A vegetable garden can be a great way to reduce grocery bills and increase the nutritional value of the food you eat but starting a vegetable garden can be very intimidating. There are so many methods and so many seed options that a new gardener can quickly become overwhelmed. This is the step-by-step method I devised for how to start a beginner vegetable garden. This is my third year using it and, each year, I’m able to expand my garden a little more.
1. Go through your grocery lists and menu plans to see what kind of veggies you eat regularly. I prefer to list them in the most eaten vs least order.
2. Decide how much space you have to dedicate to your garden and how many of the veggies on your list you will be able to plant. If you just have a balcony or a small year, container gardening or square foot gardening can help you maximize your space usage.
3. Figure out how much of each veggie you will need for your family. Are you planning to supplement your regular groceries? Or are you planning to replace bought produce with homegrown? Just enough for the summer or enough to store for the winter too?
4. Draw your garden space out on a sheet of paper and draw the amount of space required for each vegetable. Cut out all the different amounts of veggies. Think: veggie garden puzzle.
5. Arrange your garden. Make sure you’re not planting any plant-enemies near each other. Here’s a great chart to help you, take note of the red squares. This will not only help you figure out where to plant things, it will also help you remember exactly what you planted where when it comes time to harvest.
6. Order the needed seeds. If you’re unsure of where to order from, check out this summary page of online seed catalogue companies. I’ve only ever ordered from Ritchers and, though they took a while to come, the seeds were excellent quality.
7. Make plant data sheets with when to start, what kind of care required, and where you are going to plant them. This is a great activity to do as you wait for your seeds to arrive.
8. Fill in a planting calendar. Depending on your preference, you could use a seed starting template but I, personally, prefer the visual aspect of just using a blank monthly calendar. Figure out the expected last frost date and mark it on your calendar. (United States Frost Dates, Canada Frost Dates.) Pencil in starting dates and note whether they need to be started inside or outside. Write them in pen when you have actually planted.
9. Pencil in their expected transplant date (if started indoors) and expected harvest dates, after you have planted your seeds.
Do you have a vegetable garden? Please share any tips for newbie gardeners!