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A veggie garden is a great summertime project. With the right plan and a little work, you'll produce lots of fresh and delicious rewards. Plus, you'll have the freshest vegetables and a sense of pride when you collect your home-grown harvest.
The best part about making a veggie garden as one of your summer DIYs projects is the range of options in size, vegetables and commitments to choose from so you can grow the garden that best suits your family.
Before you get started, decide first how large you want your beginner veggie garden to be. Often, first-time gardeners plant too much too soon and end up with more work than they can manage and more vegetables than they could possibly eat. Perhaps this year you'll want to start with just a few plants in a bed or pots to get a feel for your new hobby. An 80 square-foot garden should be enough to feed two people for the summer with some left over to share with your neighbours.
You need to make sure your plants will be getting lots of sunshine. Find a spot in your yard that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day without obstruction from sheds, trees, fences or close buildings.
Aside from sunlight, you also want to pick a spot that doesn't dry out often over the summer or that isn't prone to flooding when it rains. Consider also the amount of wind your plants might get, which may damage your plants. It's not just your plants that don't like too strong a breeze, high wind areas will also keep important pollinators, like bees, away.
Plants will grow more easily when they have soft soil to grow their roots. Whether you're planting right in your yard, using pots, or making raised beds, you'll need to make sure your bed is deep enough, with at least 8 to 12 inches of loose soil. You can create this loose soil by tilling the soil in your yard and adding in additional bedding soil. If you find you have dense soil like clay in your yard, or your soil is too rocky, you can also dig out space for your garden and fill it completely with new gardening soil. Adding fertilizer like manure or compost to your soil will provide the nutrients your veggies need to grow.
If planting in raised beds or pots, make sure your garden has adequate drainage so that the roots of your plants don't sit in water and begin to rot.
Now that you've found a spot that's just right and your soil is soft and ready to go, it's time to choose what you're going to grow. So what will you plant in your beginner's veggie garden? Whatever you want! Well, almost. Depending on your geographic location, you may not be growing any exotic fruit, and some fussier foliage may require more advanced care than the typical backyard gardener can provide. However, the options of what to put in your garden are vast, so choose what you love to eat.
A great perk of growing your own vegetables is the savings you'll see at the grocery store. You can increase these savings by planting the veggies that you often buy but cost more at the checkout, rather than more moderately priced items.
To get the most out of your summer garden, you might choose to plant vegetables that have more than one harvest per season. While each cauliflower plant will provide only one head, others will provide crop all season such as tomatoes, squash, beans and cucumbers, to name a few.
According to the Farmer's Almanac, the top ten easy-to-grow vegetables for your beginner's garden are:
If you're planting in a small garden, you might prefer plants that take up less space or climbers that can be grown upwards like beans rather than plants that take up a lot of square footage like zucchini.
You'll want to wait at least until mid to late May, after the last frost, to begin putting your plants in the soil. Each type of plant will have its own recommended start date. Remember that what is small now will soon be large, so always leave at least 1.5 to 2 feet of space between plants so they have room to grow. Find out which plants will grow the largest and put them at the back of your garden as to not shade your smaller plants. Sow your rows running north to south to ensure the best sun exposure.
Once your garden is planted, sit back and watch it grow. Well, not quite. Your garden will start to grow and may start providing fresh veggies sooner than you think, but there is still work to be done. Keep your garden free from weeds. Weeds steal water and nutrients that your plants need to grow, so pluck them out as they pop up. Your garden will need regular watering, anywhere from daily to twice a week, depending on the weather. You'll know it's time to water by checking your soil, if the top inch is dry it's time for a shower. If planting in raised beds or pots, you may need to water more often so remember to check the soil regularly.