Vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be hard

If you have bad soil, you can still have a vegetable garden. Build a raised bed

Maybe you have always wanted to vegetable garden but are intimidated by the whole process. Until you taste the fresh-from-the-garden flavors and vibrant textures of homegrown, you might not appreciate why folks grow their own. It doesn’t have to be hard, and there are some simple guidelines to make sure you have success.

Generally, you have to choose the best location, choose which vegetables you want to grow and make yourself start small. Just three or four tomato plants will give you and probably a neighbor all of the tomatoes you could possibly use.

First of all, vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Plant in a sunny location. The more sunlight the plants get, the better they will taste. If you get your garden ready a little late in the season – early May, for example – you may want to give sunshine all day but put your plants where they have a sunblock around 5-6 p.m. Planting in a location near a privacy fence is one idea.

Plant where you have access to water. Vegetables are not usually drought tolerant, so you will need to give them a drink during dry spells. The closer your garden is to a source of water, the easier it will be for you.

Plant your little baby veggies in good soil with good drainage. Plant roots can stretch and grow more easily when the soil is soft. A good soil is loamy with little clay or sand. Use homemade compost or buy a bag or two to enrich your soil. The compost gives your plants vitamins just like you take vitamins. Good drainage means that your soil doesn’t have water collecting on top or draining too quickly. If you have bad soil, you can still have a vegetable garden. Build a raised bed and fill the area with good soil.

Be sure to space your crops properly. Some vegetables need more room to grow, like corn, for example. Putting all tall plants around shorter vegetables will rob them of the sun. Plants set too closely together will be fighting for sunlight, water and nutrition.

Seed packets are cheaper than buying individual plants, but if you plant from seed, be sure to buy good quality seeds. You can start some seeds directly into the ground. Those seed packs will say, “Sow directly into soil.” Lots of good gardeners start their seeds in little plastic containers. Whether you use plants or seeds, you will enjoy the process if you keep it small.

A very generous sized vegetable garden in about 10x16 feet and includes plants that grow easily. Try one-half that size if you want to start small and safe. No yard is no problem. Large containers with a water drain will each hold a plant or two. The Farmer’s Almanac suggests the most common, productive plants to use: tomatoes (five staked), zucchini (four plants), peppers (six plants), cabbage, bush beans, lettuce, beets, carrots, chard, radishes, and marigolds to discourage rabbits. A $2 tomato plant can easily give you 19 pounds of delicious tomatoes!


Joette Reger is an avid gardener who like to stay up-to-date on the latest activities and tips. She can be reached at joreger [at] msn [dot] com and on Facebook at “Gardengate with Joette Reger.”