If starting a garden is a new adventure for you, follow our vegetable gardening tips for beginners. You may get a little dirty in the process, but in a few short months, you’ll be enjoying a summer harvest of fresh vegetables grown in your own backyard.

how to start a vegetable garden infographic 

How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Want to enjoy a steady supply of fresh vegetables from your own backyard this summer? Follow our tips to get your garden started. With a little patience and a healthy appreciation for good dirt, you’ll be reaping the fruits of your labor in no time.

1. Location, Location, Location

Most vegetables need six to eight hours per day of full sun, so pick an area accordingly. Choose a spot for your garden that is close to your house or patio—this will make watering and staying on top of weeds much easier.

2. Raise It Up

Raised planting beds aren’t just for looks. Creating a physical barrier between your vegetables and the rest of the yard will make weeds much less likely to take up residence in your garden. Place a layer of cardboard or newspaper underneath the first layer of dirt for even more protection against unwanted plants.

3. Create Good Dirt

High-quality soil is essential to healthy plants and high yields. If the existing soil is in good shape and drains well, aim for a half-and-half mix of soil and rich compost. If you dig up only rocks and clay, fill your beds with a mix of topsoil and compost.

4. Choose Your Veggies

It may be tempting to plant enough veggies to feed a small army, but try to be conservative, especially if this is your first venture into vegetable gardening. Start with a couple varieties of vegetables that are known to grow well in your area. Give yourself a season to learn on those plants, and then branch out the following spring.

5. Mulch for Health

Mulch helps prevent weeds from growing and adds nutrients to the soil as it decays. For your vegetable garden, use shredded leaves and grass clippings rather than hardwood mulch from a home improvement store.

6. Keep an Eye On the Bugs

Do some research to find out which bugs will harm your crops and which bugs you should encourage. If you do find some critters you don’t want hanging around, look into natural pest control before reaching for potentially harmful chemical pesticides.

7. Harvest Your Crops

Optimal harvest times vary from vegetable to vegetable, but most beans, peas, and potatoes are fine to pick when they’re young. Let peppers stay on the vine to ripen. Cut off individual lettuce leaves, leaving about an inch at the bottom, once they reach four or five inches in height—the same plants will continue to grow for another harvest later in the season.

Be consistent in your watering schedule, aiming for about an inch of water per week, depending on the soil and weather. Gardening is supposed to be fun, not stressful, so be sure to keep an open mind, take notes for next year’s garden, and enjoy your delicious homegrown produce!