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How to Start a Garden for Beginners

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Do you want to start a garden but don’t know where to begin? Gardening can be a fun and rewarding activity, but it can also be a little daunting if you’re new to it. Don’t worry – I’m here to help!

Spring vegetable garden

I’ll give you an overview of the basics of gardening, what you need to get started, how to choose plants, and some tips for keeping your garden healthy. So read on for all the information you need to create your very own vegetable garden!

For my free 5-day email course with a step-by-step guide on how to start a garden, sign up here.

Before you Start a Vegetable Garden

There are a few things to consider before starting a vegetable garden. First, you need to choose a location. There are several components of location to consider:

  • Light– A garden needs at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, so pick a spot in your yard that gets plenty of sun.
  • Well-Drained Soil– You’ll also want to make sure the area is well-drained – vegetables won’t do well in soggy environments. If all you have is wet areas, then consider growing in a raised bed. Also consider the quality of your soil by having it tested. Planting directly into poor soil will be discouraging for a beginner gardener.
  • Size– The size of your garden will depend on how much space you have and how many vegetables you want to grow. A good rule of thumb is that each bigger plant needs about two square feet of space. So, if you want to grow six plants, such as tomatoes or potatoes, you’ll need at least a 12 square foot area.
raised bed garden
Our first raised bed gardens

How to Plan a Vegetable Garden

After you’ve selected a location, it’s time to start planning your garden. This is where you’ll decide what vegetables you want to grow and how you want to arrange them.

Garden planners are super helpful, especially if you like to have everything laid out in front you. I have both a downloadable Complete Garden Planner and a spiral-bound printed Kitchen Garden Planner for all of your garden planning needs, so be sure to check them out!

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning:

  • Crop Rotation: This is the practice of growing different crops in the same space in different years. Why is this important? Some plants, like beans and peas, actually improve the quality of the soil for future crops. rotating your crops helps to keep the soil healthy and prevents pests and diseases from taking over.
  • Plant Families: Different vegetables are in the same family if they share similar characteristics or are related to each other. For example, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are all in the Solanaceae family. Why does this matter? Because plants in the same family often have the same pests and diseases. So, if you rotate your crops and plant different families in a certain area each year, you can help to prevent problems before they start.
  • Plant What You’ll Eat: It’s tempting to want to grow everything, but it’s important to be realistic about what you’ll actually eat. Consider how much of each vegetable your family will eat and only plant that amount. You can always freeze or can extras, or share with friends and neighbors.
  • Consider the Season: Not all vegetables grow all year long or in all climates. Be sure to check the planting and harvest dates for the vegetables you want to grow so that you know when to start seeds or transplant seedlings.

Now that you know all of the basics, it’s time to get started on your own vegetable garden! Just remember to start small, choose a location with plenty of sun and well-drained

First Steps Toward Growing a Vegetable Garden

To wrap up, here are the practical first steps for the actual growing of a garden:

  1. Create a sun map of your yard. This will help you determine the best location for your garden. Find my instructions here for creating a sun map.
  2. Test your soil and amend as needed. This will give you an idea of what type of plants will do well in your soil and what kind of amendments you may need to add.
  3. Choose which vegetables you want to grow. Consider things like how much space they’ll need, when they ‘ll be ready to harvest, and how much your family will actually eat.
  4. Get your supplies. This includes things like seeds, soil, mulch, gardening tools, etc.
  5. Prepare your garden bed. This may involve tilling the soil, adding amendments, or building raised beds. (See my Cheap Raised Bed Garden Ideas.)
  6. Plant your seeds or seedlings. Be sure to follow the instructions on the seed packet or transplanting guide. (Click here to know When to Start Seeds.)
  7. Water and fertilize as needed. Check your plants regularly and give them the water and nutrients they need to grow.
  8. Harvest your vegetables and enjoy! One of the best parts of gardening is being able to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

I hope this guide has been helpful and that you feel ready to start your own garden! If you have any questions or need more tips, be sure to check out the rest of The Kitchen Garten site or contact me directly. I’m always happy to help!

Seasonal Garden Guides

Wondering what to grow in your vegetable garden in each season of the year? Use these helpful planting guides to know what you can grow in your raised bed, container, or in-ground garden year round!

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