We’ve been benefiting from the veggies in our garden for nearly five years now. Yes, I live in Queens, NY but my roots are from a farm back in Central Jersey — so this city girl knows a thing or two about starting a vegetable garden. The benefits of growing your own vegetables include: ingesting higher nutrients, healthier living, controlling pesticides and can save you money at the grocery store. Learn how to grow a vegetable garden in a few simple steps with minimal effort.
We built raised beds on the side yard near the kitchen to grow various vegetables. This location gets morning sun, allowing for just the right amount shade to not burn out the plants. Also, choose a location that’s close to your watering source and if you have wild animals venturing onto your property consider building a fence to secure your garden. Using raised beds to grow veggies will reduce the amount weeds suffocating the plants.
Enrich the soil every year before planting. I suggest testing the soil first to make sure you’re adding just the right source to flourish veggies. The Ph (acidity level) of your soil has a large part to do with how well the plants grow. It’s a healthy sign if your soil has worms. Here are four do-it-yourself soil tests from The Spruce Blog. We have sandy soil and use an organic mix with compost to add nutrients.
Some vegetables are easier to plant than others, so I suggest start with a few key beginner plants. We use starter plants and avoid growing plants from seeds whenever possible (however, this year we grew baby arugula from seeds and it’s coming in nicely.) We usually plant salad greens, like romaine and red lettuce, which come back multiple times a season — cut them to harvest, wash and eat. It’s also important to determine what type of vegetables you’d like to grow and what’s required for the region you live in. Then it’s time to check your supplies to make sure you have the right tools, you can even dress the part too!
It’s important to learn how the plants will grow. For example, we grow our cucumbers on the back left side of the bed so they grow up the fence and away from the other vegetables we planted to avoid the vines from latching on. We plant our heirloom tomatoes in a small separate bed away from other veggies, so they don’t overshadow the others, they can also grow a bit out of control.
Watering is a key component to the whole process. Stick to a schedule we water once a day in the afternoon — don’t water plants during the hottest point of the day when the sun is directly over the plants watering will actually burn the plants. Also don’t forget to recruit someone to care for the garden if you go out of town too.
Prune back plants when needed, weed often — again, water, water, water and feel free to show off your green thumb to friends and family members. Our guests love checking out what’s growing in our yard. Make sure to have fun when gardening — for me it’s more of a stress reliever, plus I love watching the veggies grow and creating summer recipes with these good eats. What advice would you give to someone starting their first garden? Let me know in the comment section below.