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How to Start a Vegetable Garden the Easy Way

March 2nd, 2009 by Veggie Master · 4 Comments

I’ve distilled many years of vegetable gardening experience into a few easy steps.  Follow the directions below and you’ll be knee-deep in yummy veggies before you know it!

Location – Choose a spot with at least six hours of sunlight and access to water.

Method – Decide on in-ground or above-ground.

In-Ground Vegetable Garden

  1. Use stakes and string to lay out size and shape of garden.  Beds 3-4 feet in width (depending on your reach) with paths 18 inches wide between work best.  Garden size is up to you.  Mine is 25 x 40 feet and easily feeds a family of three, including winter storage veggies such as garlic, onions, potatoes and butternut squash.
  2. Remove sod – insert a square-bladed shovel 4 inches under the grass and peel back.  Place grass side down in a pile to rot.  This is a good way to start a compost pile, layering grass clippings, shrub prunings and household veggie waste as you go.  By the end of summer you’ll have dark, fertile compost to spread on your new vegetable garden.  If your area is large, a tractor with scoop will make short work of removing the sod.
  3. Optional:  Use plastic edging, wood, concrete blocks, stones, etc. to define outer edges of garden.
  4. Add compost, preferably organic, to a depth of at least 6 inches – a foot would be better.  Look in your local newspaper or yellow pages for sources of compost.  Check to see if your town has a composting program.
  5. Do not plow, rototill or dig in.  That will only bring billions of weed seeds to the surface.
  6. Rake the paths free of compost, piling excess in the planting beds.
  7. Lay either soaker hoses or drip irrigation lines in the beds.  This step will make your life so much easier!
  8. Mulch both beds and paths with at least six inches of material.  Use straw, not hay, or any weed-free organic mulch.
  9. Plant seeds and transplants by pulling back mulch.  Water well.

Above-Ground Vegetable Garden

  1. Choose building material – cement blocks, safely-treated wood, etc.  Beds can be 15-30 inches high and 4-5 feet wide.  Experiment to see what size is most comfortable for you.  Decide whether to build one long bed or several shorter ones.
  2. Use stakes and string to lay out beds.
  3. Build the beds.
  4. Fill with compost (see #4 above) – no need to remove grass.
  5. Lay soaker hoses or drip irrigation lines in the beds.
  6. Mulch beds (see #8 above).
  7. Plant seeds and transplants by pulling back mulch.  Water well.

It really is that simple.  So what are you waiting for?  Those of you living in the south can begin your garden today.  Everyone else start planning and ordering seeds – spring will be outside your door in a few short weeks.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Veggie Master

    Well Morgen, there are many ways to grow veggies. Mine is the one that has worked best for me over the years. Good luck with your garden and enjoy the fresh harvest!

  • morgen

    Hello there. I started my first in ground veggie garden this year and according to your list i have already made some mistakes. I have high hopes for at least some tomatoes and peppers. My lettuce and cabbage looks good and my beets are up so i think i am doing well

  • Veggie Master

    Good question, Laura. The answer is in my motto, “Feed the soil, not the plant.” Take a look at our article Soil – the Heart of Your Garden. Compost, preferably organic, is filled with all the good things necessary to get your garden growing and keep it growing. And don’t forget, compost sounds the dinner bell for those hard working earthworms who will further feed your garden and improve soil structure. Here’s more on that subject: Earthworms in the Garden. Happy gardening!

  • laura cerabella

    This will be my first full front yard garden. I have always just used pots for herbs. I thought that I would have to fill in with garden soil, or top soil. Why compost?

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