Planning Your First Vegetable Garden

February 18, 2011

Winter isn’t over but it’s not too early to begin thinking about the veggie garden; where strategy is especially important if you’re planning your first vegetable garden!

Today’s post is a guest article written by Geoff Wakeling that will offer some valuable insight to the first-time gardener, as well as considerations that experienced gardeners sometimes overlook.

Big Payoffs for the First-Time Vegetable Grower

Growing vegetables at home is an absolutely fantastic way of getting fresh and extremely tasty food for the kitchen table. Many vegetables are easy to grow and require very little effort to get good crops.

And with seeds costing far less than weekly trips to the local supermarket, you could also find that the financial costs of growing your own food comes in less than it would be to buy goods which aren’t as fresh and don’t taste as good.

However, when starting your first vegetable patch it is a good idea to make a few plans so that you can maximize both your continuing interest and bountiful crops.

Which Crops are Best for that First Vegetable Garden?

There will always be something that you can grow on your vegetable patch, no matter how small it may be. Planning is vital though, ensuring that you can get the most use out of your growing area.

Rather than running off to the garden center and buying loads of seeds, first think what you use in the kitchen and which crops are most in need. There is no point growing carrots if you barely use them or don’t even like them.

Which vegetables do you like the most? Which vegetables do you have to buy week after week? These are the crops that you should look at growing, reducing your weekly expenses whilst enriching your kitchen table.

Garden Planning to Maximize Your Productivity

Another important point to consider is how long vegetables may take to grow, and how much space they need. It is a good idea to try and grow a range of crops which will provide a variety of foods at different periods.

Salad crops, especially cut-and-come-again leafy plants such as lettuces, will mature within weeks, providing ongoing fresh food as long as they’re not allowed to flower. Meanwhile onions, potatoes, or cabbages will require an entire season to grow and mature.

Do you want to plan for the future and grow a large amount of these latter harvests which you can store? Or is it better to grow fewer potatoes and allow space for other vegetables so you can get a good variety of home grown foods?

Incorporating Crop Rotation and Soil Improvement into the Plan

Whilst, if you are newcomer to vegetable growing, you won’t necessarily be armed with the experience, it is important to know a little about crop rotation and soil enrichment. Crops such as potatoes or those from the broccoli family cannot be grown in the same place each year because they are nutrient greedy and vulnerable to disease.

This means that for each season, crops must be rotated to a new growing area. This is actually ideal in many cases, as some plants such as broad beans actually ‘fix’ nitrogen, meaning that they put goodness back into the soil. Combining groups of vegetables and rotating them each year can therefore not only ward off disease but actually allow natural recovery of soils.

So, when getting ready to start your first vegetable garden ensure that you take time to plan and consider exactly what you want to gain from the experience. Taking this moment to think carefully about home growing will allow you to maximize the experience and get the best crops for you and your family.

Geoff Wakeling is a writer with Brookside Patio Furniture which specializes in resin wicker patio furniture which can be conveniently stored during the winter in a recommended facility such as Toledo storage.

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  • Well, I don’t know about the “cheaper” part of growing your own vegetables. Yes, seeds are cheaper, but when you add up all of the organic inputs, I’m sure that each tomato is costing me $64! However, I wouldn’t have it any other way….

  • Nice site – thanks!

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  • Don

    Help! I live in an apartment with a small flowerpot front. What can I do to make a nice small garden?

  • Kenny Point
  • @Todd, $64 dollars really? How many tomatoes did you plant? I did a post about this over a year ago and cited a scientific study that proves it is cheaper to grow your own vegetable garden. I am sure that you are just exaggerating, but I have heard this fallacy too much and want to squash the myth that growing it is more expensive. Of course, under certain circumstances I can see how it would be, but generally….

    Here is the post link if you are interested

  • Theresa

    Thanks for the great ideas. My kids and I are looking forward to planting our first garden this summer. That is if summer ever gets here.

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  • candy

    I have gotten some seeds to plant and have baught strawberry and tomatoe plants from a local store but the up keep is rediculous! my plants need constant watering and with a baby its really hard to do it ALOT, i can every morning and evening but it doesnt seem like enough. any tips would be great! also whats the best way to grow strawberries and tomatoes, and with the seeds they grow to a little but then die quickly, idk what im doing wrong. i started lavender which is taking forever to grow. and the peas grew and there were little pods on them i picked the pods when they looked ripe but i wasnt sure so i didnt try to eat them. its my first time doing this and its more because im a single mother, no income, and need something to help relax. any tips would be great i dont really know what im doing and the strawberry plants are still tiny as my tomato plants are bigger than when i purchased them.

  • I second the lettuce veges for first time gardeners. They just keep growing and growing, and they’re hard to kill unless you over pick the plant.

  • Fish emulsion makes a fantastic all-purpose fertilizer. One benefit of this organic fertilizer is that you can’t apply too much and burn your plants. Look for the type of fish emulsion that has the odor removed!

  • I am looking for some advice on my first veggie patch, what you would advise doing with a 5×5 metre patch, south facing, very lush.

  • derrick

    i am growing tomatos but the squirrels are eating them what can i do?

  • lynn

    Hi Kenny,

    I think it’s too late now for me to plant okra since itl be Fall soon. I live here in PA, maybe il do it next yr. We have big backyard here, in Philippines I remember my dad just excavate our yard and plant okra. My question is what’s the first thing to do, I mean do I need to excavate a portion of our yard and then what? Do I need to buy soil in garden shop and put the seeds in there? I don’t want too many plants of okra since it grow big. It’s a dum question sorry, but can I just plant one seed in my garden? Thanks Ken.. okra is my fav vegtable! 🙂

  • I was excited about having my first backyard garden so I was so thrilled about buying seeds and seedlings when my sister stopped me. She said I should have a clear idea of what to plant and how to proceed with the gardening after planting everything.

    Now, I perfectly understand what she’s talking about after reading your blog. I already see the importance of knowing exactly what plants I should start growing and what I need in the kitchen. Thanks!

  • I think the biggest barrier of entry for beginners is the actual task of preparing a garden. I’m not terribly tool savy but I like the concept of Sqaure Foot Gardening. I ended up buying a raised garden kit from Garden In Minutes. It’s great! They make an awesome irrigation system and the boxes are all expandable and tool free! I’d recommend checking them out if you like raised garden beds.

  • WOw I love this blog. I wish I would have found it earlier. I started my Vegetable garden last year. A raised garden bed to be exact. I grow a lot of tomatoes and an avocado plant from seed. Now im looking to grow more but I cant grow what I really want here in florida during the summer months approaching. That pic below are some tomatoes from my garden. I like to take pics of them,,im just an all around food Might as well put my pics to good use and share the knowledge right! The bugs are what discouraged me at first but I got over them. I wrote a blog about that on my website

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