Planting 101: How to Set Up Your Vegetable Garden
When I first began my gardening adventure I did not have the slightest
clue about how and where to begin. Should I buy seeds or plants? When do I plant them? Where do I plant them? How far apart? I felt overwhelmed.
Luckily, I was a part of a wonderful community garden and I had lots of help and tips. Learning from my fellow community gardeners was an amazing experience and a big part of the reason why I started my business. I want to give people a similar experience.
Let me break down the basics here for you. These are all the steps I take when starting a new garden.
Take stock of the space you’d like to plant in. Make sure you get plenty of sunlight. Six to eight hours of direct sun is ideal. Certain edible plants can tolerate partial shade, but most need lots of sun to thrive.
Take measurements of the area and start making a list of plants you want to grow. If you are planting in raised beds, get those suckers put together and in place.
Fill ‘er up
Good soil is a must! It feeds your plants the necessary nutrients they need. Strong, healthy soil will produce strong, healthy plants. Start with good soil and compost and you will never need to fertilize or use pesticides, I promise.
To start you can fill your raised beds using a 60% soil to 40% compost ratio.
If you will be planting in the ground and not in a raised bed I recommend testing your soil first. You can buy a kit online or pay a professional in your area to do it.
This will help you determine the pH level of your soil and will tell you if any amendments are needed in order to balance the soil and restore proper nutrients.
Seeds vs Plants
In my own garden I like to plant with a combination of seeds and plants.
I really enjoy planting from seeds. They are cheaper than starter plants and it feels so gratifying to watch something grow from a tiny seed into a plant that produces food. Things like lettuces, beans, peas, and squash are great to sow directly.
Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are great to plant with starter plants. These plants can take a while to mature and they prefer warmer temperatures so it is nice to get a head start with plants.
You can also start seeds indoors if you have the space and light requirements.
Prep the Area
Loosen up the soil by using a garden fork or broad fork. If you have just filled your bed with soil you really don’t need to do this. I usually just use a cultivator (that’s the hand tool pictured above that looks like a claw) to run over the first few inches of soil.
Next, water the soil. I like to do this before planting. The seeds or plant will have nice, moist soil to germinate or take root in. You can use a garden hose or watering can. Water the area, let it drain into the soil, and then water it again.
Great, now you are ready to plant your little seed babies.
Put it in the Ground
Follow the guidelines on the back of the seed packets and/or plant tag for planting.
I generally plant seeds closer together than the recommended spacing guidelines and thin them out later.
Thinning seedlings just means you pull young plants that are overcrowded allowing space for the others to grow and mature.
Water them and watch them grow:
If it rains, mother nature has done your job for you. If not, you’ll want to water often to keep the soil moist. Seeds need moisture in order to germinate.
Once the plants have established you can switch over to watering more deeply, less often. This helps promote healthy root systems. For more info on the best watering practices click here.
Ready to start your garden plan? Get my FREE garden planning worksheet to help you get started. Happy planting!