How To Start An Old School Vegetable Garden: Beginners' Guide


There is nothing quite like strolling out to the garden and harvesting fresh vegetables that you grew yourself. Vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh juicy snap peas, crunchy colorful carrots, and the freshest of herbs are just some of the wonderful things you can grow in a home garden.

Step One – Pick A Spot

It is important to take into consideration the types of vegetables you will be planting when choosing the right space for your garden. For example, tomatoes need lots of sun. If your garden is shaded, the tomatoes will not grow well. Think about what you want to grow. Look at all the options in your yard. Which places get the most sun? The majority of vegetables need a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day. 

Not only is the garden location important, but the size is also. Some vegetables need lots of space to grow. Some only need a little bit. Do a little research about the type of vegetables you want to grow before planning your garden. It will save you a lot of frustration in the long run!

It is also extremely helpful to have your garden set-up near easy water access. If water is difficult to get to, it can reduce the joy of gardening rather quickly since the garden needs to be watered frequently. 

The purpose of planning and taking into consideration all the options for space is so you don’t set yourself up for failure. It is entirely heart-breaking to put all the work into creating a garden space only to discover after the fact that it is too shady to grow anything or that water is a nightmare to get to.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Space

Remove weeds, rocks, grass, and other impairments to growing. The ground can be hand-tilled. If the space has never been a garden and if you have time, stretch a piece of dark plastic over the area and let it sit for a few months. This will kill off weeds and reduce the amount of work you need to do. Do not mechanically till the soil. Tilling machines kill worms and other insects that are beneficial to the soil-health.

Step 3 - Planting

The best beginner vegetables to plant are tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, herbs, kale, beets, chard, and herbs. Read all the instructions on the seed packets to make sure you are giving each plant enough room to grow and to ensure they are getting enough sun, water, and space. This will be different for each vegetable. 

Step 4 – Mulching

Mulching is important because it helps the soil retain moisture and it reduces the need for weeding. First, place a double-layer of newspaper around all your plants and in between the rows. Cardboard can be used for walkways. Layer shredded leaves, wood chips, straw, or other organic mulch material on top of the newspaper. 

Step 5 – Watch Your Garden Grow

Water and weed regularly and harvest the vegetables as soon as they are ripe for optimal flavors.

A garden is a wonderful way to have fresh, nutritional, vegetables throughout the season. The varieties you can plant are innumerable and are so much more interesting and flavorful than what you get at a grocery store. It is amazing just how much a small garden can provide! The best time to start is now! 

If you don’t have access to garden, look for a local CSA for the freshest produce in your town.