Tips for having a successful vegetable garden

Love fresh produce in your spring and summer grilling, cooking and baking but can’t bear the increasing price tag on your favorite vegetables? Grow your own instead!

Happy woman gardening

Whether you have an apartment patio or a lush backyard, you can easily grow some delicious, crisp, fresh and organic produce with these easy to follow tips for planting a vegetable garden. Just be sure to give your plants plenty of sunshine, TLC and water!

Not only will growing your own produce save you money in the long run, it can also help you get into summer shape. You can burn up to 272 calories per hour of intense gardening! Save money, eat better, organic food and get in shape at the same time. However, vegetable gardening (much like flower gardening) requires daily care, temperature/soil knowledge and the right equipment, so read these tips for a successful vegetable garden.

To begin with, here are the essential pieces of equipment you’ll need: 

  • Watering canGardening shovel
  • Hoe
  • MiracleGro
  • Seeds (or plants already growing)
  • Watering can
  • Ruler
  • Wire fencing (for outdoor gardens to keep out rodents)

If you are a beginner, you also want to start off small and with easier vegetables. Some popular vegetables like avocados, asparagus and gourds are more difficult to grow and cultivate than some others. If you are just starting out, stick with these easier to grow vegetables, and with the right care, you’ll be successful.

  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Green beans
  • Green onions
  • Peas
  • Turnips

Once you have all your materials and your seeds or plants, you need to be sure you know when to plant, how to plant and what to do to care for them.

ShovelWhen and where to plant your vegetable garden

Many vegetables like tomatoes, beans and onions need to be planted during the first week of April. However, with this warm front affecting most of the country, you can easily begin planting now. Tomatoes can take anywhere from three to five months to mature, so you want to plant them as early as possible, whereas vegetables like green beans, peas and spinach only take about a month and a half. If you are planning on planting pumpkins or potatoes, don’t think you can wait until June or July to get those planted. Pumpkins take up to five months to mature, so you want to plant those the same time you plant your summer produce, like beans and peas.

Next, you have to find a place to plant them. Most vegetables prosper in sunny patches of rich soil. However, vegetables like peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and radishes can also prosper in the shade. If you don’t have a backyard, choose a sunny balcony, porch or patio that receives at least four to six hours of sunlight each day.

Basket of tomatosHow to plant (depth & width apart)

Now that you know when to plant your vegetables, it’s time to get those that mature longer or prosper in early spring into the ground! Before you go crazy and just throw the seeds into some soil, read these gardening tips which tell you how deep to plant and how far apart each should go for the most commonly gardened vegetables.

  • Beans (pole): Plant 1-1/2 inches deep, each pole 36 inches apart (they spread) and plant four to six seeds per pole
  • Carrots: Plant 1/2-inch into the soil and each seed two inches apart
  • Peas: Plant 1-1/2 inches into the soil and each seed three to six inches apart
  • Tomatoes: Plant 1/2-inch into the soil, each seed 30 inches apart and place along stakes or cages to grow along
  • Onions: Plant 1/2-inch into the soil and each seed three inches apart
  • Cabbage: Plant 1/2-inch into the soil and each seed 24 inches apart
  • Pumpkins: Plant three to four inches into the soil and each seed six to eight inches apart

Use your fresh produce in these delicious salad recipes >>

How to care for your plants

Now that your seeds are planted, you need to learn how to care for them. Although your plants may not need daily monitoring, it’s good to check your garden area, especially if you are growing in a backyard, for weeds. Weeds rob the vegetables of their nutrients, so it’s important to remove the weeds with your hands or a safe weed killer to ensure they don’t grow further. If where you live doesn’t receive consistent rainfall (at least once a week), it’s important to water your vegetable plants with a misting bottle or watering can two to three times a week or even daily if the temperatures are high (in many desert locations). Protect your plants from rodents and livestock by putting up wire fences or stakes around your garden.

For more information on growing an amazing produce garden, check out HGTV!

The options are endless for great meals with these vegetable recipes >>

More gardening tips

Tips on how to make your own compost bin
Tips to grow your own lettuce garden
Create a pest-free garden