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How to Start a Vegetable Garden

Step out in your backyard to grab some nutritious veggies. Abt Electronics shows you how to start a vegetable garden so you can have a plentiful summer bounty.
Family planting vegetables

Getting Started

Vegetable gardens are a wonderful way to enjoy an outdoor activity right in your own backyard. A fantastic, family-friendly project, gardens can provide nutritious food while teaching kids to enjoy nature. Plus, you can save money the next time you go to the market. And you don't have to have a green thumb for a veggie garden. They're perfect for beginners!
But how do you go about tilling the soil, and what plants do you choose? Those parts are actually easier than you'd think! Learn how to start a vegetable garden so you can have a stocked refrigerator all summer long.

Pick a Site in Your Yard

Make sure to pick an appropriate spot in your yard to grow your vegetable garden. Watch the sun's path to find an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day. In warmer climates, a few shade trees around is okay. But too much shade and your vegetables won’t get the sunlight they need to grow. Also, make sure you can reach the area with a garden hose to avoid having to carry over watering cans.
Measure out your site, making sure it's large enough to contain all the veggies you plan to grow. If you have a compact yard space, you may have to limit your selection. Just be sure to know how much your garden can hold, keeping in mind the spacing between seeds and plants.
Also, ensure that your garden will have proper drainage. If excess water doesn’t have anywhere to go, it’s possible to overwater your veggies. If you find heavy clay or sandy soil under the earth, mix in compost or manure to allow better drainage.
Adult planting vegetables

Till and Prepare the Soil

Once you've found the perfect position in your backyard, it's time to build your garden. There are two ways to go about this. One way is to dig up and loosen the soil, and the other is to buy or build a raised garden bed.
Rake over the area to remove all the grass, weeds, and rocks. Next, mix in some fresh garden soil. If you use a raised bed from a kit, fill it with garden soil to the top and rake it over until it's smooth.
Close-Up of Veggies

Choose Your Veggies

Next, choose what veggies you want to grow—think about what things your family will enjoy. Tomatoes are always a good staple to have on hand, while brussels sprouts and hot peppers are vegetables that not everyone may enjoy.
Also, keep your climate in mind. If you live in the Northeast where summers are shorter, plant veggies that will mature before the first fall frost. Be sure to check for varieties that can resist plant diseases, too. When in doubt, seek the advice of your local plant nursery or even green-thumbed neighbor. For novice gardeners, stick to easier to grow veggies, or you might find yourself frustrated. Zucchini and winter squashes are great beginner veggies.
Once you have an idea of what you want to grow and what will work best for your climate, choose whether you want to start with seedlings (already established young plants) or seeds. Seeds are less expensive, but you'll need to sow them early and keep them indoors for about six to eight weeks. Only after the last spring frost can you move them to your garden bed. Although, there are some variations, such as carrots, beans, lettuce and radishes, that are not affected by the frost. If you'd rather save time, however, stick with seedlings from your nursery.

Grow and Tend to Your Vegetable Garden

Once you've picked out your seeds or seedlings you need to plant them. Using a garden trowel, dig holes approximately two to three inches apart, allowing room for your plants to grow while preventing overcrowding so that every plant gets enough sunlight. Put the plant in the hole and cover it with the soil, gently pressing it around the base.
Water the garden soil to allow the plants or seeds to settle. Once the soil dries and settles a bit more, you can add drip irrigation or a soaker hose set to a timer that will water your garden each day. Once your sprawling plants (like tomatoes and beans) start to grow, add a few stakes and trellises for support. And from time to time, be sure to feed your garden with some vegetable fertilizer or compost made using an indoor composter.

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