Vegetable Garden For Beginners – How To Plan & Start A Garden

by Lettuce Be | Last Updated:

Starting a vegetable garden can be simple, effective, and cost-effective, but not all are. New vegetable gardeners, eager to establish a new food source, need to choose an easy method and fast while requiring minimal skills. Food gardening is on the rise. People want to be able to identify where their food has come from, but if you don’t get started right then it will be a short-lived venture, plagued with weeds, not enough sunlight, and disappointing results. My goal today is to share step-by-step instructions on how to start a garden with fresh vegetables. The process does not require a large financial investment or major building skills, but it does require some effort and a small budget. An organic garden requires just as much effort as other things in life. But, it’s quite rewarding to cook a variety of dishes or harvest pounds of tomatoes from your backyard.

Where To Place A New Vegetable Garden

garden of vegetablesLet’s take a moment to discuss picking the perfect spot for a typical garden before we begin sharing what is our secret to a successful vegetable garden that is low in cost. Choose a location that receives direct sunlight for at least 6 hours each day. There’s no question the sun sets earlier in the winter and rises earlier in the summer, so you’ll need to choose a site in early spring that will receive as much sunlight as possible later in the growing season. Do your best and pick a sunny spot.

What Size Should A New Vegetable Garden Be?

After you have selected your new garden site, consider how large your garden should be. You should also consider how much time it will take you to care for it. Although the technique we are sharing today may require some maintenance, if you use our recommended method, it won’t be very tedious. We recommend your first garden to be 10 x10 foot or 12×12 foot space.

You can grow some staple crops without worrying about taking on too much, if you live alone or if you imagine it will be too much work. Start small if you live alone or if you think it will be too much work to take care of leafy greens. It can always be larger the next year. It doesn’t need to be perfectly square — any shape will do. Just mark off the area with string or rope. Adding vertical supports like trellises increases the available space for vining plants or tall plants like tomato plants and cucumbers. Make sure they are placed on the northern side of your garden so that they will not shade the shorter plants.

Our garden plans are relatively inexpensive and still allows you to produce vegetable plants for your family as soon as 30 days after installation. Now that we’ve selected a location, let’s go through the steps for the quickest way to get a vegetable garden started. We will also share some easy ways to grow edible plants, but some of them require a bit more money.

Installing A New Vegetable Garden

Be careful not to go overboard with your first garden. There is always the option to expand later.

Preparing New Garden Soil

Many people have heard of lasagna gardening, a method for creating a vegetable garden bed by layering organic materials over the lawn. Materials such as straw, leaves, compost, and leaves are layered on top of the lawn to create a garden bed. While it is great, it takes time and a significant amount of materials to build these beds. These materials may be free, but they take a great deal of effort to assemble and space to store. It takes building skills and building materials to build elevated beds, and it can cost quite a bit to purchase enough soil to fill them. Here’s how to start your new garden now, even with few resources in hand.

Sod Removal

You probably won’t enjoy taking out so much dirt, but if you’re wondering how to start a vegetable garden quickly, then this is the hardest step. We recommend that you cut the sod into strips using a flat-bladed spade that has the width of a shovel’s blade. Start around the edge of the garden and work toward the center, cutting the sod into strips. There is no need to cut down very deeply; maybe only 3 inches.

Cut each piece of sod down into strips with the spade blade. Roll up each strip of sod and cut off the plant roots underneath it with the spade blade touching the root. Once the root is cut off, the sod will easily pry up.

They’ll be quite heavy, so you should shake off excess soil before loading them into a wheelbarrow and hauling them away, or you can use them for filling in bare patches on your lawn, starting a compost pile, or even starting a new lasagna garden bed. A newly built garden is the most difficult to build. Thankfully, it can be done only once.

Amending The Soil

The sod must be stripped and removed before you can do anything else to “power up” the soil. You can do a soil analysis to find out what nutrient levels exist, but you can skip this step if you’re wondering how to grow popular vegetables with little to no effort. Put your energy into boosting the fertility in your existing soil in a way that’s beneficial regardless of what type of soil you’re starting with.

It is the only step that will need some expenditure aside from fruit plants and seeds necessary for growing a successful vegetable garden. But, it is the only step that is required to produce a garden that will perform and produce.

Spread compost over the soil once you have removed the sod. You may want to make your compost if you already have one. You can also use leaf compost, which many municipalities offer free. The bag compost can also come from local nurseries or landscape supply companies. You can even buy it online. Put the contents in the bags, dump them on the soil, and rake them until it’s one-inch thick on all sides. Sod-stripped areas should be treated with an inch of compost or leaf compost.

