or else you can use other pest control chemicals.

But be cautious while using any kind of chemical in your garden.

Don’t make them sick

Plants who died from fungal disease are not a new thing in the flock. Viruses, bacteria, fungus, contagious diseases can attack your plants.

Water directly on the soil, not on the leaves or the plants. If you are a sprinkle user, use it early in the morning. Thus the plant will dry before night otherwise damp plants get attacked by fungus easily.

Remove the affected plants from your garden and don’t add them to the pile of compost.

In addition, you can choose to plant the disease-resistant variation of your desired veggies. Find out the detailed clarification about the diseases and cure them quickly!

Don’t let the happy moment ruin

Probably, the happiest moment in a gardener’s life is the harvesting time. But this time you also need to be careful. If it goes wrong, your plant has to suffer the consequences.

Use scissors to detach the veggies from the plant. Don’t pull them too hard otherwise, you may uproot the plant. Don’t smash other plants while picking vegetables from others.

Don’t harm the tender leaves or any newborn veggies. Try to understand when they are looking good enough to eat. Don’t pick them unripe or too much ripe.

Some veggies will give you multiple harvests during their growing season. So, just pick more veggies with care and the plant will give you more!

Conclusion

Well, enough of talking now. You must think, “OMG! There are so many things to do. Will I be able to do that?” Then let me tell you, yes! You can do it. Just go for it.

Gardening is a pleasure of mind and the hard will surely pay you off!

Let me summarize the processes for you.

Make a patch container garden and earn experience and knowledge for gardening. Choose a perfect-sized land and make it suitable. It may take a couple of weeks to get your land ready.

Within this time choose the vegetables. Go deeper with the details of your vegetables. Make a layout of your garden.

All are ready. Now it’s time to buckle up and make your gardening dream come true.

When the garden is ready, do take care of your garden and ultimately harvest sweet sweet vegetables!

That’s all. Happy gardening.

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