How to start a vegetable garden
I have been planting and growing vegetables since my husband and I started dating, about 10 years ago. It is one of my very favorite parts of spring! We have, in the past, purchased small plants from nurseries in our area, planted them into our garden, and cared for them. Our gardens have usually done well, even in the scorching heat and dry weather that New Mexico sometimes (read: always) has.
This year, I wanted to grow all of my own vegetables from seeds, using non-GMO seeds, so I could sure that my family was getting the best vegetation possible. While I’m anxious to get going, I thought I would put together a list on how to start a vegetable garden, and hopefully inspire others to get outside and get planting!
What will you grow?
Deciding what to grow is perhaps, the funnest part of it (aside from picking and eating your fresh veggies!). You need to plant vegetation that will like the climate you live in, so if you’re unsure what thrives in your neck of the woods, check out The Vegetable Garden. You can simply plug in your zip code, and it will tell you what planting zone you are in, what vegetables like that climate, and a whole bunch of other good material on when to sow seeds, how long until maturity, and how close to plant them together.
Find a place to plant
Do you have a lot of space, or a little? That will determine how many and what type of vegetables you can grow. Are you going to plant them in the ground or in pots? Do you want a raised garden? Spend a little time thinking about what you have to work with and the best way to utilize your space, and then do a little research to come up with the perfect plan for your garden.
We have planted in the ground, and also in make-shift raised beds. The raised beds are easier and more manageable, but the plants really do better right in the ground. My potted plants never do well, so I have pretty much stopped trying to grow anything other than flowers in pots.
Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of sun everyday, so make sure you plant in a place that is sunny enough for them.
Buy your seeds
This year, I purchased my seeds from two different places. First, I bought some from Seedsnow.com, and loved their site. Their seeds are all non-GMO, they’re super cheap (most plants are only $.99), and their site gives a ton of information on planting, zones, and the like. Tropical Traditions also carries heirloom, organic and non-GMO seeds at reasonable prices.
Start your seedlings
Each plant has different temperatures it can tolerate, and different growing times. There are a few different charts you can utilize to determine when to sow your seeds that need to be started out indoors. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has some good information. This does vary by state, so I recommend doing a google search for “vegetable planting chart in xxxxx” (instead of xxxxx enter your state). Large universities will publish information indigenous to your area, that shows when to plant or sow. Here’s New Mexico, by the off chance you’re interested 😉 If I ever find myself with an extra 4 hours, I’ll create another post that links to each individual state.*
Once the time is ready, you can plant your seeds directly into good soil, or transplant your seedlings. Some gardeners swear by adding epsom salt to the soil before planting tomatoes, peppers or roses, can help soil that is deficient in magnesium, and yield better plants.
Give plenty of TLC
I generally recommend watering plants every day or every other day, depending on how hot it is. If it rains a good amount, you can obviously forgo watering that day, and possibly the next day. On the rare occasion that it does rain where I live, we will setout large buckets to catch the rain, and we’ll use that to water our plants until it runs out.
Pull weeds as they pop up. Staying on top of weeding saves you a lot of time, in the long run. Avoid using weed sprays, because they contain toxins that are likely not safe for vegetables.
Harvest vegetation when ready, so your plant can keep producing more blooms and vegetables.
*Or if I find myself with 4 extra hours, I might take a nap or read a good book.