Turning The Soil

It’s an important step to take when starting a new vegetable garden in a previously sodded area and you need to get growing fast. experienced gardeners that use this path opt to use no-till methods to prevent soil degradation. When installing a vegetable garden, the soil needs to be turned to loosen it quickly and work the compost closer to your plant’s root zone. Sod is compacted and it needs to be turned quickly when starting a new vegetable garden.

Break up any big clods of soil by hand with a shovel, then rake the area smooth. It’s difficult, but you need to work out, right? We all do!

After the compost has been added, turn the soil with a tiller to loosen it from compacted soil. Most gardeners turn their soil just once during a growing season. Some may skip tilling the ground and dig in compost to the surface instead before planting time.

Put Mulch As Soon As Possible

It’s important not to overwork your garden by letting the weeds and diseased plants take over, especially during the growing season. This is one of the most critical steps when learning how to start a vegetable garden as weeds cause most of us to give up halfway through the season.

There are a lot of mulch materials to use. You can buy fertile soil or make your own by mixing equal parts of compost, shredded pine bark mulch, and vermiculite. But, spreading newspaper on the entire yard, about ten sheets thick, is a great place to start. You can go to the local convenience store and ask for paper packing that didn’t sell. Spread the paper over the garden and spray it with water to hold it down. If you cannot find newspapers, you should use one layer of paper grocery bags. Put the newspaper pieces and paper grocery bags out over the bed. Put a layer of mulch over the top of the newspaper. Our favorite mulch is shredded leaves from the fall, but straw placed in a bale from a feed store would also do. It should be 2 inches thick if it’s placed over the paper or newspaper.

When late spring comes, the paper will have been fully composted by the soil microbes, so you can place a fresh layer of mulch on top. Only after this layer has been in place for a while can your garden be planted. Our recommendation is to lay down the newspaper and cover it with mulch before planting to control soil temperatures.

Planting Varied Vegetable Types

Your new garden will be ready to plant once it has been prepared. You can do this by sowing seeds directly into the ground, or you can plant transplants. Additionally, you can learn more about the best way to plant seeds and transplants here. Several plant families are also started from roots, bulbs, or tubers.

After planting, gently peel back the mulch. Then, cut a hole or slit through the newspaper in which to place your seeds or transplants. The mulch should be reapplied after the seeds have been covered by rich soil or after the roots of the transplant have been sown into the ground. The seeds should be watered well.

Also, make sure you plant right when the weather is cool, but some annual vegetables prefer hot weather. Early in spring, plant cool-season crops, while warm-season crops are planted in late summer or until the first fall frosts. You can plant vegetable varieties from seed packets or purchase transplants from your local garden center.

Maintaining A New Vegetable Garden

One goal of learning how to grow a vegetable garden is to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy vegetable or herb garden. Succession planting is fun, but maintaining a healthy garden is crucial to its success. If you use the newspaper trick, you won’t have many weeds. Here’s another tip for limiting them.

Maintain a good water supply for your garden. Yes, the mulch layer reduces the need for watering, but you’ll still be able to deliver water directly to the roots during hot, dry weather. Overwatering can result in disease and insect problems.

Take care to stake your plants. Some plants, like pole beans and tomatoes, grow tall and will require support.

Harvest usually at least once a week. Here are a few great tips!

Other Methods Of Vegetable Gardening For Beginners

The new vegetable garden installation method we described above is not the only way to get a garden started. Other gardening practices are available too. Some are more expensive than others, and some require more or less space. They all serve a purpose, however. All of these ways for starting a new garden cost money in terms of soil. If you choose one of the following options, you can use a DIY potting soil recipe or this recipe for layering a raised bed.

Building Raised Beds

Building Raised beds are the best way to grow, but it can be expensive to install and fill them.

Stock Tank Vegetable Gardening

Filling a cattle trough, also known as a stock tank, with soil to grow your vegetables is instant. However, removing the soil after filling them can be costly.

Growing Vegetables in a Storage Bin

Essentially, big plastic storage bins and other containers are a great way to plant your favorite vegetables. If you have a tiny garden space, growing vegetables in pots is a convenient way to start. Herbs are good potted plants because most need good drainage.

Fabric Raised Vegetable Beds

Another easy way for new vegetable growers to get started is to use fabric-raised beds.

Have Fun With Your New Garden

Our website offers many vegetable garden ideas, both for new veggie gardeners and gardening experts, that can be used to get you started. We wish you the best of success.