Starting a vegetable garden usually brings up lots of important questions. It can be confusing managing all the aspects that lead to a successful garden. That's okay! No one starts out as an expert. In fact, even gardening "experts" still are learning new things.
Here's a list of the most common questions we get. Soon, you'll be on your way to gardening success, i.e., fresh, delicious, homegrown vegetables!
Where is the best place to plant a vegetable garden?
A thriving vegetable garden must receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. This is extremely important. Gardens planted in the shade will grow very little.
Pay attention to how tree branches might shade the garden – this is a fairly common mistake people make. They choose the spot in early spring before the trees fully leaf out, then discover that the fully foliaged tree throws shade all over their chosen space.
The other things to consider when choosing a garden location are:
- access to water (you don't want to struggle to get water to the garden!)
- accessibility (I'm guessing you don't want to walk far out into the field or yard to get to the garden)
- good drainage (planting in massive puddles doesn't usually go well).
When is the best time to plant a vegetable garden?
It all depends on where you grow. You need to know the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone you are in and when the last anticipated frost will occur.
Once you have those two bits of vital information, you can start planning when to plant each vegetable type. And yes, each type will have different needs and preferred planting times. Some can be planted before the last frost, while others can only be planted after all danger of frost has passed.
Should I use seeds or seedlings?
This is usually a matter of preference. Planting seeds gives you a much broader range of variety and vegetable types and is significantly less expensive. Buying plant starts is more expensive but takes a lot of the work away. In this gardener's opinion, the biggest downside is that you are limited to whatever the store sells, which can be rather uninspired.
How often does a garden need watering?
To keep your plants happy, you'll need to water regularly – at least twice a week, depending on where you live and the rainfall. You may find yourself praying for rain regularly! Vegetable plants, on average, need 1-2 inches of water per week. They don't care if it comes from you or Mother Nature.
Invest in a rain gauge to be sure. They're inexpensive and worth it.
What are the easiest vegetables to grow?
Greens like lettuce, kale, mustard, arugula, and spinach are super easy. They also grow quickly, so you get an immediate reward for all your hard work. Radishes are also extremely easy and fast-growing. Peas take a little effort to get started, but once they sprout, they need very little to thrive. Zucchini and summer squash are also easy to grow and produce prolific harvests.
How do I prevent weeds?
Weeds are tricky little monsters. Give them any opportunity, and they will take it. The best way to prevent weeds is to mulch heavily between rows and between plants (read more here). It's also good practice to do regular 1- hour weeding sessions per week (more may be needed) just to keep things under control and prevent more significant problems.