- Start smart from the beginning – The most significant indicator of a successful vegetable garden is location. Sure, the biggest flat space available to create a garden may be under the oak tree, but if you plant there, you're going to have sad results. All garden spaces need abundant sun, rich soil, and access to water. Don't try planting tomatoes under a tree or in the shadow of a building. You need to either plan the vegetables around the available space or plan the garden around what you intend to plant. Think about what you want to grow, what conditions they prefer, and how you can provide them.
- Plant for your Climate – Sweet potatoes don't like short, cool growing seasons. Broccoli plants struggle in hot climates. Every vegetable has a climate preference. You'll be infinitely more successful if you plant vegetables that like where they are growing!
- Make a Plan. Every Year! - Map out the space and what you intend to plant. Pay attention to how much space each plant needs and how tall they grow. Corn will shade plants growing next to it; will that be an issue? Pumpkins take up loads of space; even one plant can take over a small garden if not monitored. Zucchini plants get quite large, and one or two will easily feed a family. Think about who you are growing for, which vegetables they like, and how many plants you need to produce enough for them.
- Commit to the health of your soil – Healthy soil produces beautiful plants. Soil is a living organism, and it gets depleted over time. Amend it with compost every year to replenish lost nutrients. Don't till the ground. Tilling kills important microbes, cuts up earthworms, and brings dormant weed seeds to the surface. It does way more harm than good.
- Be consistent – Vegetable gardens suffer with neglect. Gardening, especially during spring planting, is a time commitment. Plan for that. Plan several 30-60 minute garden sessions per week, so it doesn't become a huge task on the weekend. Water consistently, weed consistently, and visit the garden regularly. Even if you don't need to do anything specific, go walk around, and admire your work.
The success of a garden often relies on the commitment of the gardener. Be prepared to be in the garden frequently. Learn which vegetables grow best in your area, where they thrive in your garden space, and you'll have a wonderful, bountiful harvest every year.